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April 30, 2007
In This Hot Topics:
  • Living With HIV
  • HIV Treatment
  • Complications & Coinfections
  • HIV Transmission
  • Strange but True
  •  LIVING WITH HIV

    HIV Superinfection: What Measures Should an HIVer Take After Having Unprotected Sex With Another Positive Person?
    My lover and I are both HIV positive, and we recently had unprotected sex. Now I'm worried that we may have infected each other with different strains of HIV. What should we do now?


    What's the Long-Term Outlook for "Elite HIV Controllers"?
    I just met a wonderful HIV-positive man, and I believe he is what you call an "elite controller" -- an HIVer whose body is able to naturally control the virus and maintain a normal CD4 count. He's been positive for 11 years, doesn't take meds and has never been sick. What does the future hold for him? What is the long-term outlook for an elite controller?


    How Can I Help a Friend Who Wants to Die?
    My friend recently stopped taking his HIV meds and says he is "done with living." He is going blind and has some dementia. He would like to die at home and doesn't want any type of medical care. (He also doesn't have medical insurance.) I visit him as often as I can, but at this point I'm not sure what I can do for him that won't overstep his wishes. How can I provide the support he needs?


    Is Smoking Marijuana Harmful for People With HIV?
    Since being diagnosed with HIV a month ago, I've stopped drinking alcohol and no longer smoke cigarettes or marijuana. But I miss that Mary Jane. Do I really have to give up pot?



    How Does Cigarette Smoking Affect CD4 Counts?
    I'd like to know how harmful cigarette smoking is for people with HIV. Does it really impact a person's CD4 count and percentage?

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     HIV TREATMENT

    Should I Start HIV Treatment Earlier Than the Guidelines Suggest?
    Current U.S. guidelines recommend that people with HIV "be offered" treatment when their CD4 count is between 200 and 350. I recently listened to a podcast here on TheBody.com in which an expert said that new research suggests that there are benefits to starting treatment even earlier, at a higher CD4 count. My CD4 count is 488 and my viral load is 20,000. Should I start treatment?


    Generic HIV Meds Available in the United States?
    There has been a lot of news about generic HIV meds becoming available throughout the world. What's the holdup in the United States?


    Protease Inhibitors for a Treatment-Naive HIVer?
    When I was diagnosed with HIV in November 2003, my doctor and I opted for a "wait and see" approach towards starting meds. My CD4 count has generally hovered between 475 and 575, and my viral load, which initially went up to 70,000, has stabilized in the 5,000 to 20,000 range. My health has been great -- only the occasional flu or sinus infection -- but my dermatologist just found a Kaposi's sarcoma lesion on my heel. Now my doctor thinks it's time to start meds, and he's recommending a protease inhibitor-based therapy. I'm nervous about side effects and want to make a good choice for my first regimen. What do you think about my doctor's advice?


    Should I Be Scared of Drug Resistance?
    I tested HIV positive early last year. For the past 10 months, I've been on Sustiva (efavirenz, Stocrin) + Truvada (tenofovir/FTC), and I'll soon switch to Atripla (efavirenz/tenofovir/FTC). My viral load is undetectable, and my doctor says I'm doing fine. However, I am afraid of developing drug resistance, even though I'm very diligent about taking every dose on time. Should I be worried?


    Can People Taking HIV Meds Use Drugs Like Cialis, Levitra or Viagra?
    Are Viagra and other erectile dysfunction drugs dangerous for people taking HIV medications?
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     COMPLICATIONS & COINFECTIONS

    Taking Fish Oil for High Triglyceride Levels
    Dear Dr. Wohl: I know some studies, including one you conducted, have shown that taking fish oil can lower high triglyceride levels in HIVers. How much fish oil do you recommend taking?


    Can HIV Meds Ward Off HIV-Related Dementia?
    I am concerned about developing HIV-related dementia. Are some HIV meds better than others for preventing dementia while keeping the virus in check? I'm taking Sustiva (efavirenz, Stocrin) but considering a switch to Viramune (nevirapine) -- would one of these ward off dementia better than the other?


    How Can I Treat Both Hepatitis B and HIV?
    I have hepatitis B and HIV. I'm no longer taking HIV meds because, although I have a low CD4 count, the meds were damaging my liver. Where do I go from here?
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     HIV TRANSMISSION

    How Safe Is Anal Sex Without Ejaculation?
    I was recently diagnosed with HIV, but I don't understand how I was infected. I've had unprotected anal sex, but I've never let anyone come inside me. Is it really all that risky, even if the guy on top doesn't ejaculate?


    Are There Exceptions to the "Kissing is Safe" Rule?
    I have just started dating someone who had a tooth extracted about a month ago, followed by several weeks of complications and pain. For my part, my gums sometimes bleed when I brush my teeth. I know kissing is supposed to be a low-risk activity, but does our situation qualify for extenuating circumstances? If so, how long post-extraction should we wait to French kiss?
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     STRANGE BUT TRUE

    Can I Get HIV Even if My Partner Isn't Infected?
    If I had anal or vaginal sex with an HIV-negative partner, could I still get HIV?

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    Visual AIDS
    Art From HIV-Positive Artists

    Image from the April 2007 Visual AIDS Web Gallery
    "The Sickness of Beauty" (opening scene), 1998; Yolanda
    Visit the April 2007 Visual AIDS Web Gallery to view our latest collection of art by HIV-positive artists! This month's gallery, entitled "On the Stage," is curated by Tomoko Ashikawa, the curator/director at AG Gallery in Brooklyn and the Artists File Coordinator at Artists Space in New York.