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What's New at The Body

HIV/AIDS News You Can Use

December 24, 2003


As the year comes to a close, so will the era of The Body's text-only e-mail updates. Beginning in January, our weekly "What's New at The Body" and "Hot Topics" e-mails will be available in an attractive new HTML format to make reading faster, easier and more user-friendly than ever before!

If you still prefer plain-text e-mails, you'll have the opportunity to request them instead of HTML. Each of our HTML e-mails will begin with a plain-text link that allows you to alter your delivery settings and view the online versions of our updates.

In the meantime, we hope you enjoy this week's plain-text update. Please note: Our next mailing will be on Jan. 7!

Best wishes for a happy, healthy and peaceful New Year,

Bonnie Goldman
Editorial Director, The Body

HIV Medications: When to Start and What to Take

The Body's first guide to starting HIV treatment is now available online! Our free, easy-to-read publication features explanations of the key medications and HAART regimens involved in first-line therapy, as well as guidance on the many factors to consider before starting treatment. Browse through this online booklet or download it and print it out. A limited number of copies are also available free in printed form to AIDS organizations and clinics in the U.S.!

Ritonavir Costs Soar by 500%, Enraging Doctors, Activists

Abbott Laboratories increased the U.S. price of ritonavir (Norvir) by nearly 500 percent earlier this month, a move that has left many AIDS activists and healthcare professionals fuming. The increase raises the cost of 100 mg of ritonavir to approximately $8.50, although Abbott officials say AIDS Drug Assistance Programs and Medicaid will be unaffected by the price hike. Some patients who pay a percentage of their medication costs, however, face a different future: They may have to shell out hundreds of dollars more a month to pay for their ritonavir prescriptions.

In response to this news, the HIV Medicine Association (HIVMA) has written the following letter to Abbott calling on the company to rescind its ritonavir price hike. HIVMA -- one of the largest HIV physician groups in the country -- warns that the steep increase could raise private insurance premiums and -- contrary to what Abbott officials say -- could cause additional problems for the country's already-beleaguered AIDS Drug Assistance Programs.

This article from has more on the fallout among HIV specialists. For the first time, many of these physicians -- both in the U.S. and in the United Kingdom -- have become inspired to activism over this news. Many have even threatened to boycott all Abbott products in protest of the price increase.

Presenting 2003's HIV/AIDS "Just Shut Up" Awards

"Every year, people all over the world say stridently stupid, misinformed or absurd things about HIV and AIDS," David Salyer writes. "Here's a list of some folks who make you wonder what, if anything, they were thinking before they opened their mouths in 2003."

Take Part in Clinical Trials: Sign Up at The Body!

Looking to be a part of cutting-edge research into new treatments for HIV/AIDS and related health problems such as lipodystrophy, wasting and heart disease? Participate in a clinical trial! Apply now at The Body to include yourself in our pool of candidates for important upcoming research studies.

Flu Season Is Still Ramping Up; Are You Prepared?

Still have questions about flu vaccines and people with HIV? Browse through our collection of materials to learn everything you need to know.

The Body's HIV/AIDS medical experts have also sounded off recently on various issues related to flu vaccination. Click here to read through a collection of questions and answers from our "Ask the Experts" forums.

The Lowdown on HIV "Names Reporting"

In 2004, Georgia will join many other U.S. states in using "names reporting," in which the state tracks the number of people infected with HIV by logging personal information, including names. If you have questions about what names reporting might mean for your privacy -- and for the anonymity of HIV testing -- read this important Q+A from AIDS Survival News.

Learn More About the New HIV Meds of 2003

Do any of the four new HIV medications approved in the U.S. this year act differently in women than in men? In this year-end review, WISE Words takes a brief look at what the research currently shows.

The Body's treatment library also has a considerable amount of basic information, news and research on the newest HIV medications. Click on the links below to browse our materials on each of these four new meds.

  • 908 (fosamprenavir, Lexiva)
  • Atazanavir (Reyataz)
  • FTC (emtricitabine, Emtriva)
  • T-20 (enfuvirtide, Fuzeon)

Food Safety Is Particularly Important for HIVers

People with HIV who have low T-cell counts are often more vulnerable to illness and infection than the general population. Think you know about all the dangers? Don't be so sure: In some U.S. states, recent outbreaks of hepatitis A have been traced to scallions.

For more on illnesses you can potentially contract through food and what you can do to protect yourself, browse through our collection of articles on food safety.

Microbicides Are Pivotal, but Funding Is in Short Supply

"If 20 years of AIDS have taught us anything, it's that men, straight or gay, rich or poor, would sooner chuck a condom than slip it on." That's why microbicides are so pivotal, Stacie Stukin writes -- and why it makes so little sense that money and political support aren't pouring in to support their development.

The Internet: Facilitator for Syphilis Infection?

The Internet is a "major player" behind the increase in early syphilis infections among men who have sex with men (MSM) in San Francisco, according to a report in the Dec. 19 issue of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. After analyzing data from 415 of the 434 San Francisco MSM officially diagnosed with early syphilis in 2002, researchers found that nearly a third reported meeting sex partners over the Internet, making it the most common venue used for such purposes.

How U.S. AIDS Organizations Get Their Funding

Wondering how the U.S. funds AIDS services in the U.S.? Read this helpful fact sheet about the federal budget process.

Web Highlights

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

Interruption of Treatment Is Safe for Those Who Started Too Early
A recent European study bolsters the idea that HIV-positive people who started treatment with CD4 counts over 350 can safely stop, especially if they're experiencing side effects.
From HIV i-Base (December 2003/January 2004)

Ex-Televangelist to Hold AIDS Drag Benefit
Tammy Faye Bakker Messner -- who in the 1980s helped her then-husband, Jim Bakker, to defraud contributors to their Christian networks out of millions -- will headline a drag bingo fundraiser for a North Carolina AIDS organization.
From Associated Press (December 22, 2003)

Stress Found to Weaken Resistance to Illness
A growing number of studies see a link between psychological factors -- e.g., stress levels, shyness and depression -- and disease progression in people with HIV.
From The Washington Post (December 22, 2003)

AIDS Pandemic Reduces Life Expectancy in Africa by 20 Years
Global life expectancy has improved from 46.5 years half a century ago to 65.2 years in 2002, but the reverse of that trend has occurred in many sub-Saharan African countries, where AIDS has sliced the average lifespan by more than 20 years in the past decade.
From Independent (December 19, 2003)

Gay Internet Cruisers No More Likely to Have Unprotected Anal Sex, Says Study, but Other Risks Up
Men who use the Web to find male sexual partners don't necessarily have more high-risk sex, but are nonetheless at a generally higher risk for becoming infected with a sexually transmitted disease.
From (December 19, 2003)

Management of Infants Born to HIV-Infected Mothers
A clinical guide to HIV prevention, testing and care for babies born to HIV-positive mothers in the U.S.
From The Hopkins HIV Report (November 2003)
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