TheBody.com Blog: A Long-Term HIV Nonprogressor Tells Her Story
Loreen Willenberg has been HIV positive for 16 years, but she's never needed to start HIV treatment: Her viral load has always been undetectable, and her CD4 count remains abnormally high (it's even been above 2,000). A landscape designer for most of her career, Loreen recently decided to dramatically shift gears and work in the HIV community. She has also established a new organization for HIV nonprogressors just like her. In her first blog entry for TheBody.com, Loreen describes her journey. (Blog entry from TheBody.com)
You can find out more about Loreen's new organization for HIV nonprogessors, the Zephyr Foundation, by visiting the official Web site.
Jesse Helms' Tragic Legacy on HIV
Former U.S. Senator Jesse Helms passed away earlier this month, and the HIV community is not mourning. Helms was not, to say the least, a fan of many causes that HIV advocates support. For instance, Helms opposed the Ryan White CARE Act, which funds free health care and support services for HIV-positive people across the United States. The HIV immigration and travel ban that began in 1987 is also his doing. "He willfully participated in the genocide of millions of people guided by religious fervor," says Eric Sawyer of ACT UP New York. (Article from Housing Works)
Many in the HIV community fought against Sen. Helms' bigotry. One of the most dramatic protests took place in 1991, when treatment activists covered Helms' house with a giant condom (watch the video).
George W. Bush Is Best HIV-Fighting Prez of All Time, Columnist Says
"President George W. Bush has done more to fight AIDS than any president in history." Those are the strong words of gay, conservative journalist David Benkof. In a recent column, Benkof ticks off a list of reasons why he feels Bush has been a far better president than Bill Clinton on issues related to HIV, as well as the gay community in general. "For years, I've been asked, 'How can you be a gay Republican?'" Benkof writes. "I can answer, 'Because on one of the gay community's top priorities, Republicans outshine Democrats hands down.'" (Article from kaisernetwork.org)
HIV TREATMENT & COMPLICATIONS
Sexual Problems Common Among HIVers, French Study Finds
If you're HIV positive and having sexual problems, you're not alone. One out of every three HIVers experiences some type of sexual dysfunction, according to a large French study. Among the nearly 2,000 sexually active study participants, people were more likely to have sexual problems if they experienced body fat changes, serious treatment side effects or HIV-related discrimination. CD4 count and viral load were not associated with sexual difficulties, leading the researchers to emphasize that the psychological impact of HIV was the real culprit behind most HIVers' sexual problems. (Web highlight from aidsmap.com)
The abstract of this study is available in the July 2008 issue of the journal AIDS and Behavior.
Therapeutic HIV Vaccine May Be Worse Than Not Taking HIV Meds at All, Study Finds
Can a vaccine be used to treat people with HIV? For years, researchers have been trying to develop a so-called "therapeutic" HIV vaccine, which would eliminate the need to take daily HIV meds. The latest attempt to create such a vaccine, however, appears to have failed. A study of an experimental vaccine known as ALVAC 1452 found that HIV-positive people who received the vaccine and then stopped their HIV meds developed a higher HIV viral load and had to restart HIV treatment more quickly than HIVers who stopped their meds but never received the vaccine at all. Researchers note, however, that the study findings may have been skewed for a number of reasons. (Article from aidsmap.com)
A Primer on HIV Drug Interactions
With once-a-day pills and fewer side effects, HIV treatment is simpler today than it's ever been. But there's still a lot of important info to keep in mind whenever you start taking a new HIV medication -- or, if you're already on HIV treatment, whenever you begin taking another prescription med, over-the-counter drug or even an herbal supplement. HIV meds don't always get along well with other meds or supplements, and those interactions could potentially put your health at risk. Check out this fact sheet to learn the basics about HIV drug interactions. (Article from AIDS InfoNet)
For much more on drug interactions, including specific warnings, browse TheBody.com's extensive collection of articles.
Does My HIV-Positive Boyfriend Want Out?|
(A recent post from the "My Loved One Has HIV/AIDS" board)
I have been dating my boyfriend for almost a year; he was diagnosed about three years ago. I have been very supportive and tried to research as much as I can. ... He's a retired baseball player, 39 years old and has never been married or blessed with children. ... He has never been ready to get married until he met me. We have picked out a ring and he's paying for it. I know he can go get it at any given time, but I feel like he's stalling.
I know some of his anxiety is the same as anyone who is 39 and never entertained the idea. But, I have to wonder if there's more to it than that. ... He says that I am in love with a dying man, that he will leave me everything he has, that he can die knowing he finally found a best friend in me, etc. He's doing very well and is undetectable. ... I just wonder ... if he's scared of dying and what it will do to me. ... I love him and want to be able to understand and try to help him. Can someone please help me?
Click here to join this discussion thread, or to start your own!
