July 9, 2008
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 An HIV Medication Primer: Starting, Switching and Understanding Your Meds
The ever-increasing number of HIV treatment options and mountains of medical lingo can seem overwhelming. What are the best HIV medications to start with, and how do you know when you need to switch regimens? This HIV medication primer offers tips and guidance on how to better understand HIV treatment and make wise long-term choices about your medications. It also features a walkthrough of HIV's life cycle and explains how HIV meds interrupt that process. (Article from Thrive)

For more on the basics of HIV treatment, read through TheBody.com's extensive collection of articles.

 Is the Honeymoon Over for HIV Drug Development?
Over the past few years, five new HIV meds have hit the U.S. market, a gush we haven't seen in more than a decade. Two of those drugs even work in ways that no other HIV medication has worked before. It's a revolution in HIV treatment -- but after this flood of new meds, is the well starting to dry up? This overview takes a closer look at the current state of HIV drug development. (Article from Project Inform)

Also Worth Noting: Visual AIDS

Image from the July 2008 Visual AIDS Gallery
"Initiation," 1993; Elliott Linwood

Visit the July 2008 Visual AIDS Web Gallery to view our latest collection of art by HIV-positive artists! This month's gallery, entitled "Militancy and Mourning," is curated by Paul Sendziuk.

 Survival Rates of HIVers, Non-HIVers Are Similar After 5 Years, European Study Finds
We all know that, in developed countries, HIV is no longer a death sentence. The latest support for this comes from a major new study out of Europe. The study doesn't estimate how long HIV-positive people can expect to live after they've been infected. However, it does show that, at least for the first five years after infection, an HIV-positive person is just as likely to keep on ticking as an HIV-negative person. Over the longer term, HIVers are still more likely to die, but that gap continues to close thanks to more effective HIV meds, the study says. (Study summary from aidsmap.com)

You can read the abstract of this study in the July 2 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

 Teenagers Talk About What It's Like to Be Young and Positive
What's going on in the minds of HIV-positive teens in the United States? The editors of a new book, Teenagers, HIV and AIDS: Insights from Youths Living with the Virus, found out by interviewing young people at an HIV clinic in Washington, D.C. The result is a moving, inspiring look into the lives of teenagers living with HIV in the United States. In this book excerpt, teens share their often-poignant views on support, disclosure, treatment, religion and advocacy. (Book excerpt from Greenwood Publishing Group)


 U.S. HIV Travel Ban Harms Public Health, Violates Human Rights, Analysis Claims
The U.S. government's ban on HIV-positive visitors violates human rights, damages public health, and makes no economic sense, according to an analysis published in the new HIV newsletter Thrive. The report says the country's 20-year-old ban on HIV-positive visitors and immigrants may have actually done more harm than good for the country. It also says the policy has been hurtful to many HIV-positive visitors: Some may hide their status and avoid getting the care they need, while others may end up in immigration detention centers where HIV care can be sub-par; one HIVer even died while in detention last year. (Article from Thrive)

A small group of U.S. senators is delaying passage of a bill that would end the HIV travel ban and dramatically increase funding for the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, which helps people with HIV in developing countries. This editorial from The New York Times provides an update on the situation.

 HIV in Humans May Be 100 Years Old, Researchers Say
The global HIV pandemic may have started in the 1980s, but HIV made the jump to humans long before that. In fact, new research suggests that the virus known as HIV-1, the most common strain of HIV, infected its first person back in 1908 -- about 25 years earlier than previously estimated. HIV-2, a less-common strain of HIV seen mainly in Western Africa, made the jump from monkeys to humans in the 1930s, researchers say. (Article from ScienceNOW)

Also Worth Noting: Connect With Others
How Can I Help My Partner Get Better?
(A recent post from the "My Loved One Has HIV/AIDS" board)

My partner has full-blown AIDS and is going through a very tough time at the moment. ... [He] had to undergo an operation recently, leaving him very weak and extremely wasted away. Our doctor also changed his cocktail, and the side effects are making it difficult to get him to eat properly. Basically, can anybody give me some advice as to what I can give him to keep his strength up and to start getting better? Currently I give him Ensure three times a day, since he can keep that in, but I'm sure that there are better alternatives. His CD4 count is low but he is undetectable, so the antiretrovirals are working. ... I'm at my wit's end at the moment. I feel so powerless to help him.

