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August 8, 2007

In This Update
  • HIV Treatment
  • IAS 2007: Coverage & Podcasts
  • Living With HIV
  • HIV Policy in the U.S.
  • HIV in the News
  • HIV Transmission
  • Making a Difference

    U.S. Approves Selzentry, First CCR5 Inhibitor
    On Aug. 6, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) gave the green light to Selzentry (maraviroc), the first in a new class of HIV meds known as CCR5 inhibitors. This is good news for treatment-experienced people who have few other options. However, Selzentry only works against a certain type of HIV; a special blood test will determine whether Selzentry can work against your HIV. The drug is expected to be widely available in the United States by September.

    In the meantime, there's an expanded access program for Selzentry that can help people with limited treatment options get access to the new drug. Click here to learn more about this program, which is expected to continue through the end of the year.

    The Basics on Selzentry: A Exclusive Interview
    To learn all about the newest HIV medication Selzentry (maraviroc), we spoke with Joel Gallant, M.D., one of the leading HIV specialists in the United States. In this exclusive interview (available as a podcast or a transcript), Dr. Gallant explains how maraviroc is different from other HIV meds, who should consider taking the drug, what side effects it may cause, and what needs to happen before you'll know whether Selzentry will work against your HIV.

    Want to read about the latest research on Selzentry? At the 4th International AIDS Society conference, which took place in Sydney last month, researchers presented new analyses from the two major clinical trials of Selzentry. Click here for a recap of the data from's Edwin DeJesus, M.D.

    The "Other" CCR5 Inhibitor: Latest Research on Vicriviroc
    Selzentry may be the first CCR5 inhibitor to win U.S. approval, but it's not the only one in development. Vicriviroc, which suffered a setback last year due to side effect fears, is still working its way through clinical trials.'s Edwin DeJesus, M.D., provides an update on the latest research presented at the 4th International AIDS Society Conference on HIV Pathogenesis, Treatment and Prevention.



    The Voices of IAS 2007: Listen to Expert Interviews
    Our in-depth podcast coverage of the 4th International AIDS Society Conference on HIV Pathogenesis, Treatment and Prevention (IAS 2007) continues to pour in! You can now listen to 26 different interviews (and counting!) with renowned HIV experts, as well as the researchers who conducted some of IAS 2007's most interesting studies. Here's just a sampling of the wide range of interviews you can listen to:

    • Conference Highlights: Eric Daar, M.D., discusses the ongoing debate about when to start treatment and provides his take on circumcision as prevention in the developed world.
    • Drugs in the Pipeline: Cal Cohen, M.D., discusses the role that a new generation of HIV meds will play in keeping HIV at bay.
    • New NNRTIs: Anthony Mills, M.D., explains the latest results from the DUET studies, which are designed to assess the safety and efficacy of TMC125 (etravirine), an NNRTI in development.
    • Safer Sex & HIV Prevention: Nancy Padian, Ph.D., summarizes her presentation on prevention technologies such as microbicides, dental dams and the female condom.

    For a full index of available podcasts, click here. Additional information on highlighted studies is also available, and transcripts will be added soon. Also be sure to read or listen to our three daily overviews of IAS 2007 highlights, as well as a down-to-earth, non-clinical breakdown of major IAS 2007 research by Daniel Berger, M.D.



    Do Priorities Differ for Gay and Straight HIVers? Survey Says: No
    Gay and straight HIVers alike say that compassionate, competent HIV care is their No. 1 priority, according to a 60-person survey conducted by a Florida physician. Personal appearance and aging tied for second place, which reflects concerns about body fat changes and other long-term complications of HIV and medications. Surprisingly, one of the lowest priorities for survey participants was protecting others from HIV -- a result which, according to the physician, highlights the difficulties of disclosure and the fear of rejection many people with HIV still face.



    Cutbacks in Ryan White Funds Mean Fewer Support Services for Some HIVers
    The Ryan White CARE Act is supposed to fund HIV-related health care and support programs throughout the United States. But funding changes put in motion last year have left some HIVers experiencing hardships and anxiety, as federal money increasingly fails to stretch as far as is needed. Support programs such as food deliveries, housing and legal services are taking the biggest hit. "These nonmedical services are what keep people like me alive," said one HIVer whose meds have stopped working. "If I decide to keep fighting this disease, I wonder if I'll get the help I need."

    New Bill Calls for Earlier Access to HIV Meds
    More and more HIV doctors are suggesting that HIVers start treatment while they're still feeling healthy, with a CD4 count of 350 slowly becoming the norm. However,
    low-income HIVers in the United States have to wait until they're officially classified as "disabled" before Medicaid will pay for their treatment. Seem fair? If you answered no, many agree with you -- including several members of the U.S. Congress. They've introduced a bill called the Early Treatment for HIV Act that, if passed, could provide HIV meds to thousands of people before they begin to get sick.

    U.S. Congress May Consider Repealing Ban on HIVer Immigration
    New legislation introduced to the U.S. Congress could finally repeal the ban on HIVers traveling and immigrating to the United States. "We can't even hold an international AIDS conference in the United States of America because of this travel ban," says Rep. Barbara Lee, who introduced the bill. "I think that is about as un-American as you can get." Even President Bush has spoken out in support of lifting the ban on foreign-born HIVers entering the country. However, despite a widely-publicized vow on World AIDS Day 2006 to lift the ban, nothing has changed.

