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February 28, 2008

In This Update
  • Health Issues for HIV-Positive People
  • HIV in the News
  • HIV Treatment
  • HIV & Children
  • HIV Prevention

    Syphilis Throat Symptoms Often Ignored by HIV-Positive Gay Men
    Why are syphilis rates increasing in the United States? Is it meth use? Condom fatigue? The rise of the Internet as a gateway for sex? Or could it be that many people don't realize some of the symptoms until long after they've passed syphilis on to others? As Lawrence Siegel, M.D., explains in this interview, men often go many weeks without being diagnosed with syphilis because they're unaware that they can get syphilis not only in their genital region, but in the back of their throat as well. Dr. Siegel also summarizes his recent study in New York City's Chelsea neighborhood, where syphilis is 20 times more common than in the rest of the country, and HIV-positive men who have sex with men make up a huge chunk of the people affected.

    AIDS-Defining Cancers Become Less Common Than Other Cancers in HIVers, Study Finds
    In a complete turnaround from the early years of the U.S. HIV epidemic, so-called "AIDS-defining cancers" are no longer the most common types of cancer diagnosed in HIV-positive people. Rates of AIDS-defining cancers, such as Kaposi's sarcoma, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and cervical cancer, have declined dramatically since combination HIV treatment became available in 1996. Meanwhile, a wide range of other, non-AIDS-defining cancers remains more common (and may even have increased) in people with HIV, according to a large U.S. study: Cancers of the lung, liver, anus, head and neck are now up to 39 times more common among HIVers than the general population. (Web highlight from

    How to Keep Your Body's Clean-Up Crew -- the Liver -- Humming Along
    It's not as glamorous as the heart or the brain, but the liver, the second largest organ in the human body, is pretty remarkable. All of your organs depend on it to filter out toxins in the food you eat, the liquids you drink and the air you breathe -- not to mention the medications you take. Unfortunately, your liver is also the prime target of hepatitis viruses, making liver health a major concern for people coinfected with HIV and hepatitis. Fortunately, there are some steps you can take to keep your liver healthy. This guide from Project Inform offers advice on how you can protect your liver if you're living with HIV. (Web highlight from Project Inform)



    How Will the Next U.S. President Change HIV Policy? A Look at the Candidates
    Curious what U.S. HIV policy would look like if Hillary Clinton, Mike Huckabee, John McCain or Barack Obama were to win the presidential election this November? Read these summaries for a taste of what each candidate has said about how the U.S. government should deal with HIV in the United States and abroad. (Web highlight from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation)

    For much more on HIV-specific issues in the 2008 U.S. presidential election, visit our Election 2008 page and stop in at

    Four Years Old -- And Reporting on HIV
    Two summers ago, a pair of journalists walked into a major HIV conference in Toronto and started asking questions: How do people get HIV? How does HIV kill people? Basic stuff -- but remarkable because of who the journalists were: Vineeta Hennessey, age 6, and her sister Sevilla, age 4. Trailed by their video camera-toting parents, the sisters peppered activists and top researchers with a range of questions about sex and HIV -- and then sat back and watched as adults tried to figure out how to respond. (Web highlight from the New York Times)

    Want to watch the Hennessey sisters' documentary? You can watch the 26-minute film online or download the DVD, all free of charge.

    If you'd like to take a closer look at some of the people and places the sisters visited at the conference, check out's photojournal from the XVI International AIDS Conference.

    HIV Meds Mean Ever-Greater Profits for Drug Companies
    HIV drug companies are seeing more green than ever as HIV-positive people live longer and longer lives. After all, better HIV treatment means fewer HIV-related deaths -- and with HIV rates holding steady (or, in some cases, increasing) in the United States, that means an ever-growing number of HIVers on treatment. When you combine that with huge price tags and treatment guidelines that recommend starting HIV treatment earlier than ever before, it's no wonder that drug companies are making more off of HIV meds than they ever have before, or that the market for HIV meds is expected to nearly double over the next seven years.



    From Prevention to Treatment, an HIV Doctor Discusses the Most Noteworthy New Developments in HIV
    Major HIV conferences aren't just about the research: They also give some of the world's top HIV doctors a chance to step back and think about the best way to provide treatment and care to HIV-positive people. As the huge CROI 2008 conference drew to a close in early February, we sat down with one of these top docs, Dr. Keith Henry, to get his take. What did he think were some of the highlights of the conference? Read this interview for one respected physician's perspective.

    For many more interviews and study summaries from CROI 2008, be sure to visit The Body PRO's CROI 2008 home page. More coverage is being added daily!

