September 29, 2008
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HEALTH ISSUES

 Is Isentress Increasing My Liver Enzymes?
After two and a half years on Kaletra (lopinavir/ritonavir) and Truvada (tenofovir/FTC), I switched my Kaletra to Isentress (raltegravir) due to side effects. The good news is that, since I switched, my CD4 has gone up, my cholesterol has gone down and my viral load has stayed undetectable. The bad news is that my liver enzymes -- ALT and AST -- have gone up, even though I rarely drink and have never had liver problems before. Should I be concerned?


 How Much Alcohol Is Too Much for Someone With Hep C?
I know that when you have hepatitis C, you're told to avoid alcohol. But does "avoid alcohol" mean "Don't drink alcohol ever under any circumstances," or does it mean "One or two drinks a week is OK"?


 Getting the Pounds Back When You're Extremely Underweight
After being hospitalized with pneumonia and diagnosed with advanced HIV disease, my friend now weighs just 85 pounds. She had gastric bypass surgery before her diagnosis and is lactose intolerant, so there are limits to what she can eat. She says she's lost interest in eating, but I'm worried that she's giving up on life. What can I do to help her regain weight and get healthy?



HIV TRANSMISSION

 As Long as He "Pulls Out," Am I Safe From HIV?
If a man does not ejaculate inside me -- if he pulls out before he actually comes -- would that make it safe to have unprotected sex with an HIV-positive guy?


 Is "Bottoming" Too Risky -- Even With a Condom?
I read online that, as an HIV-negative person, having receptive anal sex with a condom is more risky than having insertive anal sex without a condom. Is this really true -- and if it is, does it mean that no HIV-negative person should ever have receptive anal sex with an HIV-positive person?


 Can PEP Protect Me From HIV Months After I've Already Been Exposed?
About four months ago I had unprotected anal sex (as both the top and the bottom) with my HIV-positive boyfriend, who has since passed away. So far, my HIV test results are negative. Should I take post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) meds just in case?



Also Worth Noting: Visual AIDS

Image from the September 2008 Visual AIDS Web Gallery
"The Memory of Ours,"
Rob Anderson

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 THE WORKPLACE

 What Are the Rules for an HIV-Positive Nurse?
I am an HIV-positive nurse. Because of my status, I'm not allowed to draw blood from a patient, or to insert the needle that will hook them up to an intravenous fluid line. Is this reasonable? What are the other precautionary rules that HIV-positive nurses have to follow?


 HIV and Privacy in the Airline Industry
I'd like to get a job in the airline industry, but I'm worried my HIV status will get in the way. Do any airlines check your HIV status when you apply for a job?



LIVING WITH HIV

 Donating Organs When You're HIV Positive
Is there any way for an HIV-positive person to safely donate organs?


 Can a Person Recover From Advanced HIV, Dementia and Hep C?
I recently reunited with my niece after a 30-year estrangement, and found that she's in very bad shape. She's a former sex worker and injection drug user who has HIV and hepatitis C. She is showing symptoms of dementia, has HIV encephalopathy and was recently admitted to the hospital. She had apparently been on HIV treatment the last time she was in prison, and she's been put back on those meds, but what are the odds she can recover from all this?


Also Worth Noting: Connect With Others
Night Terrors/Nightmares
(A recent post from the "Living With HIV" board)

People talk about having bad nightmares or hallucinations as a result of meds. I didn't know that was a side effect. I've had really horrible night terrors since taking AZT [Retrovir, zidovudine] 10 years ago. ... My husband and I just always thought I'm a "bad sleeper." ... Every night my husband has to wake me up because I am screaming and crying, and even after I wake up I still feel like I'm in a hallucination -- the nightmare is still overwhelmingly real. I always tried to ignore it because my health is so good that I felt too blessed to complain! ...

I am wondering if anybody was able to handle [their nightmares] without taking sleeping medication? ... Has anybody tried any specific meditations or any other natural remedies? (I'd like to try not to take any more medications than I already am!)

-- Lovinlife

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

Also Worth Noting: 100 Questions & Answers About HIV

Joel Gallant, M.D., M.P.H.

Joel Gallant, M.D., M.P.H., is one of the top HIV clinicians in the United States and a master at making difficult concepts easy to understand. We recently spoke with Dr. Gallant about his new book, 100 Questions & Answers About HIV and AIDS, and what it's been like to help people with HIV, both online and offline, since the beginning of the U.S. epidemic.
HIV TREATMENT

 Is It Normal for Someone With HIV Not to Be on Treatment?
I have a close friend who was recently diagnosed with HIV but hasn't been prescribed any HIV medications. Is this normal?


 Is Atripla Making Me Feel Drunk?
I've never been drunk or high before, but I'm pretty sure that's how I've been feeling ever since I started Atripla (efavirenz/tenofovir/FTC) six weeks ago. All of the other side effects have gone away, but I still feel tired and out of it. Is this just a feeling I have to get used to, or should I consider switching meds?



YOU & YOUR LABS

 CD4 Count Over 2,000: Is This a Mistake?
I'm a long-term HIV survivor who has had a CD4 count as low as zero in the past. However, for a couple of years now, my tests have been consistently above 1,800, and the last one was more than 2,300! I know this is an extremely high number for someone with HIV, and that it looks like a good thing, but is there any way such a high CD4 count could be indicative of something bad?



STRANGE BUT TRUE

 Worst. HIV Professor. Ever.
I am a new nursing student. My professor says that people with HIV or hepatitis B must be placed in an isolation ward when they're admitted to a hospital. She also says that HIV can be caught by touching sheets that are wet with an HIV-positive person's urine. I'm having trouble believing her, but could she really be correct?


 Sex With Plastic: Secret Risk Factor for HIV?
Two weeks ago, I masturbated using two Ziploc bags. Now I have a fever and my throat is sore. Did I give myself HIV?



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