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May 23, 2007

In This Update
  • Live Chat at The Body
  • HIV Treatment & Complications
  • Living With HIV
  • HIV Transmission
  • Making a Difference
  • HIV Outside the U.S.

    The Date: Wednesday, June 6, 2007

    The Time: 7 p.m. Eastern Time/4 p.m. Pacific Time

    The Chat: Whether you're beginning HIV treatment or have been on a few regimens, finding a combination of meds that's right for you can be a challenge. You may have tons of questions about side effects, drug interactions and more. Now's your chance to get some answers live! Join us at for a one-hour chat with Dr. Edwin DeJesus, one of the top HIV care providers in the United States. He'll answer your questions about how to choose an HIV treatment regimen that works best for you -- or how to tweak your existing regimen to make it even better.

    To sign up for an e-mail reminder about this chat, or to presubmit a question you'd like Dr. DeJesus to answer, click here!


    Study Says "HIV Eradication" May Be Possible With Early HIV Treatment, but Many Are Skeptical
    A team of top HIV researchers has revived the idea that HIV can be "eradicated" from a person's body. Although the concept of HIV eradication was dismissed years ago, a newly published study -- led by a senior researcher at the U.S. National Institutes of Health -- suggests that people who start taking HIV meds within months of becoming infected and continue treatment for many years may be able to completely destroy all traces of HIV in their body. Plenty of experts dispute the study's findings, however, and a great deal of research lies ahead before this HIV eradication theory can be proven or disproved. That said, if the theory does prove true, it would dramatically change the way we look at HIV and HIV treatment.

    Learn more about the study and the reaction to it by reading this article from You can also read the abstract of the study, which was published in the June 15 issue of the Journal of Infectious Diseases, by clicking here.

    Popular Diabetes Drug May Increase Heart Attack Risk, FDA Warns
    The widely used diabetes drug Avandia (rosiglitazone) may increase a person's risk for heart problems, according to a new warning issued by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The warning is based on a study just published in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) that appears to link Avandia to serious heart problems in people with diabetes. Although the FDA is not recommending that Avandia be pulled from pharmacy shelves, the new finding may have a chilling effect on the drug's use -- and on studies that have been examining whether Avandia might be useful for reducing metabolic problems in people taking HIV meds. (Those studies have had mixed results at best.) (Web highlight from the New York Times)

    Needless to say, GlaxoSmithKline -- which produces Avandia -- is sharply critical of the study's findings. In a press release, Glaxo said its own research has found that Avandia is no more likely to cause heart problems than other diabetes drugs, and added that the study published in NEJM was flawed. A more balanced look at the new study is provided by this editorial -- also published in NEJM -- which takes a more in-depth look at Avandia (and similar drugs), heart problems and the U.S. drug-approval process.

    Avandia was made available in the United States through a rapid-approval process similar to that used for HIV meds. As National Public Radio's Morning Edition explains, the news about Avandia may bring renewed scrutiny of that drug-approval process, which focuses on getting a drug to market as quickly as possible, before it's been thoroughly tested for possible side effects.

    Study May Disprove Link Between HIV/Hep C Coinfection and Some Metabolic Problems
    A pair of new U.S. studies appears to contradict long-held concerns that HIV/hepatitis C-coinfected people have a higher risk of diabetes and lipoatrophy (fat loss) than people infected with HIV alone. One study found that HIV-positive people (provided they're not taking HIV meds) appear no more likely to develop diabetes than the rest of the U.S. population -- and that having hep C in addition to HIV made no difference in terms of diabetes risk. The other study found that, on the whole, HIV/hep C-coinfected people are no more likely than HIV-monoinfected people to develop fat loss. (Web highlight from

    You can read the abstracts of both of these studies -- the diabetes study and the lipoatrophy study -- in the May 1 issue of the Journal of Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndromes.



    "No Matter the Obstacle": An Inspiring Mother-Daughter Team Faces HIV
    Khaledah Wright's mother overcame a crack cocaine addiction after years of struggle, only to be blindsided by a positive HIV test. "I was devastated," writes Khaledah. But they faced her mother's HIV diagnosis together, and now her mom works as an HIV peer advocate. "I watch my mother ... build the spirits of other women living with HIV," writes Khaledah. "If she can do it, so can I. I make sure my friends get tested and I educate them on this epidemic, so they can protect themselves and others. ... Today, I feel wonderful, knowing that no matter what the obstacle is, [my mother and I will] get through it."

    HIVers More Likely Than General Public to Think About Suicide, Study Says
    Living with HIV means dealing with the burdens of stigma and health challenges, which can take an emotional toll. Sadly, a new study has found that HIVers are more likely to think about suicide than the rest of the U.S. population Although one in five study -- though the vast majority said they would never go through with it. HIVers who identified as gay, bisexual or transgender and those who were currently experiencing an HIV-related illness were more likely to have suicidal thoughts. Not surprisingly, HIV-positive people who reported having support structures and strong coping skills were less likely to think about suicide. (Web highlight from

    Click here to read the abstract of this study, which was published in the May 31 edition of the medical journal AIDS.

    There are plenty of resources out there to help HIVers cope with their day-to-day struggles. Click here to read more about how to cope with anxiety, stress or depression, and click here for a list of helpful hotlines, including places you can call to talk about suicide, mental health and HIV.



