The Body: The Complete HIV/AIDS Resource
Jump to What's New HIV Treatment Just Diagnosed Search:

December 5, 2007

In This Update
  • HIV Treatment & Complications
  • Living With HIV
  • HIV in the News
  • HIV Transmission
  • Turning the Global Tide
  • HIV Outside the United States

    Start HIV Meds at 350, New U.S. HIV Treatment Guidelines Say
    It's been more than a year since the bible of U.S. HIV treatment has been updated, but the wait is finally over -- and there are some huge changes. The biggest one: HIV meds are now recommended for anyone with a CD4 count below 350. (Until now, treatment had been recommended only when a person's CD4 count dropped below 200.) A similar change was made to European HIV treatment guidelines in October. The newly revised U.S. guidelines also recommend HIV drug resistance testing for everyone who's been diagnosed with HIV, even if they're not even considering treatment yet.

    To download a PDF of the complete revised guidelines, click here.

    HIVer Gets a Firsthand Look at How Isentress Won U.S. Approval
    "My mouth was dry, and I couldn't catch my breath," Matt Sharp recalls. He was sitting in front of a panel of bureaucrats and scientists, all of whom were waiting for him to talk about how Isentress (raltegravir, MK-0518) has changed his life. Even though he was nervous, Sharp had a mission to complete: "I was telling my story about a new HIV drug that was actually helping to keep me alive." In this article, Sharp, who has had HIV for 20 years, talks about his first-hand experience as a speaker at the U.S. approval hearing for Isentress (raltegravir, MK-0518) in September.

    You can read a PDF transcript of Sharp's testimony at the Isentress hearing by clicking here.

    Rising Cancer Rates Among HIVers Underscore Need for Better Meds, Expert Says
    As HIV-positive people live longer than ever before thanks to HIV meds, there's an unsettling new trend as well: HIVers are developing cancer more and more often. Although "numbers are still relatively small overall," several cancers have become more common among HIVers than HIV-negative people, says noted HIV expert Mark Wainberg, Ph.D. In an opinion piece, he explains why these rising cancer rates make it more important than ever to develop HIV meds that not only fight the virus, but boost the immune system as well.



    Happily Ever After Antidepressants
    An evil queen, a young man held against his will and a woman who wants to save him. Sound like a gay fairy-tale? You're close: It's the continuation of Jim Pickett's saga in what he calls the "gay nuthouse." Pickett, an outspoken advocate who's been living with HIV for 12 years, checked himself into a mental health facility after a rough breakup with his boyfriend and a battle with suicidal thoughts. Then things got even uglier. "I had marched my ass to the front desk and stridently informed the staff on duty that I was going to leave," Pickett says. "This did not go over well."

    To read the first part of Jim's story, click here.



    As Deadline Nears, Doctors and Activists Urge Rejection of New U.S. HIV Immigration Rules
    Dec. 6 is the final day that people can tell the U.S. government how they feel about proposed new immigration rules for HIV-positive people. The HIV community's response to the new proposal has been overwhelmingly negative -- and it's not just activists who have voiced their displeasure. The International AIDS Society -- the largest worldwide association of HIV health care professionals -- has joined the call for the U.S. government to reject the proposal, which it says "only serves to reinforce a bad policy that is clearly discriminatory and has no public health basis."

    Want to comment on the proposed legislation yourself? Anyone and everyone can submit their comments online by visiting this page and clicking on the little yellow icon next to "Add Comments."

    For more information about the proposed immigration guidelines, read this article from the Washington Blade.

    Clinton Pledges to Spend $50 Billion on HIV
    Sen. Hillary Clinton has pledged to spend $50 billion to fight HIV at home and abroad if she is elected president in 2008. "AIDS remains a plague of biblical proportions," Clinton said at an HIV conference hosted by an evangelical church. "Where ignorance and prejudice builds, AIDS thrives." Meanwhile, five other presidential candidates -- John Edwards, Barack Obama, Mike Huckabee, John McCain and Mitt Romney -- delivered short, videotaped speeches at the conference describing how they would fight the HIV pandemic.



    Black MSM Twice as Likely as White MSM to Have HIV, Researchers Say
    Black men who have sex with men (MSM) in the United States are twice as likely as white MSM to be living with HIV, federal researchers announced at a recent HIV prevention conference. Researchers don't know exactly why the disparity exists, since a recent study found that black MSM are no more likely to have unprotected sex than white MSM. However, as this article explains, other recent studies offer some possible clues.

    Meanwhile, some of the top HIV prevention experts in the United States worry openly that the HIV epidemic is making a comeback among men who have sex with men. In this article published in a major medical journal, the experts examine why this resurgence may be happening -- and what we can do about it.

    Beyond Latex: The Future of HIV Prevention
    Condoms may be a very effective way to prevent HIV, but they haven't been enough to stop millions of people from becoming HIV positive every year. That's why scientists are hard at work trying to develop other ways to block HIV transmission -- especially ways that can be used by women, who may not be able to convince their partners to use condoms. This article looks at the latest research on four HIV prevention strategies that don't involve using condoms: pre-exposure prophylaxis (using HIV meds to prevent infection), male circumcision, microbicides (creams or gels to prevent HIV transmission during sex) and genital herpes treatment.

    Gates Foundation Gives $29M for Microbicide Development
    One of the world's strongest backers of microbicide development has doled out another huge wad of cash: The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation awarded a five-year, $28.5 million grant to East Virginia Medical School's microbicide research program. The donation will be used to research a topical vaginal gel containing HIV meds, which researchers hope will help prevent HIV transmission to women during sex.



