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June 13, 2007

In This Update
  • HIV in Pop Culture
  • HIV Treatment & Complications
  • Hepatitis & HIV
  • U.S. HIV Policy
  • HIV Transmission & Testing
  • HIV Outside the U.S.
  •   HIV IN POP CULTURE

    Styx Bass Player Comes Out as Gay, HIV Positive in Memoir
    "Any kid who wants to be in popular music doesn't have to hide [their sexuality] anymore. Maybe they can think, 'Hey, if Chuck did it, why can't I do it?'" So says Chuck Panozzo, bass guitar player for Styx, the popular 1970s and 1980s rock band. Panozzo comes out as gay and HIV positive in his new memoir, The Grand Illusion: Love, Lies, and My Life With Styx. The book chronicles Panozzo's journey out of the closet, onto HIV meds and into a new life with his partner in sunny Florida. (Web highlight from the Miami Herald)


    HIV-Positive Choreographer Wins Tony Award
    Bill T. Jones, an outspoken HIV-positive choreographer, won a Tony Award last weekend for choreographing his first mainstream musical, Spring Awakening, a tale of adolescent sexuality in 19th-century Germany. Jones has been breaking rules in the world of modern dance for more than 30 years by openly exploring sexual identity, race and HIV. He lost his partner, fellow choreographer Arnie Zane, to AIDS-related lymphoma in 1988. Since then, he has created such controversial pieces as Still/Here, which used video of his workshops with people who have terminal illnesses. (Web highlight from the New York Times; this article was written before the Tony Award winners were announced)

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      HIV TREATMENT & COMPLICATIONS

    Viracept Recalled in Europe, Some Developing Countries
    Viracept (nelfinavir) was recalled last week by the European Medicines Agency due to contamination. While the United States, Canada and Japan are not affected by the recall, thousands of HIVers in Europe are supposed to immediately contact their health care providers and switch to another medication, discontinuing use of Viracept. People in other countries may also be affected; Roche, which markets the drug in Europe, has not released a list of impacted countries. According to Roche, Viracept is being recalled due to higher than normal levels of a chemical that could cause cancer.

    The recall of Viracept has left many HIVers in the lurch. Even though the contaminated medicine may be harmful to their health, HIVers in developing countries may have no other treatment options available to them. One organization trying to help is Aid for AIDS, which collects unused meds from people in the United States and donates them to HIVers in need. Aid for AIDS is now collecting excess Viracept and other meds so it can distribute the uncontaminated drugs to HIVers in affected countries. Click here to learn how to donate your unused HIV meds.


    High LDL Levels May Drop by Switching Sustiva to Viramune, Study Says
    If you're taking Sustiva (efavirenz, Stocrin) and have very high levels of LDL, or "bad," cholesterol, a switch to Viramune (nevirapine) might help, according to the results of a small French study. The study involved people who had been on a Sustiva-containing regimen for many months, had a very low viral load and a high CD4 count, but also had unusually high LDL. People who switched from Sustiva to Viramune saw their LDL drop by about 10 percent in 52 weeks, compared to virtually no change among people who stayed on Sustiva. (Web highlight from AIDSmeds.com)

    To read the abstract of this study, which will appear in the July 15 issue of Clinical Infectious Diseases, click here.

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      HEPATITIS & HIV

    Viread Appears Effective Against HIV and Hep B in Coinfected People
    Viread (tenofovir) may do double-duty in people who are coinfected with HIV and hepatitis B, a pair of small, long-term studies in Britain and Germany have found. Although Viread isn't approved for use as a hepatitis B treatment, the European researchers found that it appeared to be a highly effective long-term treatment for hep B in people who also had HIV. (Web highlight from aidsmap.com)



    Hepatitis C in HIV-Positive Men: An Emerging Epidemic?
    HIV and hepatitis C often go hand in hand, and there's growing evidence that hep C can be transmitted through unprotected sex, especially among men who have sex with men (MSM). There's a lot we still have to learn about the spread of hep C among men with HIV, but in this comprehensive, detailed discussion, Dr. Mark Danta of Australia explains what we know so far. (Web highlight from PRN Notebook; free registration required)

    Although hepatitis C coinfection may be on the rise among HIV-positive MSM, there's at least some good news: If your hep C infection is spotted quickly and treatment is started as soon as possible, it has a good chance of stopping hep C before it can cause liver damage. New research suggests that starting hep C treatment during the "acute" phase (the first few months after infection) has a success rate of 60 percent or more in HIV-positive MSM, even for hard-to-treat strains of the virus.

