April 10, 2012
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LIVING WITH HIV/AIDS


 How Can I Stay Motivated to Enjoy Life?
I've been living with HIV for far too long. My numbers are all fine but the side effects of the HIV meds, along with the drugs to curb the side effects, are taking their toll. I quit working a couple years ago after a successful, multifaceted career. Most of my close friends are long gone; social engagements are dwindling, and I was the life of the party back in the day! I've been taking meds for depression for years as well. How does a 60-year-old guy go about getting some excitement from today and the near future?

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


MIXED-STATUS COUPLES


 What Are the Odds My Partner Has Stayed HIV Negative?
I recently found out I'm HIV positive. I have a steady partner with whom I've been very sexually active, and we had unprotected sex a few times before I knew my status. My current viral load is around 16,000. Is that considered high enough to transmit HIV? My partner is freaked out and refuses to get tested. How high are the odds that I've transmitted HIV to my partner?

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


INSURANCE, WORKPLACE & LEGAL CONCERNS


 Could My Medical Records Come Out in My Girlfriend's Custody Case?
I was just diagnosed HIV positive; my girlfriend is HIV negative. She's going through a divorce and custody battle. Could my HIV status be discovered and used negatively by the opposing side in her court case, or are my medical records private?

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


 Can I Qualify for SSI Benefits?
I've been HIV positive since early 1990 (was also treated for hepatitis C in the '90s), and I started taking HIV meds in 2004. At the time my CD4 count was 12 and my viral load was 40,000. In the past two years my body has not been what it used to be. I tire easily and am having a tough time getting along with people, so I don't want to work. I applied for benefits through the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program and am waiting to see if I qualify. On what factors are decisions about eligibility based?

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


BODY SHAPE CHANGES & HIV/AIDS


 How Can I Avoid Body Shape Changes?
I take my country's equivalent of Truvada (tenofovir/FTC) and Viramune (nevirapine). I'm worried I may be experiencing body shape changes as a result of HIV or my meds: My upper body is getting bigger, and my legs have protruding veins and are getting skinnier. What can I do to slow or stop these changes from happening?

Nelson Vergel responds in the "Aging With HIV" forum


Visual AIDS: Art from HIV-Positive Artists

Image from the April 2012 Visual AIDS gallery Detail from:
"Untitled (House/Churches 5-8)," 1996
William Cullum

Visit the April 2012 Visual AIDS Web Gallery to view our latest collection of art by HIV-positive artists! This month's gallery, "Borders/Crossings," is curated by Liz Barr.

HIV/AIDS TREATMENT


 When Will I See the Results of HIV Treatment?
I was just diagnosed with HIV. My CD4 count is 250 and my viral load is 100,000. It seems I've been infected for a while without knowing, and I might even have been reinfected. I started taking HIV meds a week ago. How long before I'll see positive results? Will my viral load ever reach undetectable? How high might my CD4 count be able to go?

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


 What Do You Know About the New Quad Pill?
My doctor gave me the option of joining a clinical trial for the new, not-yet-approved Quad pill. I'm happy with my current meds, which I also take once a day: Norvir (ritonavir), Prezista (darunavir) and Truvada (tenofovir/FTC). My CD4 count is 720 and my viral load is undetectable. Would there be short- or long-term benefits to switching to the new pill?

Joseph P. McGowan, M.D., F.A.C.P., responds in the "Choosing Your Meds" forum


More Questions About HIV/AIDS Treatment:


OTHER HEALTH ISSUES & HIV/AIDS


 Is It Common for HIVers to Have Protein in Their Urine?
I am HIV positive and have been on the same meds for about six years. A recent test detected protein in my urine. Is this common? Is it a problem? If it's not, what might help correct it before it becomes a problem?

Nelson Vergel responds in the "Aging With HIV" forum


 What Should I Do About My High Cholesterol?
I've been taking Isentress (raltegravir) and Truvada (tenofovir/FTC) for three years. My viral load has been undetectable since I started the meds, and I've been completely adherent. My CD4 count is constantly above 800. My cholesterol counts, however, have been less than stellar. My doctor has prescribed Lipitor (atorvastatin) but I'm hesitant to take it. Is it possible that my high cholesterol is caused by my HIV meds? If so, would you suggest a different regimen? What else could be going on, and what should I do?

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


Connect With Others

I've Reassured My Loved Ones; Now I Need Some Comfort, Too
(A recent post from the "I Just Tested Positive" board)

I was diagnosed 3/27/2012 with HIV. I've been so busy trying to reassure my loved ones that I will be OK that I've ignored my own need to be reassured. I'm hoping the interactions I make on here will help get me to that goal.

I initially tested positive on 3/12/2012 on a trip to the clinic to see if I had an STD. Well I did it seems, HIV and syphilis. This diagnosis has put my life into crisis mode. ...

I feel angry because I've been deceived by several people ... and also betrayed by myself. I believe a series of bad choices, bad luck, and maybe even fate has brought me to this point. ...

If anyone is interested in sharing anything about how my situation might relate to theirs, I'd be more than happy to talk/listen. -- nwkmateo

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UNDERSTANDING HIV/AIDS LABS


 What's My High CD4 Percentage Doing to My CD8 Count?
When I was diagnosed poz six years ago, I had a CD4 count of 250 and a CD4 percentage of 32. Since then, I've had great results on my HIV meds and my CD4 count has peaked at 790. However, my CD4 percentage keeps climbing. Would a high CD4 percentage be indicative of a low CD8 count? Should I be worried about that?

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


HIV/STD TESTING & TRANSMISSION


 When Should I Be Tested for Syphilis After I've Been Treated?
I was recently treated for syphilis, though I have undergone syphilis treatment several times over the past 15 years. How often after a person has been treated should they be retested for syphilis antibodies, and for how many months after treatment should they take the test?

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


 HIV on a Heroin Cooking Spoon: Am I At Risk?
I've been to rehab and been sober for two years, and I am in a state of panic. I recently read an article that said HIV can be transmitted through the blood vessels in the nose. I never injected heroin but I used to snort it by mixing it with water. On one occasion I'd found a spoon that someone had used to cook and inject heroin. It had dried-up heroin in it. I was in withdrawal and made an idiotic decision to add water to it and snort it. Could there have been HIV in the dried contents of the spoon? I just took an HIV test although I won't get the results back for a couple of weeks. Am I doomed?

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





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