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October 18, 2007

In This Update
  • HIV Treatment
  • HIV Experts Sound Off on the Latest Research
  • Complications of HIV & HIV Meds
  • HIV Transmission
  • HIV in the U.S. News
  • HIV Outside the United States

    Isentress, the First HIV Integrase Inhibitor, Wins U.S. Approval
    For the second time this year, a new HIV medication has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. It goes by the name of Isentress (raltegravir, MK-0518), and it belongs to a new family of HIV medications called integrase inhibitors. Isentress's approval comes as welcome news for people who are drug resistant and in need of new, effective HIV meds.

    Stay tuned for our interview with Dr. David Wohl for the lowdown on this impressive new medication. In the meantime, browse through our collection of articles to learn more about Isentress.

    Mixed Reaction to Isentress Pricing: Project Inform
    So what's the price tag for Isentress (raltegravir, MK-0518), the first integrase inhibitor? $27 per day, or about $10,000 per year -- right around the same price as Selzentry (maraviroc, Celsentri), a new HIV medication approved in August. Project Inform, a San Francisco-based HIV organization, expressed a mixed reaction to the announced price for Isentress. Though Project Inform's founding director Martin Delaney expressed some disappointment that the price wasn't lower, "We still believe that lower prices are always possible, but [Merck has] avoided the temptation to set ever higher prices for each new HIV drug," he said.

    An HIV Med Unlike Any Other: Meet KP-1461, an HIV DNA Killer
    KP-1461, an experimental HIV drug, works so differently from other HIV medications that it can seem like science fiction, writes treatment educator John S. James. But KP-1461 is real, and it's now moving through clinical trials. It's been stunningly effective in lab tests, but we may be many months away from knowing how it actually works in people. In this interview from AIDS Treatment News, James interviews Dr. Stephen Becker, chief medical officer of the company making KP-1461, to discuss the drug in detail.


      HIV EXPERTS SOUND OFF ON THE LATEST RESEARCH's extensive coverage of recent HIV conferences continues to roll in! We've got new transcripts and podcasts of interviews with researchers and physicians at ICAAC 2007 and IDSA 2007, both of which took place earlier this fall. Keep checking our ICAAC and IDSA interview indexes for the latest additions, which include:

    Joseph Eron, M.D. Joseph Eron, M.D., reviews the highlights of ICAAC 2007, including research on the new HIV meds Selzentry (maraviroc, Celsentri) and Prezista (darunavir, TMC114), as well as the potential for interleukin-2 to delay initiation of HIV treatment.
    Christos Karatzios, M.D. Christos Karatzios, M.D., discusses a study he presented at IDSA 2007 on the medical needs and social characteristics of adolescents who became HIV positive early in life.
    Kristin Mondy, M.D. Kristin Mondy, M.D., discusses a study she presented at IDSA 2007 on how people with HIV over the age of 50 are responding to the virus and the meds used to treat it.



    Kaposi's Sarcoma Outbreak Found Among HIVers on Treatment in San Francisco
    In the United States, we often think of Kaposi's sarcoma as an outdated remnant of the worst days of the HIV epidemic, when HIV meds barely existed and many people with advanced HIV had those telltale skin lesions. However, Kaposi's sarcoma does still happen, even to people on HIV meds. In fact, doctors in San Francisco are reporting a baffling outbreak of Kaposi's sarcoma among more than a dozen gay men -- all of whom are doing well on meds and are otherwise in good health. The lesions are unsightly, but not life-threatening, the doctors say.

    Stressful Events May Speed Progression of HIV Disease
    Stress can make you sick, especially if you have HIV, according to a new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Difficult situations, like a breakup or the death of a loved one, may influence a person's nervous system, which could in turn allow HIV to replicate faster, the paper suggests. Still, hard times don't doom a person to poor health. "Stress increases your risk of developing disease, but it doesn't mean that just because you are exposed to stressful events, you are going to get sick," points out Sheldon Cohen, one of the study's authors. (Web highlight from Carnegie Mellon University)

    HIVers on Meds May Be Less Likely to Develop Brain Damage, Study Says
    The slowly progressing damage to the brain associated with long-term HIV infection may be less likely to occur among people who are taking HIV medications, according to a small Swedish study. After three months of HIV treatment, almost half of the study participants who started out with high levels of a protein linked to brain damage were found to have normal levels. After one year of treatment, almost everyone had achieved normal levels.

