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September 17, 2003

Research Highlights From ICAAC 2003

Once-a-day abacavir (Ziagen)? Treatment interruptions guided by CD4 counts? Quadruple-drug therapy? The findings presented at conferences like ICAAC 2003 often change the way healthcare workers treat people with HIV. Click here to read The Body's outstanding coverage of ICAAC 2003 and learn more about where the future of HIV treatment may be headed! Throughout this update we'll highlight many of the findings presented at the conference.

Once-Daily Abacavir? Signs Point to Yes

"Together these data seem to provide extremely strong evidence for the once-daily dosing of abacavir [Ziagen]. ... It is obvious that an entirely once-daily regimen that includes abacavir/3TC is just around the corner." Ben Young, M.D., reports from ICAAC 2003.

Treatment Interruptions May Work When CD4 Is High

Not all structured treatment interruptions (STIs) are ill-advised, Italian researchers say. For those whose CD4 counts have always been high -- even before they started treatment -- an STI can be safe and successful. Gerald Pierone, Jr., M.D., reports from ICAAC 2003.

IAPAC Survey on The Body Finds Large Proportion of HIV-Positive Smokers, Adding to Higher Cardio Risks

A far greater percentage of HIV-positive people in the U.S. smoke than among the general U.S. population, according to the results of an online survey that took place on The Body earlier this summer.

The survey, which was conducted by the International Association of Physicians in AIDS Care (IAPAC) and answered by 431 HIV-positive people, found that more than half reported smoking cigarettes, twice the proportion of smokers in the general population.

In a survey of HIV physicians also conducted by IAPAC, smoking was rated higher than HAART as a cause for cardiovascular problems among people with HIV. Eighty percent of surveyed doctors said that people with HIV were at a greater risk for developing such health problems. In addition, although smoking was deemed a greater heart risk than HAART, 70 percent of doctors said that their treatment strategies have been affected by their concerns that some HAART medications increase cardiovascular risk.

The Body would like to thank all who participated in the IAPAC survey on our site; your responses have helped further HIV research! For more details on the results, click here. The full survey results will be available later this week.

Adopting When You're HIV Positive

HIV positive and thinking about adopting a child? It helps to be creative -- and to have an HIV-negative partner. In the latest issue of Positively Aware, Greg and Frank explain how they found their child.

HIV Situation Worsening Among African Americans

Although new statistics show that HIV disproportionately affects African Americans, the trend is "not new" and is "deepening with each passing year," the health editor of the Wall Street Journal writes. Does anyone have any ideas how to change this situation? Government officials certainly don't, he suggests.

Four-Drug Therapy Shows Promising Results

Quadruple-drug therapy with Trizivir (3TC + AZT + abacavir) and either efavirenz (Sustiva) or nevirapine (Viramune) appears to be a highly effective combination in treatment-naive people who start therapy with low CD4 counts and high viral loads. Ben Young, M.D., reports from ICAAC 2003.

Controversial Findings Suggest Smallpox Vaccine Could Harm HIV

A small preliminary study has found evidence to suggest that the smallpox vaccine somehow slows the growth of HIV. The findings, however, have immediately come under attack -- from one of the very universities involved in the research.

T-1249: When T-20's Battery Runs Out

For those who are failing T-20, T-1249 retains potent short-term viral activity. Cal Cohen, M.D., reports from ICAAC 2003.

Vaginal Bacteria as an HIV Preventive?

Researchers have genetically modified a bacteria that grows naturally in the vagina, in the hopes that it could be used to help protect women from becoming infected with HIV, according to a recent study.

U.S. Government Again Fails to Increase HIV/AIDS Funding

The U.S. Senate rejected two key HIV/AIDS budget amendments last week: one that would have increased funding for the U.S.'s beleaguered AIDS Drug Assistance Programs (ADAPs), and one that would have increased funding for the global AIDS initiative by $1 billion.

The International Association of Physicians in AIDS Care (IAPAC) chastised the Bush administration and Congressional Republicans for, in its words, committing a "glaring failure in moral resolve" and failing to "reflect the values of the American people." More on IAPAC's reaction is available here.

Switching Out PIs Can Work, if It Must Be Done

Switching the protease inhibitor (PI) out of a regimen is a safe and viable option for those who must due to side effects or metabolic complications, or for people who simply desire a treatment simplification. Judy Aberg, M.D., reports from ICAAC 2003.

New Research on a Regimen Using Only Kaletra

A small pilot study of lopinavir/ritonavir (Kaletra) "monotherapy," in which Kaletra is the only drug in the regimen, showed highly impressive results in treatment-naive patients. "If this novel approach for treatment of HIV infection is validated by additional studies, it has the potential to transform HIV treatment as we know it today," writes Gerald Pierone, Jr., M.D., from ICAAC 2003.

Why Trizivir Still Has a Place in HIV Treatment

As three medications in one tablet taken twice a day, Trizivir's easy-to-take, easy-to-tolerate profile makes it an attractive option, says Enid Vázquez from Positively Aware. In this article, she explains why many doctors are reluctant to stop prescribing Trizivir-only drug regimens, despite some negative study results published earlier this year.

In Africa, a Stark Example of How Poverty Can Lead to HIV

Teenage girls are selling sex for groceries in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, as rampant inflation -- running at more than 426 percent -- and cash and food shortages make survival a challenge.

Is Tenofovir an Ideal NRTI Replacement?

"These data are reassuring that many, if not most, patients who confront toxicity while on their current NRTIs will be able to maintain viral control and address at least some of the current toxicity concerns by using tenofovir [Viread] as a replacement antiviral." Cal Cohen, M.D., reports from ICAAC 2003.

Web Highlights

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

Successfully Treated HIV Patients Should Be Insured Just Like Cancer Survivors, Swiss Research Shows
Life insurance should be readily available to people who are on successful HAART regimens, provided they're not coinfected with hepatitis C, a recent study suggests.
From (September 12, 2003)

Washington, D.C. HIV/AIDS Administration Issues ID Cards to Ryan White Patients
Is it a way to improve access to healthcare, or a dangerous violation of privacy?
From Washington Blade (September 12, 2003)

Mayor: Provide Condoms to Teens
Inspired by a recent Africa trip, Macon, Ga. Mayor Jack Ellis says it's time to revamp sex education in public schools.
From (September 11, 2003)

Russia: 250,000 Infected With HIV
Between 70 and 80 percent of new diagnoses are among people under 29, and the proportion of infections via heterosexual sex is increasing.
From The Moscow Times (September 11, 2003)
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