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      U.S. HIV POLICY

    Bush & Friends: "The Abstinence Gluttons"
    "George W. Bush's faith-based administration and a conservative Republican Congress transformed the small-time abstinence-only business into a billion-dollar industry," laments author Michael Reynolds. In this in-depth editorial, Reynolds accuses the federal government of bolstering faith-based organizations and their unproven abstinence-only programs, while lining the pockets of the organizations' leaders with U.S. taxpayer money. (Web highlight from The Nation)

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      HIV TRANSMISSION & TESTING

    Thanks to HIV Therapy, No Additional Transmission Risk With Twins
    Whether you have twins or a single baby, the risk of mother-to-child HIV transmission has been equally low since combination HIV therapy became available, according to a new French study. While mothers carrying twins experience more complications that could increase the risk of mother-to-child HIV transmission, the study found there is basically no additional transmission risk as long as the mother is taking HIV medications. However, the findings point to the importance of HIV testing and treatment access for women pregnant with twins, especially in developing countries. (Web highlight from aidsmap.com)


    On HIV Testing Day, a Chance to Take Action
    June 27 is U.S. National HIV Testing Day, an occasion for people who understand the importance of testing to spread the message -- and spread it loudly! If an HIV Testing Day event is planned in your area, urge people in your community to go with you and get tested! And if you're an activist or HIV educator interested in organizing an event of your own, there are resources that can give you a head start: Check out these tips on planning a successful event and posters to help bring people to your HIV testing bash. (Web highlight from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

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      HIV OUTSIDE THE UNITED STATES

    It's Not Just About Meds: Intensive HIV Prevention Needed to Stop Pandemic, Report Says
    More than 36 million people could become newly HIV positive in sub-Saharan Africa by 2015, a new report warns. The report from the Global HIV Prevention Working Group says that, even though HIV prevention is a more cost-effective way to fight the pandemic than HIV treatment, donors and government leaders focus more on treatment programs because it's easier to prove that they're having concrete results. If that trend continues, the report says, millions of preventable HIV infections could result.


    World Leaders Pledge $60 Billion in Aid to Africa; Critics Say Promise Is Flimsy
    Leaders of eight of the world's most powerful countries agreed last week to spend over $60 billion to combat HIV and other problems in Africa. However, critics say the pledge is too vague, much too small and that the countries have failed to follow through on their pledges in the past. "We will have to watch the G8 [Group of Eight leading industrial nations] carefully to see if they keep their promises," said Paul Zeitz, executive director of the Global AIDS Alliance. "But even if they do keep them, the funding falls far short of what is needed."


    World's Leaders Must Address "Deadly Intersection" of Gender-Based Violence and HIV, Activist Writes
    Although leaders of the world's wealthiest countries have committed themselves to supporting HIV prevention, treatment and care, some question whether they'll ever give serious attention to the relationship between violence against women and the spread of HIV. "Simultaneously, HIV is both a cause and a consequence of the gender-based violence, stigma and discrimination that women and girls face," writes activist and author Susana Fried. "[Yet] national and global AIDS responses continually fail to grapple with its implications." (Web highlight from openDemocracy)

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    Also Worth Noting

    Inspiring Stories
    From HIV Treatment Veterans

    Nelson Vergel

    With a 27-year history of drinking, using drugs and sleeping with hundreds of women, Greg Braxton's AIDS diagnosis in 1994 came as no surprise. This destructive cycle went on for several years even after he started HIV treatment; his inability to take his medications caused him to develop multidrug-resistant HIV. "I was extremely sick, and a few times they didn't know if I would live or die," Greg says.

    Then he
    entered a substance abuse program, and began to turn his life around. He has entered a few clinical trials and finally gotten his viral load to undetectable for the first time. Over the past few years he has also graduated college and gotten a full-time job, a new wife and a home in the suburbs. Now he's working on a graduate degree.

    The Body's one-on-one interview with Greg, available as a podcast and a full transcript, is a featured part of our brand-new Resource Center for HIV Treatment Veterans. Stop by for inspiring stories, podcasts, resources and plenty of information for HIVers with multidrug resistance!

    Visual AIDS
    Art From HIV-Positive Artists

    Image from the June 2007 Visual AIDS Web Gallery
    "The Rose," 2005; Rodrigo Zuniga
    Visit the June 2007 Visual AIDS Web Gallery to view our latest collection of art by HIV-positive artists! This month's gallery, entitled "Queer New World," is curated by Hector Canonge, the founder and director of CINEMAROSA, the only queer film series in the New York City borough of Queens.

    Connect With Others
    A
    t The Body's Bulletin Boards

    Why?
    (A recent post from the
    "Living With HIV" board)

    "Why should people preach love when they keep on changing seats in church if they know you are HIV positive? Why should one speak of freedom when HIV-positive [people] are not free to travel all over the world as [they] wish? ... Why should dating be so complicated? Why?"

    -- peerson

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