November 26, 2008
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LIVING WITH HIV

Mark King Mark King Puts Living With HIV in Perspective
Ever hear someone claim that only a person with HIV can truly understand what it's like to be positive? Longtime HIV survivor Mark King begs to differ. Mark's brother Dick is HIV negative, but he had "a horrific front row seat to his lover's [HIV] disease and dying process," Mark says. "Isn't that close enough to understand?" Now Mark is in Michigan with his oldest brother Hal, who is struggling with lung cancer. In his latest video blog on TheBody.com, Mark talks about how caring for Hal "took me out of myself, out of my disease, and allowed me to focus on another person. This has been my gift this [Thanksgiving] holiday, to be there for Hal and to put my own HIV infection into perspective." (Blog from TheBody.com)


 Managing the Holiday Blues
Holidays sometimes put added pressure on our already-stressful lives. This holiday season may be even worse than usual because of economic uncertainty. You might feel exhausted, depressed and lonely -- even if you're surrounded by people. Now is the time to prepare so you can ensure those feelings don't keep you down. Remember: You're not alone! Holiday blues are a normal response to a hectic time of the year. (Article from AIDS Survival Project)


Also Worth Noting: Do. See. Hear. Know.

Red Ribbons

What are you doing for World AIDS Day on Monday, Dec. 1? Check out our ever-growing listing of World AIDS Day events throughout the United States and the world for inspiration as you decide how you can best observe this year's World AIDS Day! The listing is just one part of TheBody.com's 2008 World AIDS Day Center.

HIV IN THE AGE OF OBAMA

 HIV Activists March on Washington to Remind Obama of His Promises
More than 1,000 people gathered in Washington, D.C., for a rally to remind U.S. President-elect Barack Obama of his HIV policy promises, the HIV advocacy group Housing Works reports. The rally was part of a day of advocacy activities targeting the transition team, and included a mock inauguration in which activists posing as Obama were "sworn in" on a national AIDS strategy document instead of a Bible. (Article from Housing Works)


 Obama Picks Daschle as No. 1 Health Official; Where Does He Stand on HIV?
President-elect Obama has made one of his most critical cabinet picks -- at least for the HIV community. He has chosen former senator Tom Daschle to be U.S. Secretary of Heath and Human Services (HHS), the country's top health-related position. According to the HIV advocacy group Housing Works, Daschle has demonstrated his commitment to issues such as universal health care, syringe exchange and the global fight against HIV. However, Daschle has yet to speak out regarding the epidemic in the United States. "We need to understand quickly what his thoughts are on national AIDS," says Julie Davids of the Community HIV/AIDS Mobilization Project. (Article from Housing Works)


HIV TREATMENT & HEALTH ISSUES

 People Diagnosed With Extremely Low CD4 Counts Usually Respond Well to Treatment, Study Finds
We know that people are better off when HIV is caught early, before it's done a lot of damage to the immune system. However, people in the United States are often diagnosed when they already have a pretty low CD4 count. How do they fare? Some answers appear in an international study of 760 HIVers who were diagnosed with an average CD4 count of just 41. The bad news is that 16 percent of the people in the study died. However, researchers also found that the people in the study who started HIV treatment generally responded well: After a little more than a year on HIV meds, most saw their CD4 count climb above the 200 mark, and almost all got their viral load below 500. (Study summary from aidsmap.com)


 Immediate HIV Treatment for HIV-Positive Babies Dramatically Increases Survival, Study Finds
Official U.S. guidelines recently recommended that HIV treatment be given to all HIV-positive infants less than a year old, even if they show no signs of an unhealthy immune system. These new guidelines were motivated by a South African study that has just been published. The study found that HIV-positive babies randomly chosen to begin HIV treatment immediately were 76 percent less likely to die than babies who weren't given meds until their CD4 percentage dropped below a certain threshold or they developed symptoms of AIDS. (Article from kaisernetwork.org)


 As Non-AIDS Cancers Rise Among HIVers, Researchers Look for Answers
It's becoming increasingly clear that some HIV-positive people are at a higher risk for developing certain cancers than HIV-negative people. The question is, "Why?" Unfortunately, we still don't have a concrete answer, but it's becoming one of the most talked-about issues in HIV medicine today. In this overview, a number of top HIV researchers offer their perspectives on how some non-AIDS-related cancers have emerged as a health concern for people with HIV -- especially long-term survivors who otherwise seem to be doing well on their HIV meds. (Article from the Baltimore Sun)


 Does Kaletra Monotherapy Work? Depends on Who You Ask
Will Kaletra "monotherapy" ever be ready for prime time? For years now, some researchers have been studying whether it's possible to take an HIV treatment regimen that consists only of Kaletra (lopinavir/ritonavir). It's an intriguing idea, since fewer meds could mean cheaper treatment and less risk of side effects. In this article, however, Project Inform says the latest findings on Kaletra monotherapy are anything but positive. (Article from Project Inform)


Also Worth Noting: Connect With Others
Happy Anniversary to Me: One Year on HIV Meds!
(A recent post from the "Living With HIV" board)

It's been one year today since I took that first antiretroviral! I must say, I feel great. Having said that, I never even felt sick anyway, even though I [had] a CD4 count of 282 and a viral load of 306,000 when I was diagnosed.

