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February 13, 2008

In This Update
  • HIV Treatment
  • Living With HIV
  • HIV Transmission
  • Making A Difference
  • HIV Policy & Funding in the United States
  • HIV Outside the United States

    Study Summaries, Podcast Interviews With Researchers, and More: CROI 2008 at
    How can you be sure you're getting state-of-the-art HIV care? By staying on top of the latest research! Check out's extensive coverage of one of the most important HIV medical conferences of the year, the 15th Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI 2008). Browse our coverage for dozens of study summaries and interviews, from the latest research on racial and gender differences in HIV and HIV treatment to the newest data on how so-called "elite controllers" manage to have an undetectable viral load without ever taking HIV meds.

    For even more in-depth coverage of the conference, check out our complete index of CROI 2008 coverage at The Body PRO,'s sister site for health professionals.

    What Should You Start Treatment With? Dr. Joel Gallant on the New U.S. Guidelines
    Joel Gallant, M.D.What are the best meds to use if you're just starting HIV treatment? Revised HIV treatment guidelines were recently released by the U.S. health department, and they included some notable changes to the lists of "preferred" and "alternate" HIV meds for first-line therapy. In this one-on-one interview, Dr. Joel Gallant -- a top HIV physician and a member of the expert panel that created the revised guidelines -- talks us through these changes, and discusses a number of other important developments. (This article is on The Body PRO,'s sister site for health professionals.)

    To read the full version of the newly revised U.S. HIV treatment guidelines for adults and adolescents, click here.

    Gut Reaction: Scientists Identify a New Way to Keep HIV Down
    Want to fight HIV? Hit it where it hurts: right in the gut. That's what a group of U.S. researchers are proposing, at least. They believe they've spotted a previously undiscovered way to stop HIV from replicating. It involves messing with a protein in the human body that helps guide HIV into a person's gut -- also known as the digestive system, the first place HIV sets up shop in somone's body.

    For more on this story, read this summary from the New York Times.

    Gene Therapy May Slow HIV's Spread, Study Says
    Could gene therapy be the next frontier in HIV treatment? Researchers believe they've found a way to use genetics to purposely mutate HIV into a form that won't damage a person's body. The procedure involves taking some CD4 cells from an HIV-positive person, inserting a gene into them that will short-circuit HIV when it attacks, and then treating the person with their own retrofitted CD4 cells. The treatment appeared to work well in small, early human trials. (Web highlight from the Philadelphia Inquirer)



    People Are Living With HIV Longer -- and Growing Older Faster
    "We're still here," says Dennis Golay, a 60-year-old man living with HIV. He and his 63-year-old partner are part of a phenomenon that was unimaginable when they both tested positive for HIV two decades ago: the "graying of HIV." Many longtime survivors of HIV are coping with ailments associated with aging -- and, researchers have found, they're showing signs of aging 10 to 20 years earlier than average. Because there is much to learn about HIV in folks over 50 -- a group that already comprises more than a quarter of all people living with HIV in the United States -- several important studies of older HIVers are currently in progress. (Web highlight from the Los Angeles Times; free registration required)



    This Valentine's Day, New York City Tells Everyone to "Get Some"
    NYC CondomJust in time for Valentine's Day last year -- and more than 25 years into the HIV epidemic -- New York City became the first major U.S. city to unveil its own official condom. Twelve months and 36 million free condoms later, the city is still urging everyone in town to get some. In fact, that's the New York City free condom campaign's new motto: For Valentine's Day 2008, the city has unveiled a new package design and new dispensers, all of which are part of a new media campaign provocatively entitled "get some."

    On National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, Groups Call to End Ban on Federal Funding for Needle-Exchange Programs
    The NAACP, the National Urban League and other advocacy groups have called on Congress to repeal a 20-year-old ban on federal funding for needle-exchange programs. The announcement came on Feb. 7, National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. Injection-drug use contributes to one out of every three new U.S. HIV cases, and that proportion is higher among African Americans than whites. "There's a huge unmet need" for needle-exchange programs, says Daniel Raymond of the Harm Reduction Coalition. "Even in places where there are programs, they can't always meet the demand."

    U.S. celebrities, religious leaders and HIV advocates joined forces on National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day to call attention to the epidemic among African Americans. Actors Tatyana Ali, Angela Basset and Sydney Tamiia Poitier; the Rev. Creflo Dollar; NFL coach Tony Dungy; and retired Gen. Colin Powell spoke out for HIV education and testing. But as we all know, one day of greater public awareness is never enough; click here to learn how you can help spread the word.

