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September 19, 2007

In This Update
  • Podcasts From ICAAC 2007
  • HIV Treatment & Complications
  • Living With HIV
  • Women & Pregnancy
  • HIV Transmission
  • HIV in the U.S. News

    The Latest Interviews With HIV Experts on Breaking Research
    ICAAC 2007, one of the year's important HIV conferences, is taking place this week in Chicago, Ill., and is on hand to cover breaking research! The following MP3 podcast interviews are now live; transcripts will be available soon, and additional interviews will be added shortly.



    Selzentry: The New HIV Med on the Block
    Selzentry (maraviroc) was just approved last month, and many people -- health professionals included -- are still only beginning to learn the basics about it. Who can take it? Will it work against everyone's HIV? This fact sheet from AIDS InfoNet provides an easy-to-read overview of the newest HIV med on the block, including information about who should take it and what its possible side effects are.

    For much more on this new drug, the first in a completely new class of HIV meds known as CCR5 inhibitors, listen to (or read a transcript of) this exclusive interview with experienced HIV clinician Joel Gallant, M.D.

    One in Five HIVers Over 40 Have Hardening of Leg Arteries, Study Finds
    One in five HIVers over the age of 40 have experienced a hardening or narrowing of the arteries in their legs, according to the results of a Swiss study. That's a far, far higher rate than among the general population: Up to 4 percent of HIV-negative people between ages 40 and 59 have the condition, which is called peripheral vascular disease. Researchers aren't sure that HIV itself is the reason for the higher rate; other factors, like the high rate of smoking among HIVers in the study, may also be to blame. (Web highlight from

    As it happens, peripheral vascular disease is actually a relatively common problem in the United States, especially among people who smoke cigarettes or have diabetes. It's easily diagnosed and is treatable, but if left untreated, it can raise a person's risk for heart attack or stroke. In especially serious cases, it can also potentially destroy a person's legs, resulting in gangrene or amputation. To learn more about the symptoms and treatments for peripheral vascular disease, check out this resource from the American Heart Association.

    Everything You Needed to Know About Drug-Resistant Staph Infections
    Remember all the nagging adult voices of your childhood, forever reminding you to wash your hands? It turns out this is particularly good advice if you're HIV positive and looking to avoid getting a dangerous staph infection. Staph infections appear on the skin, and can be serious for HIVers -- especially with the rise of drug-resistant strains of the staph bacteria. This in-depth article from San Francisco AIDS Foundation provides an overview of these infections, including tips for prevention and treatment.

    Too Fat or Not Too Fat? That Is the Question -- And There Are Tests to Find the Answer
    Body shape changes, such as lipoatrophy (fat loss) and lipohypertrophy (fat accumulation), can dramatically impact not just how HIVers looks, but how they feel about themselves. Some body shape changes can also affect an HIV-positive person's physical health: Excess weight is associated with a higher risk of heart disease, while low weight may increase the rate at which HIV progresses. That's why it's so important to recognize body shape changes early, when it still may be possible to stop the problem before it gets worse. Take a moment to read this fact sheet from AIDS InfoNet about a number of tests that your health care provider can use to keep track of your body shape.

    Kidney Problems and HIV: What You Should Know
    "Hey doc, are my kidneys OK?" This simple question could save your life, according to Dr. Lynda Szczech, a physician and kidney specialist. Nearly one-third of HIV-positive folks are thought to have kidney problems, a fact many people aren't aware of. To avoid developing full-blown kidney disease, HIVers are advised to get educated about their kidneys and get them checked regularly. This in-depth article explains how kidney function is tested, describes kidney problems that are common in people with HIV, and outlines some treatment options.



    What Are an HIVer's Legal Rights?
    Who has a right to know your HIV status? Can your boss fire you because you have HIV? Are you entitled to take time off from work to take care of your health? If you live in the United States and have ever wondered about these issues, you might be reassured to know there are laws in place to help protect your rights as an HIV-positive person. In this article, Justin Hayford, a paralegal at the AIDS Legal Council of Chicago, lays out the answers to some of the most basic -- and regularly asked -- questions about HIVers' legal rights.



    Can Pregnancy Slow HIV Progression?
    Being pregnant might actually slow the progression of HIV disease in an HIV-positive woman, notes a fascinating new U.S. study. Of course, being on HIV meds is the best way to slow HIV disease progression. But the new findings could be especially useful in the developing world, where treatment access is still limited and many HIV-positive women might worry that having a baby could further damage their health.

