October 22, 2008
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HIV & THE U.S. ELECTIONS

 U.S. Neglects HIV at Home; Will McCain or Obama Make a Difference?
"[HIV is] a pandemic that's spreading right under our nation's nose," says medical reporter Sanjay Gupta. In a CBS News report on the U.S. presidential campaign, Gupta pointed out that an estimated 1.2 million people in the United States have HIV, but the federal government's response to the virus within the country's borders is a pale reflection of its response to the virus in developing countries. In this video report, Gupta takes a closer look at the state of the HIV epidemic in the United States -- and at how the epidemic might be impacted by the election of either presidential candidate. (Article and video from CBS News)


 Obama Camp Outlines Strategies to Combat HIV in United States
What would Barack Obama do to fight HIV within the United States if he's elected president? During a conference call last week, campaign reps noted that Obama supports increased funding for HIV research, care and prevention (including the Ryan White Program), as well as developing during his first year in office a national strategy to fight HIV within the United States. One Obama rep added that the senator's health plan would require insurance companies to cover all people regardless of health history or so-called "pre-existing conditions." (Article from kaisernetwork.org)

For much more coverage of HIV-related issues in the upcoming U.S. elections, browse TheBody.com's collection of articles.


 A Call to Ensure the Next Four Years Aren't "Business as Usual"
The United States is just two weeks away from a presidential election that may transform the country. But the country's HIV epidemic isn't going to vanish once the election results are announced. That's why U.S. HIV activists -- including you, if you're interested -- will convene by phone on Nov. 12 to talk about how to move forward under a new president. During the nationwide teleconference, leaders of the country's most important activist groups will talk about developing a national strategy to fight HIV, guaranteeing access to comprehensive health care for everyone with HIV in the United States, revving up HIV prevention for people who need it most, and other essential issues. (Announcement from Community HIV/AIDS Mobilization Project)


Benefit Concert: Broadway Musical Stars Raise Cash for HIV

Drift

Will you be in New York City on Nov. 3? Want to help support care for people with HIV and breast cancer throughout the United States? Grab tickets for a special concert performance of the musical Drift, starring an array of Broadway artists including Kris Coleman, Jarrod Emick, Terrence Mann, Karla Mosley, Julia Murney and Adam Pascal. All proceeds go to Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS and the Broadway Dreams Foundation. Click here for more info or to purchase tickets.
VIEWPOINTS

 Health Officials Must Fight Myths About HIV-Positive Spitters, Advocates Say
If you're reading this, you probably already know that HIV is not transmitted through saliva. But more people than you would suspect still haven't gotten the news: For instance, when an HIV-positive man was sentenced to 35 years in jail after spitting on a Texas cop earlier this year, dozens of reporters covered the story, but few pointed out that there has never been a single documented case anywhere in the world of HIV being transmitted through saliva. That's why the HIV advocacy group CHAMP is urging U.S. health officials to be more aggressive about teaching lawyers, judges and reporters how HIV is and is not spread. (Article from Community HIV/AIDS Mobilization Project)

CHAMP is circulating a sign-on letter to help support its cause; the group plans to send the letter to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


 Methadone Is Medicine, Not Candy, Addiction Specialist Argues
People who need methadone treatment for drug addiction rarely get the treatment and respect they deserve, says Sarz Maxwell, M.D., a psychiatrist who specializes in addiction treatment. To Dr. Maxwell, addiction is a lifelong medical problem, just like HIV; expecting opiates addicts to give up methadone is as absurd as hoping that HIV-positive people who need HIV meds will do well if they simply stop treatment after a couple of years. In this interview, Dr. Maxwell gives us the lowdown on what methadone is all about -- and disparages those who fail to see methadone users as people with a real disease who need medicine. (Article from Test Positive Aware Network)


 Ending HIV in Children: A Fight We Can Win
Every day, a thousand babies in the developing world are born with HIV, even though we can prevent HIV in every single one of them, says Pam Barnes, president and CEO of the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation. Still, Barnes is hopeful. She and actress Gloria Reuben recently traveled to see several of the programs funded by the foundation in Kenya and South Africa. In this podcast interview, the two women share their stories and their aspirations to see a world in which no child is born with HIV. (Podcast from the National Public Radio program News & Notes)


Also Worth Noting: Connect With Others
The Side Effects Are Just Too Much; What Do I Do?
(A recent post from the "Living With HIV" board)

So here I am with a baby, not a lot of sleep (for obvious reasons), lots of stress, poor diet and very little exercise. And I am very tired and fatigued. So I went to the doctor. My viral load came back as 400 but the bad news was my CD4 was only 265. I panicked. Cried actually, and my husband thinks I'm dying. Sucks. So I took the meds. For the two days I could stand it; [then] I had flu symptoms and aches and pains and nausea and diarrhea. So I stopped there. I have no idea what to do. ... Has anyone else had this happen? ... What worked for you?

