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October 31, 2007

In This Update
  • Living With HIV
  • HIV Treatment & Complications
  • HIV Transmission
  • HIV & U.S. Politics
  • HIV in the U.S. News
  • HIV Outside the United States

    HIV-Positive Women, Tell Your Stories: E-Mail Us!
    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 recently diagnosed women. (We won't use your real identity in the booklet if you'd rather remain anonymous.) Send an e-mail to if you're interested!

    Illinois Hispanics: Suffering, but Still Silent
    In Illinois, Hispanic HIVers are dying far too often, but the Hispanic community as a whole remains silent on the epidemic, advocates say. As one Hispanic activist puts it, "We know HIV is here; we know AIDS exists, but we're choosing to ignore it." What they're ignoring, according to the state's Department of Public Health, is that 13 percent of all new HIV infections in Illinois are among Hispanics, and Hispanic people who test positive are 45 percent more likely than whites to already have advanced HIV disease because they wait so long to get tested.



    Study Suggests Drug Can Reduce Abdominal Fat in HIVers Taking HIV Meds
    Could a pill help fight fat gain in HIVers on treatment? It's sure beginning to look like it. In a one-year study, a growth-hormone drug in development called tesamorelin (TH9507) appeared to knock about one inch off the waistlines of HIV-positive people who experienced fat gain while on HIV treatment. There were a couple of catches, though: Tesamorelin caused a fair amount of side effects (especially joint pain), and people who stopped taking it quickly gained back almost all the fat they'd lost. (Web highlight from

    Earlier this year, Steven Grinspoon, M.D., the principal investigator of the group studying tesamorelin, talked about the interim study results on the drug. Click here to read or listen to his explanation of those interim study results.

    HIVers Often Don't Seek Out HIV Care Quickly Enough, Study Suggests
    Though HIV advocates have long encouraged people to get tested for HIV and go to a doctor as soon as they're diagnosed, many HIVers still wait too long before getting tested or seeking medical care, a new U.S. study suggests. The study of a Baltimore clinic found that people generally wait more than six months after their HIV diagnosis before coming in for their first clinic visit. Worse yet, the CD4 counts of those people are lower now than they were in 1990.

    CD4 Count and HIV Treatment: The Lower You Start, the Lower You Finish
    If the news above (about HIVers seeking medical care too slowly) wasn't alarming enough, here's a related bit of news about CD4 count: The lower a person's CD4 count is when they start treatment, the harder it will be to increase it, a new study says. Of course, people with extremely low CD4 counts still benefit enormously from HIV meds. The study just suggests that the longer a person goes without starting meds, the less likely it is they'll ever be able to get their CD4 count up above 500 or 600. (Web highlight from



    HIV Vaccine Trial Participants Warned About Possible Increased Risk of Transmission
    HIV-negative volunteers who took part in a failed HIV vaccine trial in South Africa are being warned that the vaccine may actually have increased their risk of getting HIV. The vaccine, which had been developed by Merck & Co., was also tested in the United States and Latin America. The United States hasn't yet decided whether to contact volunteers in the Americas and let them know whether they took the vaccine or a placebo, although volunteers who ask will be told. The failed HIV vaccine can't actually infect someone with HIV directly, but it could potentially cause immune system changes that might make HIV transmission easier when a person is exposed to the virus.

    Minnesota Nixes No-Sex Money
    Federal abstinence-only funds have lost another supporter: Last month, Minnesota officials quietly decided not to apply for $500,000 of federal funding for their program "Minnesota Education Now and Babies Later." The program targets 12- to 14-year-olds, and although it does promote abstinence, the organizers decided they were uncomfortable with new U.S. government requirements stating that, in order to receive funding, a program must teach that sex outside of marriage can be physically and psychologically harmful.

    Number of U.S. Babies Testing Positive Is Way Down, But Less So for Minorities
    In 2005, 111 infants born in the United States tested positive for HIV, according to a study by the U.S. health department. That's just one third the number of babies that tested positive in 1994, proving that a combination of routine HIV testing and better HIV treatment for pregnant women and their babies has worked wonders. However, the number of HIV infections among Hispanic and African-American infants has fallen more slowly than among whites: Close to 80 percent of the babies who tested positive in 2005 were African American or Hispanic.

    To read the full report, click here.



    Obama's Domestic HIV Plan Thrills, but Global Plan Falls Short, Advocates Say
    U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama has gotten mixed reviews for his newly announced plan to combat HIV. U.S. HIV advocates have praised Obama's call for domestic universal health care, a national HIV strategy, prevention and treatment in the black community, and an end to the federal needle exchange ban. But advocates also criticized him for pledging too little money to the global fight against HIV. "Sen. [John] Edwards showed much more thought and care to people with AIDS in the developing world [in his presidential HIV platform]," commented Paul Davis of the HIV organization Health GAP.

    Visit the "Blog to End AIDS" to read more about Obama's HIV plan and offer your own comments.

    Keep an eye on The Body's Election 2008 page for updates on the U.S. presidential candidates and their HIV platforms.



