May 1, 2012
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Living With HIV

 How Can I Gain Some Weight?
I'm a 37-year-old woman and I have lost a troubling amount of weight recently. What kinds of foods can I eat to healthily gain weight? Are there any supplements I can take to help me gain weight?

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

 Can I Transition From Male to Female While Living With HIV?
I'm HIV positive. I've always dreamed of becoming a girl and it pains me to think I might not be able to because I'm dealing with HIV. Can I transition from just dressing and living as a woman to truly, physically being a woman at some point in the future? If so, where can I go for information on this process?

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

Mixed-Status Couples

 How Can We Make My Poz Partner's Semen Safe to Swallow?
My HIV-positive partner and I would enjoy it if I could swallow his semen, even if it was not immediately upon his ejaculation. Is there any way that we could make his semen safe for me to ingest?

Erik Glenn, M.A., responds in the "Safe Sex and HIV Prevention" forum

 Could My Wife Take Truvada Until We Conceive Another Child?
I'm an HIV-positive man. I was diagnosed positive with a viral load of 500,000 two weeks after my wife gave birth. Despite plenty of unprotected sex before we knew I was positive, my wife and our baby are HIV negative. I take Isentress (raltegravir) and Truvada (tenofovir/FTC) and am doing well with a CD4 count of 440, a CD4 percentage of 20 and an undetectable viral load. We plan to have another baby and my wife doesn't want to do artificial insemination or sperm washing. Is it safe for us to have unprotected sex, and for my wife to take Truvada as pre-exposure prophylaxis, until we get the baby?

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

Visual AIDS: Art from HIV-Positive Artists

Image from the May 2012 Visual AIDS gallery Detail from:
"Studio (Installation View)," 2002
James Fackrell

Visit the May 2012 Visual AIDS Web Gallery to view our latest collection of art by HIV-positive artists! This month's gallery, "Jungle Pussy," is curated by Yeni Mao.

Insurance, Workplace & Legal Concerns

 Can I Be Charged With Exposing Someone to HIV?
I live in Texas and have been HIV positive for six months; I'm still learning how to live my life with HIV. I recently gave oral sex to someone and did not mention my HIV status. He later found out and is waiting for his test. He says he will press charges against me. Is this possible?

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

 How Can I Make Sure My Social Security Disability Application Is Strong?
I've been out of work by doctor's orders for a back injury that happened on the job. I've applied for social security disability benefits and I've added my HIV status to the application along with my back injury. What else do I need to do to ensure that I receive these benefits?

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

HIV/AIDS Treatment

 Complera vs. Atripla: Which Single-Pill Regimen Should I Start With?
I was recently infected with HIV, and diagnosed on February 20. I'd like to start HIV meds soon. I'd prefer Complera (rilpivirine/tenofovir/FTC) due to the lower risk of central nervous system side effects and cholesterol issues. It also fits better with my lifestyle since I can take it at breakfast every morning. I've seen two doctors; one said I would be fine taking Complera and the other recommended Atripla (efavirenz/tenofovir/FTC). What's your opinion? If I start with Atripla, how easy would it be to switch if I experience side effects?

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

 What Can We Do About My Partner's Chronic Nausea?
My 36-year-old partner has constant, daily nausea. He has better days and worse but is quick to get queasy. He's been taking Isentress (raltegravir) and Truvada (tenofovir/FTC) for several years. Is there anything he can do to control the nausea? Do you recommend that he change medications?

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

More Questions About HIV/AIDS Treatment:

Connect With Others

Roll Call for Magnetic Couples: What's Your Experience With Unprotected Sex?
(A recent post from the "Living With HIV" board)

I wondered how many other magnetic heterosexual couples out there are practicing unsafe sex? We were told by our specialist that after a couple of months on HIV meds, we could decide whether to use condoms or not. We chose the latter and have been having LOTS of unprotected sex.

I know there is still a risk but based on a doctor saying the risk is very low and then the Swiss study, I'm thinking that most professionals are covering their asses when they say use protection, just in case one "slips through the net."

... Is there anyone out there that has adhered to medication without any slip-ups, been undetectable and not used condoms, only for their partner to still seroconvert? -- Lunar76

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Other Health Issues & HIV/AIDS

 What Does Research Say About Alcohol Abuse and HIV?
I was diagnosed with HIV four years ago. I'm a recovering crack addict; I stopped in May 2011 and haven't used since. At that time my CD4 count dropped from 320 to 150 in six months. It has since rebounded. I started meds six weeks ago; I take a very common three-drug cocktail. I was drinking a great deal in recent months, anywhere from one to three bottles of wine a day. I've since gotten help and stopped drinking. Could I have done damage to myself with this excessive alcohol use? Is the risk increased by my having HIV and having started meds? Does the alcohol inhibit the drugs' effectiveness?

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

 Borderline Osteoporosis: What Are My Next Steps?
I'm 56 years old and I've been taking Norvir (ritonavir), Reyataz (atazanavir) and Truvada (tenofovir/FTC) since 2007 when I was diagnosed with HIV. My bone density has decreased and although I'm still in the earlier stages of bone loss, I have borderline osteoporosis in my left arm. I want to keep it from progressing. I don't drink or smoke. Should I switch to Epzicom (abacavir/3TC, Kivexa) or another med and get rid of Truvada since it's linked to osteoporosis? What do you think I should do?

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

HIV & Hepatitis Transmission

 How Easy Is It to Become Infected With Hepatitis C?
I understand I wouldn't get HIV from cutting myself on something an HIV-positive person just cut themselves on because the virus does not live outside the body that long. But I'm unclear with hepatitis C. I've read that hepatitis C can live in the environment for at least 16 hours but not longer than four days. How likely is it to get infected with this virus through environmental contacts? Do I need to be worried every time I get a cut out in public?

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

 What Are My Odds of Infection From a Possible HIV Exposure at Work?
I'm a healthy 25-year-old nurse. Last week I was removing a catheter from an HIV-positive patient with a viral load of 170,000 and a CD4 count of 2. When I removed the catheter, there appeared to be a drop of bloody material that flicked into the air and I have no idea where it landed. I guess if I didn't feel the drop land on me, then it didn't. But if it did hit my eye, mouth or skin, am I at high risk of infection?

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

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