January 15, 2013
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Living With HIV

 Should I Be Saving for Retirement?
I am 27 years old and was diagnosed with HIV last year. I have been on treatment for about eight months now. My viral load is undetectable and I'm feeling great. My CD4 count is still low (about 160), but I am hopeful. I am employed full time, and today I met with a financial analyst about starting a retirement fund. During my consultation, we estimated how much I would need to retire comfortably at age 67. But will all my saving be for nothing? Is it reasonable for me to think that, living with HIV, I can one day retire and actually use the funds I may start saving?

Nelson Vergel responds in the "Aging With HIV" forum

 What Are the Benefits of Drinking Vinegar?
I recently tested HIV positive with a very low CD4 count of 8. I am now on antiretrovirals. What surprised me is that despite my low CD4 count, I feel healthy without any sickness. I add vinegar to all water I drink. Could my habit of drinking vinegar be keeping me healthy? Does vinegar interact with my medications?

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

Mixed-Status Couples

 Magnetic Couple: What Are Our Options for Having a Baby?
I'm a 22-year-old HIV-positive guy dating a 33-year-old negative woman. We love each other very much, but it's a complicated relationship. If we wanted to have a baby, could I get her pregnant without putting her at risk of HIV transmission?

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

Insurance, Workplace & Legal Concerns

 My Health Is Not Great: Am I Eligible for Disability?
Sometimes, I can't seem to function properly at my job. Would I be able to get social security disability or supplemental security income?

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

 What Are HIV Care Options in the United States for Non-Citizens?
I'm thinking about going to the United States with a tourist visa. I'm currently on treatment in my country (Mexico). Is it possible to get medical care, such as labs and HIV meds, while in the U.S., without a green card or citizenship?

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

vote for 2012's strangest but truest post
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Just a few more days left to vote for which "Ask the Experts" post you feel is the strangest. We've selected 10 HIV transmission questions from our forums that we feel are the oddest and most farfetched of 2012. Vote on which of the finalists represents the most bizarre to you. Voting is open until Jan. 18; we'll announce the "winners" in our email newsletters next week.

HIV/AIDS Treatment

 Is Isentress Causing My Insomnia?
I started taking Isentress (raltegravir) and Trizivir (AZT/3TC/abacavir) six days ago. Now I can't sleep; I sweat terribly and am really jittery. I switched to this regimen to avoid diarrhea side effects. My lab numbers have been good, but this is the worst I have felt in 20 years. My doctor says to stick with this regimen and take sleeping pills. What do you think?

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

 Will Taking Complera And Valtrex Help Prevent Shingles?
My doctor prescribed Complera (rilpivirine/tenofovir/FTC) for me to start treating my HIV. He also gave me Valtrex (valacyclovir) for the first 30 days to prevent shingles. Should I be concerned about increased side effects and kidney health? Does this combination really reduce the risk of shingles?

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

Other Health Issues & HIV/AIDS

 How Can I Combat My Growing Depression?
I have been HIV positive since 1994. My labs are good and my overall life is decent, but I am becoming increasingly depressed. I am not suicidal, but withdrawn. I don't eat well and don't care. I tried speaking with a counselor once, but it felt awkward. I am on the generic Prozac (fluoxetine). Do you have any suggestions? How do I find and talk to a counselor?

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

 How Did My Hepatitis C Progress So Quickly?
I tested negative for hepatitis C in 1992, but positive in 1998. Without treatment, I now have advanced cirrhosis of the liver. I thought it takes more time to get to this stage. I don't even drink alcohol. How could the disease have moved along so quickly? What can I do?

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

Connect With Others

Just Found Out My Husband Was Unfaithful and Has HIV: What Now?
(A recent post from the "My Loved One Has HIV/AIDS" board)

My husband told me he was HIV positive, two weeks ago. We have been married for 26 years and, to my knowledge, he had been faithful. But much to my surprise, he had been visiting adult bookstores for extramarital engagements. Thankfully, I tested negative, but I am so confused and depressed. Where do we go from here? -- donnajean

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Understanding HIV/AIDS Labs

 How Can We Improve a CD4 Count of 4?
My 9-year-old nephew has a high viral load and a CD4 count of 4. He's taking HIV meds, as well as treatment for tuberculosis. Is it possible for him to recover to normal levels? What steps can we take to get his numbers up?

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

 Should I Be Concerned About Consistently Low Detectable Viral Loads?
I have been taking Atripla (efavirenz/tenofovir/FTC) for six years. In the past two years, my CD4 counts have been 1073, 974, 954, 829 and 971; meanwhile, my viral loads have been 276, 96, 20, 28 and 49. My doctor said since the pattern is stable, there is no need for changing regimens. He also said that patients can go on for years with these low detectable viral loads. Do you agree?

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

HIV Testing & Transmission

 What's the Risk of Oral Sex With an HIV-Positive Partner?
My partner is male and HIV positive. I am female and negative. Can he transmit HIV by performing oral sex on me? What precautions should we take?

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

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