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April 9, 2008

In This Update
  • Presents: Video Central
  • Living With HIV
  • HIV Treatment & Complications
  • HIV in the News
  • HIV Around the World

    Video CentralMeet HIVers and Activists Face-to-Face at Video Central is thrilled to bring you a new way to meet the people who live on the front lines of the HIV pandemic: Video Central. Now, in addition to our large collections of first-person articles and one-on-one podcast interviews, we'll be offering face-to-face video interviews with HIV-positive people, activists, health care professionals and others who are making a difference in the fight against HIV.

    For Video Central's maiden voyage, we've partnered with The Positive Project, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping people with HIV share their stories. Each month, you'll meet a new group of four HIV-positive people from the United States and listen to them talk about issues ranging from disclosure to treatment adherence. Visit our new Video Central home page to meet this month's featured HIVers!



    Terri WilderCoping With a Friend's Diagnosis -- and a Race-Blind Virus
    "I am sick of seeing posters that associate this disease with one race. Are we not all at risk for this disease?" writes an enraged Terri Wilder in her monthly blog at A friend of Terri's has just been diagnosed with advanced HIV: She's a white, heterosexual woman who never imagined she could be at risk, and who was never urged to get tested -- or told that the lambskin condoms she's always used provided no protection against HIV. "No one ever targets my community (read: white, straight, female)," Terri fumes. "I think we are doing a disservice to everyone by constructing posters that represent/target one race."

    Hidden Casualties of the War on HIV: Doctors Who Lost Their Way
    During the deadliest years of the HIV epidemic in the United States, Dr. Ramon Torres was one of the HIV community's fiercest warriors. A highly regarded, prominent physician, Dr. Torres has been credited with saving the lives of thousands of HIV-positive people in an era when an HIV diagnosis was equated with a death sentence. But then, combination HIV treatment came -- and as that miracle arrived, Dr. Torres began to lose his way. In this striking, in-depth profile, the magazine New York takes a closer look at the rise and fall of Dr. Torres, and shines a light on an aspect of the changing epidemic that goes largely unnoticed: What happens to an army of doctors who had spent their careers fighting an urgent war against a ruthless enemy, only to find that enemy suddenly tamed. (Article from New York Magazine)

    HIVers Fight for Better Care in Mississippi
    The United States is often criticized for not doing enough to help HIV-positive people inside its borders. This may be especially true in Mississippi, where HIV stigma is still rampant and health care for people with HIV is often inadequate. But HIVers are organizing to fight back: In fact, 75 people recently gathered at a summit designed to empower people with HIV in Mississippi to get informed and take action.



    Could Stem Cell Treatment Become a Cure for HIV?
    While the United States continues to debate the ethics of stem cell research, scientists are trying to find ways to use stem cells to cure some of humanity's most insidious diseases. Cancer and Alzheimer's disease tend to grab the most headlines in the discussion of stem cell research, but HIV is on the radar, too. In fact, researchers recently reported on an experiment in which they gave an HIV-positive man a stem cell transplant from a donor whose stem cells were missing a key receptor that HIV uses to attach to CD4 cells. The treatment appeared to work: Six months after the transplant, the man's viral load was undetectable -- even though he had stopped taking HIV medications when the transplant took place.

    Researchers Find Possible Explanation for Greater Heart Attack Risk on Protease Inhibitors
    Some protease inhibitors may increase blood levels of a protein that has been tied to heart disease, U.S. researchers have found. The findings could explain why protease inhibitors have been associated with a small increase in heart attack risk for people with HIV -- a risk that's only notable for people who already have other risk factors for a heart attack, such as cigarette smoking and high blood pressure. The study found that some protease inhibitors appeared to increase levels of fibrinogen, a protein that, at above-normal levels, may help cause hardening of the arteries. By comparison, no link was found between NNRTI use and fibrinogen levels. (Study summary from

    Ziagen Is Still OK for First-Line Treatment, Says U.S. HIV Treatment Guidelines Panel
    There's no need to abandon Ziagen (abacavir) just yet, says the panel of experts that issues U.S. HIV treatment guidelines. Two recent studies have raised some questions about the use of Ziagen: One study found that the drug may increase heart attack risk, and the other noted that Ziagen was less effective than Viread (tenofovir) in people who start treatment with a viral load above 100,000. Despite these findings, the expert panel says that Epzicom (abacavir/lamivudine, Kivexa), which contains Ziagen, should remain a recommended drug for first-line treatment. The panel said it would continue to monitor research on Ziagen.

