September 24, 2008
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LIVING WITH HIV

Mark King TheBody.com Video Blog: A Gay Long-Term Survivor Takes You Along for the Ride
Meet Mark King. He's HIV positive, he's gay (or, as he puts it, "really gay"), he's a recovering meth addict, and he's about to open up his life to you in a way that nobody on TheBody.com ever has. Irreverent, funny, brutally honest and always captivating, Mark will take you along with him -- literally! -- as he navigates the ins and outs of living with HIV. In his first blog entry (which is a mix of video and written word, just like all of his entries will be), Mark introduces himself and gives you a taste of what's in store. (Blog from TheBody.com)


 The "Secrets" of Long-Term HIV Survivors
Most long-term survivors of HIV have been through a lot. Many only narrowly escaped death in the 1990s, and the emotional and psychological challenges of surviving have often played as large a part in their lives as the medical issues they've faced. In this article, psychotherapist Jeff Levy uses his experience with clients to tell the stories of three long-term survivors who have been through the ringer and back again. He then explains the key ingredients that allowed these people to overcome their obstacles and succeed. (Article from Positively Aware)


 Sage Advice for Women Over 50 Living With HIV
A complicated mix of reasons put older women at risk for HIV, and can also make coping with a diagnosis more difficult. "Your kids don't think that you're having sex," says Dorothy, an over-50 HIVer. Liz, who is also over 50 and now living with HIV, adds, "We don't have the power to wear a condom or even negotiate it with our men." In this interview, Dorothy and Liz lay out a laundry list of issues that affect older women with HIV, and share the wisdom of their experiences in how to deal with them. (Article from WORLD)



VIEWPOINTS

Cover of '100 Questions & Answers About HIV and AIDS' 100 Questions and Answers About HIV
When you're diagnosed with HIV, your head spins with questions and uncertainties. There's just so much to take in; how can you make sense of your new reality? Joel Gallant, M.D., M.P.H., one of the top HIV clinicians in the United States and a master at making difficult concepts easy to understand, wrote a book earlier this year that may help. It's called 100 Questions & Answers About HIV and AIDS. In this book excerpt, you can get a sense of the issues Dr. Gallant tackles, including: How will I pay for medical care? Why is medication adherence so important? And the question that never dies: Is it true that drug companies are withholding the cure for HIV so they can continue to make money off of HIV meds? (Excerpt of a book by Joel Gallant, M.D., M.P.H.)

Dr. Gallant has been answering questions from HIV-positive people since the mid-1990s; in fact, he may be one of the first experts ever to tackle HIV-related questions online. In this fascinating one-on-one interview with TheBody.com, we talked with Dr. Gallant about his new book -- and about his experiences as a top HIV physician since the beginning of the U.S. epidemic.


 We All Balance Both Genders Within, Columnist Says
Given the current social climate in the United States, it may be hard to believe that homophobia hasn't always been so rampant. In this column, Sue Saltmarsh reminds us that many indigenous cultures traditionally respect, or even revere, people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. These cultures value the wisdom that comes from striving to balance aspects of both genders. A long-time holistic practitioner, Saltmarsh draws from her experience working with transgender clients to explore the true meaning of gender, and highlights the importance of finding balance in all areas of our lives. (Article from Positively Aware)



Also Worth Noting: Visual AIDS

Image from the September 2008 Visual AIDS Gallery
"Talisman," 1994; Barton Lidice Benes

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 TREATMENT & HEALTH ISSUES

 A Revolutionary Way to Fight HIV: CCR5 Inhibitors
The newest generation of HIV meds works better against HIV than the meds of the 1990s, and seems to have gentler side effects as well. But some new meds can also be hard to wrap your brain around. Take, for instance, CCR5 inhibitors such as Selzentry (maraviroc, Celsentri): Not only do they work in a completely different way from all HIV meds that came before them, but they also require people to take a special type of blood test before they ever pop their first pill. There's a lot to learn about CCR5 inhibitors; fortunately, we've got the answers to many of your questions. Take a look at this article to get all the info you'll need on the ins and outs of CCR5 inhibitors. (Article from TheBody.com)