-- Billy_G

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


 New Online Music Service Will Raise Money for Global Fund
AIDS benefit concerts are old hat: Starting this fall, you'll be able to rock out for global AIDS relief at your computer. A new subscription music service is being rolled out by Product RED, the commercial alliance founded by U2 frontman Bono years ago to benefit HIV-fighting efforts in Africa. Starting in September, the program will deliver three MP3 files a week: one song by a big-time musician, such as U2, Elvis Costello or Elton John; one song by a lesser-known artist; and one "crackerjack surprise," which could be a song, video or short story. Subscriptions will cost $5 per month, half of which will go to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. (Article from kaisernetwork.org)

Also Worth Noting: Make a Difference
Want to spend a week in Chicago this December learning to become an effective leader in the fight against HIV in your community? The AIDS Foundation of Chicago and DePaul University are now accepting applications for an intensive, one-week training program. Eight to 12 people will be accepted into the program, which will cost $250. Applications are due by 4 p.m. on July 31. Read this Q + A for more information!

 Many People Assume Sex Partners They Know Well Have No STDs, Study Finds
Many people assume that, as long as they feel they know their sexual partner well, the partner probably doesn't have any sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), a new Canadian study has found. More than 70 percent of the people surveyed said they would probably consider a partner "safe" if the person was generally trustworthy. Being smart, well educated or an old friend were also viewed as signs that a person didn't have any STDs. The results of the study demonstrate how often people fail to think logically when making decisions about their sex lives -- and how dangerous those assumptions can be. (Article from kaisernetwork.org)

 Magic Johnson, Wife to Star in HIV Ads Directed by Spike Lee
Magic Johnson has been one of the world's most visible HIV-positive people since he announced in 1991 that he had HIV. Now his wife, Cookie, is also getting some of the limelight: Spike Lee has directed a pair of public service ads in which Cookie and Magic Johnson urge African Americans to get tested for HIV. To some, the campaign is further proof that African Americans have become more aware of the magnitude of the HIV epidemic in their own community. However, the community has a long way to go, says Lee: "There's a whole lot of re-education that needs to get started." (Article from The Los Angeles Times)

The two ads can be seen on YouTube; one is titled "Stand"; the other is titled "Talk."

 All 830,000 Adult Residents of the Bronx to Be Tested for HIV
Even the most ambitious HIV testing programs in U.S. cities usually aim to reach just a fraction of people most at risk. But in the Bronx, a borough in New York City, health officials plan to test everyone between the ages of 18 and 64 over the next three years. If the program is successful, it may be extended to the rest of New York City. Why target the Bronx first? Although other boroughs may have higher HIV rates, HIV causes more deaths in the Bronx, suggesting that many people learn they have HIV too late. (Article from The New York Times)


  Marriage: A Risk Factor for HIV?
Most HIV prevention efforts in the developing world focus on promoting safer sex (or abstinence) for unmarried people. However, researchers now estimate that as many as 93 percent of all new HIV infections among heterosexual men and women in urban Zambia and Rwanda occur among couples who are either married or living together. Much of the problem, the researchers say, is that too few people know their HIV status. Increasing HIV testing among people in relationships could dramatically reduce HIV rates, they predict. (Article from Agence France-Presse)

 International Red Cross Says HIV Should Be Defined as "Disaster"
The Red Cross is often among the first on the scene after a major disaster, but now the international relief agency wants to draw the world's attention to a more long-standing catastrophe: HIV. For the first time, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies has devoted its annual world disaster report not to floods, earthquakes, disease outbreaks or famines, but to a single disease. In addition to taking a long, hard look at the world's response to HIV, the report examines the relationship between the HIV pandemic and other natural disasters, like Hurricane Katrina and the tsunami that ravaged South Asia in 2004. (Article from Agence France Presse)

The complete Red Cross report on HIV is available online.

 At Gay Pride Events in India, Stigmatized Indians Take a Big Step Out
For the first time in history, three of India's biggest cities were home to large gay pride events this year. Though many of the marchers wore masks or veils to protect their identities, gay rights activists regard the large turnout at this year's events as a landmark. Attitudes towards gay men, lesbians and transgender people in India have remained rigid; a law originally passed in 1861 continues to ban homosexuality. Even the Indian government's main opposition party was critical of the gay pride events: "This type of parade, people of India will not accept in a good way. ... It's an unnatural thing," a party member said. (Article from The San Francisco Chronicle)

 Global Fund's Progress Still Not Up to Pace With HIV Spread, UNAIDS Says
The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria has provided life-saving resources to millions of HIV-positive people in low- and middle-income countries. But access to HIV treatment is expanding more slowly than the HIV pandemic itself, UNAIDS says. The Global Fund's latest progress report reveals that nearly two-thirds of the 3 million HIVers who are receiving HIV medications got them through Global Fund-supported programs. Still, those 3 million people represent only 30 percent of HIVers in need of meds worldwide. Even more alarming, while a million people gained access to HIV meds in 2007, 2.5 million were newly infected with HIV, the report states. (Press release from UNAIDS)

Click here to read the Global Fund's outline of their worldwide progress in the struggle against HIV, tuberculosis and malaria.

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