    With HIV Up Among Young Gay Men, Attention Turns to New York's Gay Bathhouses
    "They are on a witch hunt." Those are the words a former New York City health department employee recently used when talking about his agency, which is considering a new crackdown on gay bathhouses in the city. With HIV rates rising among young gay men in New York City, officials say they may shut down the bathhouses, impose new rules or continue strict inspections to make sure the bathhouses aren't havens for men seeking risky sex. Meanwhile, officials at the health department say they haven't made any decisions yet. (Web highlight from GayCityNews)



    Is Bono's Product RED Campaign Really All It's Cracked Up to Be?
    Two weeks ago, millions of Super Bowl viewers watched a man being showered with adoration as he strolled down the street clutching a red laptop computer. Women want him and men want to be him, the ad implied, because the computer he's holding is part of the Product RED program, which has given more than $59 million to fight HIV in Africa. But Product RED's critics aren't so excited. They argue that the program does more for big companies than Africans in need of HIV treatment. Who's right? A recent New York Times story takes a closer look.



    Minority HIV Prevention Advocates in New York City Ask: Where's Our Money?
    "We're just waiting." It's a sentiment shared by HIV prevention groups serving ethnic minorities throughout New York City, as sorely needed funding that was approved last year has yet to find its way into organizations' coffers. Back in June 2007, $2.6 million worth of funding was approved for HIV prevention and education among minorities in New York City, but according to this report from Housing Works, most groups have yet to see the cash they need -- and it's not the first time these groups have been left in the lurch thanks to bureaucratic inefficiency.

    President Bush's New Budget Short-Shrifts Domestic HIV Funding
    HIV advocates in the United States were fuming over the new federal budget proposal from U.S. President George W. Bush. At the same time Bush wants to push additional money toward the global fight against HIV, his proposed budget would cut funding for many efforts to fight HIV and treat HIV-positive people within the United States. Adding insult to injury, a $28 million increase in funding for abstinence-only programs was proposed alongside cuts in Medicare and Medicaid, and a virtual freeze on funding for the Ryan White CARE Act, which provides money for HIV services throughout the United States.



    The Body PRO Exclusive: An HIV Doctor From the Bronx Changes Lives in Rwanda
    Kathryn Anastos, M.D.In 2004, a single e-mail changed the course of Dr. Kathryn Anastos' life -- and may have saved the lives of hundreds, if not thousands, of women and children in Rwanda. The e-mail came from a Rwandan activist group for women and children who were victims of the genocidal civil war that tore the country apart in 1994. Hundreds of thousands of women were raped during the genocide, and as Dr. Anastos recalls, the activist group "had just learned that the perpetrators of their rapes ... were being treated -- with state of the art, triple antiretroviral therapy." Outraged, Dr. Anastos and two other women from the United States decided to make a difference: They founded clinics in Rwanda that, with help from the Rwandan government and local staff, provide treatment and care to Rwandan women and their children. In this one-on-one interview at The Body PRO,'s sister site for health professionals, Dr. Anastos tells her story.

    WHO Releases New Guidelines for Second-Line HIV Treatment to Help Low- and Middle-Income Countries
    In an attempt to simplify the choice between second-line HIV treatment regimens, speed up drug approvals and decrease prices, the World Health Organization (WHO) has changed its second-line HIV treatment guidelines. WHO has narrowed down the number of second-line medications it recommends, in response to requests from governments for more direction on what to include in their countries' treatment programs. Many second-line HIV medications are prohibitively expensive or unavailable in developing countries, and physicians often lack knowledge about what combination to prescribe HIV-positive people who have developed HIV drug resistance.

    For more on the WHO's new recommendations regarding second-line HIV treatment, read this summary from, or download this report on the recent WHO meeting in which second-line treatment options were discussed.

    Also Worth Noting

    Visual AIDS
    Art From HIV-Positive Artists

    Image from the February 2008 Visual AIDS Web Gallery
    "Haphazard," 1996; Robert Blanchon
    Visit the February 2008 Visual AIDS Web Gallery to view our latest collection of art by HIV-positive artists! This month's gallery, entitled "Looking Up Lyrics," is curated by Becca Albee.

    Connect With Others
    t The Body's Bulletin Boards

    "HIV Positive in New York -- And Completely Alone"
    (A recent post from the
    "Gay Men" board)

    "I'm a 47-year-old, nice guy, diagnosed in April 2007. At the time, I was in a new relationship and going back and forth to Chicago every weekend. ... We broke up on Christmas Eve. I feel so **** alone here in New York City. Was on Atripla, but had to come off it -- the Sustiva was messing with my emotions too much. Now on Truvada and Reyataz, boosted with Norvir. I cry every night, trying to get back into work, but it's so hard. If there's anyone else out there, let me know."


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

    Strange but True
    The Most Bizarre
    Posts of 2007 in our
    "Ask the Experts" Forums

    Our readers have spoken, and we have a winner! (Or loser, depending on how you look at it.) Hundreds of people voted in's first annual "Strangest but Truest" survey, in which we nominated 10 of the most bizarre posts to grace our "Ask the Experts" Forums in 2007.

    It was a very close contest. To find out which post won the most votes, and to see a full breakdown of votes in the survey, click here.