    Ignorance About HIV Common in Wealthy Countries -- But So Is a Desire to Help
    One out of every three adults in Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States knows little or nothing about HIV, according to an international poll of more than 3,500 people. The reason: HIV is "not real" for them, according to World Vision President Richard Stearns. "It's not personal, it is somebody else's problem," he said. However, many people are aware of HIV and wish they could do more about it, the survey found: About half of all people who answered the survey said they would pay higher taxes to support HIV prevention and treatment.

    You Can't Fight HIV Without Boosting Human Rights, Declaration Says
    Protecting human rights must be at the center of the global fight against HIV, according to a declaration issued by more than 30 HIV and human rights organizations. The people most vulnerable to HIV continue to face discrimination worldwide, the declaration says, and often are denied access to HIV services. Although the report doesn't mention specific countries, the United States deserves some of the blame, according to Catherine Hanssens, Executive Director of the Center for HIV Law and Policy, which helped develop the declaration. "Our HIV/AIDS policies are increasingly ineffective and punitive, because they are driven by ideology and bigotry, not by sound science," she said.

    To read the declaration, entitled "Human Rights and HIV/AIDS: Now More Than Ever," click here. You can also click here to sign the declaration, or read it in French, Spanish or Russian. spoke with Catherine Hanssens in October about how U.S. law can protect -- or fail to protect -- HIV-positive people living in the United States. Click here to read or listen to the full interview, which is part of our monthly "This Month in HIV" podcast series.



    Fallout Continues After UNAIDS Revises Global HIV Statistics
    Stephen Lewis is pissed. Lewis, one of the world's most prominent HIV activists, tore into the United Nations (UN) last week after it revised its global HIV estimates downward by 7 million. In a passionate speech, Lewis -- who used to work for the UN -- accused the organization of waiting too long to correct flawed statistics, and of failing to drive home the horrible impact of HIV on the lives of people throughout the world. "Whether it's 40 million or 33 million, this plague continues to ravage humankind," Lewis said. (Web highlight from

    To read an excerpt of Lewis's speech, click here.

    Why Are So Many HIVers Still Not Getting the Treatment They Need?
    There's no simple explanation why millions of people with HIV worldwide still have no access to treatment, a report by the International Treatment Preparedness Coalition shows. In fact, there are a whole slew of problems, the report says, including laws that limit the use of generic drugs, ongoing discrimination against gay men and sex workers, and the high cost of viral load and CD4 count tests. On the bright side, one of the report's coordinators predicts that despite these challenges, many countries can achieve "near universal" access to HIV treatment by 2010.

    Click here to download a PDF of the full report.

    HIV Epidemic Expanding in Former Soviet Union
    As the HIV epidemic continues to grow in Russia and Ukraine, the number of new HIV cases is also surging in smaller ex-Soviet states that had been barely affected by HIV in the past, according to the latest UNAIDS annual report. Since 2001, the number of people living with HIV in the former Soviet Union has increased by 150 percent, from to 630,000 to 1.6 million. Nearly two-thirds of the region's new HIV cases in 2006 were attributed to injection drug use.

    Also Worth Noting

    Join a Study!
    Women Recently Diagnosed With HIV: Give a Phone Interview and Earn $50

    Positive Internet Study
    Are you a woman with HIV? Want to help further HIV research without leaving your home?

    Researchers at the University of Minnesota are conducting a telephone-based study to understand the treatment, prevention and sexual health needs of people newly diagnosed. Currently they're looking for recently diagnosed HIV-positive women, living in the United States, to take part in one-on-one phone interviews.

    Interested? E-mail the research staff at, or call toll-free at 1-866-692-0188. You'll be asked to take a quick 5-minute survey to determine if you're eligible to participate.

    If eligible, your interview can be scheduled at your convenience on weekdays or weekends. Interviews take between 60 and 90 minutes; you'll receive $50 for your time and assistance.

    For more information on this study, click here to visit the official Web site.

    Connect With Others
    t The Body's Bulletin Boards

    Four Tips for Newly Diagnosed People
    (A recent post from the
    "I Just Tested Positive" board)

    I know you are probably scared and feel like a leper. I felt that too. It's OK to be scared, but you also need to be proactive. The first thing you need to do is to find yourself a good doctor. ... It took me about 20 different doctors to finally find a doctor that treated me with respect. Start there. Second, watch out who you tell you are positive. You don't need to tell anyone right now except for your doctor of course, and your sexual partner. ... When you feel better and are better, you can decide more calmly who you tell. I unfortunately started by telling everyone in my social group, and my social group got much smaller fast.

    Third, I know you may dread the idea of being on meds for the rest of your life, but there's several studies that suggest that being on meds is much better for your body than letting HIV run rampant. I started meds right away with the help of my doctor, and yes, I did have to do some lifestyle changes, especially food choices, but I feel good on my meds. ... There's many new options nowadays, and HIV is no longer an immediate death sentence if you have good treatment and you adhere to it well. [Fourth], find a support group. It helps to have people to talk about it, people that have gone through all the things that you are going through right now. You are not alone, there's millions like you.

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

    Visual AIDS
    Art From HIV-Positive Artists

    Image from the December 2007 Visual AIDS Web Gallery
    "Kato," 1992; Martin Wong
    Visit the December 2007 Visual AIDS Web Gallery to view our latest collection of art by HIV-positive artists! This month's gallery, entitled "You're My New Orleans," is curated by Derek Jackson, the founder and creative director of Hung Magazine.