Equity

Scientist Addresses Misconception That His Lab Has Used Competent HIV to Cure Cancer

NOTE:  The open letter below was originally published on Facebook Fan Page of Ray Flores and reprinted with Dr. Posey’s permission.

By Avery Posey, Jr

I just responded to the author of an article from Upworthy that is circulating the web through social media. The article is titled “Doctors Take A Long Shot And Inject HIV Into Dying Girl. The Reason Why Will Amaze You.” The media has a tendency to sensationalize the news and we often find ourselves believing what we read, so I want to clarify the assertion made by this article because I find the title to be misleading and troublesome.

It is true that the therapy developed in my lab that has treated and cured leukemia in approximately 12 patients. However, it is not entirely true that this treatment is done with HIV. The truth is that we only use parts of the HIV virus that are necessary to insert DNA into other cells (like T cells in this case). This virus is only able to insert into a cell once, cannot replicate, and does not inactivate patient CD4 cells like HIV does. The patient is not HIV+ after therapy.

The real work of this cure is the DNA that we insert into the patient T cells. It is a special and novel gene that does not exist in nature. The new gene enables the T cells to now find and kill the patient’s tumor cells based on a molecule they can now see on the surface of those tumor cells. This is why the therapy works. It has nothing to do with the use of parts of the HIV virus.

As a member of an ethnic community that has been preyed upon by the medical community, I find it terrible to suggest that any doctor would intentionally infect someone with HIV. No medical professional would use HIV to treat anyone; Tuskegee shall never be repeated.

As a member of a social community that has been victimized by HIV and still deals with the stigma of HIV, I am disturbed by the possibilities that could arise from articles with such sensational titles. HIV does not cure cancer.

Thank you for allowing me to clarify misconceptions reported and circulating the web. Please share this and help dispel the rumors if possible. If anyone is interested in learning more, they are welcome to inbox me.

Avery D. Posey, Jr., Ph.D.

This commentary is not written on the behalf of any company or institution. The article is linked.

NOTE:  The above open letter is a re-post of a social media response from Dr. Posey

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Kiera Wilmot Avoids Prison, But Now What?

By Caleph B. Wilson

The initial thought behind ‘zero tolerance’ policies in schools was  that children with consistent discipline issues would make up most suspensions.  However, ‘model students’ can also become entangled in mandatory school punishments.

On April 22, 2013, 16-year-old Kiera Wilmot was expelled from her South Florida high school for creating small ‘explosive’ by mixing household chemicals and a small wad of aluminum foil.  Further, Florida’s state attorney charged her with felonies equal to if she had discharged a firearm and a ‘weapon of mass destruction’ on school property.  Interestingly, Wilmot’s principal Ron Pritchard was disturbed by the harshness of the school district’s punishment…

Read entire post at Ebony.com click here.

Time to Stop Harassing Poor Folks

By Caleph B. Wilson

As a “Son of Mississippi” I am very proud of the early experiences that shaped my life.  My family and the people that I group-up around did their best to teach me and encourage me to work hard and effectively.  In turn, each time an opportunity presented itself, I worked to be appropriately prepared for it.  Given the experiences that  I have had one thing is very clear:  The notion that one pulls themselves up by their boot straps is nonsense.

Without all of those folks who decided to follow the Southern phrase, “If can’t do nothing to help ya, I ain’t gone do nothing to hurt ya,” it would have been impossible for me to follow my dreams.  So, any success attributed to me is not mine alone.  My family, friends and supporters are just as responsible.  They provided the guidance, while my role was to put in the required honest effort.

This is where I take issue with the cognitive dissonance of those in my home state (and around the country and world) that blame poor people for not working hard enough to get anywhere.  Further, poor folk are constantly characterized as “takers.”  The truth is that most folks that are considered poor go to work every day.  Today’s poor folks are just like the ones that raised me.  Each day starts before with a prayer before the sun peaks over the horizon.  Kids are readied for school, breakfast is prepared and the family parts looking forward to the new day.  Each adult takes pride in earning an honest pay and children are excited about learning.

So, these poor folk are not “takers.”  They don’t look for anything that is not earned.  Instead, their expectation is that hard work will be rewarded.  Yet, a lifetime can pass without any reward.

These poor folk are told how they are dependent on the government.  How the Federal government is trying to take their freedom.  Government is “bad.”

Well, here’s what I have to say to poor people.  When you are confronted with those folk that refuse to recognize your hard work at school or on the job, remind them of these words, “JUDGE not, that ye be not judged.”  Also, remind them of the hypocrisy of pseudo-leaders Those same so-called leaders that chastise you for expecting help from the tax dollars that you and your family has paid or will pay.  Remind them that 40% of the Mississippi state budget is provided by tax payers from all around the country.  Ask those pseudo-leaders if why are they accepting a handout from “Big Gov’ment.”  Look them in the eye and ask why they are not helping themselves.

So, all of you hardworking folk that happen to be poor:  Don’t pay attention to the non-sense.  Keep striving to give yourself and your family a better life.  Remember, folks like you are the backbone of this country.  Your compassion for and love of these United States is what leads people from all over the world to risk life and limb to live where you live.

NOTE:  The post above is drawn from my personal experiences, however, the opinion can be applied to all 50 states.  I was driven written to address the growing number of media reports that quote folks unjustly blaming the poor.

Wanted: More Under-represented Minority Professors in the Life Sciences

Article Co-Authored with Marybeth Gasman

If you ask minority high school students interested in biology what they want to do as a future career, they typically tell you that they want to be a physician or dentist.  Unfortunately, what they don’t tell you is that they want to be a professor or researcher.  This lack of interest is often due to a lack of exposure or negative stories about being a professor in the sciences.  Becoming a professor in the life sciences often takes at least 10 years after the bachelor’s degree due to the need for post-doctoral experiences.  In addition, students are often lured to practitioner-focused careers by higher starting salaries and the prestige associated with being a physician or dentist.

Read entire post at Diverse Issues in Higher Education click here.