June 12, 2012
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Living With HIV

 How Long Is the Latent Phase of HIV Infection?
I've read that, after the initial acute stage of HIV infection, no symptoms appear for an average of 10 years; I think it's called the latency stage. Can this stage ever be shorter -- say, five years? During this period, would milder symptoms be present, or none at all?

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


 Coconut Water: Antiviral Action, or the Latest Fad?
I've heard recently that drinking the water or juice of a coconut can aid our bodies in fighting viruses such as the flu, herpes and even HIV. To what extent is this true?

Nelson Vergel responds in the "Nutrition and Exercise" forum


Mixed-Status Couples

 Just Found Out My Longtime Partner Is Positive: What Now?
I've been with my daughter's father for 15 years, and I just found out he's HIV positive. He has known since two years after we got together but he never told me; I had to hear it from a doctor in the hospital after he was admitted. I got tested and the result was negative, but I have to get tested again in three months. If I'm HIV positive, could my 9-year-old be positive as well? I've been so angry in the weeks since I found out that I haven't been eating or sleeping. What should I do? Should I tell my kids?

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


Insurance, Workplace & Legal Concerns

 Burned Out on Long-Term Disability: What Can I Do With My Life?
I'm 52 years old and I've been HIV positive since 1983. I went on disability in late 1995 with a T-cell count in the single digits and numerous other health issues. My kidneys failed in 2000 and I was on dialysis for eight and a half years before getting a transplant, for which the recovery took almost two years. I've now been on disability for almost 17 years. I take 14 prescription meds, including five HIV meds. My T-cell count is now 500. I'd like to get off disability, but I'm terrified that something else will come up health-wise. My only symptoms now are neuropathy, fatigue and severe depression due to HIV burnout. What can I do?

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


 Brief Trip to the US: Should I Leave My Meds at Home?
I've read and heard horrible stories of what's happened to HIV-positive people who brought HIV meds into the United States. I have to go to the U.S. for 10 days for my job, but I don't want to disclose my HIV status at the border (and I don't have to in my country). I know that U.S. President Barack Obama already removed the legal ban on HIV-positive people entering the U.S., but you never know what kind of customs agent you'll have to deal with. Would you recommend a 10-day pause on taking meds to avoid problems entering the U.S.?

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


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  • HIV/AIDS Treatment

     Feeling "Off" on Atripla: Is It All in My Head?
    I'm a 25-year-old in-shape man who has been taking Atripla (efavirenz/tenofovir/FTC) for about two years. When I first started I had a viral load of around 175,000 and a CD4 count of 350. I experienced some vivid dreams the first few weeks, but they subsided. However, lately I've been feeling very awkward and not like myself. I've been feeling depressed, confused, forgetful, lightheaded and even suicidal, which is not like me at all. I didn't think that side effects could happen after this long. Does this happen to anyone else taking Atripla?

    Nelson Vergel responds in the "Aging With HIV" forum


     Should My HIV Specialist Be Giving Me Full Checkups?
    I'm 45 years old and I tested HIV positive four years ago. My initial CD4 count was 98 and my viral load was 1,900. Since starting to take Norvir (ritonavir), Prezista (darunavir) and Truvada (tenofovir/FTC), my viral load has been undetectable but my CD4 count has remained low. I've been seeing my infectious disease specialist for two years. He does the basic temperature, blood pressure and weight, but I've never been in a gown at the doctors' office and have never really had a full "tap-and-thump" checkup. What should a physical exam include? Is it time to find a new doctor?

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


     How Should I Handle the Switch to Complera?
    I started taking Epzicom (abacavir/3TC, Kivexa) and Isentress (raltegravir) three years ago and have been doing well, but I'd like to switch to the once-a-day Complera (rilpivirine/tenofovir/FTC) for more convenient dosing. Is Complera only for those who are starting meds for the first time? If not, how do I make the switch? Are there other options for me?

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


    Other Health Issues & HIV/AIDS

     HIV and Drug Use: What's My Partner Doing to Himself?
    My partner is 26 and I'm 27. He was diagnosed with HIV about a year ago and has been using drugs a lot. He is not seeing his doctor, and he rarely brings up anything to do with HIV or what he's going through. He told me today that his viral load went from 15,000 to 85,000 and his CD4 count fell from 580 to 225 in approximately six months. Is this bad? Are the drugs making him sick? What can I do to help him?

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


     Will My Osteoarthritis Meds Make My HIV Meds Less Effective?
    I have osteoarthritis and I'm concerned that the calcium and Fosteum (genistein, zinc glycinate citrate, cholecalciferol) I take could potentially block my HIV meds. Should I worry?

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


    More Questions About Other Health Issues & HIV/AIDS:


    Connect With Others

    Are We Making Ourselves the "Underdogs" in Life and Love?
    (A recent post from the "Relationships and Dating" board)

    I was tested positive by good ol' Uncle Sam February of this year. The relationship that I was in before and after my discovery of my results had all the problems of a "normal" one. But not long after it ended, I began to realize I've sold myself short in life (or lack of). I also came to the realization that people with HIV can be some of the BIGGEST underdogs of life, and at that moment I felt a great sense of motivation to become successful. We have done ourselves a huge injustice by not seeking to love ourselves 100% fully and completely before seeking another person to be a part of "our" success story. Does anyone else agree? Disagree? -- mil26poz

    Click here to join this discussion, or to start your own!

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    HIV & Hepatitis Testing

     Does a Hepatitis B Test Also Test for HIV?
    If you test negative for hepatitis B, does this mean you also don't have HIV?

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


    Strange but True

     Assault With a Deadly Turd?
    A kid on the street threw a very small amount of feces at me. It knocked the side of my head. I wasn't able to wash up right away, and only showered when I got home five hours later. If the feces contained blood, am I at risk of HIV? Is the risk higher if the feces were fresh? I know it all sounds gruesome but I have to ask to put my silly mind at peace. Do I need PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis)?

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





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