September 18, 2012
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Living With HIV

 Will It Kill My Mother to Hear That I'm HIV Positive?
I just found out I'm HIV positive. I live with my parents and I think I need to tell them, because I worry the next few weeks will be harsh and they'll definitely notice something's wrong with me. But I'm really scared of my mother's reaction. She's very sensitive and her own health is not great; I don't want to make things worse for her. She was always proud of me and thought I'd have great future. I feel terrible for potentially disappointing her. Do you have any thoughts or suggestions about this?

Nelson Vergel responds in the "Nutrition and Exercise" forum


 What Can We Do About Vitamin D Deficiency?
I read a recent study stating that a large percentage of the HIV-positive community is vitamin D deficient. I know many doctors are skeptical about the benefits of supplements, but what are we supposed to do about a lack of this important vitamin in our bodies? Would you please shed some light on this issue?

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


Mixed-Status Couples

 How Can I Get Comfortable With the Man of My Dreams?
I met a wonderful person who I think may be the man of my dreams. We met on an STD (sexually transmitted disease) dating website because I have herpes. He listed he had herpes as well, but as we got to know each other he told me he also has HIV. He's on medications to keep his viral load down and it's currently undetectable. Emotionally I'm worried about getting attached and then something happening to him. I'm also a little fearful of our sex life. I want to give myself to him but I still don't feel 100 percent comfortable, even with protection. How can we have a fulfilling relationship while keeping the HIV transmission risk low?

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


Insurance, Workplace & Legal Concerns

 Can I Sue My Doctor if My Off-Label Med Regimen Fails?
I have had an undetectable viral load since starting HIV meds with Sustiva (efavirenz, Stocrin) and Truvada (tenofovir/FTC) in 2005. About six months ago my doctor noticed some kidney damage and recommended I start taking Truvada every other day while continuing to take Sustiva every day. I was skeptical as it's not a published regimen, but I was assured that this had worked well in others, so I changed my dosage in this way. My viral load was undetectable at three months; now at six months it's detectable at 1,345 copies/mL. Since this regimen is not approved -- or even studied, to my knowledge -- is there the potential that this could be malpractice?

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


 Do I Have to Pay Back My Social Security Disability Payments?
I went back to work after 13 years on disability. The Social Security Administration kept paying me for a long time after I went back to work. Now they want me to repay the amount they paid, even though I told them several times to stop the payments. What will happen when I get to retirement age, which is fast approaching, and I need to receive social security payments but I can't because I'll still owe them thousands of dollars? What can I do about this situation?

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


Visual AIDS: Art from HIV-Positive Artists

Image from the September 2012 Visual AIDS gallery Detail from:
Untitled, 1993-1996
Nelson Edwin Rodriguez

Visit the September 2012 Visual AIDS Web Gallery to view our latest collection of art by HIV-positive artists! This month's gallery, "Elegy for a Queendom That Never Became," is curated by Quito Ziegler.


HIV/AIDS Treatment

 Why Is My Semen So Watery After Taking Atripla?
Ever since I started taking Atripla (efavirenz/tenofovir/FTC), my semen hasn't been the same. It used to look much healthier but now it's very watery, almost clear. I don't have any infections. My diet and habits are pretty regimented -- normal sleeping patterns, low levels of stress, proper eating -- and Atripla is the factor that stands out as the possible culprit. What could be going on?

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


 Can I Switch to Complera Even Though I've Taken HIV Meds Before?
I've been taking Norvir (ritonavir), Reyataz (atazanavir) and Truvada (tenofovir/FTC) for a few years and my T-cell count has never gotten past 475; at last check it was 300. I also suffer from stomach distress, and my eyes and skin have taken on a yellowish hue. I believe the Norvir/Reyataz part of my combo is the culprit, and Complera (rilpivirine/tenofovir/FTC) would address this by replacing it with another drug. I've read that Complera shouldn't be taken if you've already taken HIV meds. Why is this? Would it be safe for me to try Complera?

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


Other Health Issues & HIV/AIDS

 Can HCG Reverse Testicular Atrophy After Long-Term Hormone Use?
I'm a 52-year-old man; I've been HIV positive for 26 years and had an AIDS diagnosis for 16 years. For the past decade I've been receiving weekly Depo-Testosterone injections. In recent years my testicles have shrunk dramatically, often retreating up inside my body, especially when I'm sexually aroused which causes pain and embarrassment. I've read that human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG), given alternately with the testosterone, might stimulate re-growth. My doctor believes it's too late, plus I'm told HCG isn't covered by ADAP (AIDS Drug Assistance Program). What are your thoughts on the matter?

Nelson Vergel responds in the "Aging With HIV" forum


 Does My Chronic Hepatitis B Need to Be Treated?
I'm a 25-year-old woman, I'm HIV positive and I have chronic hepatitis B (hep B). I've been taking HIV meds for 10 years and I'm currently taking Combivir (AZT/3TC), Lexiva (fosamprenavir, Telzir) and Norvir (ritonavir). My CD4 count is somewhat stable around 500 and my viral load is undetectable. My liver tests are normal, but what do you think that means? Should I be taking treatment for hep B? Are the meds I'm taking now good for hep B too? Is there a chance my hep B is completely healed?

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


gay men's resource center

TheBody.com's HIV/AIDS Resource Center for Gay Men serves up a vast amount of knowledge, first-person perspectives and a wide range of articles to provide gay men and allies with must-have information.

In this resource center you'll find:
Gay Men's Resource Center
  • Up Close & Personal: First-person stories and columns from gay men living with HIV.

  • Info & Advice: Here's where you can turn to for current statistics and facts, advice on safer sex, information on where to find support and more!

  • Hot-Button Issues: This section boasts exclusive roundtables, our Word on the Street slideshows and special reports all related to gay men.

  • Q & A: Our trusted professionals weigh in on readers' questions.

TheBody.com's HIV/AIDS Resource Center for Gay Men was created for both HIV-positive and HIV-negative men to have a safe place to consume HIV/AIDS information. We hope you enjoy it and find it useful!


Understanding HIV/AIDS Labs

 What Are My Virus' Chances of Developing Resistance?
I've been HIV positive since 2010 and taking Atripla (efavirenz/tenofovir/FTC) for almost all the time since. What terrifies me is that my virus might develop resistance and I'll have to switch to stronger medicines and my number of pills, side effects and cost will increase. I don't have many options to fall back on should something go wrong. So far things have been fine -- my viral load is undetectable and my CD4 count is stable. Do you think my chance of developing resistance is high? Should I keep worrying? What else can I do?

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


HIV Transmission

 Binge Drinking, Unprotected Sex and Anxiety: Which Is More Risky for Me?
I'm a heterosexual female. I suffer with anxiety, especially when it comes to the fear of contracting HIV. Recently I had unprotected vaginal sex with a man of unknown status seven times. I went to a sexual health nurse who convinced me I didn't need to be tested for HIV. About two weeks ago I got drunk and had sex with another man I'd just met, this time while intermittently blacking out. At some point he took the condom off but I can't remember if we had sex without it or not. What are your thoughts on this scenario? Do you think I was at serious risk for becoming HIV positive?

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





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