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July 5, 2007

In This Update
  • This Month in HIV:
        Sex and Dating When You're HIV Positive
  • HIV Treatment
  • Health Complications for HIVers
  • HIV in the News
  • U.S. HIV Policy
  • U.S. HIV Testing
  • HIV Outside the U.S.

    Our latest edition of This Month in HIV has been the most popular of the series thus far, so don't miss it! We've brought together experts, advocates and HIVers in a round-table discussion about sex and dating when you're HIV positive.

    There are so many questions about sex, dating and HIV that the whole idea can seem overwhelming. How do you get back into the dating game after your diagnosis? How -- and more importantly, when -- do you tell someone you are dating that you are HIV positive? This edition of This Month in HIV helps make sense of it all. Listen online, download an MP3 or read a transcript of this captivating discussion!


    FDA Grants Speedy Review for First HIV Integrase Inhibitor
    MK-0518 (raltegravir) is on the fast track for U.S. approval, thanks to a decision last week by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The FDA's drug approval process usually takes 10 to 12 months, but the agency could approve MK-0518 as early as mid-October. The drug is the first in a new class of HIV meds called integrase inhibitors -- a different class than maraviroc, a CCR5 inhibitor whose approval was delayed by the FDA in June.

    Cross-Resistance Between Integrase Inhibitors Looks Likely
    MK-0518 has generated a lot of excitement among HIV experts because it appears to work well in people who are resistant to all other approved classes of HIV meds. But what happens if you develop resistance to MK-0518? Will other integrase inhibitors -- like elvitegravir (GS-9137), which is also in the development pipeline -- still work? Early signs don't appear very promising, according to new research. The new studies suggest that, when you develop resistance to one integrase inhibitor, you might develop resistance to others as well. (Web highlight from National AIDS Treatment Advocacy Project)

    Three Months of Meds Soon After Diagnosis May Slow Down HIV in the Long Run
    Starting HIV medications is a big commitment, and the debate continues about the benefits and drawbacks of starting treatment early. The latest research on the issue comes from the United Kingdom, where scientists have found that taking HIV meds for only three months right after becoming HIV positive might make a person's CD4 count drop more slowly, which would delay the need for long-term treatment. The findings weren't conclusive, however; the researchers admitted there is a pressing need to study the issue further. (Web highlight from

    In fact, there is such a clinical trial now underway internationally. Click here to read more about the study.



    Outbreak of Severe Syphilis Reported Among Gay, HIV-Positive Men in U.S.
    Think unprotected sex isn't as risky if you already have HIV? Many HIVers already know better, but just in case you were unsure: Experts are warning about what appears to be an outbreak of an especially dangerous form of syphilis in the United States among men who have sex with men. This type of syphilis can cause blindness or even brain damage if it's untreated -- and, just like more typical syphilis, you might be infected and not even know it. The upshot: If you're having unprotected sex, be sure to get tested regularly for syphilis and other sexually transmitted diseases.



    HIV-Positive Man Sues for Right to Use Marijuana to Treat Nausea
    An HIV-positive man is suing the U.S. state of Colorado, claiming that state regulations have made it impossible for him to obtain medical marijuana to relieve the intense nausea caused by his HIV and hepatitis C medications. Colorado, along with 10 other U.S. states, does permit the medical use of marijuana. But Damien LaGoy, who was been living with HIV since 1987, says that stringent rules have forced him to choose between buying marijuana illegally and skipping his prescribed medications. (Web highlight from Rocky Mountain News)

    Graduates of "HIV U" Prepare to Fight HIV in African-American Communities
    Who will lead the fight against HIV in the black community? Nine men and women decked out in caps and gowns stepped forward last month. They're the newest graduates of the Black AIDS Institute's African-American HIV University. After two years of intensive training in HIV science and prevention, they will head out to HIV organizations in the United States and Nigeria to serve as "in-house experts."



    Democratic Presidential Candidates Talk HIV
    What do the democratic presidential candidates think about current efforts to fight HIV in the United States? Each of the eight candidates expressed their views during a televised debate last week, which was dedicated specifically to domestic problems among minorities. "Let me just put this in perspective," said Senator Hilary Rodham Clinton. "If HIV/AIDS were the leading cause of death of white women between the ages of 25 and 34, there would be an outraged outcry in this country. If we don't begin to take [HIV] seriously ... we will never get the services and the public education that we need."



