• LIVING WITH HIV
Dispelling Myths About HIV, HIV Meds and Body Fat
Which HIV meds are most to blame for body fat changes in HIVers? If your tummy expands while you're on HIV meds, will your arms and legs shrink? Can sit-ups reduce belly fat? There are a lot of myths and misunderstandings when it comes to HIV meds and body fat. Even many HIV health care providers don't know the most recent research! Thankfully, we've got experts like Dr. David Wohl to dispel the rumors. In this down-to-earth explanation, Dr. Wohl walks us through some of the most common misconceptions about metabolic complications in HIVers.
As HIVers Grow Older, New Challenges Arise
The best side effect of modern HIV treatment is that, in countries where HIV meds are widely available, HIVers are living longer than ever before. However, this aging trend among people with HIV is changing our sense of how HIV health care should work. Questions abound: How does HIV affect age-related illnesses such as heart disease and diabetes? How can we make sure that older people with HIV get the support they need? Read this article for an overview of the ways that the graying of HIV could redefine what it means to have HIV in the United States.
• HIV IN THE NEWS
Needle Exchange Ban Finally Lifted in Washington, D.C.
After eight long years, Washington, D.C.'s ban on needle exchange programs may finally be at an end. President George W. Bush has signed a government spending bill that allows the United States' capital city to use public funds for needle exchange programs, a practice that has been shown to help reduce HIV risk among injection-drug users but which was banned in 1999 by a Republican-controlled Congress. "For too long, Congress has unfairly imposed on the citizens of D.C. by trying out their social experiments there," said a Democratic congressman. "The consensus is clear that [needle exchange] programs save lives."
HIV Rates Rise Among Young New York City Men Who Have Sex With Men, but Drop Overall
There's disturbing news on HIV rates in New York City: Although the number of people diagnosed with HIV in the city has dropped over the last five years, rates are up by 32 percent among men younger than 30 who have sex with men. HIV rates are also up among black and Hispanic men who have sex with men. It's a scary trend, and it shows a growing generational gap when it comes to HIV prevention: Among New York City men older than 30 who have sex with men, HIV rates have dropped by 22 percent.
Some New HIV Meds Not Listed on Medicare Web Site, but Still Covered
HIV-positive people may not be able to find newly approved HIV medications through Medicare's online drug plan finder, according to California HIV advocates. The Web site is not always current, so new HIV drugs such as Isentress (raltegravir) might not show up, the advocates say. Fortunately, these medications should still be covered by prescription drug plans, even if they don't appear in the plan finder. If you have questions about your coverage, talk to a benefits counselor.
New Jersey to Require HIV Tests for Pregnant Women, Some Newborns
Beginning in six months, all pregnant women and some infants in New Jersey will have to be tested for HIV unless women refuse the test in writing. Previous state law only required health care providers to offer HIV tests to pregnant women. The new law requires pregnant women to be tested for HIV as early as possible in their pregnancy and again during the third trimester, unless they opt out. The law also requires infants to be tested for HIV if the mother is HIV positive or if her HIV status is unknown when the baby is born.
• HIV & HEPATITIS
Making Liver-Smart Choices When You're Living With Hepatitis C
There's strong evidence that people who are coinfected with HIV and hepatitis C can reduce the harm to their liver by making smart lifestyle choices. Cutting down on alcohol -- or avoiding it entirely -- may be the most straightforward way to reduce the risk of developing serious liver disease, but quitting smoking, eating better, exercising regularly and getting enough rest can also help your body stop hep C from progressing. Read this article to learn how people with HIV and hep C can make sure their everyday choices are liver friendly.
• HIV TREATMENT
Side Effects of HIV Medications: Drug-by-Drug Overview
Looking for a detailed rundown of the most common side effects associated with HIV medications? Take a look at this drug-by-drug overview from HIV InSite, an online resource for health care professionals. Though it's written for doctors and nurses, it can be a helpful resource for anybody seeking more info on the potential risks of the HIV medications they're taking or considering. (Web highlight from HIV InSite)
If a Drug Made You Sick, the FDA Wants to Know
If you live in the United States and have had a severe reaction to an HIV-related medication, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) wants to know about it. All prescription drugs in the United States must be proven safe and effective before people can use them, but as many of us know all too well, unexpected problems can turn up after a drug has been approved. By asking HIVers and their doctors to report reactions that were life-threatening, required hospitalization or resulted in permanent health damage, the FDA hopes to catch problems they missed during initial testing of the drug. (Web highlight from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration)
New Findings Deepen Mystery of How Race Ties Into HIV Treatment
You already know how important it is that you take your HIV meds on time as often as possible. But could it be even more important if you're African American? U.S. researchers have found evidence that, if an African-American HIVer and a white HIVer both fail to take their HIV meds properly, the African-American HIVer may be more likely to see his or her viral load go up. Is it genetics? Is the study itself flawed? Right now, there are many more questions than answers. (Web highlight from aidsmap.com)
To see an abstract of this study, which appears in the Dec. 15 issue of the journal JAIDS, click here.
• HIV OUTSIDE THE UNITED STATES
In Lesotho, Hope for a New Generation Depends on Access to HIV Meds
"My baby is very healthy," says Mathakane, an HIV-positive woman in Lesotho, as her daughter burbles in the background. "She's HIV negative. She's fat. She's strong. She's a beautiful baby." Mathakane was lucky enough to have access to antiretrovirals, which can drastically reduce the risk of transmitting HIV from mother to child. Unfortunately, she's an exception: Only one in five mothers with HIV in Lesotho can get the drugs they need to protect their children. By following three HIV-positive women in Lesotho, this online report shows, in sound and pictures, how a single dose of an antiretroviral -- or the lack of it -- can change lives. (Web highlight from MSNBC.com)
Veteran HIV Specialist Warns Against Paying Too Much Attention to HIV in Africa
Could the United States be spending too much of its money and attention on fighting HIV in developing countries? The idea might sound preposterous, but Daniel Halperin, one of the world's leading HIV experts, warns that many people have tunnel vision when it comes to HIV. Although HIV funding in developing nations remains vital, he says, millions die each year of less "headline-grabbing" illnesses that desperately need attention. "If one were to ask the people of virtually any African village (outside some 10 countries devastated by AIDS) what their greatest concerns are, the answer would undoubtedly be the less sensational but more ubiquitous ravages of hunger, dirty water and environmental devastation," Halperin says. (Web highlight from The New York Times)