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May 16, 2007

In This Update
  • Living With HIV
  • HIV Treatment
  • Complications of HIV & HIV Meds
  • HIV Transmission
  • STDs & Sex Education
  • HIV Outside the U.S.

    Young, Hispanic, HIV-Positive Mother Celebrates 10 Years of Survival and Advocacy
    Lizette Green had to convince her doctor she was at risk for HIV. A 16-year-old Hispanic girl living in Washington state, Lizette had recently gotten married, was pregnant and had just been treated for gonorrhea. But she had to practically beg her physician for an HIV test -- and when she finally got it, it came back positive. "I lived in a small community where it was unheard of that a pregnant, Hispanic, teenage female could have HIV," she writes. "I had no one to talk to! I needed answers and began to educate myself." Today, Lizette works as a youth peer advocate, is the proud mom of three HIV-negative children, and is celebrating more than 10 years of thriving with HIV.

    The Word on Disclosure
    The prospect of disclosing your HIV status is frightening, but there are steps you can take to ease the process for yourself and your loved ones. This brief article provides some tips on disclosure, and offers some motivational advice as well. "[Disclosure] can help you to get the proper medical treatment that you deserve," explains prevention educator Bridget Hughes, "and it can open doors to meeting and getting the peer support of others who are also HIV positive."

    Want more tips on disclosing your status? Read through our collection of articles on telling others you have HIV.

    Helping Your HIV-Positive Child Come of Age
    In the bad old days, many parents with HIV-positive babies were told their child might not have a chance to grow up. Now, thanks to HIV meds, most children in wealthy countries who were infected at birth have become healthy teenagers and young adults. However, with survival come the challenges of helping your HIV-positive child grow into adulthood. All the normal processes of self-discovery that teenagers and young adults go through can be complicated by HIV. Imagine trying to take your medications secretly at a sleep-over party, or figuring out how to disclose your HIV status to your high-school sweetheart. This article, written by a team of pediatric HIV experts, outlines some of the challenges young people face, and how their families can help.



    Kaletra-Based Regimens May Suppress Viral Load Despite Missed Doses
    Some HIV meds are more "forgiving" of missed doses than others. Researchers have known that for some time -- but just how far does that forgiveness go? In the case of Kaletra (lopinavir/ritonavir), it looks like it goes awfully far: A new, short-term study of treatment-experienced HIVers taking a Kaletra-based regimen has found that the regimen is still likely to keep your viral load low even if you miss three doses a week or more. The findings aren't by any means a green light to start skipping meds -- the study only covered 24 weeks of therapy -- but they do suggest a little more wiggle room for people who occasionally miss their dose. Click the headline above to read the abstract of this study. (Web highlight from the Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes)

    Missed HIV Clinic Visits Tied to Increased Risk of Death
    Feeling healthy enough that you think you can safely skip your next appointment with an HIV doc? You may want to think again: A recent study found that -- surprise! -- going to an HIV doctor at least once every few months is good for your health. In fact, that might be an understatement: The study found that people who miss even one of their quarterly appointments with an HIV doctor or clinic are at an increased risk of dying. The findings point not just to the importance of making all your appointments, but also to the need for services that help HIVers with poor access to health care. (Web highlight from



    Stopping Bone Loss: Study Tests a Yearly Drug Injection
    Bone health often gets overlooked by HIVers and their doctors alike, but it's actually quite common for people with HIV to experience a thinning or hollowing of their bones, which can lead to fractures. There are many strategies to treat bone loss, including daily calcium and vitamin D supplements. A recent study also examined whether a drug called zoledronate can help: According to the researchers who performed the small, two-year study, an annual injection with zoledronate can be "a potent and effective therapy for the prevention or treatment of bone loss in HIV-infected men." Click on the headline above to read a PDF of the full study. (Web highlight from the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism)

    Study Casts Doubt on Glitazones as Lipoatrophy Treatment
    A small Canadian study suggests that, despite some promising signs in earlier research, a group of diabetes meds known as "glitazones" may not help treat fat loss ("lipoatrophy") in people with HIV. The Canadian researchers found no significant difference in fat recovery between people who took a glitazone and people who didn't. However, the study was limited by its small size (only 78 people), and many people in the study were actively taking HIV meds that have been linked with lipoatrophy, such as Zerit (stavudine, d4T) and Retrovir (zidovudine, AZT), which may have blunted the glitazone's effects. The study was published in the Journal of Infectious Diseases. (Web highlight from

    An accompanying editorial by noted HIV researcher Steven Grinspoon, M.D., suggests that glitazones may still be useful for reversing lipoatrophy, but should probably be reserved for HIVers with diabetes, which is already treated with glitazones. The editorial is only available by paid subscription; you can access it here. If you'd like to read the abstract of the Canadian glitazone study, click here (the full article also requires a paid subscription).

    Though glitazones may not work as a lipoatrophy treatment, there are some other options available for people looking to lessen the symptoms of fat loss. Check out The Body's Lipoatrophy Resource Center to learn more.



