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September 5, 2007

In This Update
  • This Month in HIV: Crystal Meth & HIV
  • HIV Treatment & Complications
  • HIV in the U.S. News
  • HIV Transmission
  • HIV Outside the U.S.
  •   THIS MONTH IN HIV:
        CRYSTAL METHAMPHETAMINE AND HIV
    Phil Hendricks, Coordinator of the Crystal Meth Program at AIDS Project Los Angeles
    Mark King, HIV-Positive Writer and AIDS Activist, in Recovery From Addiction to Meth for Four Years

    Interview With Recovering User and Harm-Reduction Advocates Explores Deadly Intersection of HIV and Meth
    Plenty of attention has been focused on the link between meth use and growing HIV rates in some U.S. communities. However, meth use isn't just a problem because it's an HIV risk factor. Meth has also become a major issue among people who already have HIV. Research suggests a growing number of HIV-positive people in the United States are using or addicted to meth, particularly in the gay community.

    In terms of meth's effect on HIV and HIV medications, there are far more questions than answers at this point. However, meth use -- just like any other drug addiction -- can cause people to neglect their HIV medications and their general health, causing the development of drug resistance and accelerating HIV progression.

    So how do we, in the HIV community, begin to address the meth epidemic? What do we need to know? For our latest edition of This Month in HIV, TheBody.com brought together a few people to help shed some light on this topic. You can listen to this hour-long interview using our online player, download an MP3 and listen to it later, or read the full transcript.

    To listen to past editions of This Month in HIV, or to learn more about how you can subscribe to this podcast series, visit our This Month in HIV home page.

      HIV TREATMENT & COMPLICATIONS

    What's New in HIV Research? HIV JournalView Provides the 411
    New HIV meds. Hepatitis coinfection. Lipid problems. They're three of the hottest issues in HIV medicine today -- and they're the focus of The Body PRO's latest issue of HIV JournalView, an expert review of the most important, recently published HIV-related studies. Although this article is geared toward health care professionals, research-savvy HIVers should still find it an interesting, informative read.


    Selzentry as First-Line Therapy: Could It Work? Should It Work?
    Can the newly approved HIV med Selzentry (maraviroc) be used as first-line therapy, even though it was approved for use in treatment-experienced HIVers? Actually, the big question may not be whether Selzentry could be used as first-line therapy; it's whether it should be, considering we already have a good lineup of first-line meds. TheBody.com's Edwin DeJesus, M.D., reports.


    Where Have All the Steroids Gone? An Update for HIVers With Wasting
    Steroids have legitimate uses -- especially in HIV, where they can help offset HIV-related weight loss (known as wasting). However, in recent months it has become a lot harder for HIVers in the United States to get access to steroids such as nandrolone and oxandralone. In this update, HIV advocate Nelson Vergel explains what's gone wrong, and notes how HIVers with wasting may still be able to get access to these steroids.

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      HIV IN THE U.S. NEWS

    California Senate Approves Bill Allowing HIV-Positive Men to Have Sperm Washed
    The California Senate has passed a bill to allow HIV-positive men to undergo sperm washing for use in fertility treatments. California is one of only two U.S. states (Delaware is the other) where HIV-positive men can't use their own sperm for fertility treatments. A law passed in 1989 has prevented mixed-status couples in California from using reproductive technologies that can lower HIV risk for the negative partner. The bill overturning the ban has been sent to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger for approval.

    Want to learn more about reproductive options for mixed-status couples? Check out TheBody.com's July This Month in HIV podcast, "Having a Baby When You're HIV Positive."

    A recent Swiss study suggests that some mixed-status couples may not need fertility treatments to have a baby safely after all, provided the man has an undetectable viral load. Click here to read or listen to an interview about this study, which took place at the 4th International AIDS Society Conference on HIV Pathogenesis, Treatment and Prevention.


    Atlanta-Area HIVers May Lose Out as HIV Organizations Brace for Funding Cuts
    The second major funding loss in a year may soon deal a heavy blow to HIV programs in Atlanta, Ga. Last December, the federal government reclaimed money it says it overpaid to Georgia government agencies, thereby reducing HIV program funding. Now the federal government is proposing new cuts to the Minority AIDS Initiative, which funds projects that address the HIV epidemic in minority communities. Over the next two years, this lost funding could translate into 450 fewer dental appointments for HIV-positive people and the loss or reduction of mental health services for 430 HIVers, Atlanta HIV advocates say.

    "Now is the time when people need to contact their members of Congress before they vote," says Jeff Graham, a member of the Atlanta HIV Health Services Planning Council. Do you live in Georgia and want to speak out about the proposed funding cuts? Click here and use the "Write Your Officials" search to find out how to contact your representatives.

