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September 24, 2007
In This Hot Topics:
  • HIV Treatment
  • Complications of HIV & HIV Meds
  • Mixed-Status Couples
  • HIV Basics
  • Hepatitis C
  • HIV Transmission
  • Strange but True

    Could We Beat HIV by Blocking CCR5 and CXCR4 Receptors at the Same Time?
    I know that CCR5 inhibitors like Selzentry (maraviroc, Celsentri) block a type of portal on CD4 cells called CCR5 receptors, but can't block another type of receptor, called CXCR4. It sounds like Selzentry and a CXCR4 inhibitor would make the perfect combination. Could people with HIV beat the bug if they took CCR5 and CXCR4 inhibitors together?

    I'm Highly Drug Resistant; How Can I Find a Regimen That Works?
    In August 2006, after 12 years of HIV treatment, my viral load spiked. Resistance tests showed I had become resistant to some protease inhibitors, all NNRTIs and nearly all NRTIs. My doctor suggested adding a protease inhibitor to my failing regimen, but I refused because I had read that adding a single drug to a failing regimen can lead to even more resistance. For the last year I've been taking Epzicom (abacavir/3TC, Kivexa) alone. I know that's not a good long-term strategy, but I seem to have few options. How can I find a drug combo that's effective and resistance-proof?

    Can the Drugs in My Medicine Chest Interact With My HIV Meds?
    I'm HIV positive and taking a slew of meds for other ailments: Vytorin to reduce my cholesterol levels, Xanax for anxiety, Wellbutrin for depression and Mobic for pain related to bone disease. Could any of these meds interfere with the HIV meds I'm taking: Fuzeon (enfuvirtide, T-20), Lexiva (fosamprenavir, Telzir), Norvir (ritonavir) and Truvada (tenofovir/FTC)?

    Was I Right to Start Treatment With Atripla?
    I just started HIV meds for the first time; my doctor put me on Atripla (efavirenz/tenofovir/FTC). I am concerned about the effect HIV meds may have on my liver and kidneys. Was Atripla the right choice for my first regimen?

    Are My Husband's HIV Meds Working Too Slowly?
    When my husband was diagnosed with advanced HIV disease in January, he had a viral load of 1 million and a CD4 count of 30. He improved after he started taking Epzicom (abacavir/3TC, Kivexa) and Kaletra (lopinavir/ritonavir) in the spring, but I'm frustrated by how slow his progress has been. My husband has neuropathy, his viral load is still detectable and his CD4 count is only 100. Is there anything we can do to improve his health more quickly?

    Is Kaposi's Sarcoma Sexually Transmitted?
    I've been on a regimen of Sustiva (efavirenz, Stocrin) + Truvada (tenofovir/FTC) for more than a year now; my viral load is undetectable and my CD4 count is over 400. Recently I met a great guy who I really like, but this week he was diagnosed with Kaposi's sarcoma. Am I at risk of catching it from him?

    My HIV Is Under Control, But the Rest of My Health Is Not
    For the past few months I've been in almost constant pain: I've had kidney problems, urinary tract infections, pain in my joints and shooting pain in my arms. I've also been experiencing severe fat loss. However, my viral load is undetectable and my CD4 count is above 1,000. I've been taking Kaletra (lopinavir/rifonavir), Viread (tenofovir) and Zerit (stavudine, d4T). Should I risk switching HIV meds in hopes they'll ease some of my health problems?

    My Boyfriend Was Recently Diagnosed With HIV; Would It Be Reckless to Stay With Him?
    I found out last week that my boyfriend of 18 months tested positive for HIV. We had been discussing spending our lives together. Now I wonder whether continuing this relationship would be playing with fire. We always used protection when we had sex. I remain HIV negative. Is it reasonable to expect that I will remain safe if we keep doing what we've been doing?

    Did the U.S. Government Create HIV?
    What is the real story about the origin of HIV? I heard that the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency invented HIV and gave it to thousands of healthy, white gay men in New York and San Francisco who thought they were getting a hepatitis B vaccine. Is this true?

    Hep C Is Transmitted Sexually!
    I've done my reading on HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases, and a lot of what I've read seemed to say that hepatitis C was not transmitted sexually. Imagine how shocked I was to be diagnosed with hep C a couple of weeks ago -- I got it from receptive, unprotected anal intercourse. Please help spread the word that sexually transmitted hep C is on the rise among gay men.

    Can I Start Hep C Treatment With a Low CD4 Count?
    A year on HIV treatment has given me an undetectable viral load, but strangely, my CD4 count continues to hover around 130. I'm considering participating in a study to treat my hepatitis C, but I've been told I should wait until my CD4 count is higher. A liver biopsy last year showed the beginning stages of fibrosis. It is safe to wait to treat my hep C? Why aren't my HIV meds bringing up my CD4 count?

    Am I Immune to HIV?
    Five years ago an ex-boyfriend who had left me six months before wrote to tell me he was HIV positive. He believed he had been positive while we were seeing each other. I was really worried because we engaged in unprotected sex regularly throughout our relationship. So I went and got tested; the test came back negative! I've been tested regularly since then, and I'm still negative, despite an active sex life. Why am I still testing negative? Could I be immune to HIV?


    It's a Bird! It's a Plane! No, It's a Flying STD!
    I was at a urinal in a public park, and I noticed the guy next to me playing with himself. I have never had any sexual encounters with men, but found this quite arousing, so I watched him for a bit. Then another guy joined in. I didn't touch either of them, and I left before anyone had an orgasm. Still, could I have gotten any sexually transmitted diseases through the air?

    Dude, I Totally Toked HIV
    When I was at a party, I shared a marijuana joint with a gay man. Could I have gotten HIV this way?


    Visual AIDS
    ICAAC 2007:
    Hear About Breaking Research Straight From the Experts

    The very latest in HIV research is right at your fingertips -- and your headpones! A major HIV conference took place in Chicago, Ill., last week, and The Body was on hand to cover all of the important developments. Browse our growing index of podcast interviews with researchers of key studies presented at this conference, the 47th Interscience Conference on Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy (ICAAC 2007)! (Full transcripts are also available for some podcasts.)

    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 if you're interested!

    Visual AIDS
    Art From HIV-Positive Artists

    Image from the September 2007 Visual AIDS Web Gallery
    "Abandoned Warehouse," 1983; David Wojnarowicz
    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.