August 21, 2012
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Living With HIV

 Should I Quit My Job to Avoid Stress?
I work as an account executive, often dealing with difficult clients. Some situations can cause stress -- sometimes mild, but still stressful. I love my job and everything is going well, but I understand that stress can cause negative consequences. I need to know what amount of stress my immune system can handle now that I'm living with HIV. Should I quit my job because of possible stressors?

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

 Just Found Out I'm HIV Positive: What's Next?
I recently received a positive HIV test result. I am so scared, and I have no idea what I should do. What are some possible first steps in figuring out how to take care of myself and get support?

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

Mixed-Status Couples

 How Can We Make Our Sex Life as Safe as Possible?
I'm HIV positive, and I was recently having intercourse with my negative partner using a condom. Things got hot, wild and messy; some of my vaginal secretions dripped onto the opening of his anus. Is there anything to worry about as far as his HIV risk? Do you have tips on safer sex?

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

Insurance, Workplace & Legal Concerns

 Can You Fill Out a Poz Child's Health Forms Without Sharing Their Status?
I'm part of an adoption support group for parenting HIV-positive children. I know that parents do not have to disclose their child's status if they choose not to. On health forms for school, sports teams, etc., we leave certain questions blank or write "N/A" (not applicable). But what about actual checklists that request a yes-or-no answer about HIV status? Is it acceptable to lie and check "no"? There's also the question of forms that don't ask about HIV status, but often ask for a list of current medications. It would not be hard for someone to discover a child's private HIV status by the medication names. What do you suggest?

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

Visual AIDS: Art from HIV-Positive Artists

Image from the August 2012 Visual AIDS gallery Detail from:
"Red Ribbon -- S&M," 2006
Richard Sawdon Smith

Visit the August 2012 Visual AIDS Web Gallery to view our latest collection of art by HIV-positive artists! This month's gallery, "Bloodbrothers," is curated by David Serotte.

Body Shape Changes & HIV/AIDS

 Why Do I Feel Like I'm Gaining Weight on Egrifta?
I've been taking Egrifta (tesamorelin) for about four months now, and I feel I've been gaining weight instead of losing body fat. Can you share some information that might help me benefit from this medication?

Nelson Vergel responds in the "Nutrition and Exercise" forum

 What Progress Has Been Made in Lipodystrophy Prevention?
The effects of lipodystrophy nearly destroyed my life around 2000-2001 after 11 years of asymptomatic HIV. Had I not had insurance, endured discomfort and embarrassment, and gritted my teeth through many painful procedures, I wouldn't be where I am today: still working, still healthy, and strangest of all, still looking pretty damn good even at 61. Do newly diagnosed HIV-positive people still get this deforming condition like so many of us long-term survivors did?

Gerald Pierone, M.D., responds in the "Facial Wasting" forum

HIV/AIDS Treatment

 Will Skipping Days of Med Doses Help Control My Neuropathy?
My viral load is undetectable and my CD4 count is close to 700. I was on Atripla (efavirenz/tenofovir/FTC) for about a year. I started getting neuropathy symptoms, so my doc switched me to Isentress (raltegravir), Norvir (ritonavir) and Prezista (darunavir) in the fall of 2011. My neuropathy symptoms subsided after a month or two, but this past week I had a flare-up. Could my neuropathy be back, and getting worse? Is it possible to take Norvir and Prezista every other day, and just keep taking Isentress every day?

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

 Is My Light Breakfast Enough to Take With Complera?
Recently I switched from Isentress (raltegravir) and Truvada (tenofovir/FTC) to Complera (rilpivirine/tenofovir/FTC) and Isentress. I take Complera in the mornings and I know I'm supposed to take it with food, but I'm not sure how much food is enough. Would a bowl of fruit or a banana suffice?

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

More Questions About HIV/AIDS Treatment:

Other Health Issues & HIV/AIDS

 Am I Taking Xanax for the Right Reasons?
In September 2008 I was diagnosed HIV positive and told I had progressed to AIDS, with a CD4 count of 16 and a viral load of 1.7 million. I went into a big depression. I started taking Xanax (alprazolam) at that point, and still take it. I now take Norvir (ritonavir), Reyataz (atazanavir) and Truvada (tenofovir/FTC). I currently have a CD4 count of 598 and an undetectable viral load. I feel better and well maintained, but I still sometimes wonder if I'm taking Xanax for the right reasons, since the worst of my depression has passed and I only have occasional, mild panic attacks. What do you think?

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

 Wormwood Helps My Gut, But What's It Do to My Body?
Sometimes I take wormwood supplements for a few days to help me clear the gut infections I occasionally deal with. I've had C diff (Clostridium difficile) infections in the past, and wormwood seems to do the trick. Does wormwood interact with any HIV meds? What do you know about this supplement?

Nelson Vergel responds in the "Nutrition and Exercise" forum

Connect With Others

Small-Town Hate, Slander, Stigma and Ignorance: What Should I Do?
(A recent post from the "Living With HIV" board)

I live in a small town. A neighbor found out about my status, spread it around town and now it's affecting my children. People I don't even know won't let their kids play with mine, thinking they will get infected. Any advice about what I can do? Should I take some legal action? -- MindySue

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Understanding HIV/AIDS Labs

 How Did I Improve Quickly When My CD4 Count Was Very Low?
Recently I tested HIV positive in the hospital, with PCP (pneumocystis pneumonia), a CD4 count of 25 and a viral load of 500,000. A week after being discharged from the hospital, having recovered from PCP and taken Reyataz (atazanavir), Norvir (ritonavir) and Truvada (tenofovir/FTC) for 20 days, my CD4 count was 185 and my viral load was 1,000. Is it likely that my lowest CD4 count was higher than 25? Could PCP have had a negative effect on my CD4 count?

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

HIV & Hepatitis Testing

 Are My At-Home HIV Test Results Reliable?
I had a possible HIV exposure a little over a year and a half ago: I just found out that one of my friends, who'd slept with my boyfriend at the time, is HIV positive. I panicked and got an at-home, mail-in HIV test kit at the Walgreens pharmacy. Much to my relief it came back negative, but then I started wondering if the test was valid since it's been over a year since my possible infection. May I trust the good news that I dodged this bullet, or should I have further testing done?

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

 Could Drinking Alter My Hepatitis Test Results?
I got my blood work done recently, and my liver enzyme levels are very elevated. I've been drinking for 15 years and done some stupid, risky things. I was tested for hepatitis B and C a couple of years ago, and both tests came back negative. I'm worried that my liver function is so poor that I can't produce the antibodies for a positive test result if I do in fact have hepatitis. Is there a more sensitive test I should take? What does my drinking have to do with all this?

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

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