December 4, 2012
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Living With HIV

 What Might Help Me Have a Longer Life?
I'm 67 years old and I've been HIV positive since the mid-1980s. I started taking HIV meds in 1999 with a CD4 count under 50, though I hadn't had the usual opportunistic infections. I now take Atripla (efavirenz/tenofovir/FTC); my CD4 count is now between 400 and 600, and my viral load is undetectable. I have a family history of longevity; my father lived to be 70, and my grandmother lived to be 100. What can I be aware of now that could increase my chances of having a similarly long life?

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

 Disclosure at Work: Is the Stigma All in My Son's Head?
My son confided to a coworker that he was HIV positive. Now he suddenly feels very isolated and feels this lady has told others. I was trying to be positive and told him it's all in his mind. He tells me that no one wants to approach him anymore. All he wants to do is stay home, which I know is not good for him. What can he do?

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

Mixed-Status Couples

 How Can I Keep Sex Safe With My Poz Partner?
A week ago I had oral sex with my boyfriend. We did stuff like blow jobs, anal licking and kissing. My boyfriend has been HIV positive for about a year and a half and has a low viral load; I'm HIV negative. When I gave him a blow job, I had a canker sore in my mouth that was healing. What's my risk of becoming HIV positive through these activities? What can we do to keep our sex life active while keeping me HIV negative?

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

Insurance, Workplace & Legal Concerns

 How Do I Decide Which Medicare Plan Is Right for Me?
I receive Medicare and Medi-Cal; ADAP and "extra help" pay my share of the additional cost. My doctor of many years recently dropped me because he's not taking Medi-Cal anymore. I currently get care through an established HIV clinic but miss working with a private-practice doctor. Should I consider going with a PPO or Medicare plan? How can I pick one that's right for me?

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

 Will I Lose My Job for the Crimes I Did Following My HIV Diagnosis?
I live in California. In 2007 I was diagnosed HIV positive. In the period after my diagnosis I lost everything from my car to my home, and I committed a burglary to survive. Since then I've found a great doctor, a psychiatrist and an excellent source of contract work that's about to become a full-time job. The problem is that I have to go through a background check. I've told them my criminal history, but can they deny me employment because of it? I firmly believe that if I'd never received an HIV diagnosis, I would never have "lost myself" for that period of time. Am I protected due to HIV status?

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

confessions of an hiv vaccine trial participant

Matthew Rose Ever wonder how HIV vaccine trials work -- and who participates in them? These studies are a vital link to an eventual preventive vaccine for HIV. At this year's AIDS Vaccine 2012 conference, we chatted with Matthew Rose, an eager vaccine trial participant, about all aspects of being part of these studies.

Interested in more highlights from the year's exciting HIV meetings? Advocates living with HIV/AIDS, doctors and other professionals share their insightful perspectives on some key gatherings in's series, "HIV Conferences: A Look Back at 2012."

Body Shape Changes & HIV/AIDS

 Has Ultherapy Shown Promise in Fighting Facial Wasting?
Dear Dr. Pierone: In an earlier post you mentioned you were getting an Ultherapy machine for your office. Have you received it yet? I've heard it takes a few months to see a real difference, but do you have any early thoughts on the skin-tightening effects of this method in treating facial lipoatrophy?

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

HIV/AIDS Treatment

 How Can I Protect My Kidneys on Truvada?
I take Sustiva (efavirenz, Stocrin) along with Truvada (tenofovir/FTC), which I know can be hard on the kidneys. Which supplements can I take to protect my kidneys? What else can I do to maintain my kidney health -- and my general health -- while taking these meds?

Nelson Vergel responds in the "Aging With HIV" forum

 Blacking Out Without Drinking Much Alcohol: Is It the Meds?
I've been taking Isentress (raltegravir) and Truvada (tenofovir/FTC) for over a year now, which I tolerate very well without any negative side effects. I'm a social drinker and don't regularly drink to excess. However, I believe my tolerance for alcohol has reduced since I've been taking HIV meds. in fact, I think I may have even blacked out on occasion. This isn't normal for me. Could the blackouts be linked to the meds and their interaction with alcohol?

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

 How Do Generic Meds Measure Up to the Brand-Name Stuff?
I'm from a developing country and the government here subsidizes the cost of HIV meds. I'm taking Combivir (AZT/3TC) and Sustiva (efavirenz, Stocrin). I get these medicines for free, but since it's government subsidized, what we get are generic medicines from India. One of my close friends told me that it's much better to take branded medicines because they're more effective. Is there any truth to that?

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

Other Health Issues & HIV/AIDS

 How Can I Get Support for Severe Anxiety if I'm Scared of Psychiatry?
I've lived with HIV for 27 years. My physical health is great, but over the years I've developed severe social anxiety. My doctor had me on an antidepressant that worked fine for seven years. Then she switched my meds and I got worse, even after a dosage increase. Now she wants me to go to a psychiatrist. I've done this in the past and had very, very bad results. I was near suicide during therapy. I made it clear to the doctor that I do not want and will not go back to counseling of any kind, but now she won't readjust my meds. Is my extreme fear of talking about myself normal? What can I do about it?

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

 Pregnant and Hepatitis B Positive: What Do I Need to Know?
I'm 24 years old and 37 weeks pregnant, and I just found out I have hepatitis B. I'm so scared. What can I do to protect my baby and keep myself healthy?

Lynn E. Taylor, M.D., F.A.C.P., responds in the "Hepatitis and HIV Coinfection" forum

Connect With Others

Dear Bulletin Board Family: How About a Reunion?
(A recent post from the "Living With HIV" board)

There have been so many people that have walked, strolled and even crawled into this house called I would love to hear from the many folks how everything is going. Seldom do we hear back from people on the Bulletin Boards, whether they found themselves poz or neg. It's like that with many support groups. When feeling fine then you never hear from/see them. But I say: Let's have a Reunion. Share how things have been since that new beginning of life! -- riverprincess

Click here to join this discussion, or to start your own!

To do this, you'll need to register with's bulletin boards if you're a new user. Registration is quick and anonymous (all you need is an email address) -- click here to get started!

Understanding HIV/AIDS Labs

 Can Hepatitis C Be Cured With a Complete Blood Transfusion?
My sister was recently diagnosed with hepatitis C. I've read online that there's no "cure" per se. Would a complete blood transfusion be a way to cure the virus? Since it lives in the blood, wouldn't replacing the infected blood with clean blood solve the issue?

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

HIV Testing & Transmission

 What Should I Use to Clean Up After Sex?
What is the best method for cleaning one's genital area after sex? Should I use soap with warm water or something stronger, like antiseptic solutions such as Dettol liquid, povidone-iodine or chlorhexidine?

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

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