    Test May Tell Which HIV-Positive Women Are at Highest Risk for Cervical Cancer
    In general, we know that women with HIV are at higher risk for cervical cancer than those who are HIV negative. But how can you know if your own risk is higher than normal? The answer might lie in a skin prick test -- the same type of test that doctors have used to screen children for tuberculosis. A new study has found that a modified version of the skin prick test may measure the ability of a woman's immune system to fight off human papillomavirus infection, which is the cause of most cervical cancers. (Web highlight from



    Why HIV Prevention Deserves the Limelight
    HIV prevention work is often forced into the shadows while successful new HIV treatments steal the spotlight, argues Daniel Tietz of AIDS Community Research Initiative of America. However, Tietz says, we can't afford to overlook efforts to stop the spread of HIV. Expanding access to HIV treatment is tremendously expensive, and comes with the risk of side effects and drug resistance, he says. Since there is no cure for HIV, he asserts, only prevention can truly eradicate the virus. "The fact is that we cannot treat our way out of this epidemic," Tietz writes. "Prevention is key."

    Most Americans Haven't Been Tested for HIV, CDC Survey Finds
    The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) urges everyone from 13 to 64 to get tested for HIV, but a survey taken last year shows we aren't even halfway towards that goal. About two out of every three adults in the United States have never been tested for HIV, the CDC survey found. However, there was some enouraging news: African Americans, who are much more likely to have HIV than whites, were also much more likely to have gotten an HIV test; about half of African Americans said they'd been tested at least once.



    Calling All Artists and Art Lovers: Postcards From the Edge Benefit Event
    Visual AIDS is gearing up to host its annual Postcards From the Edge benefit on World AIDS Day in New York City. Now is the time to get involved, whether you're an artist and you'd like to submit a work of art, or you'd like to volunteer, or you just love art and want to get updates about the event. Over 1,000 original, postcard-sized works of art by renowned and emerging artists will be available for $75 each; proceeds will benefit Visual AIDS, which aims to support HIV-positive artists and preserve their artworks. The preview party will be held on Nov. 30, and the benefit sale will take place on Dec. 1 and 2.

    New York: Sex-Crime Suspects Could Be Forced Into HIV Testing
    As of Nov. 1, suspects indicted for sex crimes in New York can be legally forced to get tested for HIV. Under current New York state laws, a person must be convicted of a crime before the state can compel them to get an HIV test. (The test results would only be shared with the suspect and any victims.) By moving up the timetable of HIV testing, victims of sex crimes can now take advantage of the narrow, 72-hour window of opportunity to start post-exposure prophylaxis -- taking HIV drugs to potentially prevent HIV infection -- after an exposure to HIV.

    HIV Groups Call on Presidential Candidates to Do Something About HIV
    There's been little mention of HIV thus far in the run-up to the U.S. presidential elections, but
    a new alliance of more than 100 HIV organizations and other groups is hoping to change this. The groups have issued a "Call to Action" to all U.S. presidential candidates, in which they ask for a commitment to creating a national strategy to fight HIV. "It is unconscionable that the United States, which has all the necessary resources to end the AIDS epidemic, does not have a comprehensive plan to stop AIDS deaths, reduce infections, and get people the medical care that they need," said supporter Robert Bank, the chief operating officer of Gay Men's Health Crisis, one of the largest HIV organizations in the United States.

    You can still add your name as a supporter of the "Call to Action." Click here to sign on as an individual, or click here to sign on as an organization.

    Ending the U.S. HIV epidemic by putting together a well-planned national strategy isn't a new idea, of course. In fact, earlier this year, the Open Society Institute published a report entitled "Improving Outcomes: Blueprint for a National AIDS Plan for the United States." Click here to read it.

    Also Worth Noting

    Visual AIDS
    Art From HIV-Positive Artists

    Image from the September 2007 Visual AIDS Web Gallery
    "Hallway," 1994; Martin Wong
    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.

    Connect With Others
    t The Body's Bulletin Boards

    The Pitfalls of a
    Positive Life

    (A recent post from the
    "I Just Tested Positive" board)

    "It's a month since I tested positive. Being a naturally optimistic person has helped during this first rough month. ... But it's also been very, very difficult on several levels. ...

    "My boyfriend is negative. The relationship is fairly new (less than a year) but we are very much in love. ... But the very first time we worked up to having 'big sex' since the news, the condom broke. We stopped immediately. But this 'freak' incident ... made us realize even 'safer sex' may not be as easy as we hoped. It has cast a pall on our relationship, and I can tell he is stressed, tentative, and seems to have withdrawn a little.

    "For the first time in my life I feel unsure. ... I've always eaten healthily, worked out regularly, don't smoke or do drugs. But lately I feel tired often, sleep poorly, [and do not have] much of an appetite. Should I cut out all the little things that aren't great for your body but which make life bearable (caffeine, the occasional drink, dessert)? Is that slight numbness in my fingers last night just bad circulation -- or something more? Dare I even invest in anything medium- to long-term anymore? I realize some of these are banal and trivial. But thanks for letting me get some of this off my chest.

    -- callmeBjorn

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

    Get Involved
    Fight HIV Denialism on Amazon and YouTube

    Want to help save the lives of HIV-positive people by fighting denialism? Visit and offer your feedback on pro-denialism books by Peter Duesberg and others. Visit 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 with your thoughts; we may use them for an upcoming podcast on HIV denialism!