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April 16, 2008

In This Update
  • Living With HIV
  • HIV Treatment & Complications
  • HIV in the News
  • HIV Throughout the World

    Kali LindseyDiagnosed at 23, a Gay Man Finds His Voice
    Five years ago, at the age of 23, Kali Lindsey was numb with shock. "The day after I got my positive diagnosis, I was back at work, pretending like nothing had ever happened," he says. "I closed off from everybody." Three years passed before Kali was able to tell his family or friends about his HIV status. Today, however, Kali works to improve HIV policy in the United States as an outspoken advocate. In this one-on-one interview with -- the latest in our This Positive Life podcast series (available as both a transcript and audio) -- Kali discusses how he learned to seek the support of others and to speak out about his status. "I would definitely tell [people who are recently diagnosed] that they should spend all of their time teaching themselves how to love themselves first," he says.

    Nelson VergelNow at Nelson Vergel Answers Your Questions About Nutrition and Exercise
    There's much more to staying healthy when you're HIV positive than taking HIV medications. Good nutrition and exercise are key, but what's the best way to stay in shape? What's the ideal diet for an HIVer looking to avoid body fat problems or heart disease? Which supplements can really help you, and which are you better off avoiding? To help you navigate the maze of staying healthy when you're living with HIV, Nelson Vergel, a longtime HIV advocate, educator and HIV survivor with considerable expertise in nutritional issues, has joined our team of experts at's "Ask the Experts" Forums. Stop in at our newly launched forum on nutrition and exercise and ask Nelson your question!

    HIV-Positive Adoptees Grow Up in U.S., Creating New Challenges
    Thousands of people who adopted HIV-positive babies and infants in the early years of the U.S. HIV epidemic often didn't expect their adopted children to grow up. But thanks to effective HIV treatment, many of these children have survived to become adolescents and adults. "This is the frontier," says Diana Bruce, an advocate for HIV-positive children and their families, adding, "We have never before dealt with these kids." Now these young people, and their parents, must manage the typical struggles of youth with the added challenges of being positive: telling their friends their status, taking medication and even coping with mental health issues.



    Starting HIV Meds Early Is Better for Your Health Than Waiting, Study Says
    Some people avoid starting HIV meds for as long as they can because they're afraid of side effects. But, in fact, starting treatment early may be safer than waiting, according to a newly published study. The new study -- which analyzed a group of volunteers from the SMART study, the largest HIV treatment study ever done -- found that people who started HIV meds with a CD4 count above 350 were much less likely to experience serious health problems (such as heart, kidney or liver failure) or to die than people who held off on starting meds until their CD4 count dropped below 250. The researchers suggest that the findings support starting HIV treatment even earlier than is recommended by new HIV treatment guidelines in the United States and Europe, which say that HIV treatment should begin when a person's CD4 count drops below 350. (Study summary from

    The broader findings of the SMART study, which investigated a particular type of HIV treatment holiday in which people started or stopped HIV meds based on their CD4 count, were considered the top HIV medical story of 2006 in's annual recap. Read this summary to learn more about the results.

    Annual HIV Drug Guide Makes Comparing Meds Easy
    Whether you're starting HIV meds for the first time or considering a change in your regimen, the prospect of wading through all the information about available drugs can be intimidating. That's why every year Test Positive Aware Network releases its annual guide to HIV meds, listing the basics about all the available drugs in one location. The main reference page includes information on drug class, dosing and food restrictions. From the main page, click on the drug names for an overview of side effects, pricing, tips for taking the drug, and brief summaries from an activist and a doctor.

    Click here to browse's comprehensive library of information on HIV meds and drugs in development.

    HIV Treatment Improves Survival in HIVers With Hodgkin's Lymphoma
    Hodgkin's lymphoma is a type of cancer that gets much less attention in the HIV community than non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, which has long been considered an "AIDS-defining illness." However, Hodgkin's lymphoma is more common among people with HIV than the general population -- and, it turns out, HIV medications may be able to help treat it, according to a new study. People with Hodgkin's lymphoma have been living longer, and have become more likely to go into complete remission, since combination HIV treatment became available a decade ago, the study found. The researchers recommend that HIV-positive people diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma take HIV meds and cancer therapy at the same time to improve their chances of recovery. (Study summary from

    HIV Does Not Worsen Prostate Cancer, Study Finds
    Prostate cancer appears no more dangerous in HIV-positive men on treatment than HIV-negative men, a study by a nationwide team of U.S. researchers has found. The findings are comforting in light of a growing stack of research that suggests some cancers occur more frequently among people with HIV. They're also important given that more HIV-positive men are living past middle age, when prostate cancer becomes more common. The study suggests that, when men who are on effective HIV treatment develop prostate cancer, it's no worse than it is for HIV-negative men, and cancer treatment is likely to be successful. (Study abstract from BJU International)



    Civil Rights Icon Compares HIV Fight to Civil Rights Era
    One of the most prominent figures from the U.S. civil rights era has joined the fight against HIV. James Meredith, the first black man admitted to the University of Mississippi and the leader of a pivotal 1966 pilgrimage in Mississippi called the March Against Fear, is supporting a new Mississippi march 42 years later called the Stand Against AIDS. "This is really the same issue that Dr. King was dealing with when he got killed: poor people," Meredith says, referring to Dr. Martin Luther King. "This will be a thousand times bigger than the right to an education."

    To learn more about James Meredith and his role in the U.S. civil rights movement, check out this report from National Public Radio on his turbulent entry into the University of Mississippi, or this article from American Heritage magazine about the March Against Fear.

