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August 15, 2007

In This Update
  • HIV Treatment
  • HIV Complications & Med Side Effects
  • Making a Difference
  • HIV in the U.S. News
  • Sex Education
  • HIV Frontlines:
        New Podcast Series at The Body PRO
  • HIV Outside the U.S.
  •   HIV TREATMENT

    Many of this week's news items come from TheBody.com's expert coverage of the 4th International AIDS Society Conference on HIV Pathogenesis, Treatment and Prevention (IAS 2007). For full coverage of this conference, including in-depth study analyses and more than two dozen podcasts with transcripts, visit our IAS 2007 home page.


    Did Someone Say "Cure"?
    Advances in HIV medicine once again have people talking about the holy grail of HIV: a cure. Some researchers think that the virus could be completely eliminated from the body, but only in people who begin treatment with powerful new drugs immediately after infection. This article by David Scondras of the Boston HIV organization Search for a Cure outlines the HIV "eradication" debate, reviewing theories about why HIV remains in the body after taking HIV meds, and why some researchers still think we might be able to one day find a cure for HIV.


    It Doesn't Matter How Old You Are; HIV Meds Work
    HIV doesn't discriminate by age, and a new French study shows that HIV meds don't discriminate by age either. If taken properly, they can raise your CD4 count and lower your viral load just as well when you're over 50 as they do when you're younger, the French researchers found. The trick is to get diagnosed as soon as possible, and, when you start meds, find a regimen that you can realistically take every dose of. (Web highlight from aidsmap.com)


    Measuring Drug Resistance to the Newest HIV Meds
    As new HIV medications are developed, researchers scramble to figure out how a doctor can learn whether a person is developing resistance to them. At a major HIV drug resistance conference earlier this year, scientists shared their knowledge about how to gauge a person's level of resistance to new drugs such as Selzentry (maraviroc), as well as other notable drugs in development. TheBody.com's Mark Holodniy, M.D., reports.

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      HIV COMPLICATIONS & MED SIDE EFFECTS

    No More Ziagen Hypersensitivity Reaction? Test Could Make It So
    A simple genetic test could be the key to ensuring that nobody has to deal with a potentially dangerous allergic reaction to Ziagen (abacavir). A new study presented at IAS 2007 provides dramatic support for the test: Of 859 people who received the genetic test before taking Ziagen, not a single one had a confirmed allergic reaction to Ziagen, compared to 3 percent of the 913 people who did not receive the genetic test. TheBody.com's Graeme Moyle, M.D., reports.

    For more analysis of this important study, read this summary from TheBody.com's Joel Gallant, M.D.


    Research Sheds New Light (But Not Much) on Heart Risk Among HIVers
    What increases an HIV-positive person's risk of heart problems? Many studies have tried to answer this question, but we still don't know for sure. In the latest research presented at IAS 2007, scientists found more evidence to point to some sort of link between being HIV positive and developing coronary artery disease, a health problem that can lead to a heart attack. But, as TheBody.com's Margaret Hoffman-Terry, M.D., explains, there's still no "smoking gun" connecting heart disease to a specific aspect of HIV disease or HIV meds.


    Studies Find No Harm in Switching to Reyataz From Another Protease Inhibitor
    If you need to switch off of your protease inhibitor due to side effects, but you're unsure what protease inhibitor to try next, Reyataz (atazanavir) could be a decent option, according to two studies presented at IAS 2007. The studies found that switching from another protease inhibitor to Reyataz generally kept people's viral loads undetectable, and in many cases resulted in an improvement in total cholesterol levels and triglycerides. TheBody.com's Graeme Moyle, M.D., reports.

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      MAKING A DIFFERENCE

    Activists Plan Nationwide Gathering at Alabama RV Park That Banned HIV-Positive Child From Pool
    This Labor Day weekend, you can fight HIV stigma and enjoy a barbecue at the same time at a recreational vehicle (RV) park in Silver Hill, Alabama. Last month, the Wales West RV Resort was the spot where an HIV-positive 2-year-old was banned from the pool, showers and common areas. More than 150 activists and people with HIV from across the United States are expected to gather at the RV park on Monday, Sept. 3, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. for what's being called a "family reunion." The park owner says he welcomes the activists.


    HIV Vanity License Plates Now Available in Georgia
    Drivers in Georgia can now buy a special license plate to support HIV awareness and activism. In addition to the standard vanity plate fee, there is a $25 manufacturing fee -- $10 of which will go to support AIDS Survival Project, an Atlanta-based HIV organization. Production of the license plates will only begin once 1,000 have been ordered.

    Several other states also offer HIV awareness license plates; to see if yours is one of them, check with your state's motor vehicle agency.

