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May 2, 2007

In This Update
  • Living With HIV
  • Women & HIV
  • Children & HIV
  • HIV Activism
  • HIV in the News
  • HIV Transmission
  • HIV Outside the U.S.

    One HIV-Positive Man's Journey Into Spiritual Activism: A Book Excerpt
    As Michael McColly puts it, he "lived between the straight and gay world for some time, escaping and returning." Then, in 1996, he tested positive for HIV. That day began Michael's journey toward an acceptance of his sexual identity, and a deeper understanding of what HIV meant for him and for people around the world. He embarked on an international quest that led him to male sex workers in urban India, Buddhist monks in a Thai monastery and African-American preachers in Chicago. His compelling book, The After-Death Room: Journey Into Spiritual Activism, explores how cultural attitudes toward death, sexuality and spirituality affect the lives and activism of HIV-positive people across the globe. Click here to read an excerpt.

    A Guide to Conquering the Fear, Shame and Anxiety of HIV
    If you have HIV and don't experience anxiety now and then, you're a member of a lucky minority. In fact, estimates show that up to 70 percent of people with HIV have some symptoms of anxiety, and up to 40 percent meet the criteria for an anxiety disorder. This thorough guide will walk you through some of the causes of anxiety, the symptoms it can cause and the types of treatment that are available.


      WOMEN & HIV

    A Life Interrupted: How One Woman Picked Up the Pieces After a Late Diagnosis
    When P.R.'s HIV test came back positive, it came as a surprise -- not only to her, but to her doctor as well. As a white, middle-class woman, P.R. never fit her doctor's stereotype of being at risk for HIV. By the time she was finally tested after years of complaints and unexplained illnesses, her CD4 count was 18 and her viral load was over 100,000. Fortunately, P.R. was able to get medical care, therapy and support. "I basically learned how to work, love and live all over again, being HIV positive," she writes. But she readily admits: "It's a process that is never-ending. I still constantly work on my physical, mental and emotional health. It's a balancing act."

    To read or listen to podcasts of more inspiring stories from HIV-positive women, visit The Body's HIV/AIDS Resource Center for Women.

    Let's Talk About Sex: A Guide for Positive Women
    Women often tell Shalini Eddens, "Everyone thinks that, because I am HIV positive, I don't need or want to have sex." But Eddens, a women's health educator, knows nothing could be farther from the truth. In this article, she offers tips for HIV-positive women on playing it safe and having fun. "This is about you and your body," she writes. "No one is going to protect your body as well as you."

    For more safer sex tips, click here.

    What Women With HIV Should Know About Menstruation and Aging
    As women with HIV get older, are they more likely to have menstrual irregularities or experience early menopause? Should HIV-positive women get screened more often for osteoporosis or other disorders older women are prone to? Unfortunately, we don't have definitive answers to these questions. However, this article by Dr. Anne Monroe will give you a good overview of the latest research and current guidelines for women with HIV.



    HIV-Positive Babies Should Get a Resistance Test, Study Suggests
    Babies who get HIV from their mothers should be given an HIV drug resistance test before the baby starts HIV treatment, new research suggests. Although HIV-positive women with full access to modern treatment have less than a 2 percent risk of passing HIV to their babies, a new U.S. study has found that, when a baby does become HIV positive, it often inherits mom's drug resistance as well.

    The full study, which was published in the Journal of Infectious Diseases, is available for free; click here to read it. There's also an accompanying editorial in which a pediatric HIV specialist offers his take on the importance of the study results.



    Calling All U.S. Youth Activists to a July 4 Meeting in Washington, D.C.
    Feeling patriotic? Spend Independence Day making the United States a better place for people with HIV. From July 4-8, you can join dozens of young HIV activists in Raleigh, N.C., for the Youth Action Institute (YAI). YAI is an in-depth training session where people between the ages of 16 and 26 will get the tools they need to embark on a grassroots project of their own design. Those selected to attend YAI are asked to raise $500 to offset the costs of the institute. Applications are due by 5 p.m. on May 22. Click here to learn more.



    New York May Put HIV on License Plates
    Representatives from New York's state legislature have proposed an HIV awareness vanity license plate for New York. Proceeds from the plate (which would cost $25 per year in addition to the standard vanity plate fee) would be used by New York's health department to provide transportation assistance to low-income HIVers and people in need of HIV testing. Several other states already offer HIV awareness license plates; to see if yours is one of them, check your state's Department of Motor Vehicles Web site.

    ACLU Demands "Medically Accurate" Information in Abstinence-Only Education
    Federally funded abstinence-only programs still include blatant misinformation about condom effectiveness and disease prevention in their educational materials, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) says. One glaring error: Many materials say condoms break or slip off nearly 15 percent of the time during sex (the reality is less than 4 percent). In a letter and accompanying report to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the ACLU calls on HHS to correct these statements in accordance with a federal law that says abstinence education must include "medically accurate" information. If HHS doesn't remedy the violations within 30 days, the ACLU says it will take legal action.