    At Forum on Faith, Clinton and Obama Stress the Need to Fight HIV
    U.S. Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama emphasized their commitment to fighting HIV in the developing world during a wide-ranging discussion with rabbis and ministers last weekend. During the forum on faith and politics (dubbed the "Compassion Forum"), the two candidates for the U.S. Democratic presidential nomination commended the President's Emergency Program for AIDS Relief, which has devoted billions to treating and preventing HIV in poor countries. Clinton added that she would do even more for global AIDS relief if elected, and also spoke against trade barriers that prevent poor countries from using generic HIV medications. Obama noted that he favored a "comprehensive" approach to HIV prevention instead of abstinence-only programs.

    A complete transcript of the Compassion Forum is available on

    Some Doctors Say No to Drug Company Money
    Is it wrong for a doctor to get paid for advising a drug company? Many doctors receive "honoraria," or special payments, from drug companies for speaking at their events or assisting them with research. But these special payments can cause potential conflicts of interest: How can the public know whether a doctor is speaking from his own heart, or whether he's just supporting a company that's sending him a fat check? "It is not worth it to be under suspicion," says Dr. Peter Libby, one of several doctors who have quietly opted out of taking money from food, drug and medical device companies in exchange for their services as consultants. (Article from the New York Times)

    HIV May Reproduce Much Faster Than Previously Thought, Researchers Say
    A single immune cell that's been hijacked by HIV may produce more than 50,000 copies of HIV during its lifetime, according to a new U.S. study. This is a far cry from earlier estimates of 1,000 to 2,000 HIV copies per infected cell. Scientists in New Mexico made this finding by looking at monkey cells that were infected with simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV), which is similar to HIV. The researchers examined those infected cells over their entire life span; earlier estimates only looked at cells at one specific moment in time. (Article from the Santa Fe New Mexican)

    To learn more about how HIV infects a person's immune system and turns immune cells into HIV factories, read this chapter of A Guide to HIV Drug Resistance, a special educational booklet from The Body.



    Kenya Makes Male Circumcision a Cornerstone of HIV Prevention
    The "ABCs" of HIV prevention just got another letter -- at least in Kenya. The Kenyan government has added male circumcision to its official "ABC" (abstain, be faithful, use condoms) prevention strategy, making it an "ABCC" strategy. The change comes in response to study results out of Africa showing that circumcision reduces a man's risk of getting HIV during unprotected sex with a woman. A male circumcision task force is expected to assist in integrating safe, accessible and non-discriminatory circumcision services into Kenya's existing health care programs. The policy also makes an effort to note that circumcision is just one part of a full prevention program, not a free pass to have unprotected sex. (Article from the Daily Nation)

    For more information on male circumcision for HIV prevention, browse's archive of articles.

    16 Women in Kyrgyzstan Contract HIV Through Breastfeeding
    Seventy-two infants in Kyrgyzstan have been infected with HIV in hospitals through tainted blood or dirty needles. Now it turns out that 16 of the mothers of these children have gotten HIV by breastfeeding them, health officials in the poor Central Asian country report. While a baby transmitting HIV to its mother is extremely rare, it's not unheard of, HIV experts say. Testing positive has turned the lives of the 16 mothers upside down. After losing her job and being abandoned by her husband, one woman was forced to sell her only possession, a small plot of land, to pay for her HIV-positive son's treatment. (Article from the International Herald Tribune)

    British Parliament Members Call for Prioritizing Women in International HIV Efforts
    The United Kingdom (UK) should put women at the center of its global HIV-fighting strategy, say 175 members of the country's Parliament. The lawmakers -- who make up more than a quarter of the British House of Commons -- made an official call this month for more UK government attention to HIV among women. Their action is part of the "Women Matter" campaign, run by the international charity VSO, which also demands that the UK government persuade international agencies to prioritize women in their efforts against HIV.

    Also Worth Noting

    Visual AIDS
    Art From HIV-Positive Artists

    Image from the April 2008 Visual AIDS Web Gallery
    "Blind Obedience," 2003; Nancer LeMoins
    Visit the 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

    I'm Afraid to Go Back to College (and off Health Insurance)
    (A recent post from the
    "Living With HIV " board)

    "I have been HIV positive since 1990. My diagnosis resulted in my dropping out of college to get a job with health insurance. I have been with the same company since. I have never been fulfilled with my work, and have experienced quite a bit of workplace harassment. I recently took off two weeks sick due to depression. I feel trapped in this job because of the insurance. I recently took a trip to my old college campus and now have the bug to go back. My biggest fears are: How can I quit this job after so many years? How will I pay for college? And most importantly, how will I get my meds if I leave my insurance? ... Sometimes I wish I had just died like so many of my friends from the time period I was diagnosed. Can anyone offer any advice?"

    -- looking4amiracle

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

    Why Has Starting HIV Meds Been so Hard on Me?
    (A recent post from the
    "Living With HIV" board)

    "I've been diagnosed for eight years now and managed to deal with what that meant for me and the people closest to me. But I started antiretroviral therapy eight weeks ago and have really struggled, physically (with side effects) and emotionally. I didn't expect this ride to be smooth sailing, but I also didn't expect it to hit me so hard. I know my family and loved ones support me starting treatment, but it's such a highly emotional subject for them that I don't feel I can rely on them during the hard days. I was curious to know how others have dealt with starting meds, and the side effects and psychological/emotional challenges that came with it."

    -- Brookesta

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

    Make a Difference
    Your Opinion Wanted! Make Free HIV Care in the U.S. Better

    Do you use HIV services such as free clinics, transportation and case management? If so, you have a chance to share your input and help reform the Ryan White CARE Act, which funds HIV medical care and support for uninsured and underinsured people in the United States. Ryan White is scheduled for reapproval in 2009, and many people think it needs a serious overhaul. That's why HIV advocacy organizations have posted an online survey to gather information from HIV-positive people on this critical legislation. Click here to take the survey and make your voice heard.