October 10, 2012
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Living With HIV

 Gay and HIV Positive in a Discriminatory Region: Where Can I Live?
I'm gay and HIV positive and I live in an area of the world where it's very difficult to be either of these things. When I tested positive at the hospital in the country where I was living, they warned me to leave the country before they informed the ministry of health. I left everything and came back to my home country. My family and community don't accept me or my HIV status. I'm still moving from job to job, afraid of discovery about my disease. HIV meds are also not available on an ongoing basis. I saw with my own eyes a friend whose CD4 count was 50; he received a full dose of meds one month, but in the next they said there was no medicine. Do you have any idea what I can do?

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

 How and When Should I Reveal My HIV Status to My Church?
I was diagnosed HIV positive six months ago. My relationship with my wife has improved greatly, even though she now knows I lived a double life. I have confessed to her, but who else needs to know? I am a deacon at my church. Should I step down? Should I confess to my church even though my life is on a path to recovery, sanity and sobriety? With whom should I share my status? Or should I just take joy in my walk with God and my improved relationship with my wife, and keep my HIV status to myself for the time being?

Rev. Todd A. Brown responds in the "Spiritual Support and HIV" forum

Mixed-Status Couples

 Shyness and Erectile Dysfunction: Can My Poz Partner Help?
I have erectile dysfunction (ED) and my partner is HIV positive. I'm shy and have never used a condom. How much should I involve my partner in helping me with my erection once I've taken the meds for ED? How can I get over my shyness and sexual challenges so that my partner and I can have a great sex life? Is there anything I should be worrying about besides safer sex?

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

Insurance, Workplace & Legal Concerns

 How Can I Protect Myself From Discrimination on the Job?
My job has become increasingly stressful and demanding. I'm getting depressed with managing my HIV, work and single parenthood. I finally applied for Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) benefits; since then my job has transferred me, given me more work to do and given me a bad evaluation surrounding incidents of my absence. What can I do to protect myself?

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

 Can I Collect My Social Security if I Move Back to the U.S.?
I'm a U.S. citizen, but I haven't lived in the U.S. since I was 27. While I appreciate the universal health care and 100 percent coverage here in Europe, where I have lived and worked for over 20 years now, someday I would like to return stateside and be nearer to my friends and family. I paid into Social Security while I was working in the U.S., but I was just a student at that time; my income and Social Security contributions were not very much. Do you know what the minimum monthly amount is that one could expect if they've only paid in a minimum over 10 years? Will I be able to collect these benefits if I return to the U.S.?

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

Visual AIDS: Art from HIV-Positive Artists

Image from the October 2012 Visual AIDS gallery Detail from:
"Untitled (31 Days of Bloodworks)," 1990, and "Untitled (Blood)," 1992 Felix Gonzalez-Torres

Visit the October 2012 Visual AIDS Web Gallery to view our latest collection of art by HIV-positive artists! This month's gallery, "Notes on a Steady Decline," is curated by Steven Evans.

Body Shape Changes & HIV/AIDS

 What's Weight Loss Got to Do With HIV?
Does untreated HIV infection always result in weight loss? Is it possible for a newly HIV-positive individual to actually gain weight just by eating well and greater amounts, without being on HIV meds?

Nelson Vergel responds in the "Nutrition and Exercise" forum

HIV/AIDS Treatment

 Does the New HIV Pill Interact With Viagra?
I'm considering switching to the new one-pill-a-day HIV regimen Stribild (elvitegravir/cobicistat/FTC/tenofovir). I noticed under interactions the drug Revatio (sildenafil) is listed. I know that medication is also known as Viagra but it's not listed by that name. I take a Viagra once or twice a week; would the drug interaction be an issue? What can I do about it?

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

 Is My Joint Pain a Side Effect of Atripla?
I have taken Atripla (efavirenz/tenofovir/FTC) for over a year with minor problems. In the past month I've had joint pains at night; my hip bones hurt and the joints in my fingers sometimes lock up. Is this a side effect of my meds or another problem? Could it be caused by lack of fluids? What can I do?

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

 Can I Stop Taking HIV Meds for 3 Weeks While I Travel?
I take Combivir (AZT/3TC) and Sustiva (efavirenz, Stocrin) and my viral load is undetectable. However, I need to stop taking my meds for three weeks while I travel to a country that bans HIV-positive visitors. How should I do this?

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

Other Health Issues & HIV/AIDS

 Combating Alcoholism to Start HIV Meds: What Are the Risks?
I've agreed to begin a clinical trial in which I might be randomized to begin taking HIV meds. After nearly eight years of infection, my CD4 count is 899 and my viral load is undetectable. I'm also an alcoholic blackout drinker. I have tried both Campral (acamprosate) and Antabuse (disulfiram) in two separate unsuccessful attempts to stop drinking. As of my last appointment, I didn't have any liver problems or elevated liver enzymes. Would Revia (naltrexone) be a good next drug to try in my attempt to quit drinking? What interactions might this drug have with HIV meds?

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

 What's Causing My Anal Yeast Infections?
I'm 54 years old with a CD4 count above 450 and I've been HIV positive for 22 years. For the last six years I've been on Kaletra (lopinavir/ritonavir) monotherapy and my viral load is undetectable. I've never had any unusual symptoms, yet now I've been getting recurring yeast infections in my anus. Eventually they go away with Monistat (miconazole) treatment. Could these infections be a sign that my immune system is failing? Could my diet be a cause or a contributor?

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

so long, dr. mcgovern!

Dr. McGovern and Dr. Taylor While we were pleased to announce the arrival of renowned HIV and hepatitis specialist Lynn E. Taylor, M.D., F.A.C.P., on our "Hepatitis and HIV Coinfection" forum last week, we also bid farewell to Barbara McGovern, M.D.

We here at TheBody.com want to thank Dr. McGovern for the eight years she spent sharing cutting-edge wisdom on HIV and hepatitis coinfection in the forum. Though Dr. Taylor's own expertise and dedication to HIV-affected communities speak for themselves, she also comes highly recommended by Dr. McGovern!

Ask Dr. Taylor a question, or read Dr. McGovern's impressive archive of answers, in the forum.

Understanding HIV/AIDS Labs

 What's a Multidrug-Resistant HIVer to Do?
I'm 40 years old with a CD4 count of 360 and an undetectable viral load, and I've been taking Isentress (raltegravir) and Truvada (tenofovir/FTC) for two years. What if a person's virus developed resistance to all available HIV med regimens; what would they do then? Should they stop their current regimen or keep taking it? What would be the first steps?

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

HIV Transmission

 Does Body Fluid Wetness Prolong Infectiousness Outside the Body?
In your question-and-answer forum you've stated in the past that HIV begins to die once it leaves the human body, and within a minute's time the virus would be unable to infect another person. Does this mean that 60 seconds after leaving the body, HIV would be unable to infect someone even though the bodily fluid is still wet?

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

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