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March 5, 2008

In This Update
  • HIV Treatment & Complications
  • HIV Transmission & Testing
  • HIV in the U.S. News
  • HIV Outside the United States

    Joel Gallant, M.D.The Latest HIV Research Explained -- In Terms We All Can Understand
    Sick of reading conference research recaps that are clearly meant for doctors rather than the rest of us? We've got the cure: An easy-to-read summary of the biggest developments from CROI 2008, a major HIV conference that took place in February. At the end of the conference, we spoke with Joel Gallant, M.D., one of the most respected HIV physicians in the United States, and got his down-to-earth take on the most important news for HIV-positive people.

    Comfortable with reading more in-depth research summaries? Check out our full coverage of CROI 2008 at The Body PRO for dozens of interviews and analyses on some of the most critical studies presented at the conference.

    Major Study Questions Use of Epzicom as First-Line Therapy in People With High Viral Load
    New study findings suggest that Epzicom (abacavir/3TC, Kivexa) may not be the best choice for people who start treatment with a viral load above 100,000. A major, ongoing clinical trial has taken the unusual step of "unblinding" the study -- telling everybody exactly what meds they've been given, and giving them a chance to switch -- because people with a high viral load who took Epzicom were less likely to respond well to treatment, and were more likely to experience side effects, than people receiving Truvada (tenofovir/FTC). However, it's worth noting that none of these differences were seen in people who started treatment with a viral load below 100,000, and that this marks the first time a study on Epzicom has found these kinds of results.

    Researchers Warn of Drug Interaction Between Kaletra and Crestor
    Add Crestor to the long list of cholesterol-lowering drugs that may not be safe to take with Kaletra (lopinavir/ritonavir). A recent study found that Kaletra may dramatically increase the levels of Crestor (known generically as rosuvastatin) in a person's blood, which could cause more side effects. Kaletra -- just like other protease inhibitors -- is already known to have a potentially dangerous effect on blood levels of some other statins, including Lipitor and Zocor. (Study abstract from JAIDS)

    What Is Antiretroviral Therapy All About?
    Are you considering starting HIV medications? Ever wish someone would just explain what antiretrovirals are and how they work? This recently updated fact sheet from AIDS InfoNet does just that, offering a simple guide to HIV medications by type, and describing how each family of meds works against the virus. The guide also includes information about when to start treatment and suggestions for how to choose a regimen.

    A Guide to Bone Health for People With HIV
    Osteopenia? Osteoporosis? What are they and why do HIV-positive people need to know? These questions and others are answered in Project Inform's new guide to bone health and HIV. Although HIVers are at greater risk for thinning or brittle bones than the general population, there are steps you can take to improve your bone health. This guide describes different types of bone problems and their prevention, diagnosis and treatment.

    A recent study found that people who are white and those with a low CD4 count when they start treatment may be more likely to lose bone mass while taking HIV medications. Click here to read or listen to an interview with one of the researchers involved in the study.

    U.S. Releases Revised HIV Treatment Guidelines for Children
    What's the latest wisdom on the best strategies for treating HIV-positive children? The U.S. health department recently revised its HIV treatment guidelines for babies and children. The guidelines are made for HIV health care professionals, but any savvy person can use it as a reference when considering HIV treatment issues for HIV-positive kids.



    Jim PickettRectal Microbicides Need More Funding and Attention, Advocates Say
    Why has virtually all of the focus on microbicide development been on the vagina? "Unprotected anal intercourse is a driver in the AIDS epidemic among both men and women around the world," says Jim Pickett, chair of International Rectal Microbicide Advocates (IRMA). "Unfortunately, this fact is obscured by debilitating silence and stigma." To change this trend, IRMA released a report last week calling for a five-fold increase in funding for rectal microbicide research. The report lays out IRMA's plan to advance the development of rectal microbicides without slowing down the development of vaginal microbicides. (Web highlight from International Rectal Microbicide Advocates)

    Click here to download a PDF of the full report, Less Silence, More Science: Advocacy to Make Rectal Microbicides a Reality.

    Want to become an advocate for rectal microbicides? Click here to learn how you can get involved with International Rectal Microbicide Advocates.

    N.Y.'s Name-Based HIV Reporting Does Not Deter Testing, Research Shows
    For years now, there's been a debate among some HIV advocates as to whether it's a good idea for the U.S. federal government to use a system called "name-based reporting" for HIV. Aimed at making HIV statistics more accurate, the system mandates that states compile a confidential list of the names of people who test positive for HIV. In New York, the law also requires that doctors report the names of the partners of anyone who tests positive. Critics have warned that this sort of reporting system might reduce HIV testing rates by scaring away people concerned about their privacy. But a new study out of New York has found that most people were unaware of the law, even though it's been in place since 2000. Even when they knew about the law, few were concerned enough about it to avoid HIV testing, the study found.

    Want to learn more about HIV testing and reporting policy in New York? Check out this list of answers to frequently asked questions compiled by the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

    HIV Risk Increases for Mexican Migrants After They Arrive in U.S.
    Add HIV to the long list of harsh realities of life for workers who migrate from Mexico to the United States. In search of a better life for themselves and their families, many migrant workers end up in desperate situations -- so desperate that, although in the morning they may line up outside a Home Depot looking for a manual labor job, by the evening they may find themselves hired out for male sex work. In this interview, Melissa Sanchez explains the distressing findings of her recent research on HIV risk factors among Mexicans who migrate to the United States.



