October 29, 2008
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Also Worth Noting: Vote! Vote! Vote! U.S. Citizens, Exercise Your Rights on Nov. 4

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By the time you read TheBody.com's next "News & Views" e-mail newsletter, the United States will have voted for its next president. No matter what your values or political beliefs may be, if you're eligible to vote in the United States, it's vital that you exercise your right to do so on Tuesday, Nov. 4 -- after all, this election may drastically change HIV/AIDS policy and funding in the United States. Use this polling place locator to find the spot where you need to go to cast your ballot on Election Day.
HIV & THE 2008 U.S. ELECTIONS

 A Final Comparison of U.S. Presidential Candidates' Stances on HIV
What does U.S. presidential hopeful Sen. John McCain think about syringe exchange? What does Democratic candidate Sen. Barack Obama plan to do, if he's elected, about making HIV treatment available to all those who need it? One of the largest HIV service organizations in the United States, Gay Men's Health Crisis (GMHC), has released an updated, point-by-point report breaking down each candidate's stance on an array of issues that matter to the HIV community -- from comprehensive sex education to housing for low-income people living with HIV. (Report in PDF format from GMHC)

Use TheBody.com's collection of articles on the 2008 presidential election, as well as the excellent online advocacy group AIDSVote.org, to help you make an informed decision on Nov. 4!


SUMMARIES FROM THE LATEST HIV CONFERENCE

 Full Coverage of ICAAC/IDSA 2008: Insightful Interviews, Podcasts and Recaps
A large HIV conference took place this week in Washington, D.C., and as always at these conferences, there's a rush of fascinating new research, some of which may change the face of HIV medicine. Want to get the lowdown? Check out our coverage of ICAAC/IDSA 2008 for a glimpse at the latest developments. Be warned, though: Much of our coverage is geared toward people who already know much of the medical lingo used by HIV doctors and researchers. (The next two interviews highlighted in this newsletter, however, are specifically geared toward HIV-positive people.)


Joel Gallant, M.D. ICAAC/IDSA: Which Studies Are Most Likely to Change the Lives of People With HIV?
Tune in as Joel Gallant, M.D., one of the United States' foremost HIV experts, walks us through some of the most important findings presented at ICAAC/IDSA 2008. This conference included a few studies that may change the landscape of HIV treatment: One study, for instance, strongly suggests that HIVers should start meds well before their CD4 count drops below 350. Other studies highlighted how some of our powerful new HIV meds may become good options for those who are thinking about their first HIV treatment regimen. (A video version of this interview is coming soon!)


Eric Daar, M.D. ICAAC/IDSA: New Studies on New (and Not Quite as New) HIV Meds
From Lexiva to Reyataz and from Prezista to Isentress, several studies from ICAAC/IDSA 2008 showed promising results for the newer HIV medications in our treatment arsenal. In this interview with TheBody.com, noted HIV researcher Eric Daar, M.D., gives the HIV community the lowdown on these studies and how they may impact the way HIV-positive people look at their treatment.


Also Worth Noting: Connect With Others
What's Your Take on the "HIV Scare" in a Missouri School?
(A recent post from the "Living With HIV" board)

Last week, U.S. media jumped all over a report out of Missouri in which an HIV-positive person reportedly claimed that he or she (the person's gender wasn't revealed) had exposed 50 teenagers to the virus. Health officials refused to explain further, but they began offering HIV tests to all 1,300 students at Normandy High School, which is located in a suburb of St. Louis.

Check out the Associated Press news article on the story (posted by franfrog) and share your take: Is this an understandable reaction? Or is it yet another painful example of how much ignorance about HIV remains in the United States, and how much work we have left to do before we can eliminate HIV stigma in our own backyard?

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

HIV TREATMENT & COMPLICATIONS

 Can HIV Be Cured? A Look at HIV Scientists' Greatest Quest
Despite the phenomenal success of HIV research over the last 25 years, the field's holy grail -- a cure -- is still out of reach. Will we ever get there? Scientific American asked HIV researcher Mario Stevenson to take a close look at the issue. As Stevenson explains, researchers have discovered that HIV has several crafty ways to hide inside the human body, seemingly beyond the reach of current HIV drugs. However, Stevenson says, there is reason for hope: HIV meds are more powerful than ever, and researchers are now testing whether a combination of our strongest meds could knock out HIV for good. (Article from Scientific American)


Tony Mills, M.D. Study Results Indicate Prezista Works Better Than Kaletra in People New to HIV Treatment
Move over, Kaletra (lopinavir/ritonavir): There's a new first-line HIV medication in town. Prezista (darunavir), which was approved in the United States as a first-line med earlier this month, not only held its own against Kaletra in a major study -- it surpassed it. (An ICAAC/IDSA interview with Tony Mills, M.D.)


 Switching From Combivir to Truvada Doesn't Worsen Lipoatrophy, but Also Doesn't Improve It, Study Finds
If you've got an undetectable viral load on Combivir (AZT/3TC), why should you switch to a newer medication like Truvada (tenofovir/FTC)? One major reason may be metabolic issues: The Retrovir (zidovudine, AZT) that makes up one of the drugs in Combivir has been associated with lipoatrophy, or body fat loss, so some theorize that by switching meds, lipoatrophy might go away. Unfortunately, a study presented at ICAAC/IDSA seems to debunk this theory, although a drug switch did appear to improve people's blood fat levels. (Article from Project Inform)


 Choosing First-Line Regimens: So Easy Your Primary Care Doc Could Do It?
Those of us living in wealthy nations may have more HIV meds to choose from than ever before, but selecting a first-line HIV treatment regimen today is often a choice between just two options: Atripla (efavirenz/tenofovir/FTC) or the combination of Truvada (tenofovir/FTC) and boosted Reyataz (atazanavir), a new study indicates. The findings suggest it may be realistic for primary care doctors and general practitioners to shoulder more of the HIV care burden, which could ease the huge amount of strain that's currently placed on the United States' HIV care system. (An ICAAC/IDSA interview with James McKinnel, M.D.)


Benjamin Young, M.D., Ph.D. Epzicom vs. Truvada: Latest Study Results Highlight the Similarities
In the battle between a pair of combo meds, Epzicom (abacavir/3TC) and Truvada (tenofovir/FTC), which comes out on top at a first-line therapy drug? One attempt to answer this question, code named the HEAT study, says that the answer is ... both. The latest HEAT results show that both meds work quite well against HIV -- and that when they don't work, neither is more likely than the other to spur the emergence of drug resistance. (An ICAAC/IDSA interview with Benjamin Young, M.D., Ph.D.)


 Future Is Murky for a Novel HIV Drug in Development
There aren't a lot of new HIV medications in the pipeline, but bevirimat is a unique type of drug currently making its way through clinical trials. It's the first of yet another new class of medications known as maturation inhibitors, which are similar to protease inhibitors. Bevirimat's path to approval has been a bit rocky, though; studies suggest it may not be quite as potent as it needs to be in order to compete with other approved HIV meds. Still, a study presented at ICAAC/IDSA 2008 shows some hope remains for this budding medication. (Article from Project Inform)



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