• PODCASTS FROM ICAAC 2007
New Interviews With Experts on the Latest HIV Research
We continue to add to our coverage of key new HIV research presented at ICAAC 2007, which concluded on Sept. 20. TheBody.com interviewed researchers regarding their own studies, and asked HIV clinicians and researchers for their take on the hottest news from the conference. Most of the following have both transcripts and sound files available.
Pablo Tebas, M.D., discusses a range of noteworthy studies, with a special focus on the latest metabolic complications of HIV and HIV meds, including the metabolic side effects (or lack thereof) associated with integrase inhibitors and CCR5 inhibitors. (MP3 only; transcript coming soon.)
Calvin Cohen, M.D., M.S., gives an overview of research presented on HIV meds in early development, including the CCR5 inhibitors PRO 140 and vicriviroc, the NNRTI UK-453,061 and an NRTI known as GS-9148.
Joseph Eron, M.D., reviews ICAAC highlights, including research on the new CCR5 inhibitor Selzentry (maraviroc, Celsentri), a study comparing Prezista (darunavir, TMC114) + Norvir (ritonavir) to Kaletra (lopinavir/ritonavir), and the results of a French study on whether the immune-boosting drug interleukin-2 can help people delay the start of HIV treatment.
Tristan Ferry, M.D., talks about a study that explored an assortment of health risks to HIV-positive people that are not directly caused by HIV meds but are related to low CD4 counts and high viral loads.
• LIVING WITH HIV
Fighting HIV Stigma Begins With Forgiving Yourself, HIVer Writes
"In the beginning, I couldn't forgive myself for getting HIV," recalls Heidi Nass, an HIV-positive treatment advocate and educator. It took time, and wise advice from other HIVers, to help her find the strength to move forward. Now, she has important insights to share with all HIV-positive people who might feel overwhelmed, ashamed or alone. "HIV is a health condition, not a crime," she says. "Those of us who can find the strength must speak up and out about HIV/AIDS so that it cannot be denied or ignored ... and so we can find each other. By refusing to live in silence, you may discover you were never alone at all."
• COMPLICATIONS OF HIV
Hepatitis C Screening a Must for Newly Diagnosed HIVers, Study Suggests
HIV positive? A growing number of studies and treatment guidelines are recommending that anyone with HIV should be screened for hepatitis C, and a new study adds urgency to the recommendations. Researchers in France found that HIVers who don't get screened for hep C are more likely to die than people who do get screened, even though the rest of their medical care appears to be just as good. The researchers noted that many of the HIVers who had not been screened for hepatitis C also had advanced HIV or a low CD4 count, making treatment of their HIV disease a high priority for their doctors. But, they warned, that was no excuse for the doctors to forget hepatitis C testing. (Web highlight from aidsmap.com)
The New Season Is Flu Season
For those living north of the equator, flu season is almost upon us -- and for HIVers, that means taking some extra health precautions. Not only are many people with HIV at higher risk for the flu, but if an HIVer does get it, the flu can cause more health complications for them than the average Joe (or Jill). If you want to learn the basics about the flu -- what it is, how it can affect people with HIV, how to prevent and treat it, and more -- check out this article from Project Inform.
Have a specific question about flu vaccines and HIV? We've got the answers in TheBody.com's compilation of frequently asked questions from our "Ask the Experts" forums.
• HIV BASICS
The Benefits of Bean Counting: A Look at HIV Epidemiology
"Epidemiology" is the study of how a disease spreads among people, and though it might sound boring, it's a topic everyone with HIV and every HIV advocate should know a bit about. Understanding HIV statistics not only keeps you informed on how HIV is spreading in different communities, but can help you educate the people around you. This overview from Positively Aware will give you the skinny on HIV epidemiology, including tips on finding reliable information and how to interpret it.
• HIV IN THE U.S. NEWS
South Carolina's ADAP Wait Is Over. Or Is It?
South Carolina, which for the past year had the United States' longest waiting list for its AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP), announced last month that the waiting list was gone, thanks to increased funding. But it seems that the wait for some HIVers may not be over just yet. Kaih Graham, who was on the ADAP waiting list, was ecstatic to find out he can now receive his HIV medications for free. He just doesn't know when his benefits will start, and hasn't been able to reach his case worker at the state health department. Activists and politicians say that making sure HIVers get the benefits they need will continue to be a challenge, even now that this one state's waiting list is officially history.