 Human Growth Hormone: How It Can (and Can't) Help With Body Shape Changes
After more than 20 years with HIV and 15 on HIV meds, Brett Grodeck's body didn't look anything at all like it was supposed to. He says he felt like "an apple on toothpicks." That's when a friend suggested he try human growth hormone (HGH) treatment. In this article, Grodeck compares tesamorelin, the HGH drug he tried, with Serostim (somatropin), another HGH treatment -- and relates how his looks and his life have changed for the better. However, while HGH can certainly help HIVers fight body shape changes, Grodeck has learned that HGH is no miracle solution: It still takes exercise, nutrition and hard work to stave off the return of his apple-shaped body. (Article from Positively Aware)



COINFECTIONS

 Herpes Drug Appears to Stop HIV in Coinfected Cells
Could a herpes drug treat HIV as well? A new U.S. study has found that acyclovir (brand name: Zovirax), which is approved in the United States as a herpes treatment, appears to have the ability to do double duty -- at least in the laboratory. In the study, researchers performed lab tests on cells that were infected with both HIV and herpes. They found that, when acyclovir was added to one of those cells, it not only stopped herpes, but it also suppressed HIV's ability to make more copies of itself. However, when acyclovir was added to cells with only HIV in it, the drug had no effect. (Study summary from aidsmap.com)


 CDC Gets Serious About Routine Testing for Hepatitis B
As many as 1.4 million people in the United States (many of whom have HIV) are infected with chronic hepatitis B, a virus that can cause severe liver damage if left untreated. However, a large number of people living with hep B are completely unaware of their status. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is hoping to change this with revised guidelines that recommend a major expansion of hep B testing. In addition to routine testing for all people with HIV, the new guidelines recommend routine testing for all gay men and injection drug users, as well as anybody who was born in Africa or Asia. (Press release from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)



HIV/STD TRANSMISSION

 British Researcher Finds a Way to Make Breastfeeding Safer for HIV-Positive Moms
Since breast milk can transmit HIV from an HIV-positive mother to her baby, finding a way to make it safer has been an ongoing concern -- particularly in Africa, where using formula is often not an option. A Cambridge University engineer has invented a simple nipple shield a breastfeeding HIV positive woman can wear that appears to help prevent transmission. That's hopeful news, but some big questions remain. For instance, how can African governments be persuaded to pay for the nipple shields? And how can African women be urged to use them, when doing so might reveal their HIV status? (Article from BBC News)


 CDC Says HIV Prevention Programs Must Make Treating Other STDs a Priority
HIV prevention programs can't afford to pay attention to just one sexually transmitted disease (STD) and ignore all the rest, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says. There's a heap of evidence that suggests people who have STDs such as syphilis, herpes and gonorrhea are more likely to catch HIV -- and that, if they already have HIV, they're more likely to pass it on to others. In this fact sheet, the CDC says it's time to put that knowledge to use: Efforts to diagnose and treat people with curable STDs should be a major part of all "comprehensive HIV prevention programs at national, state, and local levels," the CDC says. (Article from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

To read more about sexually transmitted diseases other than HIV, browse TheBody.com's trove of overviews, news and research articles.



Also Worth Noting: Connect With Others
What Type of Therapist Should I See for Depression?
(A recent post from the "Living With HIV" board)

My doctor recently diagnosed me with depression. It sort of hit me like a ton of bricks. She put me on Lexapro 10 mg and then switched me to 20 mg just last week. ... I also switched my Sustiva from p.m. to a.m., hoping this will help. ... My question is, she wants me to talk to someone. I am not sure if I am better off at a psychologist or psychiatrist. Any advice?

