June 5, 2008
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Clarence Video Central: Watch This Month's New Selection of Inspiring Stories
The faces of HIV in the United States are incredibly diverse, as are the inspiring stories they have to tell. In our new presentation of personal stories told through video, you'll meet a Native American living on a reservation in the Northern Plains, a rape survivor from upstate New York, a dynamo HIV educator on the West coast, and an Alaskan native, all of whom have taken the courageous step of speaking out about HIV in their communities. These moving interviews are brought to you by The Positive Project, a unique collection of more than 100 first-person stories told (in video) by people infected with or affected by HIV.

 A Doctor's Dilemma: Protect a Positive Patient's Privacy? Or His Partner's Health?
Should a doctor ever reveal the HIV status of a patient? Dr. Marc Siegel assumed the answer was no -- until he discovered that a man he was treating had given HIV to his lover. Then Dr. Siegel began to wonder: What if he could have talked to his patient's lover before he was infected? Would his duty to protect his HIV-positive patient's privacy trump his duty to protect the other man's health? In this article, Dr. Siegel searches the law as well as his own conscience to try to find an answer. (Article from the Los Angeles Times)

Derek Jarman Late Founding Father of "New Queer Cinema" Feted With Documentary Film
Many filmmakers still feel the influence of HIV-positive British punk artist Derek Jarman. However, his provocative works, and the spirit from which they grew, are rarely seen nowadays. From the beginning of his career until his death in 1994, Jarman focused on creating space for the expression of gay desire in film. Jarman was as open about his HIV status as he was about his sexuality: The films he produced following his diagnosis reflect both his rage at HIV stigma and his reactions to his declining health, including the loss of his sight. Now Jarman is the subject of Derek, a new documentary tribute to the self-proclaimed "controversialist" and his "signature combination of beauty, wit and anger." (Article from the New York Times)

Also Worth Noting: Visual AIDS

Image from the June 2008 Visual AIDS Gallery
"Monument Valley, Arizona," 1987; Tseng Kwong Chi

Visit the June 2008 Visual AIDS Web Gallery to view our latest collection of art by HIV-positive artists! This month's gallery, entitled "Alien Architecture," is curated by Tairone Bastien.

 If a First Regimen Works, Severe Side Effects Are Rarely a Problem
Worried that side effects will be a problem when you start HIV treatment? A new British study offers some reassuring news: If your meds work, side effects probably won't get in the way. Few of the 508 HIVers in the study, all with viral loads under 50, had switched meds due to side effects after an average of close to two years on treatment. Among two of the most popular first-line HIV meds, people on Kaletra (lopinavir/ritonavir) were less likely to change treatment due to side effects than those on Sustiva (efavirenz, Stocrin). The most common side effects that did cause people to switch were body fat changes and neurological complications, such as dizziness or weird dreams. (Study summary from aidsmap.com)

The abstract of the study is available online in the medical journal AIDS.

 Regimens With Boosted Protease Inhibitors Are the Most Resistance-Proof, Study Finds
What drug combo provides the best chance of avoiding HIV drug resistance? According to a new study, the answer is a protease inhibitor taken with a "boost" of Norvir (ritonavir) and two NRTIs. A Canadian study of 2,350 HIVers starting HIV meds found that when compared to this type of regimen, regimens based on a nonnucleoside reverse-transcriptase inhibitor (NNRTI) or a protease inhibitor without Norvir were both more likely to cause resistance. However, there's good news for everyone here: The study also found that, as better meds have become available over the last few years, HIV drug resistance has become much less common. (Study abstract from the Journal of Infectious Diseases)

 Newly Discovered Compound Could Eventually Yield New Class of HIV Meds
Could researchers have discovered yet another new class of HIV meds? Scientists at the University of Michigan have used computer models to create a new compound that works a lot like a protease inhibitor, but is completely different. The compound debilitates HIV protease -- an enzyme that's a key part of the HIV replication process -- in a different way than current protease inhibitors do. Even better, because of the way this compound is structured, it might have a friendlier side-effect profile, say the researchers who developed it. However, the compound is a long way from being turned into a working drug; this is just the first step in a lengthy and uncertain development process.