U.S. Congress Passes Prison HIV-Testing Bill Without Requiring Written Consent
If you're a federal inmate in the United States, a bill passed by the U.S. House of Representatives may make it more likely you'll be tested for HIV. The Stop AIDS in Prison Act would make opt-out HIV testing routine for all current and newly admitted inmates. Despite the praise many HIV advocates have given this legislation, the HIV organization Housing Works says there's one critical flaw: a lack of written informed consent from the inmate. This article reports on both sides of the argument over this bill, which has yet to be considered by the U.S. Senate.
Number of HIV-Positive U.S. Inmates Continues to Fall, but Remains High
HIV rates in U.S. state and federal prisons appears to be dropping, according to a new report from the U.S. Department of Justice. The report said that the number of HIV-positive inmates dropped in 2005, marking the sixth year in a row of declining numbers. The number of inmates dying from AIDS-related illnesses has also been dropping. Still, the state and federal prison system was home to more than 22,000 HIV-positive people in 2005, and nearly 200 inmates that year died from AIDS-related illnesses. HIV rates remain much higher in the U.S. prison system than in the general public. (Web highlight from the U.S. Department of Justice)
Despite the Bad Reviews, Abstinence-Only Ed Continues
In spite of continuing evidence that abstinence-only sex education doesn't work, and even with the Democrats in control of the U.S. Congress, it looks like abstinence education will continue to get support from the government at least through the next fiscal year. Rather than end so-called "Title V" grants to states for abstinence-only education, as was widely expected, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to extend them for two years. As this analysis from Community HIV/AIDS Mobilization Project explains, the extension included a change that might turn abstinence-only into "abstinence-plus," but it's uncertain whether the change will really have any impact.
Research showing the ineffectiveness of abstinence-only sex education continues to pile up. Results from four studies published or presented over the summer cast an ever-widening shadow over abstinence-only education. Read this research recap from Community HIV/AIDS Mobilization Project to learn more.
• HIV PREVENTION
New Generation of Gay Men Needs New Approach to HIV Prevention, Expert Says
We're 26 years into the HIV epidemic, and gay men still make up a huge slice of people in the United States who are testing positive for HIV. New York City recently announced that HIV rates were dramatically up among men younger than 30 who have sex with men. Clearly, traditional HIV prevention methods aren't working for these men, says Dr. Perry Halkitis, an HIV prevention expert and researcher at New York University. In this article, Dr. Halkitis calls for a change in HIV prevention work. "Let's meet these young gay men where they are in their lives," he writes, "and with them develop strategies for confronting HIV." (Web highlight from the New York Blade)
The Body interviewed Dr. Halkitis for our June edition of This Month in HIV, entitled "Sex and Dating When You're HIV Positive." Click here to read or listen to the interview.
• MAKING A DIFFERENCE
Divas Simply Singing: An Evening of Music to Benefit HIV Organizations
RuPaul, Deniece Williams and Loretta Devine will be just a few of the stars who headline the 17th Annual Divas Simply Singing benefit concert, which takes place in Los Angeles on Saturday, Oct. 6. The brainchild of actress and longtime HIV activist Sheryl Lee Ralph, the evening of song and entertainment will spotlight the talents of an array of artists, and will benefit two HIV organizations: Women Alive Coalition and Balm in Gilead. (Web highlight from Divas Simply Singing)
Interested in attending? You can purchase tickets at the Wilshire Ebell Theater box office or through any Ticketmaster outlet.
TheBody.com had the pleasure of interviewing Ms. Ralph last year for our African-American HIV/AIDS Resource Center. Click here to read the interview.
• HIV OUTSIDE THE UNITED STATES
Mozambique Archbishop Accuses Europeans of HIV Conspiracy
The head of the Roman Catholic Church in Mozambique has declared that Europeans are purposefully infecting Africans with HIV by handing out contaminated condoms. The accusation might sound ludicrous, but the archbishop is considered an authority for the 4 million Catholics in Mozambique, and is well regarded for helping to end his country's 16-year civil war. Besides, as the Los Angeles Times notes in this editorial, the archbishop's outburst raises a larger question: "Almost as stunning as the archbishop's baseless allegations, however, has been the clarion silence from the Vatican. ... [W]hy haven't his superiors publicly corrected the musings of this preposterous prelate?"
Already Desperately Poor, South African Families Take in AIDS Orphans
As HIV claims the lives of an ever-growing number of South African adults, more and more children are being left behind. But in many cases, caring relatives take those orphans under their wings -- even though those relatives often already struggle to feed themselves. In 2005, Olga Thimbela was earning just enough to support herself, her husband and their two children. But when her sister and an aunt died of AIDS, she took on the responsibility for six more children. "I didn't want to see these kids to go to eat in the dustbin or to go to steal," she explains. "Life is too difficult." (Web highlight from The Christian Science Monitor)