May 8, 2012
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Living With HIV

 Stressed Out and Stigmatized at Work: What Can I Do?
My wife and I tested positive for HIV in 2003, and I was given an AIDS diagnosis. Things are going well for the most part. However, I work in the most stressful environment of my 22-year professional life. I have to stay there because it's how I'm getting a virtually free education. In a meeting the other day a colleague said, "We have a student walking these halls with HIV!" Everyone gasped. He went on to say, "But I sure as hell ain't gonna touch him." People chuckled and my heart sank. At times I feel overwhelmed by stress, which I've read can be an issue for a person with HIV. What can I do?

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


 Does Synthetic Testosterone "Feel" the Same as the Real Stuff?
Do you think that testosterone taken in what I presume is a synthetic form enhances the libido in just the same way as if you were lucky enough to be producing testosterone at that level naturally? In other words, does the desire feel the same, and natural?

Nelson Vergel responds in the "Aging With HIV" forum


Mixed-Status Couples

 What Happened to the Man I Love Once He Started Meds?
We're a gay couple. My boyfriend just started HIV meds eight days ago with Atripla (efavirenz/tenofovir/FTC). We expected some side effects, but I wasn't prepared for his growing aggression. He's like a totally different person toward me; he refuses to talk to me about it, but last night he seemed so angry it was like he wanted to hit me. I love him and want to make our relationship work but I don't know if I can handle this. Is there any chance the side effects will subside?

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


Insurance, Workplace & Legal Concerns

 What Does My Employer Need to Know About My Health?
I was diagnosed HIV positive in February. I work at a small mom-and-pop sort of place. The owner, his wife and four sons are very kind, but extremely conservative. If I disclose my HIV status to the vice president, can he turn around and tell the owner? I think they may know because the agency that manages the health insurance benefits is close friends with the family. If they already know and I don't officially tell them, does it look like I'm being dishonest? How much do I have to tell, and how should I tell it?

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


 Why Do I Have to Get My HIV Meds Via Mail Order?
I currently take Complera (rilpivirine/tenofovir/FTC). My insurance told me I could no longer get long-term medications from a retail pharmacy because it won't be covered. I spoke with a social worker; we called the insurance company and it seemed we'd fixed the situation. I called in for a refill and the pharmacy told me my insurance wouldn't cover it unless I go through mail-order. I can't have meds sent to my house because my parents don't know of my diagnosis. I've been doing great; my CD4 count has been rising and my viral load dropping since I started meds. What happens if I run out of meds and don't have a refill? What can I do?

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


Visual AIDS: Art from HIV-Positive Artists

Image from the May 2012 Visual AIDS gallery Detail from:
"Catalog My Love #9," 1996
Elliott Linwood

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.

Body Shape Changes & HIV/AIDS

 How Can I Tell if My Fat Gain Is Due to Lipodystrophy?
I'm a 50-year-old man living in the U.S. and I've been living with HIV for a long time. I'm 6 feet tall. I have a noticeable paunch around the waist. I recently spent many months abroad in a tropical setting and lost a lot of weight due to daily walking, sweating and smaller portions than in the U.S. It appeared that my paunch had gone down as well. In the months since then I've gained back the weight and the paunch. How do we distinguish between HIV-related abdominal fat and regular abdominal fat? Does it look or feel any different? Would HIV-related abdominal fat have persisted even as I was losing weight?

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



HIV/AIDS Treatment

 Rash on First Regimen: Will the Same Reaction Accompany Other Meds?
My best friend was diagnosed with HIV three weeks ago. He started taking Atripla (efavirenz/tenofovir/FTC) and on day 12 he developed a horrible rash that gave him a fever and spread to his eyes and mouth. Our HIV doctor immediately took him off Atripla. He now wants to put him on Isentress (raltegravir) and Truvada (tenofovir/FTC) as opposed to Complera (rilpivirine/tenofovir/FTC). Is that the best choice? What are his chances of experiencing another painful, perhaps life-threatening rash like this one? Are there other combinations that pose even less risk of rash than the ones I've mentioned?

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


 What Can I Expect as Part of a Drug Study?
I've never taken HIV meds before and have been asked if I'd like to start with a novel regimen as part of a drug study in my country. Since it's not a common combination, I can't find an accurate list of possible side effects for it. How will I know what to expect if the study is double blind and I don't know which meds I'm getting? What does "double blind" mean, anyway?

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


More Questions About HIV/AIDS Treatment:


Connect With Others

How Do I Get Enough Nutrients and Fiber if I Can't Eat a Ton of Veggies?
(A recent post from the "Nutrition, Exercise & HIV" board)

I was diagnosed HIV+ March 1st. My viral load was 590,000 and my CD4 count was 400. My results for my late April labs are viral load under 3,000 and CD4 over 1,000 -- up by 600 points after taking meds for about a month and a half.

Fortunately the meds are working but unfortunately my body still seems to be having issues with veggies and fiber. Is this a reaction to the meds or just me? I am still concerned about getting all the nutrients I need because of my body seeming to refuse too many veggies ... Any suggestions by anyone that has figured out something that works for them? -- genuinered

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Other Health Issues & HIV/AIDS

 How Do I Maintain Decent Vitamin D Levels?
My CD4 count is 803, my CD4 percentage is 45 and I have an undetectable viral load. I've been HIV positive for well over 20 years, and taken Atripla (efavirenz/tenofovir/FTC) or its components for more than seven years, with no other health issues. At my most recent visit, my HIV doctor found that my vitamin D levels were very deficient. He has me on a prescription of once-a-week vitamin D for eight weeks with a re-check after that. Since my HIV meds haven't changed, what would keep my vitamin D level from returning to deficiency once this prescription is over? What are the next steps to maintaining normal vitamin D levels indefinitely?

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


 Could My Tinnitus Be HIV Related?
Just before I was diagnosed HIV positive I began suffering from tinnitus. That's actually what prompted me to take an HIV test. I've had the tinnitus checked with no sign of hearing impairment. Is it possible that HIV could be causing the tinnitus?

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


HIV & STD Transmission

 What About Those Who Test Negative for HIV and Still Get Sick?
Someone posted this statement in the Safe Sex and HIV Prevention forum: "Symptoms equal HIV, period. ... Just because you tested HIV negative, you are not classified as AIDS, but you're sick with the disease of AIDS. So I am pretty sure most of you who have symptoms will die earlier than you would otherwise. Why would people have symptoms after risky sex and test negative on all available tests?" This worries me as I have all the symptoms of HIV even though I tested negative. I've read posts from people who've had symptoms for 10 years since they last engaged in risky behavior. They get diagnosed with other diseases that could be associated with HIV, yet they are HIV negative. How do you explain this?

David Wohl, M.D., responds in the "Safe Sex and HIV Prevention" forum


 Why Did My Friend Get 2 Chlamydia Test Results?
Recently my friend was tested for Chlamydia infection. He received two results; one was negative and the other was positive. What's the difference between the two results? What's going on here?

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





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