    For more information on the study linking Ziagen to heart attack risk, read this summary from HIV i-Base or our interview with researcher Jens Lundgren, M.D. For more on the Ziagen vs. Viread study, read this news release from the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

    Hep B Doesn't Impact HIV Treatment, Study Finds
    HIV treatment can work just as well in people who are coinfected with HIV and hepatitis B as it does in people who have HIV alone, according to a large Danish study. However, although HIV meds were still able to do their job lowering viral load and raising CD4 count, the researchers noted that people coinfected with HIV and hep B were at a somewhat higher risk for death than people with HIV alone. The study researchers hope their findings can help address the debate over whether hep B coinfection hurts the effectiveness of HIV medications. (Study abstract from HIV Medicine)



    New Report on U.S. HIV Infection Rates Triggers Confusion
    A storm of controversy -- and a great deal of confusion -- greeted a new official report on the state of the HIV epidemic in the United States. The report, which is issued periodically by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, appeared to show a sharp increase in the number of newly diagnosed HIVers. But upon closer examination, the increase was an illusion: Numbers only went up because seven states were added to the report for the first time. In this article, Housing Works explains what's up with the new HIV infection numbers.

    U.S. ADAP Waiting Lists Have All but Vanished, Report Finds
    Last month, just five people throughout the United States were on a waiting list to receive HIV medications through a U.S. AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP). That's a dramatic improvement from a year ago, when 571 people in four states were on ADAP waiting lists. More funding from states and changes to the Ryan White Program have almost eliminated the backlog of applicants waiting for help in obtaining HIV-related medications and insurance. Today, the $1.4 billion program is bigger than it's ever been, providing free medications to 146,000 people with HIV. However, an expert on HIV policy warns there are threats on the horizon due to changes in federal funding and the worsening economy.

    To find out if you qualify for ADAP, find the phone number for your state's program and give it a call.



    Stop HIV ... And Save a Tree?
    Who'd have thought that you could help save the Amazon rain forest and prevent HIV at the same time? It might sound odd, but thatís exactly what the Brazilian government plans to do: By tapping into the rubber from trees in the Amazon jungle, a new government factory is expected to produce about 100 million condoms annually -- and the income made by the factory will reduce Brazil's need to destroy its rain forest, environmentalists say. They will be the only condoms in the world made of latex from a tropical forest, according to the Brazilian government.

    HIV-Positive Canadian Man Gets 18-Year Sentence for Sexual Assault
    An HIV-positive Canadian man convicted of aggravated sexual assault was sentenced to 18 years in prison last week. Though he learned he was HIV positive in 1997, Carl Leone had sex with 15 women without revealing his HIV status, and apparently infected five of them. In written statements, the women recounted being pressured or forced into having unprotected sex with Leone: One of the women said he would remove his condom during sex though she asked him not to. Another described blacking out and later discovering that he had anal sex with her while she was unconscious. Leone pleaded guilty to the charges. (Article from The Globe and Mail)

    Injection Drug Use in Canadian Prisons a "Recipe for Disaster," Researcher Says
    Many injection drug users continue to do drugs while behind bars -- and they often use dirty needles to do so, which puts them at risk for HIV, two Canadian studies recently reported. Dr. Evan Wood, a principal researcher for the two studies, says that needle sharing in Canadian prisons is a "recipe for disaster" that puts both inmates and the larger community at risk. He called for prisons to provide clean needles to drug-using inmates, but officials are resistant to the idea.

    Also Worth Noting

    Take a Cruise
    Enjoy Sun and Sea With Other HIVers

    Cruise Image
    Want to enjoy the sun-soaked company of other HIV-positive folks in a supportive, educational and fun environment? Every fall, scores of HIVers turn out for the Poz Cruise Retreat, a weeklong cruise that features excursions at Caribbean ports, cocktail parties and expert speakers on HIV. The cruise is divided into two groups -- one for gay men and another for straight people -- although there are some joint activities as well. This year's cruise begins on Oct. 26 in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. Prices begin at $734 per person for the full weeklong cruise; a portion of each year's proceeds are donated to HIV organizations. Last year's cruise sold out in June, so if you're interested, you may want to book early.

    You can read more information on the Poz Cruise Retreat by visiting the official Web site of the cruise for gay men or the cruise for straight folks.

    Visual AIDS
    Art From HIV-Positive Artists

    Image from the April 2008 Visual AIDS Web Gallery
    "Gulliver Awake," 1994-1995; Frank Moore
    Visit the newly launched April 2008 Visual AIDS Web Gallery to view our latest collection of art by HIV-positive artists! This month's gallery, entitled "Red, White & Blue," is curated by Max-Carlos Martinez and Edward Winkleman of the Winkleman Gallery in New York City.

    Connect With Others
    t The Body's Bulletin Boards

    My Partner Was Just Diagnosed; How Do I Adjust?
    (A recent post from the
    "My Loved One Has HIV/AIDS" board)

    "My partner and I have had three rough years, and things culminated two weeks ago with his diagnosis of AIDS. His low T-cell count and viral load, mixed with his peripheral arterial disease, has found him in the hospital for the last week. ... Strangely, I'm not a sobbing mess. But I need some pointers because I recently got my results, and I am negative. I'm not sure I'm ready for this. Does anyone have any ... ideas on how to make sure the future is comfortable and healthy for the both of us?"

    -- evenstephen

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