    Do you support eliminating the HIV immigration ban? Call up your U.S. representative and tell the person who answers the phone that you are a constituent and you urge the representative to cosponsor H.R. 3337, the HIV Nondiscrimination in Travel and Immigration Act. If you're not sure who your representative in Congress is, click here to look him or her up.



    Researchers Offer New Theory on How HIV Progresses to AIDS
    Common scientific wisdom on how HIV infection progresses to full-blown AIDS might be wrong, according to two U.S. researchers. Most scientists believe that many strains of HIV battle in the body until the fittest strain -- the one that makes the most copies of itself -- wins, eventually destroying the immune system and causing AIDS. Surprisingly, the new theory proposes that the real culprit is a slow-replicating strain that's especially bad news for CD4 cells.



    Why Is There Still No Vaccine for HIV?
    Although many promising HIV vaccines have been developed, even the best candidates so far haven't worked out. So why haven't we found a vaccine for HIV yet? In this overview from AIDS Community Research Initiative of America, learn why previous HIV vaccines flopped, how the current crop of vaccine candidates might work and why a growing number of experts believe that scientists won't be able to develop a vaccine that completely prevents HIV -- at least not anytime soon.

    HIV Rates Remarkably High Among Female Inmates in Washington, D.C.
    Women in Washington, D.C., prisons are more than twice as likely to have HIV as men in the city's prisons, according to city officials. More than 7 percent of the 607 female inmates who were tested had HIV, compared to 2.7 percent of 2,609 men. Health officials said the higher rate of infection among women in Washington's jails was unsurprising, because most female inmates are charged with commercial sex work and injection drug use.

    Hispanic, Black Men in U.S. More Likely to Get HIV From Drug Use
    Experts say that drug use (and the risky behaviors that drug use can cause) are fueling the spread of HIV among Hispanic and black men in the United States. Black and Hispanic men are nearly three times as likely as white, non-Hispanic men to contract HIV through shared needles, according to official U.S. statistics. Black and Hispanic women, on the other hand, are less likely than white women to become HIV positive through injection drug use.



    Black, Gay Leaders Say "Enough Is Enough"
    What do you get when you mix a bunch of U.S. community advocates with a healthy dose of anger over the high HIV infection rates among black, gay men? The National Black Gay Men's Advocacy Coalition. Many activists were motivated by a U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report showing that nearly half of African-American gay men in five U.S. cities were HIV positive. Keith Green, associate editor for Positively Aware, writes about the steps black leaders across the country have taken since to organize their communities since the release of the CDC report.

    Oscar-Nominated Actress (and AIDS Activist) Rosie Perez Speaks Out
    Too many people still believe that HIV can't touch them, but Academy Award nominee Rosie Perez knows better. Perez began working in AIDS activism 20 years ago at the urging of an HIV-positive friend. Five years later, she discovered her biological mother had HIV. Since then, Perez has only become more deeply involved in the fight against HIV. Fresh from her appearance as keynote speaker at the National Conference on Latinos and AIDS, Perez gave this interview on her beginnings in HIV activism and what she sees as some of the difficulties in addressing HIV in the Latino community.

    Also Worth Noting

    Share Your Story!
    Tell Us About Your Experience With AIDS Denialists

    An upcoming podcast interview from will focus on AIDS denialism -- and we'd like your help!

    Denialism comes in many forms, but the most common among them are the beliefs that HIV does not cause AIDS and that HIV meds do far more damage to a person's body than HIV ever could. Despite overwhelming evidence against them, denialists continue to push their claims -- and unfortunately, they have managed to convince some people in dire need of HIV treatment to avoid meds entirely. We know of people who have died as a result.

    Do you know anyone with HIV who was persuaded by denialists' arguments, and whose health suffered as a result? We'd love to hear from you. Please e-mail us at

    In Memoriam
    Brett Lykins, 27

    Brett Lykins

    For a time, Brett Lykins was one of the United States' youngest HIV activists. Infected through a blood transfusion when he was born, Brett appeared on Good Morning America when he was just 9 years old. He was a public face of HIV during a time when the stigma and fear surrounding HIV was often overwhelming, and HIV infection was still widely considered a death sentence. Brett did ultimately succumb in his battle against HIV, but not before using the power of his example to prove that an HIV-positive life can be a happy, rewarding and successful one, whether it lasts for 27 years or 87.

    Visual AIDS
    Art From HIV-Positive Artists

    Image from the August 2007 Visual AIDS Web Gallery
    "Bozo the Sperm," 1994;
    Jerome Caja
    Visit the newly launched August 2007 Visual AIDS Web Gallery to view our latest collection of art by HIV-positive artists! This month's gallery, curated by Arnold J. Kemp, is a dedication to the works of Jerome Caja and David Cannon Dashiell, HIV-positive artists who died in the 1990s.

    Connect With Others
    t The Body's Bulletin Boards

    "I Just Tested Positive and I'm Scared"
    (A recent post from the
    "Gay Men & HIV" board)

    "I tested positive on July 19. There, I have finally said it. Although it's from behind a computer, it's hard just the same. With my luck, I will probably die within the year. I don't look forward to, or welcome, death. I'm just very scared and do not have enough information to deal with it. I don't know how long I've been positive, but with my luck, I have been positive far too long for the treatments to work. I just need someone to talk to."

    -- new2this

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