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June 27, 2007

In This Update
  • Live Chat Today, June 27!
  • HIV Treatment & Complications
  • HIV Testing
  • HIV in the News
  • HIV Outside the U.S.

    The Date: Wednesday, June 27, 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.

    We hope to see you at tonight's chat! If you miss it, however, don't worry: A full transcript will be available within the next several days.


    Maraviroc Approval Is Delayed in United States
    The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has delayed its approval of maraviroc, the first in a new class of HIV meds known as CCR5 inhibitors. The FDA was expected to approve maraviroc on June 20, but instead it sent a letter to drug maker Pfizer asking it to answer a few more questions about the new med. No details were provided on what those questions are, but the Wall Street Journal reported that the questions are minor enough that the drug may still be approved before October.

    Programs Meant to Give HIVers New Drugs Before FDA Approval Are Flawed, Report Says
    The delay of maraviroc raises an important question: If a person needs to get a new medication now because their HIV treatment is failing, but the drug hasn't been approved yet, how can they get it? The answer, at least in the United States and many European countries, is called an "expanded access program." These programs are set up to provide a new drug to people who need it most before the drug has gotten formal approval. But some experts say this program doesn't work nearly as well as it should. They've written a new report explaining some of these problems and what can be done to fix them.

    Hospital Visits by U.S. HIVers Down 40% in First Part of Decade
    We all know that, for the most part, people with HIV in the United States are leading longer, healthier lives than ever before -- and a new U.S. study drives this point home. The number of hospital visits for HIV-positive people fell by almost 40 percent between 2000 and 2004, according to the study. The study also noted that as people with HIV age, they're going to the hospital not for HIV-related illnesses, but for the same conditions HIV-negative people face as they get older. (Web highlight from

    Click here to read the abstract of this study, which was published in the June 1 issue of the Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes.

    HIV Treatment May Improve Brain Function in People With Advanced HIV, Study Finds
    To many people, HIV-related dementia is one of the scariest possible side effects of HIV. But a new study suggests that, for people who develop cognitive problems because of advanced HIV disease, HIV meds may be able to restore some mental ability. The encouraging findings help offset earlier research, which suggested that even if HIV-positive people are taking HIV meds, they may still lose some brain function over time. (Web highlight from

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



    African-American Actors Promote HIV Testing Day
    "[T]here's nothing to be ashamed of -- it's easy [to get tested]," says actor Jimmy Jean-Louis, who plays "the Haitian" on the TV show Heroes. "There is a stigma in the black community [about AIDS], and we have to eliminate it." Jean-Louis was one of several actors who publicly took an HIV test at a Los Angeles press conference in advance of National HIV Testing Day, which takes place on June 27. The press conference also marked the start of the "One In a Million" campaign, which aims to test a million African Americans for HIV by December 2008. (Web highlight from

    Gay Pride Events Provide Opportunity for HIV Testing of Minorities, Study Says
    Gay and bisexual men of color in the United States are especially hard-hit by HIV, making it extremely important for health workers to provide them with education and testing. Nine U.S. cities recently tried reaching out at Gay Pride events: A federal government-backed study provided free, rapid HIV testing at pride events focused on racial minorities. The effort appeared to be well worth it: Six percent of the 133 people tested were found to be HIV positive.

    In New York, Indicted Rapists May Be Required to Get Tested for HIV
    New York state legislature has approved a law requiring anyone indicted for rape to be tested for HIV. Until now, only people convicted of rape in New York have been forced to take an HIV test. Supporters of the proposed law say it will enable rape survivors to make an educated choice about whether to take HIV post-exposure prophylaxis meds. But critics -- including the large HIV organization Housing Works -- say the law is being proposed just to "score easy political points" and won't actually help rape victims. Eighteen states have laws on the books regarding HIV testing for arrested or indicted rapists.

    New Jersey Legislature Approves Mandatory Testing for Pregnant Women
    All pregnant women in New Jersey may soon be required by law to get tested for HIV. The bill, which was passed by an overwhelming majority in the state legislature, would require HIV testing for mothers-to-be as early as possible in their pregnancy and then again during their third trimester, unless the women specifically opt out of testing. In addition, HIV testing would become mandatory for infants if the mother is HIV positive or if her HIV status is unknown when the baby is born. Currently, only seven states have opt-out HIV testing requirements for pregnant women: Arkansas, Connecticut, Illinois, Michigan, New York, Tennessee and Texas.



    U.S. ADAPs Still in Financial Trouble
    Although many U.S. states received a boost in funding for their AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP) this year, it's apparent that there still isn't enough federal funding going to these critical, life-saving programs. According to a new report, 529 people were on waiting lists to receive HIV-related meds through ADAP as of May 16 -- with most of those people (470) living in South Carolina.



    Women's Empowerment Key to HIV Prevention, Study Indicates
    Empowering women is vital to stopping the spread of HIV, a new study suggests. The report states that the more female sex workers a country has, the more HIV-positive people there are -- but the report took pains to say that doesn't mean sex workers cause an increase in HIV cases. The report noted that illiteracy and income inequality among women are also associated with greater national rates of HIV, which suggests that women often don't have the power to protect themselves.

    Click here to read the article, which was published in the online public-access journal PLoS ONE.

    It's About Time: World Is Finally Fighting "Brain Drain" in Developing Countries, Editorial Says
    International aid donors are finally addressing the dangerous shortage of health care workers in the developing world, according to an editorial in the New England Journal of Medicine. Dr. Pooja Kumar, an international humanitarian aid worker and a Rhodes Scholar, writes that donors are increasingly aware "that without enough trained workers to deliver drugs, vaccines and care, pumping money into projects will not have the desired effects." Africa has the worst health care worker shortage, according to Kumar: The continent is home to 24 percent of the world's disease but only 3 percent of its health care work force.

    Click here to read Dr. Kumar's editorial in the New England Journal of Medicine.

    Also Worth Noting

    Get Involved
    Spread the Word: June 27 is
    National HIV Testing Day!

    National HIV Testing Day poster
    National HIV Testing Day may only last 24 hours, but promoting HIV awareness is a year-round responsibility! Want to be a part of U.S.-wide efforts urging everyone to get tested for HIV? You can start by printing out, posting and distributing these English and Spanish posters (PDF), and by using's collection of articles and resources on HIV testing to educate yourself and others.

    Connect With Others
    t The Body's Bulletin Boards

    Women With HIV, Where Are You?
    (A recent post from the
    "Women With HIV" board)

    "It seems weird that women are one of the fastest-growing groups of new HIV infections and there are so many topics that are female specific, and yet we don't use this forum much. Why is that? ... Have you learned how to use a dental dam for oral sex? I tried once and it was awkward -- does it take time to learn to use? Since becoming HIV positive, have you had less sex or started using mutual masturbation instead of penetration? Does it feel fulfilling? I have used it more and it feels OK, but not like a good romp. ... Are you more depressed? I am. ... Let's use this place to create a web of support for each other -- not to the exclusion of others or other forums, but to build community."

    -- sunflower

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

    Visual AIDS
    Art From HIV-Positive Artists

    Image from the June 2007 Visual AIDS Web Gallery
    "Lady With Blue Bandana," 1999;
    Joyce McDonald
    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.