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March 20, 2008

In This Update
  • HIV Treatment & Complications
  • Living With HIV
  • HIV & U.S. Law/Policy
  • Making a Difference
  • HIV/STD Transmission
  • HIV Throughout the World

    What We've Learned About Body Fat Changes in HIVers
    It's been about 10 years since researchers first reported that there was an apparent link between HIV/HIV meds and body fat changes. The exact causes of these changes remain unclear, but we've learned a lot about how to prevent, and even surgically fix, some of the body shape changes people with HIV can experience. In this article, HIV treatment advocate Nelson Vergel provides a thorough, practical summary of what we've learned in the last decade about fat loss in the face, butt, arms and legs, as well as fat gain in the neck, belly and upper body.

    For an additional wealth of info about body shape changes in people with HIV, read's collection of articles.

    HIV and Peripheral Neuropathy: Prevention and Treatment Questions Answered
    One out of every three HIV-positive people knows first-hand what peripheral neuropathy is. Peripheral neuropathy, a condition that causes tingling or pain in the hands, feet, arms and legs, can be caused by HIV or certain HIV medications. Fortunately, if you currently have neuropathy, there are steps you can take to ease the pain. This guide from Project Inform explains.

    Virus On, Virus Off: Researchers Discover a Genetic "Switch" for HIV
    We've often wished we could just "turn off" HIV. But could it actually be possible? U.S. researchers believe they've found a genetic circuit in HIV that controls whether the virus is in an active or dormant state -- and that they may be able to manipulate that circuit to reduce HIV's lifespan. The scientists plan further research to see whether the finding could potentially lead to a new form of HIV treatment.



    Guide to a Positive Pregnancy
    Are you HIV positive and thinking about getting pregnant? You may have a lot of questions: How can you minimize the risk of passing HIV to your baby? What kind of treatment can you take while you're pregnant? Is a Cesarean section always better than a vaginal delivery? This guide from AIDS Community Research Initiative of America has answers to these questions and more.

    Visit The Body's HIV and pregnancy page for additional information and resources.

    26 Miles on Foot: Just Another Day for an HIV-Positive Marathoner
    Jamie Simpson is 41 and HIV positive. On April 21, he'll also run the Boston Marathon -- for the second time. He's a shining example of how an HIV diagnosis doesn't have to impact a physically active lifestyle. But he's not just running for himself: This year, Simpson is doing the marathon on behalf of the Boston Living Center, a nonprofit HIV service organization. In fact, 17 people (not all of whom have HIV) are running the Boston Marathon to raise money for the Living Center, which is a new official charity of the marathon. (Web highlight from Bay Windows)

    Of course, Jamie certainly isn't the only HIV-positive person running marathons. For instance, outspoken HIV activist Jim Pickett has run the Chicago Marathon more than once. He completed his first marathon in 2004; before the run, he wrote this entertaining column.



    South Dakota Says HIV Exposure Is a Sex Offense; Convicted People Must Register Publicly
    People in South Dakota who "intentionally" expose others to HIV will now have to publicly register as sex offenders, according to a new state law. The law has added "intentional exposure to HIV" to South Dakota's official list of sex crimes, which means that a South Dakotan convicted of the crime will be included in an online database that provides the person's picture and address. In the last few years, two people in South Dakota have been convicted of intentionally exposing others to HIV, a crime punishable by up to 15 years in prison.

    Before the bill was approved, a pair of employees at Human Rights Watch appealed for South Dakota lawmakers to reject the proposed law and decriminalize sexual exposure to HIV. In this opinion article, they warn that the law might hurt HIV prevention efforts, could actually discriminate against unempowered women and would only further stigmatize HIV in the state.

    U.S. Senate Committee Approves Huge Increase for Global AIDS Relief
    The U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee has approved a bill that would provide the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) with $50 billion over the next five years, a massive funding increase over the original budget of $15 billion, not to mention President Bush's recent proposal of $30 billion. Like the version already approved by the House of Representatives, the Senate bill would end a controversial rule that required countries receiving PEPFAR money to spend at least a third of the funds on abstinence-only programs. However, a provision requiring all recipients to pledge that they oppose commercial sex work remains in both versions.

