April 24, 2012
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LIVING WITH HIV/AIDS


 Living Happily With HIV: Am I a Rarity?
I was diagnosed with HIV in 2003 and have been on Atripla (efavirenz/tenofovir/FTC) since 2008. I've had no side effects, my viral load is undetectable and my counts have climbed continuously. I've attended a few HIV support groups and got depressed by the crowd. Most people no longer worked and received some type of aid. I continue to work a full-time job; I work out every night and run on weekends. I feel wonderful, but I don't know anyone else like me! Will I eventually deteriorate? Have I just not yet experienced the inevitable?

Nelson Vergel responds in the "Aging With HIV" forum


 What Can I Do to Support My Liver Health?
I take Truvada (tenofovir/FTC) and Viramune (nevirapine), and I'm a bit worried about how taking these meds every day will affect my liver. What should I be doing differently? Is it bad that I drink beer occasionally?

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


MIXED-STATUS COUPLES


 Does It Matter if I Disclose to My New Boyfriend?
I've been living with HIV for three years and I'm taking Atripla (efavirenz/tenofovir/FTC). My viral load is undetectable. My boyfriend of one month is HIV negative. If we have sex we use condoms because I don't want to expose him to HIV, but I'm really afraid of telling him my positive status. What should I do?

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


 Can My Poz Partner Get Health Coverage if He Moves to the U.S.?
I'm a foreign professional currently working in California (on a work visa with the possibility of obtaining permanent residency in about three years). I'm looking into having my longtime HIV-positive partner immigrate to the U.S., first as a student and then maybe through employment or marriage. In the case that my partner comes to the U.S., could he be covered as my domestic partner under my employer's group health insurance? Would his preexisting condition be an issue? Could he also have the chance of obtaining coverage through the university where he'd be enrolled?

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


Visual AIDS: Art from HIV-Positive Artists

Image from the April 2012 Visual AIDS gallery Detail from:
Untitled, 2000
Preston McGovern

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.

INSURANCE, WORKPLACE & LEGAL CONCERNS


 Am I Being Discriminated Against at Work?
When I became really ill at work due to a medication change, I disclosed my HIV status. Since then I've been asked to sign a medical release form allowing my employer to talk with my doctor, taken off four shifts, and now I'm being asked to provide information on HIV or else I'd be taken off the shift schedule. My boss says she's just trying to protect her business (a restaurant), her employees and customers. Is this discrimination?

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


HIV/AIDS TREATMENT


 Can I Take Only Part of My Regimen for Financial Reasons?
I'm having a difficult time affording my medication. I currently take Atripla (efavirenz/tenofovir/FTC), my T-cell count is 600 and my virus has been undetectable since I started taking the medication in 2009. If I can't purchase my medication this month, should I stop taking it altogether, or take fewer doses to make it last longer? What could happen if I stopped taking my meds for, say, two months?

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


 Choosing a New Regimen: What Side Effects Should I Know About?
I'm a 39-year-old man. I was diagnosed with HIV during seroconversion in January 2011 and decided to start HIV meds right away. A month later my viral load was undetectable, and until recently my CD4 count has always been higher than 600. However, awful depression led me to stop taking Atripla (efavirenz/tenofovir/FTC) this January. Three weeks after stopping, all my depressive symptoms were gone. My most recent genotype test shows no resistance whatsoever. I'm considering starting a new HIV med regimen soon. Can you let me know the side effect profiles of a few popular regimen options?

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


 If It's Not Low Testosterone, What's Causing My Low Sex Drive?
I take Combivir (AZT/3TC), Norvir (ritonavir) and Reyataz (atazanavir) as well as Lexapro (escitalopram) and testosterone injections once a month. My testosterone level is normal but my sex drive is zero and I have no response to sexual stimulation. What could be going on?

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


 Is My Joint Pain Due to Bone Loss?
I switched to Truvada (tenofovir/FTC) from AZT (Retrovir, zidovudine) about six months ago. One of my friends has bone loss in his hips from Truvada. My hip and shoulder joints have been bothering me, and when I sit for a long time I can barely get up. Is this a bone loss problem?

Nelson Vergel responds in the "Nutrition and Exercise" forum


Connect With Others

What Can I Expect From My First HIV Specialist Appointment?
(A recent post from the "I Just Tested Positive" board)

I tested positive on March 30. I was having some routine blood work done and on a whim asked for HIV test as well. Rest of the stuff turned out good, HIV test not so good.

My family doctor told me that my numbers are very good (low), but didn't tell me what they were. He told me that if I had gotten tested just a few months ago, I would have shown negative. He estimates that I was infected 6-12 months ago.

I decided that I had been punched hard, and I had two choices: lie down, or get up. I chose to get up.

I see my specialist for the first time tomorrow. I'm ready to get some actual information and get started on the path of the rest of my life.

What can I expect to get (information wise) from my first visit? My hope and intention is that with the help of people that support me, good treatment and my will to get up that I'll stand a better chance of dying from being hit by a bus in 40 years than I will of dying from this. -- lifepart2

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UNDERSTANDING HIV/AIDS LABS


 Can You Help Me Read My Hepatitis Test Results?
I'm confused by my lab results. What does it mean that my "surface antibody" for hepatitis B is "reactive"?

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


HIV & STD TRANSMISSION


 Should I Change PEP Medications?
After I was sexually assaulted, doctors recommended I take Kaletra (lopinavir/ritonavir) and Truvada (tenofovir/FTC) as post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP). Today is my third day taking the meds. I read that AZT (Retrovir, zidovudine) is more effective as PEP. Is this true? Should I switch meds? Is it already too late?

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


 Sperm Washing Takes Care of HIV, but What About Other STDs?
I'm an HIV-negative lesbian in my 30s, and I can't wait to have a baby. A dear friend of mine who's gay too and HIV positive has agreed to be my sperm donor. It's worth the expense to us to use sperm washing for additional protection, though he takes HIV meds and has an undetectable viral load. We're different from both the usual sperm-donation and sperm-washing scenarios in that we're not in a sexual relationship but I'm sure of his HIV status, so I'm not asking him to abstain from any risk behaviors; he's got his life, and I know he occasionally "serosorts" and has unprotected sex with other poz guys. How long does it take for other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) besides HIV to show up, and will the sperm-washing process eliminate them? Could he conceivably have a fun weekend a week before he gives his donation, pick up an STD, and I'm then infected with Chlamydia or something while I'm trying to get pregnant?

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





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