Run out of HIV drugs to choose from? You might consider the following free programs. Also see "The Buzz."
This twice-daily self-injected (under the skin) drug is available to a small number of people who have multi-drug resistant virus and low T-cell counts. It is a fusion inhibitor, a new class of HIV drugs. T-20 is also going into Phase III clinical trials, which you may be able to join. Because no 800 number was provided, we suggest you contact one of the companies involved in developing T-20, Roche. Call (800) 910-4687 or visit www.rocheusa.com. Try also www.trimeris.com.
This once-a-day drug is also in a new class of HIV medications, nucleotide reverse transcriptase inhibitors, and is also available in clinical trials, if you're eligible. Call (800) GILEAD-5 (445-3235).
The San Francisco AIDS Foundation (SFAF) asks, "How do you know what you know?" That's what they want gay men in the city to ask themselves about potential sex partners. Why? Because studies from a number of places, including the foundation and the Center for AIDS Prevention Studies out of the University of California, San Francisco (http://hivinsite.ucsf.edu), have found that many gay men figure a new partner has the same HIV status that they do. It's that old concept found on other people's health campaigns, where the guys are thinking, "He must be positive like me because he hasn't asked about my status" or "He must be HIV negative like me because he hasn't asked about my status." SFAF will use billboards, bus shelter ads, and magazine ads, among other places, to get their message across. The organization will also encourage people to come in for counseling around making sexual decisions. Visit their Gay Life website, www.gaylife.org.
The city's health department conducted a survey at its clinic for sexually transmitted diseases which found that 62% of the people questioned believed that HIV drug ads may cause people to have unprotected sex. However, among men who have sex with men, only 25% of the ones with high exposure to HIV drug ads believed that the medications made HIV a less serious disease. The health department is fighting the dangers of unsafe sex by meeting with the FDA to try to control HIV ads and by contacting the drug companies directly. Visit www.hivandhepatitis.com for a report by activist Jeff Getty on this topic.
Low-dose thalidomide was previously found to work wonders in getting rid of oral ulcers in people with AIDS. Unfortunately, a new study found that the drug was not effective at preventing the ulcers from reappearing. In fact, it seemed that continuing to use thalidomide may create the risk of having ulcers return. The results of the AIDS Clinical Trials Group (ACTG) study were published in the January 15 Journal of Infectious Diseases.
The Center for Positive Connections, a Miami organization for straight people living with HIV, is organizing a 7-day retreat for the HIV heterosexual community, in Montego Bay, Jamaica, October 18-25. The first deposit, for a third of your hotel stay, is due ASAP. The second is due June 11 and the final payment is due August 5. Hotel, meals, drinks and sports, depending on length of stay, cost $555 to $960. Discounted airfare available separately; contact Merry at 1-800-749-1900, ext. 165. Call Positive Connections at 1-888-POS-CONN (767-2666) or visit www.positiveconnections.org. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.