    U.S. Senate Bill Would End U.S. HIV Travel Ban
    In addition to designating billions in new funding to fight the global HIV/AIDS pandemic, an amendment to the U.S. Senate bill renewing the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief would end a 15-year-old rule restricting travel to the U.S. by HIV-positive people. Senator John Kerry, the author of the amendment, calls ending the travel ban "a reform that is long needed." But it's no sure thing: The House version of the bill doesn't mention immigration (it's being debated as a separate piece of legislation), so the two houses of Congress will have to duke it out before deciding what the final bill will say. (Web highlight from Associated Press)

    For more information on the proposed reversal of the U.S. HIV travel ban, read this article from the Bay Area Reporter.



    Get Involved This Summer: Join the Youth Action Institute
    If you're between the ages of 16 and 26 and you live in the United States, consider applying for the Youth Action Institute! Every summer, youth activists from around the country gather for the institute (sponsored by the Campaign to End AIDS), where they network with their peers and receive training from experienced HIV activists on grassroots organizing, lobbying and direct action. March 22 marks the application deadline for this year's summer program, which takes place from June 25 to 29. (The program will accept late applications, however.)



    Native-American Communities Celebrate National Native HIV Awareness Day
    From a "knowing day" of HIV testing in Phoenix, Ariz. to an HIV/AIDS walk/run in Fort Bellknap, Mont., Native-American communities across the United States are planning scores of events to commemorate National Native HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NNHAAD) this Thursday, March 20. The day is meant to call attention to the need for more HIV awareness and greater efforts to fight HIV among the U.S. Native-American population, which ranks third in the nation in HIV rates after African Americans and Hispanics.

    Click here to view an interactive, countrywide map of National Native HIV/AIDS Awareness Day events so you can find one in your area!

    For more information on how you can participate in effort to help fight HIV among Native Americans, click here.

    You can also browse's index of coverage on HIV in Native communities by visiting this page and clicking the "AIDS in the Native American Community" link.

    Many STDs Among U.S. Gay Men Go Undetected, Health Officials Say
    Whether you're HIV positive or negative, regular screening for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) is critical. However, many STDs go undetected among gay men because they don't get tested at least once per year, U.S. health officials say. And even when gay men do seek out testing, officials add, health care providers often fail to give them all the tests they need, due to a lack of adequate staff and funding at public STD clinics, as well as the federal government's slowness in approving more effective testing methods.

    California Campaign Against Meth Abuse Includes First-Person Web Videos
    "There is life after tina, guys," former meth addict Tom assures viewers. He's speaking in a video he created for, a Web site launched recently as part of California's new $11 million ad campaign combating rampant abuse of methamphetamine -- also known as "meth," "crystal" or "tina" -- among men who have sex with men. Viewers of can add their own first-person stories to the collection of videos already growing on the site, and find resources throughout California for fighting meth addiction.

    A statewide survey released in conjunction with the ad campaign found that meth use was 11 times more common among California men who have sex with men than among the state's population overall. Meth is thought to play a role in the spread of HIV for two major reasons: It impairs a person's judgment, making them less likely to be safe during sex; and it also gives a person extra energy and enhances sexual arousal.

    For more on the intersection between meth use and HIV, read or listen to this episode of's "This Month in HIV" podcast series.

    Microbicide Research Group Gains Right to Use Experimental Antiretroviral
    The microbicide pipeline is filling up: A nonprofit research group has been given permission to see if it can turn an experimental HIV drug, L'644, into a gel or cream that could help women protect themselves against HIV. The group, the International Partnership for Microbicides (IPM), says that L'644 has great potential as a microbicide because it is a type of drug that blocks HIV early in its life cycle. L'644 will be the sixth drug tested by IPM, according to the group's chief executive.



    Twelve Egyptian Men Arrested and Jailed on Suspicion of Having HIV
    In Egypt, telling a cop you have HIV can be a grave mistake: After one Egyptian man made that error, he and the man he was standing with were both arrested, handcuffed to an iron desk for four days and subjected to rectal exams meant to prove that they had anal intercourse. Twelve other men have recently been detained on suspicion of having HIV, and four men have been sentenced to prison terms for having consensual sex with men. At a recent hearing, prosecutors argued that the defendants shouldn't be allowed to "roam the streets freely" because people with HIV present a "danger to public health." (Web highlight from

    Human Rights Watch has decried Egypt's treatment of people with HIV, saying it violates basic human rights and undermines Egypt's fight against HIV. "Prosecuting people for their HIV serostatus will frighten Egyptians from seeking treatment for HIV/AIDS, or information about prevention," warns Joseph Amon, director of the HIV/AIDS Program at Human Rights Watch.

