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October 10, 2007

In This Update
  • Podcasts From IDSA 2007
  • Living With HIV
  • Complications of HIV
  • This Month in HIV
  • HIV Treatment
  • Transmission & Testing
  • Live Chat This Month!
  • HIV Basics
  • HIV Outside the U.S.

    The Latest Interviews With HIV Experts on Breaking Research
    IDSA 2007, one of the year's HIV conferences, took place last weekend in San Diego, Calif., and was there to get the scoop on the latest research! Written summaries and MP3 podcasts are available for the following interviews. Check back regularly for more coverage!

    To be poor and HIV positive is no easy journey. That may be an obvious statement, but researchers need to document the specific challenges poor people face before much is done to help.

    Ed Blanchard, M.D. Ed Blanchard, M.D., looked at the treatment results of people attending a Ryan White-funded inner-city clinic in Philadelphia. He found that those taking meds didn't do as well on treatment as expected: Not quite half of the participants got their viral load to undetectable. To read our interview with him, click here.
    Michael Mugavero, M.D. Michael Mugavero, M.D., found that nearly half of HIV-positive people were no-shows for more than one quarter of their scheduled visits to a Birmingham, Ala., clinic. To read our interview with him, click here.
    Turner Overton, M.D. Turner Overton, M.D., examined the outcomes of HIV-positive women in a St. Louis, Mo., clinic who took HIV meds during pregnancy and then, for various reasons, discontinued treatment. To read our interview with him, click here.

    For more interviews, click here.



    When a Friend Tests Positive: Ways to Respond
    "Above all, be patient and kind with yourself right now." That's what Jim Pickett advised an old friend who recently tested HIV positive. In this article from Positively Aware, Pickett provides helpful guidance on ways to support a loved one who tests positive, and how to field questions about labs, meds, side effects, disclosure and insurance.



    High-Fat Diet Speeds Disease Progression in Primate Version of HIV
    We already know that too much fat or cholesterol in your diet can be bad for your health. However, a new study suggests that it might be particularly bad if you have HIV. A study of monkeys infected with SIV (the primate version of HIV) found that SIV disease progressed much more quickly in monkeys who ate a diet high in saturated fat and cholesterol. The findings raise concerns that the same result might be the case for HIV-positive humans, which would make a balanced diet even more important for people with HIV. (Web highlight from


        Update on Hepatitis C/HIV Coinfection

    Dan Durbin and Greg Lamb
    Tracy Swan

    In our latest edition of This Month in HIV, our topic is hepatitis C/HIV coinfection.

    Did you know that up to one third of people with HIV are estimated to also have hepatitis C? The good news is that, unlike HIV, hepatitis C can be cured. The not-so-good news is that being cured is sometimes far from easy.

    This month we focused on three people. First, we talked with an HIV-positive couple: Greg Lamb and Dan Durbin are both living with HIV, but Greg also has hepatitis C. They talked about how they've dealt with hepatitis C as a couple, from diagnosis to treatment to everyday support.

    We also talked with Tracy Swan, the Coinfection Project Director for the HIV activist organization Treatment Action Group. Tracy updated us on the latest hepatitis C news and research.

    You can read these interviews, listen to them using our online player or download an MP3.

    To read or listen to past editions of This Month in HIV, or to learn more about how you can subscribe to this series, visit our This Month in HIV home page.



    The Price of Selzentry, the Latest HIV Drug Approved

    HIV drug pricing isn't discussed much, but for drug companies, HIV drugs can be big moneymakers. $10,585, for instance, is the cost of just a single year of treatment with Selzentry (maraviroc, Celsentri), the first-in-class CCR5 inhibitor that was approved this summer. Why is the price so high? In this article, Project Inform reveals how HIV drug prices are calculated, and explains the critical role that activists and HIV organizations play in negotiating a lower cost. This article also notes how Selzentry's price stacks up against the prices of other recently approved HIV meds.

    HIV Meds in the Pipeline: 2007 Update
    An unprecedented number of HIV meds are in late-stage development -- most are for people with drug-resistant HIV but some have been studied for use in those just starting treatment. This Project Inform update gives an overview of new drug research presented at recent HIV conferences, including the first CCR5 inhibitor, Selzentry (maraviroc, Celsentri), approved in August, and the first integrase inhibitor, MK-0518 (raltegravir), which is available in expanded access.



    U.S. Puts $35 Million Toward HIV Testing for African Americans
    With HIV spreading rapidly among African Americans -- more than in any other racial or ethnic group in the United States -- much work still has to be done to make sure more African Americans get tested for HIV. Governmental response has been lagging, but finally the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has committed $35 million with the goal of testing more than one million people, primarily African Americans. The program could identify as many as 20,000 people who are positive and don't know it.

