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January 23, 2008

In This Update
  • HIV Treatment
  • HIV Transmission
  • Complications of HIV & HIV Meds
  • Living With HIV
  • U.S. HIV Policy
  • HIV Outside the United States

    United States Welcomes a New HIV Medication: Intelence
    For the first time in nearly a decade, a new drug from the NNRTI class has been approved in the United States: On Jan. 18, Intelence (TMC125, etravirine) joined Sustiva (efavirenz, Stocrin), Viramune (nevirapine) and the little-used Rescriptor (delavirdine) on the NNRTI roster. Intelence is the first approved NNRTI that appears to work against HIV that is already resistant to other NNRTIs, which may make it an appealing option for people who can no longer use Sustiva or Viramune.

    For more on this new HIV medication, browse our collection of articles. Also look forward to a podcast within the next few days featuring an HIV expert who will explain the significance of Intelence's approval.

    U.S. HIVers Still Discriminated Against by Health Care Professionals, Study Finds
    A new study reveals troubling evidence that, even with three decades of knowledge about HIV care under their belts, some U.S. medical professionals still mistreat people simply because they have HIV. Of the 50 study participants, all of whom were HIV-positive men receiving care in Veterans' Affairs hospitals in one Midwestern city, many reported noticing changes in the way that health care staff behaved once they learned the participant had HIV. The men said these behaviors included insults, refusal of care and even physical mistreatment. (Web highlight from

    Danger of HIV Treatment Break May Depend on Viral Load, Researchers Say
    If you'd like to go on an HIV treatment holiday, you may want to make sure you have an undetectable viral load first, according to the results of a massive study of HIVers in the United Kingdom. The researchers found that, if a person had an undetectable viral load when they took their treatment break, they were more likely to reachieve and maintain an undetectable viral load after restarting treatment than people who had a detectable viral load when they took their break. The study also found that, the more treatment breaks a person took, the less likely their viral load was to remain undetectable after they restarted therapy. (Web highlight from AIDS)

    Kaletra "Monotherapy" Idea Takes a Hit in New Study
    For years now, researchers have tried to figure out whether some HIV-positive people can do all right taking just a single HIV medication, which could be cheaper and cause fewer side effects than standard three-drug combination therapy. However, new results from a French study suggest that "monotherapy" with Kaletra (lopinavir/ritonavir) may be risky: People who took only Kaletra were less likely to reach an undetectable viral load than people who took a combo of Kaletra and Combivir (AZT/3TC). (Web highlight from AIDS)



    Sex Columnist Slings Blame as HIV Infection Rates Rise Among Gay U.S. Men
    "Anal sex isnít a first-date activity," writes contentious columnist Dan Savage. In response to a New York Times article on rising HIV rates in the United States among men who have sex with men, Savage scolds gay-health educators for not doing enough to discourage sex and drug use. He also bluntly criticizes people who blame HIVers for not disclosing, pointing a finger instead at HIV-negative gay men for not doing more to protect themselves. (Web highlight from Slog)

    How much sex is "too much"? Is having scores of sexual partners a "surefire way" to be infected with HIV, even when using condoms? In this thoughtful blog entry, Washington Blade editor Joey DiGuglielmo responds to sex guru Dan Savage's comments about gay men and HIV prevention by calling on his own experiences reporting on HIV. While DiGuglielmo "agrees with the spirit of [Savage's] remarks," he challenges Savage's accuracy as well as his logic.

    Over-50 Crowd Needs to Talk "the Talk" About HIV
    Although many younger people might not want to think about it, people over 50 do have sex. "Once people get past their own embarrassment ... they realize ... [that] their grandparents face the same risks of [HIV and] sexually transmitted diseases as they do," says Jane Fowler, a 72-year-old HIVer. There's a growing concern among public health officials and educators that the over-50 crowd seems unaware of the risk of HIV. That's why Fowler suggests that, as weird as it may feel, young people sit down with their elders and have "the talk" about sex. (Web highlight from Tribune Newspapers)

    Why Are African-American MSM So Hard-Hit by HIV in San Francisco? Report Investigates
    By the time an African-American man who has sex with men (MSM) turns 60 in San Francisco, he has an 80 percent chance of being HIV positive, according to the city's HIV prevention director. HIV diagnoses have been common among African-American MSM in the city for the past decade, and city officials and HIV advocates want to know why. The city's annual HIV statistics report suggests that a "closed sexual network" among African-American men leads to HIV being spread among a relatively small group. However, others say that the effects of homophobia in the African-American community are to blame, since it keeps many men in the closet and allows HIV to spread unchecked. (Web highlight from the Bay Area Reporter)



    San Francisco Researchers Jumped the Gun With MRSA Warning for Gay Men, Critics Say
    Did the University of California-San Francisco needlessly cause alarm when it called attention earlier this month to an outbreak of MRSA, a bacterial skin infection among men who have sex with men (MSM)? Critics of the announcement point out that we've known for years about the dangers of MRSA, which can be spread by skin-to-skin contact and does not impact only gay men. Some critics add that the way the university announced its findings led to an explosion of over-the-top media coverage and anti-gay sentiment. (Web highlight from the Bay Area Reporter)

    Although it defended the MRSA outbreak report as "important," the University of California-San Francisco issued a statement saying it regrets that the way it reported the findings "could be interpreted as misleading."