-- franfrog

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

MAKING A DIFFERENCE

 In Puerto Rico, a Former Drug User Comes Through Where Her Government Fails
In the city of Fajardo in Puerto Rico, there's no formal program for distributing clean, unused syringes. Instead there is Gloria Gonzalez, a former drug user who has adopted needle exchange as her personal cause. Fajardo, Puerto Rico and the United States have not contributed a cent towards Gonzalez's work, so she does all of her distribution and outreach on her own time, without pay. While Gonzalez's dedication has probably protected many from HIV, her makeshift needle exchange program also brings to light just how inadequate services are for injection drug users in Puerto Rico. Estimates say that more than a thousand Puerto Ricans get HIV through injection drug use each year. (Article from Housing Works)


 As U.S. Presidential Debates Approach, Marchers Trek the Country to Stand Up Against HIV
It may be "the single most important development in American history since the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr." Those are the words that famed civil rights activist James Meredith used to describe the Stand Against AIDS, a series of nationwide marches designed to push for a comprehensive, federal strategy to fight HIV in the United States. On Friday, Sept. 26, the marchers will converge on Oxford, Miss., where the first presidential debate between John McCain and Barack Obama will take place. In the meantime, though, they've been holding rallies across the country -- including a "walking caravan" of activists who are journeying 172 miles on foot to Oxford from Memphis, Tenn. (Article from Housing Works)

Speaking of the 2008 elections, if you're a U.S. citizen and want to see HIV policy change in the United States, don't forget to make sure you're registered to vote -- and, if you'll be out of town for the Nov. 4 elections, be sure you've taken care of your absentee ballot. Project Vote Smart offers detailed, state-by-state information on voting requirements and provides access to the forms you need to register or apply for an absentee ballot.



IN THE NEWS

 Despite New Law, HIVers Are Still Barred From Visiting, Immigrating to the U.S.
Even though Congress recently repealed a 15-year-old law that barred people with HIV from entering the United States, the country's notorious HIV travel ban remains in place. The problem is that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services still holds the power to decide whether HIVers should be allowed to enter the country, and so far it's done nothing. Democrats in the House and Senate have written to President Bush and Human Services Secretary Michael Leavitt begging for swift action. In response, a Department of Health Human Services spokesperson announced that the agency plans to "revise" the HIV travel ban by January 2009. (Article from kaisernetwork.org)

Politicians aren't the only people pushing hard to break the HIV travel ban. As this article from the Community HIV/AIDS Mobilization Project describes, because right-wing campaigners have put up a number of obstacles to ensure that the country's HIV travel ban remain intact, HIV activists still have work to do before they win this fight.


 Longstanding Atlanta HIV Organization Reaches End of the Road
AIDS Survival Project, which for more than 20 years has provided a wide range of HIV/AIDS services to the Atlanta, Ga., area, will begin to close at the end of this year. The decision to shut down the organization is a result of many factors, including flat funding from private grants and a loss of Ryan White CARE Act money. AIDS Survival Project's HIV counseling, testing and referral center will stay open until next June, but most of its services will stop at the end of December. (Article from Southern Voice)

AIDS Survival Project was one of TheBody.com's original content providers; from 1998 through 2006, its writers (including outspoken long-term survivor David Salyer) brought us many articles on HIV activism and living with HIV. Click here to browse our full collection of AIDS Survival Project articles.



HIV THROUGHOUT THE WORLD

 Bejeweled Penises Pose an HIV Risk for Men in Taiwan
Some people bedazzle their clothes. Others, apparently, bedazzle their penis. Genital beading -- which involves sliding bits of plastic, glass or metal underneath the skin on the shaft of the penis -- is a relatively common practice in some parts of the world. And, it turns out, it's a practice that can put men at risk for HIV. In this interview with The Body PRO, TheBody.com's sister site for health care professionals, Tony Szu-Hsien Lee explains how genital beading increases HIV risk among injection drug users in Taiwan -- and attempts to explain why the heck these guys decide to trick out their treats in the first place. (Interview from The Body PRO)

This interview is just one of an ever-growing host of one-on-one conversations we had with researchers, activists, HIVers and others at the XVII International AIDS Conference this past summer. Visit our conference home page for more of the latest interviews, news and research!


 Islamic Nigerian State Arranges Marriages for HIV-Positive Couples
A Nigerian state governed by Islamic law has arranged marriages for 140 HIV-positive men and women. The government's argument is that it's pairing up people with HIV in order to battle the "isolation and stigma" of HIV and prevent the spread of the virus. At least one HIV-positive groom appeared to agree, at least on record: "If we should fear God, we should stop spreading the HIV virus through indiscriminate marriage, thereby infecting innocent people," he said. "Marrying someone with the same HIV status will reduce the spread of the scourge." (Article from BBC News)



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