December 23, 2008
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Also Worth Noting: Vote Now!'s 2008 Strangest but Truest Poll
At our "Ask the Experts" forums, we're sometimes amazed at just how far-out some folks can get in their paranoia over a possible HIV exposure. We scoured our "Ask the Experts" forums and nominated 10 posts we feel are the year's most bizarre. You have until Jan. 9 to cast your vote for the posts you think are the "strangest but truest" of 2008!

 The Health Checklist: Important Tests and Vaccines for People With HIV
CD4 counts and viral load tests are not the only important tests you should regularly get if you have HIV. There's a whole range of routine tests and vaccinations that are also key, including blood sugar tests (which can spot whether you're at risk for diabetes) and urinalysis (which checks your urine to make sure your HIV or HIV meds aren't damaging your kidneys). Use this handy checklist to keep tabs on all the lab tests and vaccines you should stay on top of and talk to your doctor about. (Fact sheet from AIDS InfoNet)

 Single Injection of Zoledronate Can Treat Bone Loss Through 12 Months
It's becoming increasingly clear that bone problems (such as osteopenia and osteoporosis) are more common among people with HIV. The question is, what can HIVers with bone problems do about it? According to a newly published study, an injectable drug known as zoledronate (also known by the brand names Reclast and Zometa) may be able to help. The 30-person study of people with osteopenia or osteoporosis found that a single injection of zoledronate increased bone density for at least 12 months. Zoledronate is an approved drug in the U.S. for the treatment of various types of bone problems. (Study summary from

 HIV Meds May Not Increase Neuropathy Risk, Thai Study Finds
Are HIV meds less to blame for neuropathy than we once thought? A new Thai study suggests this may be the case, particularly for older HIV meds such as Zerit (stavudine, d4T) that were long associated with neuropathy, which causes pain and tingling in the extremities. The relatively small Thai study found that people with HIV who started taking HIV meds in this poor country (where Zerit is still commonly used) were no more likely to develop neuropathy than those who had not yet started HIV meds. A low CD4 count was associated with a greater neuropathy risk, however. (Study summary from

 New Child-Friendly Forms of Prezista, Ziagen Approved in U.S.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved pediatric (child-friendly) dosing of the protease inhibitor Prezista (darunavir). The new 75 mg tablet is meant to be used by children between the ages of 6 and 18. The recommended number of tablets varies by weight, but ranges from five to eight tablets twice a day, taken with food and boosted with a weight-based dose of Norvir (ritonavir). (Press release from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration)

In addition to the pediatric form of Prezista, the FDA has also approved a new form of Ziagen (abacavir) tablets that are specially made so they can be used by children. The 300 mg tablets are "scored" with slashes that make it easier to cut the tablet in half.

Also Worth Noting: Visual AIDS

Image from the November/December 2008 Visual AIDS Gallery
"Ignorance = Fear, Silence = Death," 1989; Keith Haring

Why the curator chose this piece: "We are impressed by Haring's ability to create art that is simultaneously simple and nuanced and because his bold imagery resonates so deeply with all who view it -- from art aficionados to the AIDS activists who took to the streets in the 1980s and 1990s." Visit the November/December 2008 Visual AIDS Web Gallery to learn more!

 Through Child Rape and HIV, a Young Woman Finds Her Strength
Imagine being just 10 years old and staying at a sleepover party when your friend's 26-year-old relative rapes you. This is where Ralina Morris's story begins -- but it is far from where it ends. Although she was diagnosed with HIV two years after her rape, the attack and its aftermath launched Morris on a journey of self-discovery that she credits with making her the strong, determined woman she is today. "Seventeen years ago my doctor said I'd be dead in six months," she recalls. "I said, 'I don't think so.'" She now has two little girls and speaks publicly about living with HIV. (Article from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer)


 Obama's Latest Administration Picks Raise U.S. HIV Advocates' Hopes
For eight long years, HIV advocates in the U.S. have felt like they've gotten the short end of the stick from the federal government. But many are hopeful that some of President-elect Barack Obama's latest administration picks will turn things around. Shaun Donovan, currently New York City's housing commissioner, has been chosen to head the Department of Housing and Urban Development. This department controls the only federal program that funds housing specifically for low-income HIVers, and Donovan has championed affordable housing in the past. Meanwhile, Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrión Jr. is slated to helm the brand-new White House Office of Urban Policy, which Obama created to coordinate all federal programs (including HIV programs) in U.S. cities. (Article from Housing Works)

Also Worth Noting: Connect With Others
A Holiday Breakup
(A recent post from the "Gay Men" board)

I just broke up with my boyfriend of two and a half years. We both found out that we were poz together and we were trying to work through it. I gave it to him, so it was hard for me, because I was dealing with the guilt of hurting him and the disease and financial issues, and I was not the happiest person to be around.

He told me that he hasn't been feeling affectionate toward me for a couple weeks, and I also found out he was seeing someone else. I still love him and I want to make it work, but I know I can't have a relationship with someone who doesn't want to put as much effort into it as I do. ...

So now I've lost a boyfriend and I've lost a friend, and I'm dealing with this illness virtually alone. I just want to crawl under my bed and disappear. And I know people say I will get over it eventually, but what do I do in the meantime, when the hurt is excruciating?

-- southerncharm

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


Caitlin Kennedy Unique Service Helps HIVers in India Find Love -- and Fight Stigma
What do you do when you're ready to get married, but the stigma of living with HIV makes it almost impossible to meet the right person? This is the question faced by many HIVers in India, where marriage is all but required and arranged marriages are still commonplace. That's where Y.R.G. Care Matrimonial Service comes in: It mixes Western and Indian traditions -- dating services and arranged marriage -- to match up HIV-positive men and women. As U.S. researcher Caitlin Kennedy explains, the service seems to be working -- not just at pairing up HIV-positive Indians, but also at fighting stigma. "All the people who had used the service ... [said] it showed other people in India that HIV-positive people could get married and live a normal life," Kennedy says. (Interview from

 Iran Asked to Free AIDS Doctors Held for Six Months on Illegitimate Charges
It's been half a year since a pair of Iranian HIV physicians were taken into custody by Iranian police -- and they still haven't even had a trial. Arash Alaei and Kamiar Alaei are doctors (and brothers) who have been working in HIV for a decade, concentrating on HIV treatment and prevention programs for injection drug users. It's unclear what the evidence against them is, but just this month they were finally charged with a crime: communicating with an "enemy government," which can carry a prison term of one to 10 years. On the six-month anniversary of their detention, HIV activists and doctors' groups from around the world have joined the call for their immediate release. (Press release from Physicians for Human Rights)