    Fear of HIV Sets Off Mistreatment of Migrant Workers in Africa
    More than 20 million African men and women are migrant workers, traveling vast distances to earn a living for themselves and their families. However, the raging HIV pandemic across much of the continent has short-circuited the lives of many of those migrant workers and their families. In at least 60 countries worldwide, African migrants are forced to undergo HIV testing, and many countries expel people who test positive. Governments may use these measures because they fear that migrants are fueling the spread of HIV within their borders, but research suggests that African migrants are actually less likely to have HIV than the people who already live in the countries to which they migrate.

    Brazil: One of the World's Great Anti-HIV Successes Faces New Challenges
    Brazil has long been held up as a beacon of hope that developing countries can work miracles in the fight against HIV. The huge South American country has long been hailed for its multifaceted approach to HIV, which includes free, universal HIV treatment and public support for condom use (including free handouts). However, Brazil finds itself at a critical crossroads, as its HIV epidemic spreads out geographically and increasingly impacts women and non-drug users. Can Brazil keep up as its HIV epidemic changes? This analysis examines the issue. (Web highlight from The Economist)

    Also Worth Noting

    Make a Difference
    Tell the U.S. Government Not to Implement a New HIV Housing Law

    A new U.S. law set to go into effect on March 27 would put a 24-month lifetime limit on the amount of time a person can receive emergency and transitional housing benefits through the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program. Advocacy groups, including the Community HIV/AIDS Mobilization Project (CHAMP), have decried this policy change, saying it would force HIV-positive people out onto the street when their benefits suddenly expire.

    Want to take a stand against this law? CHAMP is urging all concerned people to take the following steps to demand the withdrawal of this new rule before it takes effect on March 27:
    1. Call the U.S. Capitol switchboard at (202) 225-3121 to reach your representative and senators.
    2. When you reach your representative's office, ask to speak with the staff person who handles HIV/AIDS or housing issues.
    3. Tell the staff person you would like him/her to contact Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt and urge that the Housing Policy Notice 99-02 Amendment 1 be withdrawn immediately.
    4. E-mail CHAMP to let them know you made a call.
    You can read more about the amendment, including the government's response to negative public comments about it, by reading this Web page in the online Federal Register.

    Visual AIDS
    Art From HIV-Positive Artists

    Image from the March 2008 Visual AIDS Web Gallery
    "Summer Storm -- Brighton Beach, N.Y.," 1998; Luis Carle
    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.

    Connect With Others
    t The Body's Bulletin Boards

    I Fell Off the Meth Wagon; Never Again!
    (A recent post from the
    "Living With HIV" board)

    I recently bought some tina (meth) ... only $40 worth. I had been doing this drug off and on for years but felt I was never as bad as my peers ... as I only put a small amount in my coffee once in a while. ... I stopped using before my [HIV] diagnosis, and it would have been one year clean as of this coming April. I've been thinking about how depressed or bored I was, and I was not motivated to do many of the tasks I need to complete (i.e., housework, home projects ... you get the picture!). So I was thinking about getting some meth to help ease the monotony of these jobs -- and finally, I did. I only did a very small amount for four days in a row and I have to admit, I got a lot done. ...

    Here's my revelation: I felt like the worst crap of crap for at least four days [afterward], and today I'm finally back to myself. ... I guess it had been so long that I "forgot" how shitty [meth] makes you feel when you come off it, no matter how "controlled" you feel your use is. ... It was an eye-opening experience. I'll never do tina again. It's so not worth it, not to mention how bad it is on our health -- HIV or no HIV!"

    -- pozartistsd

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

    How Can I Make a Magnetic Relationship Work?
    (A recent post from the
    "My Loved One Has HIV/AIDS" board)

    My wife and I are in a magnetic relationship: My 5-week-old daughter and I are negative, and my wife is positive. We found out when she became pregnant last year. ... We are living away from our home country and she can't speak the language. I have decided to keep [in a relationship with] her; we never know what tomorrow brings. Am [having] safe sex and always will. I hope to hear from all of you. Thanks!

    -- vasco

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

    Got Questions?
    Ask About CCR5 Inhibitors

    This spring, will interview experts for a special report on CCR5 inhibitors, one of the newest classes of HIV medications. Do you have any questions on your mind that you'd like us to ask? Just send an e-mail to with your questions. We may use yours during our report! (If you'd like, please also tell us your first name and where you live, so we can give credit where it's due if we use your question. We won't give out your e-mail address or any other personal information without your permission.)