• HIV TREATMENT & COMPLICATIONS
The Bottom Line on Isentress: An Interview With Dr. David Wohl
With the excitement of a new HIV medication, Isentress (raltegravir, MK-0518), comes a flurry of questions. How will it be used? What are the side effects? How soon will it be available? To get the lowdown on Isentress, TheBody.com interviewed Dr. David Wohl, an HIV physician and researcher at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. Read or listen to the interview as Dr. Wohl answers some of the basic questions about Isentress.
Want to know what makes Isentress tick? Click here for Dr. Wohl's explanation.
Money Worries May Cause HIVers to Miss Med Doses, Study Finds
Can worrying about your finances hurt your health if you're HIV positive? The answer may be yes, according to a group of U.S. researchers. In a small study, they found that HIVers with financial worries were less likely to take their HIV drugs correctly. The study also noted that drug and alcohol use had a bad impact on HIV treatment adherence, but said that financial worries were the main "quality of life" concern that hurt people's ability to take all their meds properly. (Web highlight from aidsmap.com)
HPV Test More Accurate Than Pap Test at Detecting Cervical Cancer, Studies Say
If you're a woman living with HIV, you may want to request a DNA test for human papillomavirus (HPV) at your next annual checkup. Why? HPV DNA tests are more accurate than the standard Pap tests at detecting cervical cancer, according to two new, large studies from Canada and Sweden. Women living with HIV run a greater risk for cervical cancer than HIV-negative women, making these findings especially important for HIVers. The HPV DNA test is much more expensive than the Pap test, however.
Both studies were published in the Oct. 18 edition of the New England Journal of Medicine. Click here to read an abstract of the Canadian study. Click here to read an abstract of the Swedish study.
U.S. Says OK to Less Norvir With Lexiva
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved the use of once-daily Lexiva (fosamprenavir, Telzir) boosted with just 100 mg of Norvir (ritonavir) for people starting their first HIV treatment regimen, instead of the 200 mg dose that was previously recommended. The lower Norvir dose may mean fewer side effects for HIV treatment newbies taking boosted Lexiva.
Study Finds Two Genes Can Affect HIV Disease Progression
A worldwide team of researchers has found that a pair of human genes seem to play a major role in triggering HIV disease progression. In fact, the two-gene combination can have almost as big an impact on HIV disease as a person's viral load, the researchers found. The findings could, in time, help doctors figure out whether certain people's HIV disease might accelerate more quickly than other people's.
The abstract of this study, which was published in the Oct. 21 issue of the journal Nature Immunology, is available here.
• HIV TRANSMISSION
U.S. HIV Testing Rates Barely Budge in New Millennium
Think that HIV prevention efforts in the United States have been a failure? If you looked at the country's HIV testing rates, you'd certainly have reason to think so. According to a new study, HIV testing rates have barely budged in the United States since 2000, and people at high risk for HIV often plan to get tested but don't actually follow through. This may be at least partly why there's still such a high number of undiagnosed HIVers in the United States -- as many as 250,000 people are estimated to have HIV and not know it. (Web highlight from the Archives of Internal Medicine)
To read a summary of this study from aidsmap.com, click here.
STD Testing Is a Good Thing, Especially if You're HIV Positive, Study Finds
It's common knowledge that sexually active gay men should be routinely tested for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). But what if you've already tested HIV positive? Should you stop getting tested for other STDs? Absolutely not, according to a recent study in Western Europe. The study found that HIV-positive gay men are actually more likely than HIV-negative gay men to have another STD. (Web highlight from aidsmap.com)
Researchers Examine Effect of Failed HIV Vaccine
When news broke earlier this year that one of the most promising HIV vaccines in development was a flop, it sent a chill through many of those who remain hopeful that an effective vaccine can be developed. However, although the 3,000-person study failed, scientists say the information it provided can still help develop a vaccine. "The trial shows a failure of a specific product but not a failure of a concept," said Gary Nabel, director of the Vaccine Research Center at the U.S. National Institutes of Health.
