July 10, 2012
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Living With HIV

 What Happens if I Continue to Live Without HIV Meds?
I have been HIV positive since 1997 and have not thought about it much. I refuse to take meds, and am just planning to go when the time comes. Recently I've been feeling fatigued and experiencing other symptoms. How much time would you guess I have left if I continue to not take HIV meds?

Nelson Vergel responds in the "Aging With HIV" forum

Mixed-Status Couples

 What's the Risk in Barebacking With a Poz Bottom?
I recently met a man who is HIV positive; I'm HIV negative. We want to have sex, and I'd like to do it bareback. I'll be the top. Am I at risk for HIV if we engage in bareback sex, even if he is the receptive partner and his viral load is undetectable?

Richard Cordova responds in the "Safe Sex and HIV Prevention" forum

Insurance, Workplace & Legal Concerns

 If My Tiny Company Gets a Health Plan, Will My Boss Know My Status?
I work for a small company that doesn't offer health insurance, though they did increase my salary to compensate. I'm still covered under my parents' insurance. However, my employer is thinking about a company policy. If the company does a group plan, will they be able to figure out my HIV status? Would it be better for me to shop for my own coverage?

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

Visual AIDS: Art from HIV-Positive Artists

Image from the July 2012 Visual AIDS gallery Detail from:
"Going to the Land of the Dead," 1983
Copy Berg

Visit the July 2012 Visual AIDS Web Gallery to view our latest collection of art by HIV-positive artists! This month's gallery, "Overnight Wave (For Arthur)," is curated by Rick Herron.

HIV/AIDS Treatment

 Is There an HIV Med Regimen That Doesn't Affect the Liver?
My boyfriend has had HIV for 21 years and an AIDS diagnosis for 10 years. He's had a hard time finding a cocktail that works for him as he's allergic to sulfa drugs. For 10 months he's been on Combivir (AZT/3TC), Norvir (ritonavir) and Reyataz (atazanavir) which brought his viral load to undetectable and his CD4 count, which was 64 a month ago, has been slowly climbing. A week ago they took him off all meds due to off-the-chart liver enzyme levels. Is there an HIV med regimen he could take that doesn't contain sulfa drugs and won't harm his liver?

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

 Why Is the Clinic Waiting for Me to Get Sicker?
I'm a 22-year-old female. Late last year I went for an HIV test, as I usually did every three months, and this time I found out I was HIV positive. My first lab tests showed I had a CD4 count of 451. My local clinic told me to come back in three months as my CD4 count didn't indicate that I should start HIV treatment. Three months later my CD4 count had increased to 699, and the folks at the clinic said the same thing as before. I'm worried that if I wait too long to start taking meds, I might get sick and my CD4 count really will drop. What should I do?

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

 Is Now an OK Time to Switch Meds?
I was diagnosed with HIV in November 2011. I started taking Atripla (efavirenz/tenofovir/FTC) but had to stop due to severe rash. I switched to Epzicom (abacavir/3TC, Kivexa) and Isentress (raltegravir) three weeks ago, but side effects are getting worse and I can tell this isn't going to be the long-term regimen for me. Would it be possible to switch the Epzicom in favor of Truvada (tenofovir/FTC) now without difficulties? Should I give this new regimen more time?

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

Other Health Issues & HIV/AIDS

 Do CMV and High CD4 Counts Ever Go Together?
I've been having some vision problems. I had my eyes checked twice and the eye doctor said I have nothing to worry about, that I just need to wear glasses and that's it. However, the person from whom I acquired HIV also had CMV (cytomegalovirus), which I know can cause blindness. Now I'm really scared. Do I need to worry about CMV, even though my CD4 count is over 800?

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

Understanding HIV/AIDS Labs

 Can I Go 9 Months Between CD4 Count Tests?
I was recently told by my doctor that he will only test my CD4 count every nine months, as opposed to the viral load test which will be taken every three months. He told me this has to do with new health insurance restrictions. Have you heard of this before? Should I be worried that my CD4 count isn't being tested more often?

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

Connect With Others

Confused After Testing Positive: What's Going to Happen to Me?
(A recent post from the "I Just Tested Positive" board)

I'm an international student in the U.S., and I tested HIV+ a few days ago. ... My getting tested just came up in a conversation I was having with a guy I just met and I told him it had been a while since I went for an HIV test (close to 12 months). He felt it was a good idea I get checked and promised to accompany me. We went in the next day and the preliminary results came out positive. ...

I went into shock and told my friend immediately because we had just had unprotected sex the night before. Luckily, he has been very supportive ... I am an African national and I am very aware of the stigma around HIV, or worse for being gay. ... I do not know what to do, how to handle telling people ... It's just so confusing to me. I sit and play different scenarios in my head of what lies ahead. Can someone, anyone, please give me some advice? -- LovingLife

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HIV & STD Testing

 How Accurate Is the Oral Fluid HIV Test?
Is the OraQuick ADVANCE rapid HIV test, which uses oral mucosal transudate, a reliable test?

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

Strange but True

 My Dog's Menstrual Chew Toy: What's the Risk?
Yesterday my dog was chewing on a used tampon she got out of a stranger's trash can. She licked me on the face and lips before I knew what she had done. She might have licked me in the mouth! Am I at risk for HIV from that tampon? I am so worried!

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

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