    Gay Men's HIV Prevention Practices Vary in San Francisco, Studies Find
    Two new studies paint a complex picture of gay men's HIV prevention strategies -- or lack thereof -- in San Francisco. Yes, more gay men are serosorting (seeking out partners of the same HIV status), but they're also having more unsafe sex and more sex partners, according to one study. Meanwhile, a second study surprisingly found that gay men in committed relationships are less likely to engage in risky sexual behaviors with each other than with casual partners, a reversal from the early days of the HIV epidemic.

    In Houston, Free Concert Tickets With a Twist
    This June, famous hip-hop artists Lil Wayne, Baby and Shei Atkins will play a concert in Houston, Texas. The price of admission? Proof you've taken an HIV test. Tickets and transportation to the concert will be free to anyone aged 15 to 30 who has taken an HIV test at one of the city's clinics. Young people who test positive will get counseling and referrals to HIV care in addition to their tickets.

    HIV Prevention That Goes Beyond A, B and C
    Efforts to prevent the spread of HIV with the "ABC" approach (Abstain, Be faithful, use Condoms) have failed to curb the pandemic, writes Liz Highleyman. As a result, some prevention experts are delving deeper into the alphabet. "We will add one more 'C' for circumcision," says Gita Ramjee of the South African Medical Research Council. "We will add 'D' for diaphragm, 'E' for pre- and post-exposure prophylaxis, 'F' for female controlled microbicides, 'G' for genital tract infection control, 'H' for herpes simplex virus suppression, and 'I' for immunity by vaccines." Check out this article for a discussion of innovative HIV prevention strategies from A to Z.



    HIV Rates High, Unsafe Sex Common Among Gay Men in British Cities
    HIV rates are high among gay British men living up the city life -- and many don't know they're infected, according to a new study. The study of gay men at bars, clubs and saunas found that 12 percent of gay men in London were HIV positive, but 30 percent of them had no idea. Meanwhile, 22 percent of non-HIVers said that, within the last year, they'd had unprotected anal sex with someone who was HIV positive or whose status they didn't know. (Web highlight from

    Government, Activists Agree to Work Together in South Africa
    Hoping to put aside years of bitter disagreement, the South African government and the country's AIDS activists have joined forces to create the South African National AIDS Council (SANAC). Chaired by the Deputy President of South Africa, SANAC has no legal power but will help coordinate the country's five-year plan to halve the number of new HIV infections and increase treatment access to those who need it. The creation of SANAC represents a major development in South Africa, where for many years activists have battled with a government that is widely regarded as excrutiatingly slow to respond to the country's massive HIV epidemic.

    Also Worth Noting

    Visual AIDS
    Art From HIV-Positive Artists

    Image from the May 2007 Visual AIDS Web Gallery
    "The Ethereal in Nature: A Study of Clouds," 2004; Luis Carle
    Visit the newly launched May 2007 Visual AIDS Web Gallery to view our latest collection of art by HIV-positive artists! This month's gallery, entitled "Eclipse," is curated by Laura Gilbert, an internationally exhibited artist in residence at El Taller Latino Americano arts complex in Manhattan.

    Profiles in Courage
    Inspiring Stories From HIV-Positive Women

    Luana Clark
    If you met Luana Clark today in her work as an HIV advocate and support group leader, you'd never know that two decades ago she had just about given up on life. She tested positive in 1985 when she sought treatment for drug addiction. "I thought, if I was going to die, I might as well die high," she says. "I tried to relapse. I was in the middle of the street, completely gone. But the good Lord intervened then."

    Through the support of her family and her faith, Luana recovered from her drug addiction and learned to live positively with HIV. As a bisexual, HIV-positive, African-American woman, she started speaking out. Twenty-two years after her diagnosis, she's still going strong.

    The Body is honored to present Luana's story, which is just one of many personal stories you'll find in our updated HIV/AIDS Resource Center for Women. Stop in and browse through interviews, podcasts, resource listings and more!

    Connect With Others
    t The Body's Bulletin Boards

    Should I Tell My Friends I'm Positive?
    (A recent post from the
    "I Just Tested Positive" board)

    "Just got diagnosed one month ago and it was a HUGE shock. I'm still not entirely sure how or when it happened, I feel completely ashamed and depressed, and do not want to tell anyone. I have only told two really close friends, as I know they would not tell anyone. ... What do other people think about telling friends? It's hard not to, as I feel like I am lying when I see them now. ... I have this huge thing on my mind that I cannot share, but then I think, if they tell just one person each, then everyone will know, and it will make my life worse. Should I just keep it inside or be out and proud? Would love to hear from other people about their 'coming out' experiences."

    -- toby75

    Click here to join this discussion thread, or to start your own!

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