    Click here to read the study abstract in the Oct. 9 issue of the journal Neurology.



    How Do Hispanic Americans Get HIV? Depends on Where They're Born, Study Finds
    Did you know that 65 percent of all HIV-positive, Hispanic-American men born in South America got HIV from sexual contact with another man -- but that the same is true for only 46 percent of HIV-positive, Hispanic-American men born inside the United States? Those are just two of the findings from a massive study by U.S. government researchers that could have implications for efforts to stop the spread of HIV among Hispanics living in the United States. "In terms of the prevention messages, if you are looking at Hispanics, you can't look upon them as a monolithic group," said Ken Dominguez, one of the study authors.

    The U.S. study also found that HIV diagnoses decreased by about 5 percent among Hispanic-American men and 13 percent among Hispanic-American women between 2001 and 2004. However, the study only included 33 of the 50 states; California, for instance, was not examined. Click here to read a detailed overview of the study results.

    These new HIV figures were released in advance of National Latino AIDS Awareness Day, which took place on Monday, Oct. 15. Though that day is now over, it's never too late (or too early!) to work for HIV prevention and increased testing in the Hispanic community. Click here to learn more at the official Web site for National Latino AIDS Awareness Day.

    Teaching a New Generation of U.S. College Students About HIV
    Students at Howard University in Washington, D.C., were shocked when they were told that the rate of HIV in their district is higher than the rate in many African countries. But that's the news Peter Piot, Executive Director of UNAIDS, had for a group of Howard U. students in a recent speech. You can listen to, or read a summary of, this recent report from National Public Radio's Weekend Edition Sunday, which discusses Piot's speech and examines current efforts to educate U.S. college students about HIV.

    To listen to the Weekend Edition Sunday report, click here.



    Ministers Call on U.S. Government to Declare HIV Among Blacks a "Health Emergency"
    Ministers attending a black leadership conference on HIV have called on the U.S. government to declare HIV among African Americans a public health emergency, which the ministers hope would make additional federal money and resources available to fight HIV. The ministers also called for the development of a nationwide plan to combat HIV, and pledged to promote HIV testing and awareness among their congregations.



    Clinton Foundation Aims to Provide Meds to Every Kenyan Child With HIV
    Currently, less than 15 percent of the 102,000 HIV-positive children in Kenya have access to treatment, but an ambitious three-year program funded by the Clinton Foundation intends to provide HIV meds to the other 85 percent. Former president Bill Clinton's foundation will spend US$38 million next year to purchase antiretrovirals for HIV-positive children in Kenya. In a country where 50 percent of HIV-positive children die because they have no treatment access, the "[t]ime to act is now, to let these children live," Kenya's director of medical services said.

    Also Worth Noting

    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
    "Dinner" 1998; Tom Belloff
    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

    "Lonely, Ashamed, Defeated"
    (A recent post from the
    "I Just Tested Positive" board)

    I am in my early 20s. I've never had unprotected sex and am hardly out of the closet -- I've only had sex twice in the past year. ... But about a month ago I was diagnosed HIV positive. I'm going crazy trying to figure out how this happened and am constantly feeling depressed, defeated, and anxious. I've dreamt and prepared my whole life for a career that I can no longer pursue. I'm lonely and ashamed.

    Worst of all, though, I'm afraid of dying alone and being unhappy until that day. I have a family who loves me very much, but they can never know about this. And my friends, well -- I have begun to push them away.

    I know I can live with this for a long time, but I'm more afraid of life than death. And honestly, I don't have the courage to off myself -- I love my family too much to put them through anything like that. I would rather suffer quietly and just wait it out. I cry randomly throughout the day, and on weekends hardly get out of bed.


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