To all newly diagnosed folks: Don't freak out, and don't be scared about starting meds. I don't know anyone who can't tolerate them, and that includes me. Just treat them like vitamin pills, take them in conjunction with your healthy diet and exercise routine, and you will be just fine.

The key is adherence. I get the little bad boys down my throat on time, every day, without fail. I've never missed a dose, never even been late, and have taken them with water, juice, coffee, beer, wine, even a gin and tonic! I've taken them on planes, boats, buses, taxis, even in business meetings!

-- movingon

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

IN THE NEWS

 Things You Can Track With Microchips: Pets, Luggage and ... People With HIV?
In the 1980s, conservative U.S. icon William F. Buckley Jr. came up with an idea to tattoo everyone with HIV as a way of preventing the virus from spreading. Common sense (and activist protests) prevailed. But fast-forward to the present, where lawmakers in Indonesia are set to vote on a bill that would allow the government to implant microchips in some people with HIV to track their movements. Supporters claim they just want to reduce the alarmingly high HIV rate in the Indonesian province of Papua, but HIV advocates say the bill is abhorrent. As one activist put it, "People with AIDS aren't animals; we have to respect their rights." If passed, the bill will go into effect next month. (Article from kaisernetwork.org)


 New Glaxo Savings Card May Reduce HIV Med Costs for Some in U.S.
If you live in the United States, use private health insurance and take Combivir (AZT/3TC), Epzicom (abacavir/3TC, Kivexa), Lexiva (fosamprenavir, Telzir) or another HIV drug made by GlaxoSmithKline, you may have a chance to save a nice chunk of change. GlaxoSmithKline has announced the release of a new savings card that, according to the company, could save HIVers up to $100 a month for each of the company's drugs they purchase. However, there are restrictions: If you have prescription drug coverage through Medicaid, Medicare, an AIDS Drug Assistance Program or another government program, you won't be able to enroll, and if you live in Massachusetts, you're also probably out of luck. (Press release from GlaxoSmithKline)

GlaxoSmithKline promised to create this program following negotiations with The Fair Pricing Coalition, a group of activists working to keep the cost of HIV drugs down. In addition to Glaxo, HIV drug companies Gilead Sciences Inc. and Merck & Co. promised The Fair Pricing Coalition that they would take similar measures to control the costs of the drugs they sell.

To learn more about the Glaxo HIV medication savings card and find out if you're eligible, take a look at the program's official Web site.


Also Worth Noting: Visual AIDS

Image from the November 2008 Visual AIDS Gallery
"Feeding the Child/Woman," 2002; Christopher Trujillo

Why the curator chose this piece: "We were enlivened by the ideas of feeding the soul and feeding Mother Africa that are so strongly conveyed through this image. And, of course, this piece is a powerful visual reminder of the devastation and massive loss of life to AIDS experienced throughout Africa." Visit the November 2008 Visual AIDS Web Gallery to learn more!
HIV BASICS

 Statistics 101: The Math You Need to Know to Understand HIV Research
Can't tell the difference between a confidence interval and your elbow? It's nothing to be ashamed of: After all, knowing statistics probably isn't your job. But if you want to understand HIV research, learning about statistics can give you a much deeper grasp of what the latest studies say. This article isn't suitable for the severely math-phobic, but anyone who understands what a "mean" is and wants a quick explanation of more advanced concepts can find a great introduction here. (Article from Positively Aware)


HIV THROUGHOUT THE WORLD

 UNAIDS Calls for India to Axe Law Banning Gay Sex
Homophobia is still the norm in most developing countries, but there are reasons to hope the tide may be slowly turning. Take India, for instance: Last week the United Nations called on India to decriminalize sex between men, and it appears that the Indian government is considering dropping the ban. UNAIDS head Peter Piot said the law is a "major obstacle" to the country's efforts to curb the spread of HIV. The ban has been in place since the days of British colonial rule; men convicted of violating it face penalties ranging from a fine to a lifetime prison sentence. (Article from kaisernetwork.org)