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March 6, 2002

The Body's Coverage of Retrovirus 2002

All last week, The Body provided extensive next-day coverage of the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections in Seattle. We're proud to have had ten of the top HIV specialists cover this important conference. Selected highlights are below.

Viral load "blips," in which a patient's viral load briefly shoots up between 80 and 500 copies, are nothing to switch regimens over, Dr. Cal Cohen reports. What doctors do need to watch out for, though, is a viral load that never drops below 50 on a particular regimen; that may be a sign that the regimen is destined to fail.

The largest randomized trial of its kind has gauged how well patients fare after switching from protease inhibitors to some of the most common NNRTI medications. Dr. Pablo Tebas fills us in on the results.

A groundbreaking study in Uganda has found that, when the going gets tough, nevirapine really gets going: The drug is at its best when given to women with very high viral loads. Among mothers with viral loads greater than 50,000, Dr. Andrew Pavia reports, nevirapine is almost twice as effective as AZT in preventing mother-to-child transmission of HIV. There's only one warning flag: Researchers are beginning to see signs of nevirapine resistance.

Dr. Mark Holodniy reports on strategies currently being used in the battle against drug resistance.

U.S. Health Dept. Gives $600M to Hardest-Hit Cities

The Bush administration has shelled out $597 million in Ryan White Title I funds to 51 of the U.S. metropolitan areas most deeply affected by HIV/AIDS. On the plus side, that's about $14 million more than last year, according to AIDS Action spokesperson Michael Carson. But when you take into account steadily increasing medical costs and the estimated 8 percent jump in HIV cases last year, the funding "increase" suddenly looks a lot less rosy, he noted. The government's press release on 2002's Title 1 grants can be found here.

Where AIDS Spreads, Women Suffer

A United Nations study found that women and young girls often sacrifice their own development by caring for those with HIV who aren't getting help from their government or the global community. The result is a largely invisible "care economy," in which billions of dollars' worth of labor without pay fails to show up on countries' radars -- and thus hurts those countries' abilities to get international aid or debt relief. This and many more developments are now being discussed at the 46th session of the Commission on the Status of Women.

Flaxseed: Good for What Ails You?

It might not be Uncle Mack's Miracle Elixir, but a little flaxseed (also called linseed) could help you improve your health. As AIDS Survival Project explains, the tiny seed may lend a hand with everything from lowering your cholesterol to reducing the frequency of HIV-related diarrhea.

New Type of Drug Receives Little Notice

Search for a Cure's David Scondras reports on a unique new drug called HE2000 that could make a great anti-HIV medication, except for one problem: It was created to fight malaria.

Hershey's-Induced Joint Pain?

That pain in your joints may not be caused by arthritis or a side effect of your meds -- it could be caused by junk food. AIDS Treatment News offers a possible explanation.

It's OK to Question the Commander-in-Chief

"I can love my country and still be embarrassed by its leader; an arrogant, unbridled warmonger who wants us to believe that patriotism means subservience." David Sayler speaks his mind about George W. Bush in AIDS Survival News.

Personal Moments Captured in Art

"Intimate Situations" is an online exhibition of photography and painting that allows viewers to witness unusually intimate encounters. The exhibit is drawn from the Visual AIDS Archive; its pieces date back to 1983, with works by painters Ken Goodman and Marc Lida. Click here to see the show, which is curated by Allen Frame, an accomplished writer and photographer.

Don't Bet Your Money on Abstinence

"...Our statistics show that the vows of abstinence break more easily than latex condoms." Dr. M. Joycelyn Elders, the gutsy former Surgeon General of the United States, tells it like it is.

Note to d4T Users: Check the Label

The makers of Zerit (also known as d4T or stavudine) have changed several sections of the drug's label, in light of findings that several patients on d4T developed lactic acidosis or neuromuscular toxicity. Read the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's notice for more information.

Uganda to World: We're 100% Straight

The President of Uganda on the spread of HIV: "We don't have homosexuals in Uganda so this is mainly heterosexual transmission." Yup, you heard it here: Uganda has no gay men or women. Must be something in the water...

How to Check Your Immune System

AIDS Community Research Initiative of America explains four different types of memory T-cell response tests, which determine how well protected people are from certain illnesses.

When AIDS Activism Was in Its Infancy

As Treatment Action Group, one of the U.S.' most venerable AIDS advocacy organizations, turns ten, it looks back over the battles it -- and the rest of the world -- has fought and won. TAG's flashback begins with a return to 1992, when the HIV/AIDS landscape in the U.S. was far, far bleaker.

In God -- And Assisted Suicide -- We Trust

Believing in assisted suicide doesn't make you a blasphemer, says Barbara Coombs Lee, president of Compassion in Dying. You can -- and many people do -- believe both in God and your right to choose the way your life ends.

Huge Clinical Trial Needs Your Help

A huge new clinical trial, the SMART study, hopes to provide the most reliable information yet on which treatment method is best: aggressively working to keep viral loads undetectable, or completely holding off on therapy until CD4+ counts drop below 250. If you're HIV-positive and interested in taking part in the study, read more in GMHC Treatment Issues.

Web Highlights
A Selection of the Top HIV/AIDS Stories From Across the Internet

Daimlerchrysler Workers Still Believe in Sex-With-Virgin Mythical Cure for HIV/AIDS (in South Africa)
A survey of South African employees shows ignorance going strong even after a three-year education program.
From (March 5, 2002)

World-Wide Legal, Financial, and Public Health Consequences of HIV Contamination of Blood and Blood Products in the 1980s and 1990s
Half of surveyed HIV-positive hemophiliacs contracted HIV from bad blood.
From Annals of Internal Medicine (March 5, 2002)

Rescued HIV Babies Face New Problems as Teenagers
Doctors see alarming signs of severe behavioral problems and mental illness.
From The New York Times (free registration required to read article) (March 5, 2002)

Homosexuals in China: More Tolerance, Less Prejudice
China's mainstream paper touches on a topic that has long been too taboo even to mention publicly.
From Beijing's People's Daily (March 4, 2002)

AIDS and the Evangelicals
Not the healthiest relationship on the planet, notes Stephanie Salter.
From San Francisco Chronicle (March 3, 2002)

Why Do We Sleep as AIDS Epidemic Continues?
CBS anchorman Dan Rather voices his frustration.
From Houston Chronicle (March 2, 2002)

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