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July 11, 2007

In This Update
  • Exclusive Podcast Preview of IAS Conference
  • Living With HIV
  • HIV Treatment
  • Health Complications for HIVers
  • HIV Prevention
  • HIV Outside the U.S.

    What new research does the next major HIV conference hold in store? What studies hold the potential to change the way HIV is treated? We've got the answers in this exclusive preview podcast from The Body PRO! It's all part of our run-up to the 4th International AIDS Society Conference on HIV Pathogenesis, Treatment and Prevention (IAS 2007), which will take place in Sydney, Australia, from July 22-25.

    In this exclusive interview, Dr. Daniel Berger looks into his crystal ball (and the conference program) to provide an expert look at the studies most likely to make waves at IAS 2007. Dr. Berger also discusses newly published results from a series of important studies on Prezista (TMC114, darunavir), which we also highlight later in this newsletter. You can download the podcast now or read the transcript.

    Interested in receiving e-mail notifications about our upcoming IAS 2007 coverage, which will include next-day podcasts and transcripts summarizing the latest breaking research? Click here to sign up! (U.S. doctors and nurses can earn CME/CE credit for these activities.)


    You're Fired! Changing Your Doctor When the Time Is Right
    When a visit to his doctor left Matt Sharp feeling humiliated and angry, a light bulb went off: "It was time to fire my doctor!" he writes. As a treatment educator and 20-year HIV survivor, Matt knew he deserved the best care possible, and decided to brave the hassle of finding a new health care provider. In this editorial, he discusses the signs that it's time to move on, and some of the health care pitfalls that every HIVer should watch out for.

    Bi, Bi Baby: One HIVer Finds Humor in the Face of a Bipolar Diagnosis
    Finding the humor in bipolar disorder may seem like one heck of a challenge, but the always-entertaining Jim Pickett managed to do it. "Bipolar lite," he calls his diagnosis: "less calories, but still crazy fun that may wind ya up in the loony bin." After a rough breakup with his boyfriend and a battle with suicidal thoughts, Jim spent some time this spring in what he calls a "gay nut house." In this article, the Positively Aware columnist recounts his struggle to admit that he needed help -- and, on the less-serious side, his bravery in the face of such "nut house" horrors as bad decaffeinated coffee and plastic beds.

    HIV-Positive Advocate Wins Young Activist of the Year Award
    Although 30-year-old Jessica Mardis was diagnosed with HIV more than 10 years ago, she became an activist only when her fiance died in 2005. But in the short time since, her work has gained so much attention that Mardis recently won the Young Activist of the Year Award from the Mississippi branch of ACORN, a huge, nationwide community-support organization. "I would never miss an opportunity for AIDS advocacy," said Mardis. "I eat, sleep and breathe HIV."



    Adding Etravirine to Prezista Improves Anti-HIV Activity, Studies Show
    Prezista (TMC114, darunavir) is a relatively new protease inhibitor that's generally used by people who already have resistance to other protease inhibitors. It works pretty well (when used along with other HIV meds), but how can it be made even more effective? According to new study results, etravirine (TMC125), an NNRTI in development, may do the trick. The studies (known by the acronym DUET), found that highly treatment-experienced HIVers who take etravirine in addition to Prezista are even more likely to reach an undetectable viral load. (Web highlight from

    The new DUET 1 study results, DUET 2 study results and an accompanying commentary are all available in the July 7 issue of The Lancet (free registration is required to read study abstracts; paid subscription is usually needed to read the full articles).

    Prezista vs. Kaletra: Is One Protease Inhibitor Better?
    Does the protease inhibitor class have a new heavyweight champion? Kaletra (lopinavir/ritonavir) has long been considered the "gold standard" of protease inhibitors, but the newer drug Prezista may just give it a run for its money. A new, major study has found that people with heavy HIV drug resistance who took a regimen including Prezista were more likely to have an undetectable viral load after 48 weeks than people who took a regimen including Kaletra -- by a score of 71 percent to 60 percent. This doesn't necessarily mean that one drug is better than the other, but it's interesting news for people who thought of Kaletra as the most powerful protease inhibitor around. (Web highlight from

    The abstract of this study is available in the July 7 issue of The Lancet (free registration required to read).



    Early Hep C Treatment Is Usually Successful in HIV/Hep C-Coinfected People
    If you're able to start hep C meds within a few months of becoming infected, you may stand a very good chance of successfully treating the virus, according to a new study of HIV/hepatitis C-coinfected gay men. The British study examined how well people responded to hep C treatment when it was started during the "acute" phase -- i.e., within the first few months of infection. The researchers found that two-thirds of people who started hep C meds during the acute phase had an excellent response to treatment. (Web highlight from

    People With Advanced HIV at Greater Risk for Many Cancers
    Are people with advanced HIV disease at greater risk for cancer than HIV-negative people? The answer, according to a new Australian study, is yes. The researchers say their findings suggest that immune deficiency may increase a person's risk for cancer -- which means that advanced HIV can be a risk factor. The study found a higher risk not just for cancers long associated with HIV, such as Kaposi's sarcoma, but many others as well, including cancers of the anus, mouth and esophagus. (Web highlight from

    The abstract of this study is available in the July 7 issue of The Lancet (free registration required to read).