    California County Opposes Ban on Blood Donations by Men Who Have Sex With Men
    The government of Santa Clara County, Calif., is publicly opposing a long-standing U.S. Food and Drug Administration rule that prevents all men who have sex with men (MSM) from donating blood. The vote by the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors is symbolic, but supervisors say they may ban blood drives on county property. If they do so, they'd be following a new trend: The president of San Jose State University recently halted blood drives on campus, arguing that they violated the school's anti-discrimination rules.

    For much more on issues related to blood donation and HIV, browse our collection of overviews and news articles.

    HIV, Gay Rights Groups Receive Major Bequest From Microsoft Millionaire
    Project Inform and amfAR, two U.S. HIV organizations devoted to research, education and public policy, will share part of a $65 million bequest from one wealthy donor to 11 different gay rights and HIV organizations. Ric Weiland, who committed suicide in 2006 and was the first openly gay employee of Microsoft, left a total of $160 million to a range of charities devoted to environmental protection, education, gay rights and fighting HIV. (Web highlight from Washington Blade)



    Several Australian States May See Dramatic Rise in HIV Among MSM, Report Finds
    The Australian state of Victoria may see a 74 percent increase in new cases of HIV among men who have sex with men (MSM) by the year 2015, according to a new report from the country's National Centre in HIV Epidemiology and Clinical Research. The lead author of the report cited complacency about HIV -- which is widely viewed as a chronic, but manageable disease -- as a cause of the recent increase. In addition, a third of new cases involved transmission by men who were not aware of their HIV-positive status.

    Four British Bareback Porn Stars Diagnosed With HIV
    Four of eight British men who had unprotected sex for gay pornography DVDs were diagnosed with HIV soon after the movies were shot. The news, along with separate reports about a 16-year-old British boy who had unprotected sex in a gay porn film, has led to fresh outcry over pornography that shows men having anal sex without condoms. "I just don't want another 18-year-old model crying on my shoulder, not sure how to tell his partner or his parents that he is now HIV positive," said adult film director Steven Brewer, the leading opponent of bareback porn in Britain. (Web highlight from BBC Newsnight)

    HIV Cases Up 21% in Ireland in the First Half of 2007
    The number of new HIV diagnoses in Ireland surged in the first half of 2007, increasing by 21 percent over the year before, Irish health officials recently reported. Immigrants made up a large number of those new diagnoses; of people whose nationality was identified, fewer than half were born in Ireland, and people born in sub-Saharan Africa made up 42 percent of new cases. Heterosexual sex was the leading risk factor identified in the report.

    Despite Free Care, Many Canadian HIVers Die Without Getting HIV Meds, Study Finds
    HIV treatment is free for all Canadians. So why did a recent study find that about 40 percent of the 1,436 people who died from HIV-related illnesses in British Columbia from 1997 to 2005 never received HIV medications? According to prominent Canadian HIV researcher Julio Montaner, the author of the study, many people with HIV may not seek treatment because they are struggling with more immediate problems, such as mental illness, homelessness, drug addiction and extreme poverty. He also warned that the actual number of HIV-positive people dying without ever receiving treatment could be much higher, since an estimated one out of every four HIV-positive Canadians don't even know their status.

    Also Worth Noting

    Profiles in Courage
    Inspiring Stories From HIV-Positive African Americans

    George Burgess
    How do you survive 27 years of active heroin addiction? George Burgess has been through it all and survived with a fighting, optimistic spirit. "I look at AIDS as an acronym: Always In Divine Service; Always In Divine Space," Burgess says. "I like being of service." George has been of service since his HIV diagnosis in April 1995.

    A father of four, George celebrates 12 years in recovery this year. For years he volunteered for Atlanta's AIDS Survival Project, before being hired as an HIV/AIDS treatment educator in 2001. He manages the largest HIV treatment resource center in the southeastern United States. He has been publicly speaking on HIV/AIDS nationally and locally for many years. And he has an incredible story to tell.

    The Body is honored to present this one-on-one interview with George. It's just one of many profiles in courage in our updated African-American HIV/AIDS Resource Center. Stop in and browse through interviews, personal perspectives, podcasts, resource listings and more!

    Visual AIDS
    Art From HIV-Positive Artists

    Image from the March 2008 Visual AIDS Web Gallery
    "Atlas," 2004; Elliott Linwood
    Visit the brand-new March 2008 Visual AIDS Web Gallery to view our latest collection of art by HIV-positive artists! This month's gallery, entitled "The Sublime Order," is curated by Letha Wilson.

    Connect With Others
    t The Body's Bulletin Boards

    Married With Children -- And Just Diagnosed
    (A recent post from the
    "Women" board)

    "I'm curious to know if any of you are married, or have ever been married, and have children. What happened when you told your husband about being positive. Did he stay? Did he test positive later? I'm so stressed out and I'm just trying to find some even footing. ... I can't eat, I can't sleep, it's always running through my mind each and every day. How long will I live? What happens to my daughter? Will my husband try to hurt me once [my status has been] confirmed? If I am in fact HIV positive, I'm 99% sure it wasn't my husband, but I know who it was. ... I can't even enjoy my life right now and the emotional pain is manifesting into the physical. Any input you ladies have would be greatly appreciated."

    -- Anxious222

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

    Any Other Women Diagnosed at 23?
    (A recent post from the
    "Women" board)

    "I am a 23-year-old girl from Belgium, and I'm trying to get in touch with other girls/women of more or less the same age as me, or who got infected at the same age. I'm infected since June last year, but got the diagnosis at the beginning of this year (not a very happy New Year!). ... I'd like to know how other girls are coping with this news, and how you managed to pick up your normal life, more or less."

    -- Noa

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