September 4, 2008
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HIV IN THE NEWS

 Unsealed Documents Highlight Greed as Motive in Norvir Price Hike
Many people in the HIV community have long suspected Abbott Laboratories' decision to jack up the price of Norvir (ritonavir) by 400 percent back in 2003. Specifically, many thought that the price hike was meant to force people to switch to Kaletra (lopinavir/ritonavir), another Abbott drug, instead of taking HIV meds produced by Abbott's competitors. Recently unsealed Abbott documents regarding the price hike prove those suspicions had merit, according to the advocacy group Community Catalyst. Evidence from the documents was unsealed as part of a class action lawsuit against Abbott. (Press release from Community Catalyst)

Click here to read more about the Norvir lawsuit, including the unsealed Abbott documents. You can also browse TheBody.com's collection of articles about Norvir, which includes more background on the 2003 price hike.



Also Worth Noting: Video Central

Puppet Show performers
What's it like to experience the world's largest HIV conference? TheBody.com broke out its video cameras to bring you the sights and sounds of the XVII International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2008). Check out our AIDS 2008 Video Central page for a range of fascinating events and viewpoints, including a demo of a graphic puppet show (photo above) that Mexican HIV prevention workers use to teach teens about safer sex.

HEALTH ISSUES

 Anal HPV, Pre-Cancerous Growths Are Common in HIV-Positive Men, Study Finds
It's becoming increasingly clear that people with HIV are more likely to have anal human papillomavirus (HPV) -- even if they haven't had anal sex -- and to develop anal lesions that can potentially become cancerous if they go untreated. A new study of 188 HIV-positive Venezuelan men who have sex with men found that 56 percent had HPV and about 42 percent had anal intraepithelial neoplasia, an abnormal growth of cells in the anus. The upshot: testing, testing, testing, especially if you're an HIV-positive gay man. (Article from Project Inform)

You can read the abstract of this study from the International AIDS Conference online.

Despite the high rates and dangers of HPV among people with HIV, many health care providers don't offer anal Pap smears or other types of tests that can help spot potential problems before they turn into cancer. However, there are resources you can turn to: This list, compiled by the University of California-San Francisco, includes a number of providers in Australia, Canada and the United States who provide HPV-related services for people with HIV -- including a procedure known as high-resolution anoscopy, which is sometimes used as a follow-up test after a person's anal Pap smear reveals an abnormality.


 Bone Fractures More Common in People With HIV
As HIV-positive men and women get older, they should get bone density screenings, says Steven Grinspoon, M.D., one of the United States' most respected HIV researchers. Dr. Grinspoon recently reported the results of a large study comparing bone fracture rates in people according to their HIV status. He and his research team found that bone fractures are 60 percent more common in HIV-positive people, and that the greater risks for HIVers grew as they aged. The researchers acknowledge, however that we still know little about whether bone problems are caused by HIV itself, HIV meds or another reason entirely. (Article from kaisernetwork.org)

Although the causes of greater bone risk in HIVers aren't well understood, health experts have learned a lot about what people can do to make their bones stronger. Check out TheBody.com's collection of articles on bone problems and HIV for overviews, the latest news and tips on bone health.


 Signs Emerge That Isentress May Temporarily Worsen Existing Depression
If you're already taking medications for depression, there's a chance that Isentress may make your depression worse for up to a few months, according to new case reports out of Canada. Case reports, which are basically a doctor's written stories about specific people he or she cared for, aren't nearly as rigorous or conclusive as clinical trials, so these reports only serve as a heads-up that HIVers and their doctors should keep an eye out if they start taking Isentress when they're already on antidepressants or anti-psychotic drugs. (Article from aidsmap.com)



HIV TRANSMISSION

 African-Born People May Account for Many HIV Cases in U.S., Report Says
Is there a "hidden" epidemic of HIV among African migrants to the United States? A new, nationwide study by U.S. researchers suggests that people born in Africa may account for a surprisingly large number of HIV diagnoses in the United States. In fact, among black heterosexuals in particular, 16 percent of all people diagnosed with HIV in the study were African migrants; meanwhile, in California, one out of every five HIV diagnoses was in a person who was born in Africa. (Article from aidsmap.com)


Jim Pickett Can Rectal Microbicides Be Fun? Jim Pickett Talks About Booty-Based HIV Prevention
You've probably heard the term "rectal microbicide" tossed around in talks about HIV prevention. But what exactly is a rectal microbicide and how is it supposed to work? In this interview with TheBody.com, Jim Pickett, chairperson of the International Rectal Microbicide Advocates, gives a comprehensive and entertaining breakdown of the ABCs of rectal microbicide development for men and women -- and offers some fascinating tidbits based on his study of anal lubricant use around the world. (Article from The Body PRO)



VIEWPOINTS

Gregg Gonsalves Why Has Fighting HIV Started to Lose Its Luster?
"There has been a lot of backlash against AIDS" over the past couple of years, according to long-time HIVer and treatment activist Gregg Gonsalves. In his interview with kaisernetwork.org at the XVII International AIDS Conference last month, Gonsalves responds to recent assertions by some that the global pandemic gets too much money and attention. He also shares his thoughts on where we should focus our efforts to fight HIV in the future. (Article from Kaisernetwork.org)


 One Homeless HIVer's Struggles With the U.S. Shelter System
"In order for people to take care of themselves mentally and physically, be nourished, take their medicine ... every person should have a home. That's just one of your rights," a homeless HIV-positive activist says. In this article, the homeless man recounts all-too-common stories of life at the mercy of an urban United States shelter system -- from having his medications withheld to being kicked out when he took a stand and tried to improve conditions for himself and others like him. His experience illustrates the many ways that an unstable living situation makes homelessness and good HIV health a nearly impossible match. (Article from CHAMP)

From the urban United States to South Africa's shack settlements, the message is clear that a stable place to live is a key ingredient to healthy living with HIV -- and avoiding infection before it occurs. Click here to read CHAMP's report on the struggle -- in the U.S. and around the world -- for housing as HIV prevention.



