February 22, 2012
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LIVING WITH HIV/AIDS


 How Can I Stop My Sisters From Telling Everyone My HIV Status?
I am astounded each time I find out yet another person in my life knows my HIV status because one of my sisters feels the need to tell people their brother "has AIDS," as they say. I disclosed to friends, a gay couple, in confidence when I was newly diagnosed in September 2002. One of them told my younger sister, who told my older sister. They speak freely to whoever about my HIV, yet they never reached out to me then. I'm very comfortable with my status (the world is not), but it's my own personal business to disclose when I need to. Is there anything I can do legally to let them know I mean business, and what they're doing is wrong?

Christa Douaihy, Esq., responds in the "Legal Issues and HIV" forum


 What About Testosterone Replacement in Poz Women?
I'm an HIV-positive woman in my 40s, in good health with an undetectable viral load and high CD4 count. Recently, though, I have been experiencing fatigue. I was reading about various possible causes and noted that low testosterone was among them. When I asked my doctor if we could check my testosterone level, he said he wouldn't know what to do with the information and there really isn't any guidance regarding testosterone for women. In other words, no. What do you think about this? What are my options?

Nelson Vergel responds in the "Nutrition and Exercise" forum


MIXED-STATUS COUPLES


 If Saliva Doesn't Transmit HIV, How Do Oral HIV Tests Work?
I'm an HIV-positive woman dating a man who's HIV negative. My T cells are above 900 and I've always had an undetectable viral load. He and I have some questions about HIV and saliva: If it's possible to swab a person's mouth to do an oral HIV test, doesn't that mean HIV could be transmitted through mouth-to-mouth contact like kissing or sharing wine between each other's mouths? Is there a gum I can chew before we kiss to protect him from HIV?

Shannon R. Southall responds in the "Safe Sex and HIV Prevention" forum


WORKPLACE, INSURANCE & LEGAL CONCERNS


 Returning to Work: What Are My Rights?
I've been out on disability for 15 years. At that time I became ill and was put on "emergency medical leave." Call it what you want: I was fired, plain and simple. I was employee of the year at my last place of employment, so such a big, sudden hole in my resume makes it look like I went to jail or something. How does one explain this to a human resources director? How much am I required to disclose about my history with HIV? Can they "let me go" once I'm hired because of the cost of employing me?

Christa Douaihy, Esq., responds in the "Legal Issues and HIV" forum


 How Am I Going to Get Medical Coverage?
I'm HIV positive and permanently disabled. I get $1,169 in social security disability insurance (SSDI) every month. I don't qualify for Medicaid because of this income, but the cost of my HIV meds per month is higher than my income. How can I afford to get the care I need to live?

Jacques Chambers, C.L.U., responds in the "Workplace and Insurance Issues" forum


a new "ask the experts" forum: legal issues & hiv
Christa Douaihy, Esq.

Got a question about workplace discrimination, nondisclosure laws, immigration issues, or any other HIV-related legal concern? Ask our newest expert, Christa Douaihy, Esq., in TheBody.com's brand-new Legal Issues and HIV forum! Ms. Douaihy is a practicing attorney with a wealth of professional experience working with people living with HIV/AIDS on legal matters.

Learn more about Ms. Douaihy, and ask her a question in the new forum!



HIV/AIDS TREATMENT


 How Do I Get Used to My Switch to Isentress?
After several years I recently switched from Atripla (efavirenz/tenofovir/FTC) to Isentress (raltegravir) and Truvada (tenofovir/FTC). I'm having a hard time getting used to changing from a once-a-day medication to taking meds twice a day. In spite of setting dozens of reminder alarms, I'm missing my morning dose by hours and hours and end up adjusting my night dose to compensate. After only a month I'm already afraid I might be causing problems for myself. What's the "margin of error" for Isentress? How can I adjust to taking it at the appropriate time?

Benjamin Young, M.D., Ph.D., responds in the "Choosing Your Meds" forum


 Will HIV Meds Interact With My Meds for Bipolar Disorder?
I was diagnosed with HIV three months ago and am not on HIV meds yet. I am, however, being treated for bipolar disorder. I've read that one of my medications can interact with HIV meds. What do you know about this, and what can I do?

Mark Holodniy, M.D., F.A.C.P., C.I.C., responds in the "Understanding Your Labs" forum


 Could My Sudden Increase in Sex Drive Have to Do With HIV?
I've been on HIV meds for two months. My worry is that my appetite for sex has suddenly increased, and my boyfriend can't always satisfy my needs. Could it be the medication causing this, or is it something else? What should I do?

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


More Questions About HIV/AIDS Treatment:


OTHER HEALTH ISSUES & HIV/AIDS


 Do Poppers Really Have a Negative Effect on HIV Health?
I've been on Atripla (efavirenz/tenofovir/FTC) for the past two years with an undetectable viral load, a CD4 count between 500 and 600, and a CD4 percentage of 28 or 29. I try to live a healthy lifestyle, keep up with my meds, exercise, etc. Besides that, I've been using poppers occasionally, and I've read contradictory reports as to whether they're dangerous for HIV-positive people. What do you think?

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


 Are My Blisters HIV Related?
I'm HIV positive with a CD4 count of 437, and I'm not yet on HIV meds. I've been getting itchy blisters that look like insect bites all over my body, and they leave ugly dark marks. I've tried all sorts of ointments and creams but nothing seems to help. Could this be some kind of opportunistic infection?

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


More Questions About Other Health Issues & HIV/AIDS:


Connect With Others

Facing the Courts for HIV Nondisclosure: Got Stories?
(A recent post from the "Living With HIV" board)

It truly saddened me to read the horror that some poz people were put through in our court systems. And what scared me just as much was those that caused it due to being malicious over a broken relationship. What's next? Disclosure papers for prospective partners to sign before getting involved? Just to cover one's butt from being prosecuted? Does anyone have stories about dealing with the legality of HIV disclosure -- or even having to go to court? -- riverprincess

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UNDERSTANDING HIV/AIDS LABS


 Why Isn't My CD4 Count Rising?
I tested positive for HIV without any real symptoms, but my CD4 count at the time was 12. I started Atripla (efavirenz/tenofovir/FTC) last September and after a month my viral load dropped from 91,000 to 93, though my CD4 count was 17 (still no illness). As of last week my viral load is undetectable, but my CD4 count is only 14! My white blood cell count is also low. Is my doctor missing something?

Benjamin Young, M.D., Ph.D., responds in the "Choosing Your Meds" forum


HIV & HEPATITIS C TRANSMISSION


 Is There Research on How Much Virus Is Needed to Transmit HIV?
Has anyone studied how much HIV (in terms of viral load) needs to be present in bodily fluid in order for HIV transmission to occur? What about the length of time the virus can live outside a human body? Is it really just a split second?

Lisa B. Hightow-Weidman, M.D., M.P.H., responds in the "Safe Sex and HIV Prevention" forum


 Should Hepatitis C "Magnetic Couples" Use Condoms?
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has not recommended condom use for hepatitis C-serodiscordant monogamous heterosexual couples. Is it risky for these couples to have unprotected sex? What do you tell couples you see in your practice?

Barbara McGovern, M.D., responds in the "Hepatitis and HIV Coinfection" forum





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