    Illinois Law Allows HIV Testing Without Written Consent
    A new law allows people in Illinois to provide consent for HIV tests verbally instead of filling out formal paperwork. The law, which was signed by Governor Rod Blagojevich on June 27, National HIV Testing Day, requires pretest counseling and guarantees people the right to refuse testing. It's designed to streamline the process and reduce the stigma that surrounds HIV testing. AIDS Foundation of Chicago estimates that as many as 10,000 people in Illinois are HIV positive but don't know they are infected.

    Despite Obstacles, U.S. Health Officials Are Slowly Transforming HIV Testing
    U.S. health officials are expanding and reshaping HIV testing programs, but major obstacles to improving access to HIV tests remain, a survey of AIDS program directors in 49 states shows. While the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has called for routine HIV testing and a simplified testing process, some health officials say that wide-scale testing is too costly and state laws often require the kinds of time-consuming procedures the CDC would like to do away with.



    Kazakh Health Care Workers Sentenced for Infecting Kids With HIV
    Seventeen health care workers in Kazakhstan have been sentenced to prison for infecting 118 children with HIV through transfusions of tainted blood. Poverty seems to be the cause of these infections: Some of the convicted doctors, who earn as little as US$175 a month, say they were forced to sell blood -- which turned out to be tainted -- in order to earn additional income.

    Gay, Male Sex Workers in Africa Urgently Need HIV Prevention, Study Says
    Although gay men in Africa are especially vulnerable to HIV, most research on the continent has focused on heterosexuals. A new study estimates that there are at least 739 male sex workers in and around the city of Mombasa, Kenya -- a "sizeable population who urgently need to be targeted by HIV prevention strategies," according to researchers. An accompanying editorial states that the findings suggest that there's a much larger number of hard-to-reach gay men in the area who experience discrimination and are in dire need of HIV prevention services. (Web highlight from

    Click here to read the abstract in the June edition of the journal AIDS.

    Not Enough Money in the Bank for HIV Prevention Programs
    It's not exactly ground-breaking news that the world's HIV prevention programs need more funding. But what may surprise you is that these programs could prevent half of the 60 million new cases of HIV expected by 2015, according to a new report by the Global HIV Prevention Working Group -- if they had the money. The report says global AIDS spending must double within three years, to $22 billion per year, and about half of that money should be spent on prevention to noticeably decrease the number of new HIVers, the report says.

    Also Worth Noting

    Profiles in Courage
    Inspiring Stories From HIV-Positive Women

    Alora Gale

    Growing up in small-town California, the only things Alora Gale thought were unusual about her life were that she had never been allowed to eat a candy bar and that her mom had to drive three towns over to find a suitable grocery store. Then, in 1992, her mother tested positive for HIV -- and she and her brother were diagnosed soon after. They had been HIV positive since they were born but had no idea.

    Fifteen years later, Alora, 21, and her brother are healthy and happy -- and Alora is actively working to spread HIV education to young people like her. She recognizes that in a society often afraid to talk openly about anything related to sex, people can't help but be ignorant. To battle that ignorance, she has been speaking to school groups about HIV since she was in junior high school. is honored to present this one-on-one interview with Alora. It'
    s 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!

    Visual AIDS
    Art From HIV-Positive Artists

    Image from the July 2007 Visual AIDS Web Gallery
    "Fleeting Empathy," 2001;
    Rene Capone
    Visit the newly launched July 2007 Visual AIDS Web Gallery to view our latest collection of art by HIV-positive artists! This month's gallery, entitled "I'm Not Mad at You, I'm Mad at the Dirt," is curated by Scott Hug, an artist whose work focuses on current social and political events, investigating politics, pop culture and media obsession.

    Connect With Others
    t The Body's Bulletin Boards

    Dueling Opinions: Do I Start HIV Meds?
    (A recent post from the
    "I Just Tested Positive" board)

    "I was diagnosed a month ago while hospitalized with meningitis. My [CD4 count was] 315 and [my viral load was] 750,000. After lots of Dilaudid, ibuprofen and sleep, I've returned to daily life. One specialist I visited prescribed Atripla. ... She believes immediate treatment will help my system rebound. A second specialist a week later advised against it, [saying] that my body should receive little interference from outside drugs and residual toxins until it can fight the viral particles on its own for a while. They are both well-published and [experienced researchers], spoke with such authority, and are liked by the Chicago GLBT community. Yet they have given me opposite advice. I'm completely confused on how to proceed."

    -- AbsolutBri

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