    HHSWatch: Keeping an Eye on the Powers That Be
    When the U.S. health department makes decisions, they affect HIV prevention efforts throughout the country. HHSWatch, a watchdog newsletter from Community HIV/AIDS Mobilization Project (CHAMP), monitors and reports on HIV prevention activities at various U.S. health department agencies. The July issue covers the funding-related challenges of implementing the new guidelines for universal HIV testing from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

    Could Abstinence-Only Sex Ed Finally Be on Its Way Out?
    Reviled by HIV activists, comprehensive sexual education advocates and researchers alike, the conservative "abstinence-only" brand of sex ed may lose one of its largest sources of U.S. federal funding. In late June, Congress failed to reauthorize "Title V" funding, a $163 million program that barred teachers from discussing contraception and required them to say that sex within marriage is "the expected standard of sexual activity." The fight for Title V is not over, however; Congress may yet extend the funding through Sept. 30.



    Free Access to HIV Meds in South America Is Saving Lives, But ...
    Thanks to government programs that provide free HIV meds for all HIVers, Brazil, Chile and Argentina have all seen dramatic decreases in the number of HIV-positive people who become sick or die. Brazil's program, which offers 17 drugs, is considered one of the most successful in the world: Since its start, HIV-related deaths have dropped 28 percent, and HIV-related hospital admissions have fallen 80 percent. However, despite their success, these programs may face trouble in the future: Newer HIV meds are heavily protected by patents and are becoming increasingly expensive.

    International AIDS Society Calls for More HIV Research Funding
    Having the medications, the health care workers and the facilities to fight HIV in the developing world isn't enough, a prominent group of HIV professionals says: Governments and organizations also need to plan for the future -- and that means doing more to help efforts to research HIV. According to the so-called "Sydney Declaration" -- a statement released yesterday by the International AIDS Society (IAS) -- this kind of research is sorely underfunded. The declaration proposes that all governments, international funders and private donors spend at least 10 percent of their budgets on research.

    Do you agree with the Sydney Declaration? If you do, you can become a part of it by signing this Internet petition.

    China Isn't Doing Enough for Its AIDS Orphans, UNICEF Says
    About 140,000 children in China have lost one or both of their parents to AIDS-related illnesses, according to a new report from UNICEF China. Only 8,000 of these children are receiving government help. Many children end up in orphanages because their communities are afraid of HIV and refuse to care for them, UNICEF says. Besides the obvious need for additional funding and HIV education throughout the country, UNICEF China called for the government to "go talk to the kids and try to figure out how you need to provide the services, skills and information [about HIV] to them."

    Also Worth Noting

    Visual AIDS
    Art From HIV-Positive Artists

    Image from the July 2007 Visual AIDS Web Gallery
    "Black Pillow," 2002;
    Frank Moore
    Visit the 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

    22 Years and Counting: There Is Hope!
    (A recent post from the
    "I Just Tested Positive" board)

    "I'm a female who has been HIV positive for the past 22 years. I was infected back in the mid-1980s. I am on meds and have no problems at all taking them -- for me, I believe it is a small price to pay to watch my two HIV-negative children grow up. ...

    "I was 12 when I received a tainted blood transfusion. I have to say, it's taken me most of those 22 years to see my 'predicament' as a blessing in disguise. I have hated and been angry, I've been completely beaten by sadness over it, but in the past 7 or 8 years I have really gotten to be OK about it all.

    "I view myself as one of the lucky ones. ... I've been along for the ride for a good part of the 'public life' of HIV/AIDS and I guess if you're reading [this] and wondering if you will get 10 years, 12 or 15 years I am here to say, well, I got 22 so far, and no sign of slowing down yet. Hope is a precious thing to have, and I wasn't given any when I was first diagnosed, so if I can offer a glimmer of it, then beautiful."

    -- ForeverEternity

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

    What Do I Say to My Newly Diagnosed Brother?
    (A recent post from the
    "My Loved One Has HIV" board)

    "I really don't know what to say or how to talk to [my brother] about [his HIV diagnosis]. How do I start without falling apart in the process? The irony is that we're twins, and it tears me apart. I always knew he needed to be safe, but I know he's lived a dangerous lifestyle. The time for passing judgement is over, I just want him to know I'm there when he needs me. My wife and I and the entire immediate family are unsure of what to do. My mom's in denial."

    -- PJ211

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