    On HIV Vaccine Awareness Day, Researchers and Activists Mark 10 Years of Hunting
    In May 1997, President Bill Clinton announced a dramatic goal molded after John F. Kennedy's moon challenge of the early 1960s. Clinton's demand: Develop an HIV vaccine within a decade. This Friday, that deadline will pass unfulfilled, but the 10-year milestone is being celebrated, not mourned. May 18, the anniversary of Clinton's speech, is HIV Vaccine Awareness Day, and activists, scientists and government groups are coming together to explain why finding a vaccine is still urgent and how far researchers have already come. "I think there is genuine excitement in the field," says Dr. Mark Mulligan, executive director of the Emory Vaccine Center's Hope Clinic. "[HIV vaccines] we are using now are much stronger than they were just five to 10 years ago." (Web highlight from Southern Voice)

    Community forums, panel discussions and public awareness campaigns to commemorate HIV Vaccine Awareness Day are being held across the United States. Visit this Web page to find out if an event is happening near you.

    Despite Setbacks, Promising HIV Vaccine Research Continues
    So, are we ever going to have a vaccine to prevent HIV infection? The fact that we are still hunting for an HIV vaccine 20 years after the first studies began is disappointing, but in a statement for the 10th annual HIV Vaccine Awareness Day, top officials from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases explain that there are reasons for hope. A number of large, promising studies are in progress, and another is slated to begin later this year.

    HIV Vaccine Campaign Urges African Americans to Participate in Research
    The "Be the Generation" campaign to promote HIV vaccine research has a special message for African Americans: Help! HIV has killed close to 200,000 African Americans, and nearly half of all newly diagnosed people in the United States are African American, the HIV Vaccine Research Education Initiative notes. Those numbers make it more important than ever before that more HIV-negative African Americans volunteer for HIV vaccine studies, the campaign says. This brochure on HIV vaccine research further explains why African Americans should get involved and how they can help.

    HIV negative and interested in joining an HIV vaccine trial? Click here to search through a database of enrolling vaccine trials throughout the world.



    Oral Sex Linked to Throat Cancer, HPV Infection
    Forget about cigarettes and booze: If you really want to increase your risk for oral cancer, a new study suggests you should just have a lot of oral sex. Researchers found that men and women who have given oral sex to more than five partners are more than twice as likely to have oral or throat cancer than people who have never had oral sex -- and that oral sex seems to play a much greater role in oral cancer development than smoking cigarettes or drinking alcohol. These results aren't cause for great alarm, because oral cancers affect only two out of every 100,000 adults in the United States. But this study may lead experts to rethink who should be taking Gardasil, the new vaccine for human papillomavirus (HPV), which is currently indicated mainly for girls and young women. HPV appears to be the chief cause of oral cancer. (Web highlight from

    Instead of answering questions about kinky sexual adventures, sex-advice columnist Dan Savage devotes most of his latest column to a no-holds-barred discussion about what these study results really mean. Click here to read Savage's provocative thoughts.

    Free Sex-Ed Software for Teens, Young Adults
    Are you looking for a creative way to educate young people about sexuality and sexual health? Maybe you're a young person who would like to improve your knowledge of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)? "It's Your Call: Making Sexual Decisions" is free, interactive software that helps high-school- and college-aged people of all sexual orientations explore their personal values, needs and desires while getting information about sexuality and sexual health. The language is funny, down-to-earth and easy to understand. (Web highlight from the University of Alberta)



    Nobel Peace Prize Nominee Spotlights Plight of Women With HIV
    When she was diagnosed with HIV in Argentina in 1986, Patricia Perez never could have imagined she'd be nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize. But 21 years later, that's exactly where she finds herself, thanks to her tireless work on behalf of women living with HIV in Latin America. Perez has seen the number of women living with HIV in her region rise, but despite the growing numbers, the majority remain silent about their HIV status, fearing rejection and discrimination. Perez works to give these women their voices back: "As women living with HIV," she says, "we know what we need, so we should be sitting down at the tables where governments are making the decisions." (Web highlight from Inter Press Service)

    Also Worth Noting

    Connect With Others
    t The Body's Bulletin Boards

    First Regimen Not Working? Take Heart!
    (A recent post from the
    "Living With HIV" board)

    "[It's been] almost four years since [my] diagnosis, [and] I have been on many meds. I finally have gotten really good [lab] results, so don't give up! [My CD4 count is] 705 and [my viral load is] undetectable -- goes to show everyone can achieve these [numbers] if you do the right things and adhere to your doctor's instructions!"

    -- alive2

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

    We Want a Baby, But Have Few Options
    (A recent post from the
    "My Loved One Has HIV" board)

    "My husband is positive and I'm negative. We have been talking for months now about having kids. Problem is that we don't want to risk going the "natural" way, and sperm washing isn't an option where we live. He doesn't want to go the in vitro fertilization route, since it is against his beliefs. I'm running out of options and really want to have kids. Has anyone adopted an infant and are in a serodiscordant relationship? If so, got any advice?"

    -- BEANIE69

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

    Visual AIDS
    Art From HIV-Positive Artists

    Image from the May 2007 Visual AIDS Web Gallery
    "Lost," 1996; Thomas Belloff
    Visit the 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.