California Gay Men's Health Summit to Address Rise in HIV Rates
What keeps many gay men from using condoms? What are the risks of using crystal meth? What should an HIV-negative gay man be aware of when dating someone who is HIV positive? These were among the questions raised last weekend at "Power and Pride," a gay men's health summit in California's San Fernando Valley. Organizers addressed rising HIV rates in the region, particularly among Hispanics, who made up about half of Los Angeles County AIDS diagnoses in 2004. Rising rates of other sexually transmitted diseases were also on the agenda.
Health Officials in San Francisco Discuss Centers for Injection Drug Users
Should U.S. taxpayer money be used to set up safe, supervised areas where injection-drug users can shoot up? That's the controversial issue that San Francisco health officials debated last week. Advocates of safe-injection sites argue that they will prevent overdoses and reduce the use of dirty needles, which can help prevent the spread of HIV. However, it looks unlikely that San Francisco will become the first city in the United States to create injection centers. San Francisco's mayor "is not inclined to support this approach," a spokesperson said.
• HIV IN THE U.S. NEWS
Controversial Pediatrician Tolerant of HIV Denialists Is Placed on Probation
Dr. Paul Fleiss, the pediatrician known for his care of an HIV-positive girl who died because her mom refused to have her tested or treated for the virus, has been placed on 35 months of probation for failing to maintain accurate medical records. The 74-year-old California doctor cared for Eliza Jane Scovill, the daughter of HIV denialist Christine Maggiore. Eliza Jane died under his care in 2005, at the age of three, of AIDS-related pneumonia, having never been tested for HIV. After her death, the state medical board investigated Fleiss for gross negligence. In a settlement reached with the board, Fleiss admitted that he had failed to maintain proper records in his practice. (Web highlight from the Los Angeles Times; free registration required)
U.S. HIV Organizations Call on Presidential Candidates to Address Domestic HIV
Leaders at HIV organizations across the United States have banded together for the "AIDS in America" effort, urging U.S. presidential candidates to address the U.S. HIV epidemic in their campaigns. According to the group's statement, "One of our overarching concerns is the lack of emphasis on domestic HIV/AIDS in the media, among elected officials, and the general public in recent years. ... We want to work with all presidential campaigns to raise awareness about the domestic epidemic, provide information and data, and discuss how HIV/AIDS will be addressed in health care reform proposals."
The "National AIDS Strategy" coalition issued a similar call to presidential candidates last month. Click here to read about it.
• HIV OUTSIDE THE UNITED STATES
BBC Apologizes for Inaccuracies in HIV Film
The BBC has admitted that a documentary it produced about the testing of HIV meds on children contained "serious breaches" of its guidelines on accuracy and impartiality. The film "Guinea Pig Kids," which originally aired in 2004, falsely claimed that HIV medications given to the featured children were "futile" and "dangerous," and was biased towards the views of HIV denialists, an internal BBC investigation has found. While the BBC issued a letter of apology, it has not yet formally published the results of its investigation. (Web highlight from MediaGuardian.co.uk)
Money to Fight HIV Being Used to Out Homosexuals in Uganda
Some recipients of U.S. funding to fight HIV in Uganda actually use the money to force gay men, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people out of the closet, Human Rights Watch (HRW) has claimed in a letter to U.S. officials. Once Ugandans have been outed, they can potentially face a lifetime in prison, since homosexuality in Uganda is illegal. HRW called on the Ugandan government to decriminalize homosexuality, but until that happens, they've asked the U.S. government to reconsider the groups it supplies funding to: "Supporting prejudice with cash is an approach with deadly consequences for all," an HRW spokesperson said.
Up to 40 Percent of Africans Who Begin Taking HIV Meds Stop Taking Them, Study Finds
Increased access to HIV treatment in Africa could save millions of lives, but only if the people who need meds are able to get them and take them consistently. That's why it may be disappointing to hear the results of a new study, which found that up to 40 percent of Africans who started taking HIV meds died or stopped taking their meds within two years, for reasons that aren't fully clear. However, the study's authors argue that we should look at the rollout of HIV meds in southern Africa as an "extraordinary accomplishment." If treatment hadn't been as readily available, they say, most of the people who are now on HIV meds would instead have been dead within one year. (Web highlight from PLoS Medicine)
For a summary of this study from aidsmap.com, click here.