September 11, 2012
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Living With HIV

 Recently Diagnosed: Will I Be Able to Keep My Dog?
I was just diagnosed with HIV. As I was infected couple of months ago, I don't need to take medication just now. I have a dog. Can I still interact with him? Should there be some precautions taken or restrictions to my interactions with him, for the sake of my health?

Nelson Vergel responds in the "Aging With HIV" forum

 Dear Jacques: How Do You Deal With Grief?
I know that you lost your partner; I'm sorry to hear that. Does the pain of grief and death ever go away? Does it always stay there as a hole in your heart? I cannot seem to get past it myself. What do you recommend, from your personal experience?

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

 What's the Difference Between Androderm and Androgel?
Do the topical testosterone supplements Androderm and Androgel accomplish the same thing? Is there an advantage to one over the other?

Nelson Vergel responds in the "Nutrition and Exercise" forum

Mixed-Status Couples

 Should I Have Revealed My HIV Status to the One I Love?
I've been living with HIV for 17 years now and on HIV meds for 10 years. So far I've lived a happy and productive life, but it's been very difficult dating. I've been seeing a male friend romantically for about eight months. I recently shared my HIV status with him since I'd wanted to tell him before we got more intimate. He cried a lot and promised nothing has changed in our relationship, but he said he needs time to get over it. We're still in constant communication, but I have doubts whether this will last. Did I do the right thing by telling him? What should I do now?

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

Insurance, Workplace & Legal Concerns

 Will I Be Able to Find an Insurer That Takes HIV-Positive Clients?
I am an HIV-positive man who is on HIV meds and has an undetectable viral load. I've been thinking about getting insurance coverage for hospitalization but I just realized that most insurers in my country (not the U.S.) will not insure an HIV-positive person. Do you know of any international health insurance that provides coverage for folks with pre-existing conditions? Also, with so many new findings about how HIV increases the risks of non-communicable diseases, how do insurers judge whether a claim is HIV related?

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

 Can an HIV-Positive Person Work as a Medical Assistant?
I've been living with HIV since 1997. I want to go back to school to become a medical assistant. Would I be able to do that being HIV positive? If I do complete a medical assistant training program, would I have to disclose my HIV status to my employers when I get hired? I've found conflicting information in response to this question. What's your experience?

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

barebacking, unbridled

barebacking, unbridledWhat do you feel when you hear the term "barebacking"? Anger at the stigma the word can imply? Relief that the topic is being discussed in an open forum? Frustration that anyone would choose to have unprotected sex in the age of HIV/AIDS?

No matter what your position on barebacking is, chances are excellent that one of's interviewees, bloggers or content partners has touched upon it. Check out this sampling of the range of perspectives on gay men and sexual risk that have been shared on our site.

Body-Shape Changes & HIV/AIDS

 What's Your Advice on Facial Fillers for Lipoatrophy?
I want to obtain treatments to fill my cheeks, temples, eyelids and chin. I recently discussed filler options with a doctor who basically told me to run a mile from synthetic fillers like PMMA (Articol, Artefill, Metacrill, polymethyl-methacrylate) and recommended that for large-volume filling of my face I should go for fat graft injections. I have worries about whether the fat will be long lasting and look even. Funnily enough, the doctor mentioned these same reasons for avoiding synthetic fillers. Is he correct? What's the best course of action?

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

HIV/AIDS Treatment

 Should I Try Taking Prezista Again After an Allergic Reaction?
I'm a 55-year-old woman; I've been on HIV meds for 25+ years, my viral load is undetectable and my CD4 count is 800+. I recently switched from Reyataz (atazanavir) to Prezista (darunavir) because of kidney stones related to Reyataz. I'm allergic to sulfa-based drugs, and after 12 days on Prezista I developed a swollen lip and eventually a rash on my neck and chest. I'm now back on Reyataz along with Norvir (ritonavir) and Truvada (tenofovir/FTC) and staying VERY well hydrated. What are your thoughts on my re-challenging with Prezista given my allergy to sulfa?

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

 Should I Worry About Ziagen-Related Heart Risk?
I'm 45 years old; I've been HIV positive for two years and on HIV meds for 18 months with normal CD4 counts and an undetectable viral load. I take Epzicom (abacavir/3TC, Kivexa) and Sustiva (efavirenz, Stocrin), as well as vitamins and supplements. I've also recently started taking a mini-aspirin daily due to my understanding that the Ziagen (abacavir) in Epzicom may increase my risk of cardiovascular complications. Do you think the aspirin will help lower this risk?

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

 Why Won't My Partner Take His Meds?
My partner was diagnosed with HIV in 2005. When he first started medication he was a poster boy for Atripla (efavirenz/tenofovir/FTC); all his counts normalized, his side effects were minimal and he adhered well to the regimen for a few years. Then he decided he wasn't going to take it anymore, instead opting for exercise and a new diet. He's reluctant to go to the doctor for anything at all, and gets very defensive when I ask if he's taking his meds. We've been together for 20 years and I have nobody to talk to about it. He refuses to see a psychiatrist and doesn't appear to have any kind of death wish. Is there anything I can do about this?

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

Other Health Issues & HIV/AIDS

 Will I Have Meningitis for the Rest of My Life?
I contracted cryptococcal meningitis in 2010. My doctors said I would never walk or talk again, but I did it. They also said I would be living with the illness for the rest of my life. Is this true?

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

 When Is a Relapse of Hepatitis C More Likely to Occur?
If the hepatitis C virus were to reappear after a person had gone through treatment for it, and reinfection was not an issue, when would it most likely show up? Is it accurate to believe that, if a person's hepatitis C viral load is undetectable 30 to 40 days after treatment, the treatment worked?

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

Connect With Others

How Can I Help My Best Friend Live With HIV?
(A recent post from the "Living With HIV" board)

My best friend has been positive for I'd say 3-4 years. He also has lupus. His mother died of lupus as well about 2 years ago.

He looks and seems fine; lately, though, I've had a hard time coping and I feel like he's beginning to drift into that mentality of "I'm going to die so nothing matters." It's affecting me a lot ... Just 2 days ago we were at a bar and he had a few. He was sounding suicidal like he was ready for it all to end. He even went to so far as giving me his keys, his wallet, telling me all his things are mine and wanting me to say goodbye to everyone for him. Two days later now he seems fine ...

I know he's not really all right but just hiding the pain. I don't really know what to do. I just want him to be a little happier is all. Does anyone have advice for helping him through this? -- darmar106

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Understanding HIV/AIDS Labs

 Can I Calculate My CD4 Percentage?
My CD4 count is 592, my CD8 count is 658 and my CD3 count is 1,270. Is it possible to use these numbers to calculate my CD4 percentage? I found the following formula on this site and elsewhere on the Internet: CD4% = (CD4/CD3) x 100. Is this correct?

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

HIV Transmission

 Can I Be an HIV-Positive Dad?
I'm a man living with HIV; my viral load is undetectable and my CD4 count is 1,485. I really want to have a child. I know I won't be around forever, but I want to be a father. What's the risk of impregnating a person?

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

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