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March 17, 2008
In This Hot Topics:
  • Living With HIV
  • HIV Treatment
  • Complications of HIV & HIV Meds
  • Understanding Your Labs
  • Strange but True
  •  LIVING WITH HIV

    How Can Pos-Pos Couples Decide What's Safe in the Bedroom?
    I know that safer sex is essential in pos-pos couples, but I'm having a hard time judging how cautious my partner and I need to be. Other than wearing condoms, what precautions should we be taking? For instance, can we have unprotected oral sex?


    My CD4 Is Up and I've Beaten Lymphoma: Do I Still Have AIDS?
    Twelve months ago, I was diagnosed with AIDS because I had developed non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and had a CD4 count of 40. Now I'm on HIV meds, my CD4 count is 274, my viral load is low and I've beaten the cancer. Do I still technically have AIDS, or am I just plain old "HIV positive"?
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      HIV TREATMENT

    How Many Missed Doses is Too Many?
    I started taking Atripla (efavirenz/tenofovir/FTC) about a year ago. In that time, I've missed two doses and took one dose seven hours late. My doctor and her assistant don't seem to be concerned by this, but I am. How many missed doses of Atripla would put me at risk for developing drug resistance?


    Can I Have Drug Resistance if I've Never Been on Meds?
    I was just diagnosed with HIV, although I think I was infected in 1993. I've never taken HIV meds, but could I have developed HIV drug resistance simply by waiting so long to get treated?


    Just Diagnosed Two Years Ago; Why Should I Start HIV Meds So Soon?
    My doctor wants me to start HIV meds, but I'm reluctant. My viral load is 50,000 and my CD4 count is 285. I thought, statistically, that I was supposed to be fine without meds for eight or nine years, but I was diagnosed with HIV only two years ago. What gives?


    Should I Switch From Fuzeon to Isentress?
    My doctor wants me to switch from Fuzeon (enfuvirtide, T-20) to Isentress (raltegravir, MK-0518). He's worried about the injection site reactions and loss of fat that I've been experiencing while on Fuzeon. However, I'm more worried about possibly developing resistance to Fuzeon if I stop taking it, not to mention the impact any new drug could have on my liver. Are my fears warranted?


    If I Have NNRTI Resistance, Can I Still Take Intelence?
    I've been having gastrointestinal problems, I have high triglycerides and I want to reduce both the number of pills I take and my health insurance co-pay. So, I'm planning to get rid of the protease inhibitors in my current regimen, and replace them with the new NNRTI Intelence (etravirine, TMC125). However, I have drug resistance to the older NNRTIs. Does this switch still sound like a good plan?


    What's on the Horizon for HIVers With Extensive Drug Resistance?
    Since testing positive in 1989, I've been through all the available HIV meds and have developed resistance to practically everything. I just started another new regimen, and though I'm optimistic about the short term, drug resistance always becomes a problem for me eventually. Can I expect any other treatment options to come out in the next few years?
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     COMPLICATIONS OF HIV & HIV MEDS

    Kidney Side-Effect Concerns for African Americans
    I've been successfully taking Epzicom (abacavir/3TC, Kivexa) + Kaletra (lopinavir/ritonavir) for two years. However, as an African American, I'm more susceptible to kidney problems than other HIVers. Should I be concerned about the heart and kidney safety of this regimen?


    Ziagen and Heart Attacks
    I'm taking a regimen that includes Ziagen (abacavir), and my CD4 count is over 600. However, I'm concerned about the heart attack risks associated with Ziagen. Is my regimen safe? Should I consider stopping treatment?


    Can HIV Cause Skin Infections?
    I've been HIV positive for three years, but I've never taken meds. I've been to the doctor three times for boils on my rectum, ankle and neck. Is HIV making me more prone to these skin infections?


    HIV and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
    My CD4 count is high and my viral load is undetectable, but I have chronic fatigue syndrome as well as constant chills. Is this common in people with HIV?


    Is Sustiva Messing With My Mind?
    I'm doing very well on Sustiva (efavirenz, Stocrin), and have figured out a way to fix some memory and vision problems I experienced when I first started taking the drug. But I'm still feeling sluggish and unproductive in the morning. Is Sustiva the culprit for this as well? How can I find out for sure?
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     UNDERSTANDING YOUR LABS

    Are My Lab Numbers Normal for a Recently Infected HIVer?
    I was infected with HIV about a month ago, and I'm very confused about what my lab results mean. Can you help me make sense of all these numbers?


    CD4 Count vs. CD4 Percentage
    Seven months ago, my CD4 count was 209 and my CD4 percentage was 14%. Now my CD4 count is 267 and my CD4 percentage is 17%. Is that good progress? What's the difference between CD4 count and CD4 percentage, anyway?
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     STRANGE BUT TRUE

    Can a "Human Toilet" Get HIV?
    I asked a dominatrix to treat me as her "human toilet." Could I have gotten HIV if there was blood in her urine, or there were pimples on the part of my chest where she defecated?
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    Visual AIDS
    Art From HIV-Positive Artists

    Stop in and browse the full collection!
    "Stepping Stones," 1999; Donna Haggerty
    Visit the 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.