Online, Gay Soap Opera Brings HIV Awareness to New Generation
A young man wearing only camouflage underwear lies passed out under a tree in broad daylight. No, it's not a flashback to last weekend's rave; it's the opening shot of the racy new Web drama In the Moment, a show about the lives of gay men in Los Angeles. With HIV infection rates on the rise among young gay men in the United States, HIV advocates hope the Internet-based show will help them reach the MySpace generation. The show has drawn more than 80,000 viewers in the last few months, and its creators hope it will spawn discussions about safe sex, relationships and HIV. (Article from kaisernetwork.org)
Want to watch In the Moment online? Click here to view the latest episodes and join the discussion about the show.
Genital Herpes Common Among New Yorkers, Survey Shows
One out of every four New York City adults has herpes simplex virus-2, and many don't know it, according to study results released by the New York City health department. The virus causes genital herpes, which makes people twice as susceptible to HIV. Genital herpes rates in the study were twice as high among women as men; almost four times higher among blacks than whites; and almost twice as high among gay men as hetero men. New York City's rates of genital herpes, gonorrhea, chlamydia and syphilis are all above the national average. (Press release from the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene)
The findings were published in the June 2008 edition of the journal Sexually Transmitted Diseases.
HIV IN THE NEWS
We're Done Making New HIV Meds, Roche Announces
One of the first companies ever to produce an HIV medication is getting out of the HIV research business: Roche, which produces the HIV meds Fuzeon (enfuvirtide, T-20), Invirase (saquinavir) and Viracept (nelfinavir), says it's going to shut down its HIV drug research wing and axe all of its HIV meds in development, saying that the meds simply didn't work well enough. However, Roche will continue to make Fuzeon, Invirase and Viracept, as well as other HIV-related products that it already developed. (Article from kaisernetwork.org)
Attempts to Restrict PEPFAR Funding Fail in U.S. Senate
Global HIV funding supporters scored two new victories in a drawn-out battle now underway within the U.S. Senate. For months now, lawmakers have been debating whether to approve a major boost in funding for the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), which provides assistance to HIV-fighting efforts in many developing countries. A handful of senators have been blocking the bill, but this week they lost two key attempts to slice away at the funding increase. Next up: Senators will decide whether to keep a proposal that would ease restrictions on HIV-positive people entering the United States. (Article from kaisernetwork.org)
HIV THROUGHOUT THE WORLD
Stop Forcing Us to Use Condoms, Ugandan HIV Advocate Says
In its hugely successful anti-HIV program in the 1990s, "[Uganda] promoted condoms only as a last resort," points out Rev. Sam L. Ruteikara. "Our main message was: Stick to one partner. ... Because we knew what to do in our country, we succeeded." In this scathing op-ed piece, Ruteikara, a co-chair of Uganda's National AIDS-Prevention Committee, argues that HIV experts from outside Uganda are screwing up the country's once-successful HIV prevention programs by focusing too much on condoms and not enough on faithfulness and chastity. "Listen to African wisdom," he urges, "and we will show you how to prevent AIDS." (Op-ed from The Washington Post)
Update on the Battle for Worldwide HIV Treatment Access
With our tremendous advances in HIV treatment over the past decade, you'd like to think that everyone is benefiting. But tragically, three quarters of the people who need HIV medications worldwide still can't get them -- that's an estimated 9 million human beings. So what's the holdup? This overview provides some answers: It chronicles the fight for more generic HIV meds, better funding, more health care workers and expanded HIV treatment access in the developing world. (Article from Thrive)
Fighting an Invisible Pandemic: Global HIV Prevention for Gay Men
In many parts of the world, gay men remain the group most affected by HIV, yet prevention messages often don't reach them. The constant threat of arrest, imprisonment or harassment by health care workers and police are a part of daily life for gay men in many countries throughout the world. As a result, many gay men feel they have to conceal their sexual orientation, and as a result they avoid HIV prevention services. How can HIV advocates turn the tide? They can start by ratcheting up efforts to confront stigma, discrimination, poverty, human rights violations and homophobia, writes Dr. Evelyn González-Figueroa of AIDS Project Los Angeles. (Article from Thrive)
If you'll be in Mexico City on Aug. 1 and Aug. 2 and want to help make a difference in the global fight for gay rights, join an event that will take place just before the start of the XVII International AIDS Conference. "The Invisible Men: Gay Men and Other MSM in the Global HIV/AIDS Epidemic" will bring together HIV advocates from around the world to develop strategies on how to improve HIV research, prevention and care for gay men, as well as how to fight discriminatory laws and policies.
Brazil to Install Condom Machines in Public Schools
While many continue to argue in favor of abstinence-only education in U.S. schools, the ever-realistic Brazlians plan to install condom machines in their public schools. A survey shows that 65 percent of Brazilian parents approve of the plan. (Article from Xinhua)
However, despite widespread public support for condom machines in high schools, there are detractors. As former Brazilian Minister of Education Cristovam Buarque writes in this op-ed for Brazzil Magazine, condom machines won't be nearly enough to solve the complex issues of teenage pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases in their country.