-- hblue23

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

HIV TREATMENT

 Prezista Gets Green Light for First-Line Therapy; Yellow Light for Pregnant Women
Prezista (darunavir) has officially joined the growing list of powerful HIV medications available for people who have never taken HIV meds. Until this week, Prezista had only been approved in the United States for use by people who have already been on HIV medications. Now, however, the drug can be used by so-called "treatment-naive" people as well. Prezista may not be the best choice of meds for pregnant women, however. (Press release from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration)


 What's So Great About Integrase Inhibitors? HIV Specialist Explains
"Isentress [raltegravir, MK-0518] is not just 'another drug,'" says HIV specialist Daniel Berger, M.D. "The integrase inhibitors have been nothing short of historic, exciting and mammoth in scope." Dr. Berger is brimming with enthusiasm for Isentress, the first approved integrase inhibitor, and elvitegravir (GS9137), which is making its way down the pipeline. In this article, Dr. Berger explains what research has shown us about this new class of HIV meds and what integrase inhibitors may mean for the future of HIV treatment. (Article from Test Positive Aware Network)


Gift Giving: Give Artwork for the Holidays!

Visual AIDS Postcards From the Edge Gift Certificates

Buy a gift certificate to benefit Visual AIDS! Each $75 certificate is redeemable in New York City on Saturday, Jan. 10, 2009, at the 11th Annual Visual AIDS Postcards From the Edge Sale, and is good for one postcard-size artwork. A piece of art makes the perfect gift, and this certificate lets someone you love choose a work that they'll love. Click here to learn more about buying a certificate.
HEALTH ISSUES

 Nutritional Supplements for HIVers: A Long-Term Survivor Dispenses Wisdom
What are the top five nutritional supplements for people with HIV? There may be few people in the United States who can answer that question better than Fred Walters Jr. He's the HIV-positive founder of the Houston Buyers Club, which has sold discounted supplements to people with HIV throughout the country since 1996. In this interview, Walters discusses his own long history with HIV, explains how the Houston Buyers Club works and provides some tips on nutritional supplements for HIV-positive people. (Article from Test Positive Aware Network)


 Problems With Thinking, Memory Appear More Likely if CD4 Was Ever Below 200
A new study investigating problems with thinking and memory in people with HIV offers yet another reason to start HIV meds well before your CD4 count drops below 200: Spanish researchers have found that HIV-positive people who had ever had a CD4 count below 200 (even if their CD4 count improved after starting meds) were more likely to develop problems involving thought or memory than people whose CD4 count had never dipped that low. Although the study is a small one (just 64 people), the findings suggest that the neurological damage done when a person's CD4 count is low can't always be undone, the researchers say. (Study abstract from AIDS Research and Human Retroviruses)


 HIV-Positive People Less Likely to "Clear" Hep C Without Treatment
Unlike HIV, hepatitis C isn't always a lifelong disease; some people's bodies manage to naturally "clear" the virus out not long after they're first infected, without ever having to take hep C meds. However, new research from Europe suggests that hep C clearance does not happen often in people with HIV. The massive study found that slightly less than a quarter of HIV-positive people who caught hepatitis C cleared the virus; the authors said that, by comparison, about a third of HIV-negative people clear hep C. Intriguingly, HIV-positive women were more likely to naturally clear hep C than HIV-positive men, and gay men with HIV had better odds of clearance than people in other HIV risk groups, such as injection drug users. (Study from The Journal of Infectious Diseases)

What does a study like this actually mean when it comes to treatment for HIV/hepatitis C coinfection? In this highly technical journal article, a pair of Italian researchers argue that the results should push doctors to rethink how they treat people with HIV and hep C.


HIV TRANSMISSION & TESTING

 The Silver Lining on the Vaccine Front: New Ideas for Fighting HIV
It's been a strange year in the hunt for an HIV vaccine. Major setbacks in the field led many researchers to reexamine their assumptions, and led some to question whether there was even a future for HIV vaccine development. But as the recently concluded AIDS Vaccine 2008 conference shows, vaccine research is still alive and well. About 30 clinical trials for vaccine candidates are underway worldwide, and there's exciting new research that may yield fresh insight into solving HIV's greatest riddle: How can the virus be stopped once and for all? (Article from kaisernetwork.org)



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