Also Worth Noting: HIV Testing Day

National HIV Testing Day Poster

U.S. National HIV Testing Day is June 27, so it's time to get prepared! Help pass on the word about the importance of HIV testing by ordering free posters online. People living in the United States, Canada or Mexico have until June 18 to place an order.

 Largely Unnoticed, Hep C Continues Spread Among People With HIV
Up to a third of people with HIV are estimated to also have hepatitis C. And an outbreak of new hep C cases has recently surfaced among gay HIV-positive men -- all of them sexual transmissions, rather than transmission through injection drug use. Yet according to experts, most Americans living with hep C have no idea they're infected. Despite all of this, the United States has no national plan to fight hep C, and offers little in the way of hep C education or prevention. What can be done? World Hepatitis Awareness Day was May 19th, but you can still help: Get your local politicians to pay more attention to this disease, or join Hepatitis C Advocates United, the first national grassroots network focused on urging the U.S. government to take action against hepatitis.

Though the progress of hepatitis C treatment has been disappointing, researchers have recently made some exciting discoveries, and we already know a lot about how people with hep C can protect their health. For more information, you can learn about the latest research on drugs to treat hepatitits C, or take in a thorough overview of what people with hep C can do to keep healthy.

 A Facial Filler May Cause Problems Long After It's Taken, Study Finds
A facial filler used to treat facial wasting in people with HIV can sometimes, though rarely, trigger a severe immune reaction, according to a new study published in a top dermatology journal. Spanish researchers report that 25 people who took Bio-Alcamid (polyalkylimide), a synthetic gel approved in Canada and Europe but not the United States, had skin problems and other medical issues long after they received the treatment. Though these side effects are unusual, the study's authors stress that like other treatments HIVers use for facial wasting (including Sculptra [New-Fill, poly-L-lactic acid] ), Bio-Alcamid shouldn't be considered risk-free. (Study summary from Medscape; free registration required)

Keep in mind that the above study did not include HIVers using Bio-Alcamid. But a small Canadian study published last year did focus on HIV-positive people, and its findings conflicted with this new Spanish study. The Canadian study of 31 people with HIV found that over the course of almost two years after receiving Bio-Alcamid, everybody saw an improvement in their appearance and none experienced the kinds of side effects reported in the Spanish study.


 Recent Research Developments on HIV and the Gut
After nearly 30 years of research, scientists are still learning about how HIV works, as well as the effects of the virus on different areas of the body. One of the most important of these areas is the digestive system, which doctors also call the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. In recent years, experts have discovered a great deal about how the GI tract plays a key role in HIV disease and the recovery of a person's immune system. This in-depth, technical report by Saurabh Mehandru, M.D., lays out what we know to date about the interaction between HIV and the gut, as well as the questions researchers are still trying to answer. (Article from The PRN Notebook)

Also Worth Noting: Connect With Others
What Do You Say When Your Ex Tells You He's Positive?
(A recent post from the "Gay Men" board)

An ex-boyfriend of mine informed me that he tested positive earlier this week. He chose to tell me, but I'm not sure why or what to do about it. Is he reaching out because he wants my support (of which I would freely give), or is he just telling me to tell me and that's that? We haven't had any sexual contact in years, so my status is not an issue (tested negative three months ago). ... How do I know what support to offer and what to not offer? The last thing I ever want him to think is that I'm not in his corner, or that I'm judging him or rejecting him because he's positive. But at the same time, I don't want to be overly sensitive and somber. ... From your experience, what were things that people said and did that really helped, and what were things that didn't? What do I absolutely NOT do in this situation?

-- mdprdu

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


 As HIV Rates Climb, More Black Pastors Concede That "Silence Equals Death"
"I kept [my HIV diagnosis] to myself for seven and a half years," former prisoner and HIV activist Donnie Robinson tells church groups in Kansas City, Mo. Robinson might seem like an unusual ally for pastor Richard Prim, who was once famous for preaching that HIV was a punishment for sinners. But now, as Kansas City experiences HIV infection rates that rival parts of sub-Saharan Africa, Prim and Robinson have both joined the fight against HIV stigma in African-American churches. Prim now recognizes that HIV "[i]sn't a sin but a disease." Robinson, who disclosed his HIV status for the first time to his own pastor, is a regular speaker at churches and schools. Still, these two men represent a minority in a city whose nearly 500 African-American churches have been dismally slow in responding to the HIV crisis. (Article from The Pitch)


Alicia Keys Alicia Keys: Singer on a Mission
Alicia Keys is releasing a new album -- and, at the same time, is helping to raise money for HIV. Keys has released a new documentary, "Alicia in Africa: Journey to the Motherland," which follows her as she visits communities battling HIV in South Africa, Kenya and Uganda. Through her Web site, aliciainafrica.com, Keys encourages people to assist Keep A Child Alive (KCA), an organization that provides medication, support and orphan care to families affected by HIV in developing countries.