    Viral Load Down, CD4 Count ... Also Down? New Study Warns About "Discordant" Labs
    If you're on your first HIV treatment regimen and your viral load is undetectable but your CD4 count has barely budged, should you think about switching meds? What if your CD4 count is going up, but your viral load is still detectable? A new study out of Alabama suggests that these so-called "discordant" lab results may be a warning sign. The 404-person study found that people who have discordant labs three to nine months after starting HIV treatment appear more likely to experience HIV disease progression than people who have the typical response to HIV meds, in which a person's CD4 count goes up more than 50 and their viral load drops to undetectable. (Web highlight from

    Single-Pill, Twice-Daily Prezista Approved in U.S.
    Taking Prezista (darunavir, TMC114) is about to get a little easier: The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved a new dose of Prezista that will allow people to take one pill twice a day rather than two pills twice a day. The new 600-mg Prezista tablets should be available in mid-May, and will be offered in addition to the existing 300 mg tablets.

    Early Signs Suggest Possible Role for Growth Hormone as Immune-Based HIV Therapy
    Growth hormone injections may help strengthen the immune systems of HIV-positive people already taking HIV medications, according to the results of a very small proof-of-concept study in the United States. It's far too early to know whether growth hormone truly holds potential as a form of HIV treatment, particularly because it's known to cause a host of uncomfortable side effects unless taken in extremely small doses. However, this pilot study did find that human growth hormone injections caused the body to increase its production of CD4 cells.

    Intelence: A Bite-Sized Explanation
    Want a quick, down-to-earth explanation on Intelence (etravirine, TMC125), the first new NNRTI approved in close to a decade? Take a look at this fact sheet from AIDS InfoNet, which covers who should take it, drug interactions to avoid and side effects to watch out for.

    If you want to learn more about Intelence, click here for a range of articles on the newest NNRTI, including an interview with Dr. Cal Cohen about the approval of Intelence.



    It's Not Too Early to Start Thinking About Summer Camp
    It's still winter in the United States, but application deadlines will soon arrive at summer camps for HIV-positive and HIV-affected children. Are you a parent or caretaker of a child who might enjoy staying at one of these camps? Take a look at our nationwide listing to learn about camps throughout the country. Many are completely free, and will also do everything they can to help arrange transportation.



    Early Study Results Suggest Microbicide May Work Rectally
    Microbicide development has mostly focused on providing women who have vaginal sex with an HIV prevention method that they can completely control. But what about gay men -- or women who have anal sex? Early results of a small study testing a microbicide gel in men and women suggest that microbicides may at least be safe to use rectally. However, although there are tantalizing signs of promise, it's not yet known whether the gel used in the study actually protected against rectal HIV transmission. (Web highlight from

    Also Worth Noting

    Breaking Research
    Top Researchers Dish the
    Latest Developments From CROI 2008

    Photo Collage of Researchers at CROI 2008

    We continue to add to our in-depth coverage of CROI 2008, one of the most important HIV medical conferences of the year. Read or listen as some of the world's top HIV clinicians summarize highlights from the conference. We've also got dozens of one-on-one interviews with some of the scientists at the forefront of HIV research. It's a treasure trove of information for the savvy reader looking to stay up to date on the latest developments in HIV medicine -- and it's all available at The Body PRO,'s sister site for health care professionals.

    Connect With Others
    t The Body's Bulletin Boards

    What If I Infect My Partner?
    (A recent post from the
    "I Just Tested Positive" board)

    "I was just diagnosed. Iím very healthy and active, but emotionally I am not doing too well. ... Itís hard, since I am facing my mortality. My partner is still negative and he is giving me support, but now I am afraid to infect him. I'm really having a hard time with this."

    -- alvamay36

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

    The Hope and Despair of Coping
    (A recent post from the
    "I Just Tested Positive" board)

    "I want to have sex, but I don't want to be around anyone; I feel kind of tricked and bitter. ... I feel hypersensitive to everything, and ... lots and lots of emotions. I am taking clonopin to help the panic, but the loneliness I know, and it's familiar to me anyway. I wonder if I'll ever feel unbridled joy again, where I can run into a sunny field and feel like nature is my friend. I feel like I'm hiding in a big city. My feelings are so hard to describe because they are so dark and yet so full of longing. I hope this passes in its right time, and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for your support. It reminds me in a most tangible way that I am fighting [along] with other people, nice people I can talk to, and I have a lot of respect for those who went before me because they suffered a lot. So what if all my hopes don't materialize? That's life."

    -- doglove

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

    Visual AIDS
    Art From HIV-Positive Artists

    Image from the February 2008 Visual AIDS Web Gallery
    "Pillar of Smoke," 1986; Jonathan Leiter
    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.