    Diaphragms for HIV Prevention? Maybe, Maybe Not
    Could a simple, female-controlled contraceptive device like the diaphragm protect a woman against HIV? Recent research on diaphragm use wasn't very encouraging; one study involving thousands of HIV-negative women in southern Africa found that diaphragm use appeared to have zero effect on HIV transmission. However, questions about the diaphragm's use in HIV prevention remain. For more on this study, read this recap from the Community HIV/AIDS Mobilization Project.

    Click here to listen to Nancy Padian, Ph.D., summarize the diaphragm study in southern Africa.

    Insurance Companies Should Pay for HIV Tests in Emergency Rooms, Researcher Argues
    One quarter of a million people are estimated to be living with HIV in the United States and don't even know it, yet few hospitals routinely offer HIV tests. Why? Follow the money, suggests Jeremy Brown, research director at George Washington University Medical Center's department of emergency medicine. Hospitals can't afford to give everyone HIV tests, he says, because few states provide HIV tests for free and insurance companies rarely pay for routine HIV tests in emergency rooms. In this opinion article, Brown argues that we must force insurance companies to pay for "these simple, proven, relatively inexpensive tests." (Web highlight from The New York Times)



    Chat Date: Wednesday, October 17, 2007

    Chat Time: 4 p.m. EST / 1 p.m. PST

    Chat Topic: Although there are a lucky few with HIV who never experience side effects from HIV meds, most people unfortunately do. When side effects do occur, they can be frustrating, fatiguing and even dangerous. The question is: What can you do about them? Join us at for a live chat with researcher and physician Dr. Joel Gallant as he answers your questions and gives advice on how to keep side effects under control.

    To sign up for an e-mail reminder about this chat, or to submit a question you'd like Dr. Gallant to answer, click here.



    The HIV Lifecycle: A Quick Look at How the Virus Works
    To fight an enemy it helps to understand how it works. So how does HIV work? Once it gets into your body, why does it attack your immune system -- and what makes it so much more dangerous than other viruses? These and many other basic questions about HIV are answered in this article from Positively Aware.



    Mexico Supreme Court Removes Ban on HIV-Positive Soldiers
    Mexico's military can no longer expel people who test positive for HIV, according to a recent ruling from the Mexican Supreme Court. In its ruling, on the case of five expelled soldiers, the court said, "Being HIV positive does not in itself imply an inability to serve in the armed forces." The court said the military should decide on a case-by-case basis whether an HIV-positive person's health is good enough to allow them to remain in service. (Web highlight from The Associated Press)

    Abused HIV-Positive Child Saved by Loving Parents and HIV Meds
    From the start, it seemed like the odds were stacked against Gift. He was born four years ago in a squalid shack in a settlement in South Africa to an abusive, HIV-positive mother. He was also HIV-positive himself. Eventually, though, social workers took him and his sisters away from his mother, and since then things have turned around. "He's a clever boy, a naughty boy," Gift's foster mother says with a broad smile. "He likes to play, he likes wrestling, he likes to dance, he likes to sing in church." This moving report explains how the love of a middle-aged couple who lost their only child helped to transform an HIV-positive boy's life. (Web highlight from The Christian Science Monitor)

    Over 100 Groups Demand U.S. Ensure Access to Cheaper, Generic Meds for Developing World
    Access to inexpensive, generic first-line HIV medications has helped developing nations scale up treatment in recent years, saving countless lives. Unfortunately, many countries are now struggling to afford second-line medications, many of which aren't available generically. A group of more than 100 U.S. organizations sent a letter to the U.S. Congress demanding that the United States abide by international trade agreements and allow broader access to generic HIV medications in developing countries.

    Also Worth Noting

    Visual AIDS
    Art From HIV-Positive Artists

    Image from the October 2007 Visual AIDS Web Gallery
    "Untitled" 1988; Steven Mendelson
    Visit the October 2007 Visual AIDS Web Gallery to view our latest collection of art by HIV-positive artists! This month's gallery, entitled "Many Lands," is curated by Allison Hawkins, a Brooklyn-based artist.

    Connect With Others
    t The Body's Bulletin Boards

    Any Other Newbies Out There?
    (A recent post from the
    "I Just Tested Positive" board)

    I got diagnosed last Thursday, Oct. 4. I wanted to say hi, and see if there's anyone out there who is newly diagnosed. Please feel free to drop me a line. ... I have friends who have been great support, but I'd like to find others who are in the same newbie boat as me.


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

    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!