    HIV-Negative Serosorters May Increase Their Risk for HIV, Study Says
    HIV-negative gay men who practice serosorting -- choosing to only have unprotected sex with partners of the same HIV status -- may actually be increasing their HIV risk, according to a new study. The reason, the researchers said, is that even if a person says they're HIV negative, they may have been recently infected and simply don't know it yet. T
    he study calculated that, if you're a negative person who only has unprotected sex with negative partners, you may actually be more likely to get HIV than if you only had unprotected sex with partners who were HIV-positive but had an undetectable viral load. The upshot? Serosorting only works when you and your partner know your HIV status beyond a shadow of a doubt -- and since most HIV tests won't spot HIV infection until up to three months after a person has been infected, there's usually going to be a shadow. (Web highlight from

    Click here to read the abstract of this study, which was published in the May 31 edition of the medical journal AIDS.

    Post-Exposure Prophylaxis: A "Plan B" for HIV Prevention
    Once you're HIV positive, you're positive for life. But there's a brief window after a person is exposed to HIV when it may be possible to stop the virus in its tracks by taking a month-long course of HIV meds. It's a practice called "post-exposure prophylaxis," or PEP. Even though PEP might work, it's no magic bullet. This thorough discussion of PEP covers the pros and cons of this prevention technique, and discusses who should try PEP and what HIV meds they should take.

    Think you may have been exposed to HIV? PEP must be started within 72 hours of HIV exposure. Since hunting down an expert on PEP on short notice isn't always possible, if you're seeking PEP, inform yourself so you can get the care you need from a health care provider who may know little about how PEP works. This article offers a detailed, step-by-step guide to the issues people who have been exposed to HIV need to discuss with a health care provider, from the first appointment to the final follow-up.

    Also, take a look at these articles at to learn more about PEP.

    Hip Hop Concert Series Focuses on HIV Prevention
    "HIV is spreading in [today's hip hop generation] at an unprecedented rate," warns African-American health advocate Gary Puckrein. To combat ignorance about HIV in the hip hop community, a partnership of some of the leading music and lifestyle companies in the United States -- including VIBE Magazine, Life Media and -- is producing a concert series called "A Prayer 4 Hip Hop." The series will provide free HIV testing and address major issues facing the hip hop generation today. The first concert will be at the Copacabana Night Club in New York City and will feature performances from J.A.Z., Shabach and Deitrick Haddon; the tour will then continue on to Philadelphia, Atlanta, Houston, Tampa, Baltimore and Detroit. (Web highlight from

    For more information or to purchase tickets, visit the Prayer 4 Hip Hop Web site or check out the campaign's MySpace page.



    Lend Your Eyes to the Global HIV Fight
    ActionAid is hosting a virtual demonstration to send a clear message to international leaders: "We're watching you!" The international anti-poverty organization is collecting images of eyes from people around the world and compiling them on its Web site as a way to demand universal access to HIV treatment. They want to collect 8,000 pictures of eyes (to represent the 8,000 people who die from HIV daily) before the next G8 summit of world leaders in June. They still need more than 2,000 entries, so send in your eyes! (Web highlight from ActionAid)

    Make Some Noise! Join the Global AIDS Week of Action
    The second annual Global AIDS Week of Action is going on right now, and it's not too late to get involved. This is an opportunity for people who care about those affected by HIV to call on the leaders of the world's richest nations to give a stronger response to the HIV crisis in the developing world. Workshops, demonstrations and meetings are being held from May 20-25 to raise awareness and demand greater accountability and more resources for the fight against HIV. Events are underway in 27 countries. (Web highlight from ActionAid)



    HIV Epidemic Worsening in Russia
    The Russian HIV epidemic is on the verge of an explosion, the country's top HIV expert warns. During the first four months of 2007, more than 15,000 people were diagnosed with HIV -- and that's just a small percentage of the 1.2 to 1.3 million believed to be HIV positive. According to Vadim Pokrovsky, Russia's top HIV expert, "Not only is the number of Russians infected with HIV rising, but there is an increase in the rate at which the epidemic is spreading," with the number of registered cases climbing by as much as 10 percent each year. The most notable increases are among heterosexuals and people living in Russia's wealthier regions -- groups that long assumed they were at little risk for getting HIV.

    Sorely Needed HIV Services Fail to Reach the World's Injection Drug Users
    Most injection drug users (IDUs) throughout the world aren't being given the HIV prevention and treatment services they need, UNAIDS says. One out of every three people who are newly infected with HIV outside sub-Saharan Africa use injection drugs, estimates show, but only 8 percent of IDUs worldwide have access to services that can help stem the spread of HIV. That leaves 13 million people who are still in need of assistance. In addition, for those who have already tested positive, access to HIV meds is "unacceptably low" due to a "lack of information, exclusion and widespread stigma and discrimination," according to UNAIDS.

    Also Worth Noting

    Visual AIDS
    Art From HIV-Positive Artists

    Image from the May 2007 Visual AIDS Web Gallery
    "Lucio on Tony's Bed," 1998;
    George Towne
    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.

    Connect With Others
    t The Body's Bulletin Boards

    Diabetes, Avandia & Heart Risk
    (A recent post from the
    "HIV Treatment" board)

    "I've been on Atripla for two months now, and received some labs today that concerned me a bit. I've been a type II diabetic for five years, and HIV positive (asymptomatic) for 23 years this April. ... Also, while [I was] typing this, local news announced that my diabetes med, Avandia, is causing heart attacks. As if I didn't have enough to worry about. Just needed to vent; no support groups within 100 miles."

    -- 1xltnbear2go

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