Also Worth Noting: Connect With Others
The "Right" Way to Talk About HIV
(A recent post from the "Living With HIV" board)

I think you can educate the public while still saying that HIV isn't a death sentence. We don't need to scare people into education. That's a bit Hitler-esque, no? ... I don't need to see a sign of a mangled baby to learn that abortion isn't always the answer. I don't need to overdose on drugs to learn that drugs can harm my body. ... I believe we can give people with HIV/AIDS hope by honestly saying it's not a death sentence while also educating the public to prevent more new HIV/AIDS cases. ... There have been bumps along the way, but I have an incredible life and having HIV doesn't prevent me from leading an astounding existence. But only because I demand nothing less. And everybody who has HIV/AIDS can do the same.

-- Lovinlife

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

HIV TREATMENT

 Warnings About Taking Reyataz With Sustiva, Viramune, Oral Contraceptives
Although your HIV doctor and pharmacist are the ones who need to stay up on all the latest info about drug interactions, it's important to keep yourself educated as well. That's why it's worth noting that the package insert for Reyataz (atazanavir) has been updated with an array of important notes about other drugs that Reyataz doesn't get along with. Most notable among these is Viramune (nevirapine), which the insert says should never be taken with Reyataz. The same goes for Sustiva (efavirenz, Stocrin) if you're a person who has already tried several HIV treatment regimens. Among other warnings, the insert also notes that women should keep an eye out for potential problems when taking Reyataz and an oral contraceptive. (Press release from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration)


 Two NNRTIs in Early Development Show Promising Results
Wondering what new HIV meds might be coming around the bend a few years down the road? New research presented at the XVII International AIDS Conference focused on a number of drugs in development, including a pair that are so fresh out of the box they don't even have names yet: RDEA806 and IDX899, both of which are members of the NNRTI family. Small, early studies of the drugs showed that both hold promise, but many questions remain. (Article from Project Inform)

For more information, you can read the abstracts of the studies on IDX899 and RDEA806.



Also Worth Noting: Visual AIDS

Image from the September 2008 Visual AIDS Gallery
"When Mama Was a Moth," 2001; Ronaldo Sanduval

Visit the September 2008 Visual AIDS Web Gallery to view our latest collection of art by HIV-positive artists! This month's gallery, entitled "Sex, Drugs and Religion," is curated by Frank Spinelli, M.D.
HIV IN MEXICO

 HIV: An "Uninvited Hitchhiker" in U.S.-Mexico Border Crossings
What do people really know about HIV in Mexico, the host country of last month's XVII International AIDS Conference? According to this Washington Post report, Mexico boasts one of the lowest HIV rates in the Americas -- but in the border city of Tijuana, a stone's throw from the United States, the rate is nearly three times Mexico's national average. One top HIV researcher believes that deportation from the United States drives Tijuana's epidemic, because deportees are sometimes forced to sell themselves for sex just to have enough money to get by. It's an important issue for both Mexico and the United States, because people who are deported often find their way back across the border again. (Article from The Washington Post)

At the XVII International AIDS Conference, Ceci Connolly, who wrote the Washington Post report, spoke with kaisernetwork.org about her experiences reporting on HIV in Mexico. Click here to read the full interview.


 At a Mexican Prison for Men, HIV Is in the Cells
"We are a population of men, and it's normal for men to have sex with whoever is around," says Guillermo, an HIV-positive prisoner and peer educator in Mexico City. In many ways, Mexican prisons seem a lot like U.S. prisons: men have sex with men, unclean injection drug needles are shared and HIV is common. In this rare look at a prison on the outskirts of Mexico City, you'll get a sense of the risks that men in prison often take, and the efforts (or lack thereof) that Mexican officials are making to prevent and treat HIV among male prisoners. (Article from The New York Times)



HIV THROUGHOUT THE WORLD

 Some South Africans Take Sustiva to Get High, Health Officials Say
Generally, people with HIV want to avoid the side effects of HIV drugs. But in South Africa, some people are seeking out the mind-bending symptoms that Sustiva (efavirenz, Stocrin) can sometimes cause. In fact, South African officials report that thieves have been attacking people with HIV in their homes or as they leave clinics, and then selling a mixture of crushed Sustiva and marijuana in poor neighborhoods outside Durban. Besides the obvious risks of violence (and lost meds) for HIVers, health authorities also warn that the Sustiva-marijuana concoction may be deadly for recreational drug users. (Article from Agence France Presse)


 HIV-Positive Kids From Overseas Are Increasingly Adopted in U.S.
A growing number of people in the United States are adopting HIV-positive children from around the world, adoption advocates say. Thirty-eight such adoptions have already been completed or are in process this year, according to Adoption Advocates International, compared to just two overseas adoptions of HIV-positive kids in 2005. The majority of adoptions are of Ethiopian children. U.S. Health and Human Resources Secretary Mike Leavitt encouraged the practice, affirming that the children don't pose any kind of public health threat. "I applaud their compassion," he said of people who adopt HIV-positive kids, "and I'm delighted to know they're doing so." (Article from kaisernetwork.org)



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