June 28, 2011
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LIVING WITH HIV/AIDS


 Recently Diagnosed, Afraid of Stigma and Full of Anger: What Can I Do?
I'm almost 44 years old and I was diagnosed HIV positive in April 2010. I've noticed in the last few months that I get angry very quickly. I have a family and a decent job, but I'm so frightened of stigma that only my wife knows my status, besides my doctors. I don't exercise since my job takes up so many hours. I just feel very hopeless about my future. What do you think?

David Fawcett, Ph.D., L.C.S.W., responds in the "Mental Health and HIV" forum


 How Much Will My Employer Know About What I Do With My Insurance?
I'm HIV positive and I get my meds through my work's group insurance plan. Will the company's premiums go up now that I'm spending so much on HIV meds? Will the insurance company notify my employer about how I'm using my benefits?

Lynn Franzoi responds in the "Workplace and Insurance Issues" forum


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MIXED-STATUS COUPLES


 My Perfect Partner Is HIV Positive: How Do I Get Over My Fears?
Two weeks after starting a relationship with the woman of my dreams, she found out she was HIV positive. Since then, the relationship has been like a fairy tale, despite her diagnosis. The only thing we fight about is the fact that I'm still quite hesitant about having sexual intercourse with her. I've done my research on transmission risk, attended groups, gone with her to her doctor's appointments and spoken with counselors. Despite all this I'm still afraid, so we've decided to go our separate ways for now. Do you have any advice for me?

David Fawcett, Ph.D., L.C.S.W., responds in the "Mental Health and HIV" forum


BODY SHAPE CHANGES & HIV/AIDS


 Beyond Sculptra and Radiesse: Are Botox and Other Fillers Safe for HIVers?
I'm 56 years old and I don't have HIV-associated lipoatrophy, but I might like to have a little Botox injection here and there. I know Sculptra (poly-L-lactic acid, New-Fill) and Radiesse (calcium hydroxylapatite, Radiance) are approved for people living with HIV, but would other types of fillers on the market be safe for a vain old queen like me who just wants to get rid of a few wrinkles? Are Sculptra and Radiesse good options in this case? Do you do minor facial tune-ups at your practice?

Gerald Pierone, M.D., responds in the "Facial Wasting" forum


HIV/AIDS TREATMENT


 My Virus Progressed Slowly; If I Stopped Meds Now, Would the Same Timeline Apply?
It took 13 years of living with HIV for my CD4 count to drop from over 800 to under 250. My logic tells me that, if I were to stop taking my meds now, I should have a similar time frame to rely on before I hit the danger zone again and need to resume taking meds. My doctor does not agree with this logic. Why do you think that is? How long could I expect to remain safe after stopping meds?

Robert J. Frascino, M.D., responds in the "Fatigue and Anemia" forum


 Stomach Cramps and Nausea: Should I Keep Taking My Meds?
Since I started taking Kaletra (lopinavir/ritonavir, known as Aluvia in some countries) and Truvada (tenofovir/FTC, also known as Didivir), I've lost a lot of weight. This is partly because I struggle to eat properly due to nausea and stomach cramps. My doctor has done lots of tests, none of which indicate any stomach infection. This pain is starting to affect other parts of my life. Is there anything I can do that might make it better?

Keith Henry, M.D., responds in the "Managing Side Effects of HIV Treatment" forum


More Questions About HIV/AIDS Treatment:


Connect With Others

I'm Honest About My Status, But I Keep Getting Rejected
(A recent post from the "I Just Tested Positive" board)

I've been positive for five years and don't know how to deal with this situation. I'm single, 25, and when I meet potential partners, the minute I tell them I have HIV, they turn me down. I'm not like most people; I do know my status, and I do disclose, but I don't know what to do with all this rejection. Has anyone else had experiences like this? What can I do? -- dee261985

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OTHER HEALTH ISSUES & HIV/AIDS


 My Antidepressant Stopped Working: Can I Use Cigarettes to Treat My Stress?
I've always been prone to depression. I've taken Paxil (paroxetine) for 10 years and it's helped me through some difficult times. In October 2010 I tested HIV positive. I stopped smoking cigarettes and started taking HIV meds right away, and I'm doing well on them. Because of the panic I feel over my condition, I've been advised to change antidepressants, but I really don't want to experiment with new psychotropic drugs right now. Meanwhile, my tobacco cravings are making me even more stressed. Would it be OK to have one or two cigarettes a day if it decreases my stress level?

David Fawcett, Ph.D., L.C.S.W., responds in the "Mental Health and HIV" forum


 Are There Any Precautions I Should Take Before Visiting My HIV-Positive Brother?
My brother just got home after a five-month hospital stay with PCP (pneumocystis pneumonia) and two collapsed lungs, among other opportunistic infections. His viral load is undetectable (he's been on HIV meds since December 2010), but his CD4 count is only 24, and he's underweight. I'm about to travel halfway around the world to visit him, and I'm concerned about contracting an illness on the plane that could be a threat to him. What precautions should I take? Do I need to keep my distance from him? Is there anything else I should think about before I visit him?

Nelson Vergel responds in the "Nutrition and Exercise" forum


More Questions About Other Health Issues & HIV/AIDS:


UNDERSTANDING HIV/AIDS LABS


 Why Isn't My Viral Load Undetectable Anymore?
I started taking Atripla (efavirenz/tenofovir/FTC) two years ago, shortly after I was diagnosed with HIV, and I've never missed a dose. I also work out regularly and eat healthily. I was rather surprised today when my doctor informed me that my viral load was no longer undetectable. Naturally I freaked out! He explained that 50 copies per milliliter is no longer considered an undetectable viral load and that it has been changed to 20 copies. He told me I shouldn't be worried because my viral load was only 22 copies. Does this mean my HIV might be building up resistance to my meds? What's going on?

Robert J. Frascino, M.D., responds in the "Fatigue and Anemia" forum


HIV TRANSMISSION


 Could My PEP Regimens Have Caused Irreversible Effects?
I took two courses of PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis), two weeks apart, after two back-to-back risky encounters over three months. I've tested negative for HIV, hepatitis and other sexually transmitted diseases since then. My liver was functioning normally before I took PEP, but a few days before the end of my second course, my liver enzyme and triglyceride levels went up and my liver ultrasound showed slightly fatty liver. Could these effects be severe, and are they likely to last?

Keith Henry, M.D., responds in the "Managing Side Effects of HIV Treatment" forum



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