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October 16, 2007
In This Hot Topics:
  • Join Our Live Chat!
  • Living With HIV
  • HIV and Sex
  • HIV Treatment
  • Understanding Your Labs
  • Strange but True
  •  WEDNESDAY, OCT. 17:

    The Date: Wednesday, Oct. 17

    The Time: 4 p.m. ET (Eastern Time)/1 p.m. PT (Pacific Time)

    The Chat: Most people with HIV experience side effects from their HIV meds, even if it's just minor gut problems. When side effects do occur, they can be uncomfortable, frustrating and even dangerous. The question is: What can you do about them? For one hour, Joel Gallant, M.D., one of the world's most highly respected HIV physicians, will answer your questions about how to avoid HIV medication side effects -- or, if you're already dealing with side effects, what you can do to alleviate them.

    The Place: Click here shortly before the chat is scheduled to begin; you'll be able to log in anonymously (no registration is necessary) and join the chat at any point before it ends at 5 p.m. ET.

    Can a Flu Shot Increase Viral Load?
    It's that time of year again when I can count on my doctor to remind me about getting a flu shot. I have an undetectable viral load and a high CD4 count: Do I really need a flu shot? Is there a risk that the shot will increase my viral load?

    How Much Longer Can I Really Expect to Live?
    As someone who was diagnosed with advanced HIV almost two years ago, I'm worried that my chances for survival are slim. I'm on HIV meds now, and my CD4 count is way up while my viral load is undetectable. My doctors say that HIV may only take a couple of years off my life, but I don't believe them. Is my prognosis really that good?

    My Girlfriend and I Were Just Diagnosed; How Can I Support Her?
    My girlfriend and I tested positive in August. My health is alright, but her CD4 count is only 119. She still feels weak from a bout of pneumonia she had last spring, and she's had numbness and pain in her feet from her HIV medications. This morning she told me that she hates herself and wants to die. How can I help her, and provide encouragement right now? What are her prospects for the future?

    Is Unprotected Sex OK for Two Positive People?
    I've heard that, now that I'm HIV positive, I can have unprotected sex with other HIV-positive people without any health consequences. Is this true?

    Can Two Positive Men "Reinfect" Each Other With HIV?
    My boyfriend and I are both HIV positive, and we prefer anal sex without condoms. What does recent research say about the risks of becoming infected with each other's HIV strain?

    Do I Have to Wear a Condom During Oral Sex?
    I'm the positive male partner in a mixed-status couple, and I'd rather not use a condom when my partner is giving me oral sex. Is this too risky for couples like us? Are there other ways to reduce the risk of transmitting HIV during oral sex, besides using condoms?

    When Will All HIV Meds Become Available Generically?
    Now that Retrovir (zidovudine, AZT) and Videx (didanosine, ddI) are available in cheaper, generic form in the United States, when will other HIV medications follow suit?

    Why Wait to Start HIV Treatment?
    I'm curious about the rationale behind waiting to start HIV meds until a person's viral load is high or their CD4 count is low. Why shouldn't HIV-positive people always begin meds immediately after they're diagnosed?

    My Daughter's Viral Load Is Undetectable; Can She Stop HIV Meds?
    My 5-year-old daughter has responded amazingly well to HIV treatment. For more than a year her CD4 count has been high and her viral load has been undetectable. Is there any reason to keep giving her HIV meds?

    Do I Need to Take My HIV Drugs at Exactly the Same Time Every Night?
    I take Norvir (ritonavir), Reyataz (atazanavir) and Truvada (tenofovir/FTC) every night along with my dinner, which is at 6 p.m. some nights and 8 p.m. on other nights. I'm wondering whether taking my pills at these different times is risky. Could it cause HIV drug resistance?

    Can Viramune, Epivir and Zerit Be Taken on an Empty Stomach?
    I take Triomune, a generic combination of Viramune (nevirapine), Epivir (lamivudine, 3TC) and Zerit (stavudine, d4T) that is available in some developing countries. I often take the pill on an empty stomach and then wait more than three hours before eating. Is that OK?

    Why Is My Viral Load So High?
    My viral load seems to be increasing, and I have many questions. For instance, I was wondering if my viral load jump is the result of my taking poppers and Viagra. I also have resistance to some HIV meds, and am about to switch to a new regimen. Is it realistic to hope to reach an undetectable viral load again?

    Worried About a Sudden Drop in CD4 Count
    I'm a 26-year-old, HIV-positive woman. I've been on a regimen of Sustiva (efavirenz, Stocrin) plus Truvada (tenofovir/FTC) for more than a year, and I've been doing great. My viral load dropped from over 100,000 to undetectable, and my CD4 count rose from about 200 to 800. However, I found out at my last doctor's visit that my CD4 count had fallen to 400. I'm extremely worried about this. What would cause this sort of drop?

    And in This Corner, Wearing a G-String ...
    A few days ago, I wrestled with a stripper at a private party. We didn't have sex, but we worked up quite a sweat with a lot of tight hugging and full-body contact. She wore a bikini and I wore my underwear. Later I saw that I had some bruises on my leg. Could she have given me HIV through the bruises?

    Join a Study!
    U.S. HIVers: Give a Phone Interview and Earn $50

    Positive Internet Study
    Live in the United States and want to be a part of HIV research without leaving your home?

    Researchers at the University of Minnesota are looking for recently diagnosed, HIV-positive men, women, and transgender individuals to take part in a telephone-based study to understand the treatment, prevention, and sexual health needs of newly positive people.

    Phone interviews can be scheduled on weekdays and weekends. Interviews should take between 60 and 90 minutes; participants will receive $50 for their time.

    Interested? E-mail the research staff at, or call them at 1-866-692-0188 (if you don't get an answer, leave a message and your call will be returned as soon as possible). Please provide your full name, phone number and the best time for the interviewer to call. For more information on this study, click here to visit the official Web site.

    Visual AIDS
    Art From HIV-Positive Artists

    Image from the October 2007 Visual AIDS Web Gallery
    "2 Bears, 2 Moose," 1985; Tim Jocelyn
    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.