    Walgreens and Other Major U.S. Pharmacies Sue Over Norvir Price Increase
    Four years after drug maker Abbott Laboratories caused an uproar after quadrupling the price of Norvir (ritonavir), some of the United States' biggest pharmacy chains are fighting back. Four national pharmacy chains, including Walgreens, and one pharmaceutical wholesaler have filed a lawsuit accusing Abbott of unlawfully extending its monopoly on Norvir when, in 2003, it increased the wholesale price of a standard, 100-mg, daily dose of Norvir from a little over $50 per month to more than $250 per month.

    HIV May Have Come to U.S. From Haiti in 1960s, Research Suggests
    HIV has been in the United States since as early as 1966, according to a new study. Based on long-frozen blood samples, a team of U.S. researchers traced a new timeline for the arrival of HIV in the United States. The scientists now believe the virus first made its way from the Democratic Republic of Congo to Haiti in the 1960s, and then came to the United States when a Haitian immigrated to a large U.S. city in the late '60s or early '70s -- about a decade earlier than previously believed.

    Ryan White "Town Hall" Meetings Reveal Dark Side of U.S. HIV Care
    Have you had a hard time getting HIV care in the United States? You're not alone: This month, at a "town hall" meeting in South Carolina, HIVers told horror stories of vanishing medication access, paperwork nightmares and providers that simply didn't care. The reason for this meeting, part of a nationwide series sponsored by the Campaign to End AIDS and the National Association of People With AIDS, is to talk about the current state of the Ryan White CARE Act, which funds HIV care for uninsured and underinsured people in the United States. If the South Carolina meeting was any indication, a lot may be in need of change.

    The next "town hall" meeting is scheduled for Thursday, Nov. 8 from 6:45 p.m. to 8 p.m at the United States Conference on AIDS in Palm Springs, Calif. If you'd like to attend, or if you live elsewhere in the country and would like to host a "town hall" meeting yourself, contact Christine Campbell at (202) 408-0305 or

    Can't attend or host a "town hall" meeting, but still want speak your mind on U.S. HIV health care? Take this online survey and make sure your voice is heard.

    D.C.'s New Top HIV Official Makes Good First Impression
    Dr. Shannon Lee Hader, the new "AIDS Czar" in Washington, D.C., spent her second day on the job rubbing elbows with advocates and people living with HIV. Hader, formerly a practicing HIV specialist and now the director of the Department of Health's HIV/AIDS Administration, gave opening remarks at DC Fights Back's Resource Day, where she called for a closer relationship between the local government, HIV service providers and people living with HIV. Event organizers were thrilled when Hader chose to stay for the full program to meet and chat with attendees. Hader has her work cut out for her, though: About 5 percent of the city's residents are HIV positive, one of the highest HIV rates in the entire country.



    By Saying No to Condoms, Roman Catholic Church Says Yes to HIV
    Does God want us to use condoms? The Roman Catholic Church says no. But that answer, according to Alberto Stella, a UNAIDS coordinator, is contributing to the spread of HIV in Latin America. About half of the 1.1 billion Catholics worldwide live in Latin America, giving the church a powerful influence in the region. "[T]he use of condoms has been demonized, but if they were used in every relation, I guarantee the epidemic would be resolved in the region," says Stella. Right now, 1.7 million people in Latin America are living with HIV, and 410,000 Latin Americans were diagnosed with HIV in 2006 alone, up from 320,000 diagnoses in 2004.

    Also Worth Noting

    Medicine Recycling
    Donate Your Extra Meds and
    Save Lives (Postage Paid!)

    Your extra medications are needed by many people with HIV. Organizations across the U.S. quietly take unused HIV meds to distribute to people without insurance who can't get on government assistance. Other organizations, like Aid for AIDS and the Starfish Project, will pay for you to send them your extra meds for HIV and related illnesses, and then ship them to people in South America and Africa who would die without them.

    If you have extra meds you don't need, please take a moment to learn more about Aid for AIDS and the Starfish Project, or click here for additional news and information about medication recycling programs.

    Get Involved
    Ask Us About Cancer and HIV

    Got a question about cancer and HIV? In an upcoming podcast, will interview an expert on cancers among people with HIV, and during the interview we'd like to share some of the questions that are on your mind. Click here to send us an e-mail!

    Visual AIDS
    Art From HIV-Positive Artists

    Image from the October 2007 Visual AIDS Web Gallery
    "Lion Moneky" 2003; Christian Grados
    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

    A Pos American
    in Thailand

    (A recent post from the
    "I Just Tested Positive" board)

    Long term expat here (teacher). I've known for just a month. ... I guess I've been positive for roughly two years. I just got blood drawn in Bangkok for the CD4 and VL tests (not that I understand fully what those are yet), but haven't got the results back. I have no obvious symptoms yet. ...

    I'm a very optimistic guy and have high hopes of many good years ahead, however I have one big worry -- finances. I'm American, and have no health insurance. Here in Thailand treatment is cheaper due to the breaking of patents, but still can be $500 to $800/month. I would consider going home though I don't wish to, but I don't know if there's any way to get access to treatment there with little or no money.


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