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September 10, 2007
In This Hot Topics:
  • Mixed-Status Relationships
  • Living With HIV
  • HIV Treatment
  • Complications of HIV & HIV Meds
  • Insurance & HIV
  • HIV Transmission
  • Strange but True
  •  MIXED-STATUS RELATIONSHIPS

    How Do I Tell My Parents That My Girlfriend Is HIV Positive?
    I have been an HIV activist for a long time here in Mumbai, India. I met a beautiful HIV-positive woman this year, and I loved her at first sight. Today, all my prayers were answered: I told her how I feel, and she feels the same way! Unfortunately, my parents don't know about her HIV status -- they're going to think I'm crazy if I tell them! Should we be open about her status or keep it to ourselves?
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     LIVING WITH HIV

    HIV-Positive and Without Treatment in Africa
    I'm a 43-year-old man living in Africa. I tested positive several months ago with a CD4 count of 435. I can't afford HIV medications, and the doctors won't give me any information about HIV. Are there any other ways I could get treatment? How long can I live without meds? Can I keep my HIV status secret, or will people be able to tell once I start getting sick?

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     HIV TREATMENT

    Fifty Years Old and Just Diagnosed: Which HIV Meds Are Right For Me?
    I am 50 years old, and I just tested HIV positive. My CD4 count is around 300 and my viral load is 34,000. I'm currently considering two HIV treatment regimens: Norvir (ritonavir) + Reyataz (atazanavir) + Truvada (tenofovir/FTC) or the all-in-one pill Atripla (efavirenz/tenofovir/FTC). Which regimen would you suggest?


    Using Recreational Drugs While On HIV Meds
    My partner is HIV positive and taking HIV meds. However, he still uses a few recreational drugs: poppers, ecstasy and Viagra. I'm concerned about his health; what kinds of problems could he have if he continues to use these recreational drugs alongside his HIV meds?


    Does Starting HIV Meds Soon After Diagnosis Improve Your Chances?
    I tested positive for HIV last month, and I'm trying to figure out what I can do to improve my health over the long term. Could starting treatment right away prevent the spread of HIV in my body? Should I have healthy stem cells removed from my body and frozen, so that I can use them if my CD4 count drops to dangerous levels?


    I'm Drug Resistant Yet Undetectable; Should I Stop the Meds I'm Resistant To?
    Despite a long history of HIV treatment and extensive HIV drug resistance, I've been able to suppress my viral load to undetectable and increase my CD4 count to more than 600. However, I know my HIV is resistant to some of the meds I'm currently taking. Is it safe to drop those meds out of my regimen and just keep the ones my HIV isn't resistant to?


    I Use Methadone; Which HIV Drug Is Safest for Me?
    I'm HIV positive and I have been taking methadone for seven years. I need to switch from Viracept (nelfinavir) to another HIV drug. What's my best option?
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     COMPLICATIONS OF HIV & HIV MEDS

    I Don't Think My Hepatitis B Vaccination Worked
    I got vaccinated against hepatitis B six years ago. However, the results from a recent blood test said that I am not immune to hepatitis B. How is that possible? Could the vaccination have failed? What do I do now?


    Switching From Viramune to Kaletra to Reduce Lipoatrophy Risk?
    I'm doing well on my current regimen, but I'm thinking of switching from Viramune (nevirapine) to Kaletra (lopinavir/ritonavir). A recent study showed that Kaletra is less likely to cause fat loss than Sustiva (efavirenz, Stocrin), which is in the same drug class as Viramune. I have severe fat loss from past regimens, so I'm always on the lookout for fat-friendly drugs. Do you think I should switch?


    Should I Worry About My Slightly Elevated Liver Enzymes?
    I started taking Epzicom (abacavir/3TC, Kivexa) + Sustiva (efavirenz, Stocrin) a little over a month ago. Despite a brief bout of pneumonia, I'm feeling well, but my latest lab results showed that my liver enzymes are mildly elevated. Should I be worried about an ALT score of 104 and an AST score of 40?
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     INSURANCE & HIV

    Can I Use COBRA If I Move to Another State?
    I live in Florida, but I'm considering a move to Georgia. If I move, I will leave my current job -- and the health insurance plan that comes with it. Will I be able to use COBRA to maintain my coverage, even though my current employer does not have offices in Georgia? If I can use COBRA, how much will I have to pay?


    Can I Get Social Security Disability Insurance?
    The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs just gave me a rating of "permanent total disability." I'm HIV positive and have endured many debilitating side effects and opportunistic infections. My current meds don't seem to be helping much either. Am I eligible for Social Security disability insurance? I've been told that since HIV is now considered a manageable condition, it's much harder to get approved. What can I do to increase my chances?


    How Do Insurance Companies Decide on Long-Term Disability Claims?
    I was diagnosed with AIDS in March. My short-term disability ended two months later. I applied for long-term disability and am still waiting on the insurance company's decision. The entire process has been confusing and, in my mind, overcomplicated. How do insurance companies determine whether to approve or reject a long-term disability claim? Isn't AIDS automatically considered a disability?
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     HIV TRANSMISSION

    A Needle in the HIV Haystack
    My gym buddy and I inject steroids to bulk up. One day, I picked up his syringe (by the needle) after he had used it, thinking it was mine. When I realized my mistake, I switched to my own syringe before injecting. I don't know my buddy's HIV status, but I do know that sharing needles is risky. If he's HIV positive, could I have become infected by touching his needle?
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     STRANGE BUT TRUE

    When "Bless You" Is an Understatement
    I sneezed on my penis right after I masturbated. Could I have gotten HIV?


    When "Duh" Is an Understatement
    I was just invited to a barebacking party in West Hollywood that's "poz friendly." Do you think I should bring condoms?

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    Get Involved
    HIV-Positive Women,
    Tell Your Stories!

    Are you an HIV-positive woman with an inspiring story to tell about how you've dealt with HIV? We're looking for women of all ages to tell their story for a new educational booklet we're putting together for newly diagnosed women. Send an e-mail to content@thebody.com if you're interested!

    Visual AIDS
    Art From HIV-Positive Artists

    Image from the September 2007 Visual AIDS Web Gallery
    "Hippie Annie," 2003; Martha Iriate
    Visit the 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.

    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.