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      HIV IN THE U.S. NEWS

    U.S. Government Sued (Again) for Death of HIV-Positive Immigrant
    Less than a month after the family of an HIV-positive Congolese refugee was awarded $4.5 million for her wrongful death, another family is bringing a similar lawsuit against the U.S. government. Victor Arrelano, a 23-year-old transgender HIVer, died recently while in the custody of the immigration detention center in San Pedro, Calif. The family believes that Arrelano was improperly denied access to HIV medications. "What happened here is simply an outrage," says the family's attorney. "This is someone who never should have been permitted to get to this state of decline when relatively simple meds, if available and properly administered, would have avoided this tragedy."

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      SEX EDUCATION

    Abstinence-Only Sex Ed Does Not Reduce HIV Risk, Study Says
    Repress your urge to say "I told you so": Abstinence-only sex education does not prevent U.S. youths from getting HIV, according to a new, large study. British researchers found that, compared to a variety of other sex education programs -- or even no program at all -- abstinence-only education had no effect on the rate of unprotected vaginal sex, condom use, the number of sexual partners a person had or the age at which young people became sexually active.

    Click here to read the study, which was published on July 26 in the online edition of the medical journal BMJ.


    Proposed Funding Change Leaves U.S. Abstinence-Only Backers Fuming
    In related news, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to take the "only" out of "abstinence-only" earlier this month when it passed a bill renewing funding for a $50 million-a-year federal effort to support abstinence-only programs. The House added language to the bill which would allow states to use the funds not only for abstinence-only programs, but also for programs that teach "additional methods," such as condom use. The new rules still have to be approved by the U.S. Senate and signed into law by President Bush.

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      HIV FRONTLINES: NEW PODCAST SERIES AT THE BODY PRO

    The Body PRO, TheBody.com's sister site for health care professionals, is proud to present
    HIV Frontlines, a new podcast series in which we talk with professionals who have provided HIV care and trained health care workers in resource-poor areas throughout the world. From China to Ukraine to Rwanda, these inspiring clinicians are doing their part to make a difference in regions of the world where access to HIV treatment and care is only a shadow of what is generally available in the United States. Through these interviews, we'll get a glimpse of the realities of practicing HIV care in some of the world's poorest areas.

    cathedral in St. Petersburg, RussiaHIV Care in St. Petersburg, Russia: An Interview With Ben Young, M.D.
    In The Body PRO's inaugural HIV Frontlines interview (available as an MP3 podcast and a transcript), Dr. Young explains the trials and tribulations that come with trying to help ramp up HIV care in a city where the virus is rapidly spreading and the health care system is struggling to keep pace. He also talks about the impact his work has on his own practice in the United States, and discusses the challenges an English-speaking doctor faces when he tries to train health workers in a language he hasn't the slightest clue how to speak.

      HIV OUTSIDE THE UNITED STATES

    South African President Enrages HIV Advocates by Firing Key Health Official
    South African President Thabo Mbeki has outraged HIV activists by firing the country's deputy health minister, the country's most powerful and outspoken proponent of improving access to HIV treatment. Officially, Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge was fired for visiting an HIV conference in Madrid without the President's authorization, but many believe she is being punished for criticizing the country's slow response to its HIV epidemic. There are signs that South African health officials are already blocking efforts to improve access to HIV medications; Madlala-Routledge's firing may put the drug rollout in jeopardy, treatment advocates say. (Web highlight from The Independent)

    In criticizing President Mbeki's move, the New York Times writes: "Only two more years remain in Mr. Mbeki's presidential term. Unless he finally starts listening to sensible advice on AIDS, he will leave a tragic legacy of junk science and unnecessary death." Click here to read the paper's stern rebuke of Mbeki's HIV policies.

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    Also Worth Noting

    Visual AIDS
    Listen to the Latest
    Research From IAS 2007

    Photo Collage of HIV Experts at IAS 2007

    Get the latest info on HIV-related research straight from the researchers! We interviewed a wide range of HIV experts at the 4th International AIDS Society Conference on HIV Pathogenesis, Treatment and Prevention (IAS 2007), which took place from July 22 to July 25 in Sydney, Australia. More than two dozen podcast interviews are now available!

    From conference wrap-ups to summaries of individual studies, our IAS 2007 podcast index is the place to look for audio recaps straight from Sydney. Full transcripts of many interviews are already available, and we're adding more each day.

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

    An upcoming podcast interview from TheBody.com 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 like to hear from you. Please e-mail us at content@thebody.com.

    Visual AIDS
    Art From HIV-Positive Artists

    Image from the August 2007 Visual AIDS Web Gallery
    "Yellow Mask, Black Bird With Dice";
    Jerome Caja
    Visit the 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.