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June 23, 2008
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Also Worth Noting: In Memoriam

Michael Shernoff
HIV-positive psychotherapist and author Michael Shernoff died at home on June 17 after a two-year battle with pancreatic cancer. He was 57. Michael was a pioneer of sex education, and had a private therapy practice in New York City specializing in gay men, many of them HIV positive.

Michael started writing about HIV more than 20 years ago, and from 1997 through 2003 he answered questions for The Body's "Ask the Experts" forum on mental health. You can also read his reflections on living with HIV and dating when you’re HIV positive.

To read Michael Shernoff’s full obituary, click here.

BODY FAT CHANGES

 Androgel and Male Breast Enlargement
I've been taking Androgel, a testosterone-replacement therapy, for five years. It's worked wonderfully, but it also resulted in abnormal breast enlargement. I just had surgery to remove the extra tissue, but I don't want to end up in the same position again, so I'm wondering if I should decrease my dose of Androgel or even stop the drug entirely. What do you think?


 How Can I Bulk Up My Arms and Legs?
I've lost a lot of fat in my arms and legs, and I'd like to take steroids or another hormonal treatment to bulk up. My doctor says that hormones are only for people who are in very poor health, and all of my blood tests show that I'm doing just fine. Is he right? If I can't take steroids, what can I do to gain more muscle in my arms and legs?


 What Can I Do About Fat Loss in the Face and Butt?
I have been HIV positive for about 15 years and am on treatment. I have facial wasting and have also lost most of the fat in my butt. How can I replenish the fat in these areas?


 Is Botox Safe for People With HIV?
Is there any problem with an HIV-positive person getting Botox injections to soften wrinkles? I'm tired of looking tired!



UNDERSTANDING YOUR LABS

 Why Is My Viral Load Still Detectable?
I've been on HIV meds for more than four months, but my viral load isn't undetectable yet. What's going on?


 What to Do About a Viral Load Blip
I've had an undetectable viral load for a few years while on HIV treatment, but my last set of labs showed a viral load of 87. Should I be worried?


 CD4 Count Still Low Despite Undetectable Viral Load
I started treatment with a CD4 count of 82. Eight months later, my viral load is consistently undetectable, but my CD4 count is still really low -- 102 at my last lab test. Why isn't my CD4 count responding to the meds as well as my viral load has?



MIXED-STATUS COUPLES

 What Is It Safe to Do With My Positive Boyfriend?
I met a terrific guy, but a few days after we got together (no sex, just some fooling around), he tested positive for HIV. We have strong feelings for each other, but I don't know the first thing about what's safe and what isn't safe to do with an HIV-positive person. Please help!



Also Worth Noting: Connect With Others
I'm Shocked and Confused, but I Still Love My Partner
(A recent post from the "My Loved One Has HIV/AIDS" board)

My lover and I have been together for over six years. ... He's been very ill for the last bit and has just admitted to me that he is positive. He's known for the last two years but has not admitted it to me. [His] CD4 is below 30, [he has] lost most of his muscle mass and body weight, etc. ... I love him dearly and would not want him to face this alone, but I'm also going through some really tough emotional issues right now. ... My test is negative, by the way. We've been through hell the last couple of weeks and I have so many questions that I need to ask and have answered, but you have to keep a brave face in front of him. ... Why am I writing this? Honestly, don't know. Just need to get some things off my chest and rant a little in a space where nobody knows me.

-- Billy_G

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

HEALTH ISSUES

 Diarrhea and HIV
I've been positive for six years and am taking Atripla (efavirenz/tenofovir/FTC). For the past two weeks I've had diarrhea, and I'm not sure why it's happening or what to do about it. What do you think?


 Viagra Makes Me Burp
I've been taking Viagra along with my HIV meds. The Viagra still works, but I've been experiencing severe gastrointestinal side effects -- I burp so violently that sometimes I vomit. Is there anything I can do to stop this?



Also Worth Noting: Visual AIDS

Image from the May 2008 Visual AIDS Gallery
"Three Part Storage Cubes," 1982; Scott Burton

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.
HIV TREATMENT

 Why Keep Taking HIV Meds I'm Resistant To?
Two months ago, my doctor had me switch to a new regimen containing six HIV meds, including two drugs I have resistance to. Before I started this new drug combo, my viral load was undetectable, and it still is now. My CD4 count has also gone up a bit. Why do I have to keep taking the meds I'm resistant to?


 Resistant to NRTIs; What Should I Try Next?
I am resistant to NRTIs, but my virus is sensitive to all other classes of HIV drugs. In fact, I've never taken a protease inhibitor or NNRTI. My doctor wants me to try a new regimen consisting of the NNRTI/NRTI combo drug Atripla (efavirenz/tenofovir/FTC) and two drugs in completely new classes: the CCR5 inhibitor Selzentry (maraviroc, Celsentri) and the integrase inhibitor Isentress (raltegravir, MK-0518). What do you think of that combo?


 Kaletra Monotherapy: If It Ain't Broke, Don't Fix It?
I've been taking only Kaletra (lopinavir/ritonavir) for almost two years, and it's worked: My viral load is undetectable and my CD4 count is 550. I am managing my triglycerides and cholesterol with diet, exercise and fish oil. Is it OK for me to stay on this monotherapy as long as it's working?



STRANGE BUT TRUE

 My Earrings May Have Been Semen-ized!
While having sex, a lot of semen ended up on my chest. I figure if it got all the way up on my chest, there's a chance that it also may have splashed off my chest and onto some earrings I was wearing at the time. If that happened, could HIV have taken up residence on one of those earrings and then infected me through a piercing?



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