    Meanwhile, to help clear the air on the MRSA issue, the Stop AIDS Project (an HIV organization in the San Francisco area) has announced it will hold a community forum on Wednesday, Jan. 30. If you're in the Bay area, click here for more information.



    Recreational Drug Use Doesn't Harm the Immune System, Study Suggests
    Using recreational drugs like marijuana, cocaine, poppers and amphetamines does not appear to directly hurt a person's CD4 count or CD4 percentage, a large, new U.S. study suggests. The study of more than 3,600 HIV-negative and HIV-positive gay men is not the last word on the impact of drug use on immune health, since it's known that drug use can hurt HIV treatment adherence. However, the new findings undercut a central argument of HIV denialists, who often argue that drug abuse, not HIV, is what causes the immune damage that leads to AIDS. (Web highlight from

    Click here to read the abstract of this study, which appears in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence.

    HIV-Positive Reality TV Star Speaks Out
    Viewers of the latest season of Bravo's hit clothing design show, Project Runway, had the chance to watch a strong, attractive man with HIV vie for reality television glory. Though Jack Mackenroth was forced to bow out of the competition after coming down with staph, a skin infection associated with HIV, he's upbeat about his health and career, and even says he might come back for a second round on Project Runway. In this wide-ranging interview, he talks about his HIV status, being on TV, competing in the Gay Games and his cameo in the Sex and the City movie. (Web highlight from HIV Plus)

    Weekend Getaway for HIV-Positive Heterosexuals in Southern California
    Are you HIV positive, heterosexual and interested in heading to southern California to connect with others? Then don't miss the Poz Hetero Weekend Blast in Long Beach, Calif., from Feb. 15 to 17. The event features outdoor activities and socializing, culminating in "Straight From the Heart," an evening of free dinner, dancing and entertainment featuring comedian River Huston and a lingerie fashion show starring positive community members. (Web highlight from ThreePozGals)



    Microbicide Research Bill Has a Chance This Year, Advocates Say
    For the past eight years, a bill that would fund pioneering research to develop an HIV prevention method that women can control has been stalled in the U.S. Congress. But in 2008, the Microbicide Development Act may finally have a chance, advocates say. The bill, which would support research on gels, creams or rings to protect women and men from HIV, has the support of 18 senators (including Hillary Clinton and the bill's sponsor, Barack Obama), 74 representatives and more than 150 organizations.

    Calif. Governor Proposes $11 Million Cut to HIV Programs
    Calif. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's new proposed budget would cut $11 million from spending on HIV services, including prevention programs and prescription drug assistance. Under the plan, which would take effect this summer, California's AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP) would no longer cover drugs for complications such as depression and wasting. Benefits for people receiving Medi-Cal, an insurance program for the poor, would also be reduced. If passed, the proposed cuts would come at an especially bad time: Under the new version of the Ryan White CARE Act, California is already set to receive less funding than usual from the federal government in the next fiscal year.



    Africa: CD4 Count of Mom Makes Huge Difference in Child's Survival, Study Finds
    Sub-Saharan African children born to HIV-positive women with a low CD4 count are more likely to die young, even if the children are HIV negative, researchers say. Children born to women with a CD4 count below 350 were almost twice as likely to die within two years as children of women with a higher CD4 count. The researchers stressed how important it was that HIV medications be made available to pregnant women in the region, and also urged steps to prevent malnutrition in children, which they found contributed to some children's poor chances of survival. (Web highlight from

    Click here to read the abstract of this study, which appears in the Dec. 15, 2007 edition of the Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes.

    Also Worth Noting

    Join a Study!
    Straight Men Recently Diagnosed HIV+: Give a Phone Interview and Earn $50

    Positive Internet Study
    Are you a straight man with HIV? Want to join an HIV study 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 straight men recently diagnosed HIV-positive, and 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, visit the official web site at

    Visual AIDS
    Art From HIV-Positive Artists

    Image from the January 2008 Visual AIDS Web Gallery
    "Homo Thugs: The Down," 2002; Derek Jackson
    Visit the January 2008 Visual AIDS Web Gallery to view our latest collection of art by HIV-positive artists! This month's gallery, entitled "Re-Imagined Boundaries," is curated by the New York University Tisch High School Photography Program.

    Connect With Others
    t The Body's Bulletin Boards

    A Life-Changing Month
    (A recent post from the
    "I Just Tested Positive" board)

    "On Jan. 11, I found out I had HIV after taking a test during a routine yearly physical. Talk about dumb luck -- I almost didn't have the test, since I felt great and didn't have any problems whatsoever. I just went for my initial appointment with my infectious disease doctor ... [had] a battery of tests and now have to wait for four weeks to 'see where I'm at, HIV-wise.' I guess I'm really using this post to introduce my situation and to say hello!"

    -- bosco_anaconda

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

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