Click here to watch Keys' documentary. Note that the Web site requires you to enter an e-mail address, and the video may take a while to play, depending on your Internet speed and browser.

 Ryan White "Town Hall" Meetings Hit New York City
What do you call a room full of outspoken HIVers who want to see improvements in free HIV services? A Ryan White town hall meeting, of course! Last week, 50 or so New Yorkers met to talk about the problems they face with the city's HIV services -- such as free clinics, transportation, housing and case management -- which are often funded by the federal Ryan White CARE Act. The Manhattan meeting was just the most recent in a series of events held over the last year to gather community feedback on Ryan White in preparation for the legislation's 2009 renewal.

Want to get involved? Click here to take an online survey on your experience with free and reduced-cost HIV services in the United States.

Other town hall meetings like the New York gathering have been held all over the country. TheBody.com was on the scene for one such meeting in Palm Springs, Calif., in November 2007. Click here to listen to a podcast or read a transcript of the event.

Life Ball Celebrities Flock to Vienna for Flashy HIV Charity Gala
Crowds gathered outside City Hall in Vienna, Austria, on May 17 to watch thousands of celebrities arrive for Life Ball. The ball, a glamorous, over-the-top affair, is billed as Europe's biggest annual HIV fundraiser. Guests included Sex and the City star Kim Cattrall, who presented the aid organization CARE Austria with a $155,530 check to support a project it runs in Kenya. The event's organizer said he hopes the proceeds of the 16th annual event will top last year's, which brought in nearly $2 million for HIV projects in Austria and around the world.

Click here for more information about Life Ball. You can change the language of the Web site from German to English in the top right corner of the page.

 Sharon Stone and Madonna Help Raise $10 Million for AIDS Research
Actress Sharon Stone and singer Madonna hosted the 15th annual Cinema for AIDS gala on May 22, which was held on the sidelines of the Cannes film festival. The event raised more than US$10 million for The Foundation for AIDS Research (amfAR). During the event, guests bid for items donated by celebrities. Madonna auctioned a private concert, which went for US$552,000. Stone's Porsche got a winning bid of about US$800,000. Over the years, the amfAR event has raised nearly US$29 million for HIV research.

At the gala, Madonna also previewed parts of her new documentary, "I Am Because We Are," which shows the effects of poverty, HIV and other diseases on children in Malawi. The film also features interviews with President Bill Clinton, Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, and leading HIV advocates and care providers.


 One Million More People on HIV Treatment in 2007, but 2.5 Million Became HIV Positive, WHO Report Says
The World Health Organization's (WHO) "3 by 5" initiative to treat three million HIV-positive people in developing countries by 2005 was finally reached -- in 2007, according to a new report from UNAIDS, UNICEF and WHO. An additional 950,000 people gained access to HIV medications last year to meet the goal, the report states. However, people are still becoming HIV positive at a faster rate than they're receiving treatment: The report states that approximately 2.5 million people became positive in 2007, and that nearly 7 million still don't have access to HIV treatment. International funding needs to more than quadruple by 2010 to achieve universal treatment access, according to the report.

Click here to learn more and to download the full report.

 Lender to the World's Poorest Countries Ponders What to Do About HIV
The World Bank was created to help poor governments desperate for cash, and HIV has left a lot of already hard-up countries tugging at their pockets. So how is the gigantic, sometimes controversial organization handling the HIV pandemic? In 2000 the bank pledged to grant African countries fighting HIV $500 million, but in the last few years its spending on HIV has fallen drastically. In this new report, the World Bank explains why it is making a fresh pledge to deal with HIV. (Report from the World Bank)

Click here