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September 12, 2007

In This Update
  • HIV Transmission
  • HIV Treatment
  • HIV Outside the U.S.
  •   HIV TRANSMISSION

    New York City: Rates of HIV Among Young MSM on the Rise
    The number of new HIV diagnoses among men who have sex with men (MSM) under the age of 30 in New York City has jumped by 33 percent in the past six years. According to the NYC Health Department, every borough except Staten Island has seen an increase in HIV among MSM under 30, especially in the African American and Hispanic communities. At the same time, HIV cases are dropping among MSM over the age of 30, suggesting a major split in sexual behaviors between age groups. "These numbers are devastating. After 26 years of AIDS, we cannot drift backward," says one local leader in the fight against HIV.


    Sperm Washing 100 Percent Safe for Mixed-Status Couples Trying to Have a Baby, Study Says
    Listen up, positive-guy/negative-gal couples who are ready to start a family: Artificial insemination with washed sperm is a completely safe option if you want to have a baby, according to European researchers. Their study looked at more than a thousand positive men who had their sperm washed to remove HIV; the sperm was then used to artificially inseminate their HIV-negative partners. About half the women got pregnant, and none got HIV. It's still often a challenge to find fertility clinics in the United States willing to use sperm from HIV-positive men, even if it's been washed. However, the researchers say there is no HIV risk from washed sperm at all, so there is no reason to exclude mixed-status couples from sperm washing if the male partner is positive. (Web highlight from aidsmap.com)

    Do you want to learn more about options for mixed-status couples who want to have a baby? Click here to read or listen to our This Month in HIV podcast from July, "Having a Baby When You're HIV Positive."

    A recent Swiss study suggests that some positive-guy, negative-girl couples may not even need fertility treatments (such as sperm washing) to safely have a baby. Click here to read or listen to an interview with the study's lead researcher.


    Can We Make Unprotected Anal Sex Less Risky?
    Many HIV prevention experts admit that it's impossible to expect that everybody will completely stop all of the behaviors that put them at risk for HIV. That's what "harm reduction" is all about -- it's a more realistic take on HIV prevention, since it teaches people how to make risky activities less risky. But can harm reduction work for all risky activities -- like barebacking, or unprotected anal sex among men? HIV health educator Rafael Madrid has his doubts. In this article, he explains why he feels that "most suggestions for lowering the risk of HIV from barebacking sound less like harm reduction and more like tap dancing in a mine field."


    Using HIV Meds to Prevent, Instead of Treat, HIV
    One of the more intriguing HIV-prevention discoveries in recent years has been the finding that HIV meds might not just be able to treat HIV infection, but also prevent it from happening in the first place. HIV meds are now used to stop infection immediately following HIV exposure (this is known as post-exposure prophylaxis), and studies are now testing whether an HIV-negative person who takes meds before having unprotected sex can reduce their HIV risk (a method called pre-exposure prophylaxis). Check out this article to learn more about HIV medications' place in the prevention toolkit.

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      HIV TREATMENT

    Coming in One Week: Interviews and Expert Coverage From ICAAC 2007
    Where better to turn for insightful, in-depth coverage of major HIV conferences than TheBody.com? Starting next week, we'll bring you highlights from the 47th Interscience Conference on Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy (ICAAC 2007). You'll be able to download podcast interviews with experts, read transcripts and get the details on the very latest HIV-related research.


    Viracept Should Not Be Prescribed to U.S. Children, Pregnant Women, Warning Says
    HIV-positive children and pregnant women who are starting HIV treatment should not be given Viracept (nelfinavir), according to a new warning from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The warning adds that U.S. kids already receiving Viracept should continue taking it, but that pregnant women already taking Viracept should be switched to another drug. The warning is based on the potential cancer risk of a chemical used in the production of Viracept. Dangerously high levels of the chemical led the European Union to completely ban Viracept earlier this year; however, levels of the chemical are much lower in U.S. batches of Viracept, which is why the FDA says it's still OK for many people to continue taking it.


    Raltegravir Moves One Step Closer to U.S. Approval
    A group of U.S. medical experts gave a unanimous thumbs-up to raltegravir (MK-0518) last week, one of the final hurdles the drug needed to leap before winning U.S. approval. Raltegravir is the first drug in a new class of HIV meds known as integrase inhibitors, which fight HIV in a different way from any other currently approved meds -- including Selzentry (maraviroc), the first-in-class CCR5 inhibitor that was approved just last month. Like Selzentry, raltegravir would be approved specifically for use by people with significant HIV drug resistance. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is expected to make a final decision on raltegravir in mid-October.

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      HIV OUTSIDE THE UNITED STATES

    Fake HIV Meds Abound in Zimbabwe as Treatment Access Remains Low
    The HIV treatment situation in Zimbabwe has grown so dire that many HIVers in the impoverished African country are faced with a brutal choice: Is it better to go without treatment at all, or should you trust the often-fraudulent products sold by vendors at flea markets and hair salons? Only 50,000 Zimbabweans are currently receiving free meds through government programs, although it's estimated that another 300,000 are in urgent need of HIV treatment. Unable to afford the prohibitively high costs for quality HIV meds from a pharmacy, many people turn to the black market, where HIV meds are cheap and plentiful -- but are often contaminated, diluted or altogether fake.


    Grandmothers Demand Developed Nations Step Up HIV Fight in Africa
    "We have buried our own children, and we will not raise our grandchildren for the grave." That was the cry of a South African woman in Ottawa, Canada -- one of more than 500 Canadian and South African grandmothers who took part in a march last weekend on Canada's capital. The group called for developed nations to give more support to African grandmothers who care for grandchildren orphaned by AIDS. "We deserve income security, training and education, emotional and social support ... and access to medication to treat HIV," said Elizabeth Mataka, United Nations special envoy for AIDS in Africa.

    The Stephen Lewis Foundation has been instrumental in organizing Canadian support for African grandmothers raising the millions of children who have been orphaned by AIDS. TheBody.com covered the foundation's first-ever Grandmother's Gathering at a major HIV conference in Toronto, Canada, last summer. Click here to listen to an interview with the foundation's director, Ilana Landsberg-Lewis, and click here to hear music from the event.

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    Also Worth Noting

    Get Involved
    Fight HIV Denialism on Amazon and YouTube

    Want to help save the lives of HIV-positive people by fighting denialism? Visit Amazon.com and offer your feedback on pro-denialism books by Peter Duesberg and others. Visit YouTube.com and offer your opinion on denialist videos by people like Gary Null. Remember: If the people who understand HIV don't speak up about it publicly, it makes denialism look like a movement that deserves to be taken seriously.

    Have you or someone you know been personally affected by HIV denialists? We'd like to hear from you. E-mail us at content@thebody.com with your thoughts; we may use them for an upcoming podcast on HIV denialism!

    Visual AIDS
    Art From HIV-Positive Artists

    Image from the September 2007 Visual AIDS Web Gallery
    "Brian's Back, Brooklyn," 1995; Vincent Cianni
    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.

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