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      HIV TRANSMISSION

    When Life Gives You Lemons, They Can't Be Used for HIV Prevention
    Wouldn't it be great if a regular household item, such as lemon juice, could be used to prevent HIV? Unfortunately, it doesn't work. A group of Australian researchers recently found that using lemon (or lime) juice for vaginal douching does not prevent sexually transmitted infections. Previous lab tests showed that the acidic fruit juice could kill HIV, but clearly, what happens in a lab doesn't always translate well to real life. (Web highlight from The Age)

    Click here to read the abstract of this study.

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      HIV OUTSIDE THE UNITED STATES

    South Africa: Huge Challenges Remain as Access to HIV Meds Improves
    More South Africans are now receiving HIV treatment than ever before, but serious dangers lie ahead that could undo many of the country's gains, a top South African health official said last week. Although about 500,000 South Africans are now estimated to have received HIV meds, the official warned that drug resistance is a huge problem looming on the horizon. "People who started treatment a long time ago, they are now faced with a situation where they are likely to be developing resistance," he said. This may force South Africa to use newer, more expensive drugs. Worse still, the disease's death toll remains staggering: About 900 South Africans die of HIV-related disease every day, and 1,000 more are infected.


    Saudi Arabia to Require HIV Testing for Couples Before Marriage
    Starting next year, Saudi Arabia plans to require HIV and hepatitis testing for couples who want to get married. The country, which officially has a very low HIV rate, will establish more than 20 new testing centers to accommodate the new policy. If either partner tests HIV positive and the couple still wants to marry, the Ministry of Justice will reportedly "consider the case," though it's uncertain what that means. Foreigners living in Saudi Arabia -- who have to get tested for HIV every time they renew their resident permits -- are deported if they test positive, while Saudi HIVers get free treatment.


    HIVers Buried Alive in Papua New Guinea
    In a chilling example of just how far we have to go in ridding the world of HIV stigma, HIV-positive people in Papua New Guinea are reportedly being buried alive by their own families. "They [the HIVers] were crying and calling out their relatives' names and call[ing] for help," one witness said. Police and health workers, who are investigating these reports in the South Pacific nation, believe that fear, ignorance, superstition and stigma that surround the country's HIV epidemic are the reasons behind the live burials. When asked, the relatives of the HIVers said the victims were buried because they had become too sick to care for, and the families were afraid of getting HIV themselves. (Web highlight from Agence France-Presse)


    Authors Question UNAIDS' Commitment to Accurate HIV Data
    Is UNAIDS putting politics ahead of science in the fight against HIV? A pair of controversial new books suggest that UNAIDS has been adjusting its information on the epidemic to suit its own needs (and earn more funding). The books include a number of accusations that UNAIDS has flatly denied; for instance, one author accuses UNAIDS of inflating HIV estimates in a number of countries to make the epidemic look even worse than it is, while the other believes that UNAIDS ignored critical data so it could fund HIV prevention programs that were less effective, but more politically appealing to both liberals and conservatives. (Web highlight from Agence France-Presse)

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    Also Worth Noting

    Visual AIDS
    Art From HIV-Positive Artists

    Image from the August 2007 Visual AIDS Web Gallery
    "Solitude, Williamsburg Waterfront," 1997; Frank H. Jump
    Visit the newly launched September 2007 Visual AIDS Web Gallery to view our latest collection of art by HIV-positive artists! This month's gallery, entitled "Dream Home Heartache," is curated by Adam Putnam, an artist and New York City native.

    Connect With Others
    A
    t The Body's Bulletin Boards

    I Feel Fine; Why Do I Have to Start Meds?
    (A recent post from the
    "I Just Tested Positive" board)

    "It's been four weeks since I got the worst phone call of my life, and I have had two weeks of knowing my initial CD4 and viral load: 284 and 98,000. How come I still feel strong? I haven't even had a cold. I hit the gym every day and have been eating very healthy. I have totally 100 percent stopped smoking and only drink the occasional glass of red wine. I don't take drugs -- well, not anymore, anyway -- and I honestly feel like I could go outside right now and run 10 kilometers.

    "I am finding it very hard to accept that I have a 'chronic but manageable illness' when I don't even feel sick. ... However, with my CD4 as it is, and my high viral load, I am having to face the possibility of starting medication pretty soon. Will these make me feel like shit? Will they diminish my energy levels so I can't hit the gym? Will my physique change? ...

    "I am so, so, so scared. Even though I do know that meds can help me live a long healthy life, it still feels like I am doomed and will get worse over time. Will the fact that I drank alcohol and smoked pot for 10 years reduce my chances? ... I am living on water, Chinese tea, flax seed, cereal, skim milk, well-cooked lean meats, loads of vegetables, tofu, brown rice and basically no fat. Does this give me a chance?"

    -- lostnscared

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

    Podcasts
    Listen to Research
    Recaps 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, along with full transcripts!

    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 most interviews are now available!