January 7, 2009
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LIVING WITH HIV

Joseph This Positive Life: Harley Enthusiast Talks About Life With HIV
Joseph rides his Harley Davidson motorcycle as often as he can. Harley riders don't often discuss living with HIV, Joseph says -- though he guesses that others are infected, since he says there are some in the Harley community who use injection drugs. Diagnosed in 1995, Joseph has a supportive family and friends, and says he's currently experiencing one of the happiest times of his life. "What's funny about it is I have this disease, but I don't think about it, I don't dwell on it," he says. "I take care of myself, I do what I've got to do. ... I'm drug free, I've got my life back and I'm happy." (Interview and podcast from TheBody.com)

Our interview with Joseph is the latest episode of This Positive Life, an ongoing podcast series from TheBody.com featuring interviews with HIV-positive people from all walks of life. Visit our This Positive Life home page to read or listen to past interviews, or to subscribe to the series on iTunes.


Also Worth Noting: Vote Now! TheBody.com'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!
IN THE NEWS

 Share Your Thoughts on the Death of Christine Maggiore, Outspoken AIDS Denialist
Christine Maggiore, an HIV-positive woman and a prominent AIDS denialist, died late last month in her California home at the age of 52. Maggiore, who had been living with HIV since 1992, refused to take HIV medications and was outspoken in her belief that HIV did not cause AIDS. In recent years she was best known for the tragic death in 2005 of her three-year old daughter from AIDS-related pneumonia. Maggiore didn't take HIV meds during the pregnancy and refused to have her daughter tested for HIV. Maggiore joins the many HIV-positive AIDS denialists who have refused HIV medications and ultimately died. What are your thoughts on Maggiore's passing? Share your comments! (Article from TheBody.com)


HIV TREATMENT & HEALTH ISSUES

 HIV Medication Adherence: Highest Is Still Bestest
Although missing a dose of your HIV medications every now and then probably won't hurt, it's crucial to miss as few doses as possible, new research suggests. Doctors generally recommend that HIVers make sure to take at least 95 percent of their HIV medication doses properly -- in other words, to miss no more than one dose out of every 20. Although experts stand by that recommendation, a new Spanish study suggests that even if you miss one out of every five doses, the odds are still relatively low that your HIV meds will stop controlling HIV, provided you're on a powerful regimen using the newer meds. (Study summary from aidsmap.com)

The Spanish study findings are far from the last word on this subject, however. In fact, a Canadian study that came out just weeks after the Spanish study found that if a person is taking an "older" HIV treatment regimen (one that consists of meds that were approved in 2004 or earlier) and misses more than one dose a week, his or her HIV meds will probably lose their effectiveness within the next few years.


Also Worth Noting: Make a Resolution: Resolve to Help an HIV Organization This Year!

AIDS Treatment Activist Coalition

With the U.S. economy struggling, HIV organizations need your help! The AIDS Treatment Activists Coalition, for instance, is a nationwide group of HIV activists working to end the epidemic by advancing HIV research. Want to help its efforts and be a part of activist discussions? You can apply online to become a volunteer or donate to ATAC's cause via PayPal or check.

You can also volunteer at, or donate to, your local HIV organization. Click here to find one near you.
MAKING A DIFFERENCE

 This Weekend, Get Your Art On in New York and Support HIV-Positive Artists
This weekend in New York City, you can purchase one-of-a-kind artworks and help an HIV organization in the process! Visual AIDS is hosting its annual Postcards From the Edge benefit on one day only: Saturday, Jan. 10. Hundreds of original postcard-sized works of art (some created by well-known artists) will be on display, all of which are available for $75 each. Proceeds will go to Visual AIDS, a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting the lives and preserving the artworks of U.S. artists living with HIV.

Are you an HIV-positive aspiring painter or photographer? Join Visual AIDS and your work may be exhibited around the world.


Peter Piot Longtime UNAIDS Director Peter Piot Steps Down
One of the most well-known leaders in HIV retired from his post last week. Peter Piot, M.D., Ph.D., was the head of UNAIDS for 13 years, where he worked strenuously to bring HIV to the attention of political leaders around the world. He also tried to make resource-poor countries acknowledge and empower gay men, women and injection drug users, as well as address the factors that put those people at risk for HIV. As he leaves UNAIDS behind, Dr. Piot hopes to create a global health institute in London, at which he hopes to teach the next generation how to apply the lessons of the global battle against HIV to other diseases in resource-poor countries. (Article from The New York Times)



Also Worth Noting: Connect With Others
Dealing With Rejection as a Single, Gay, HIV-Positive Guy
(A recent post from the "Gay Men" board)

I've been on HIV meds for six years, diagnosed for seven, and have generally been optimistic due to great family and friends. But at the moment I'm feeling totally gutted. I came out of a relationship about six months ago, and since then have not been able to successfully run the dating gauntlet. Guys seem to appreciate me telling them my status before sleeping with them, but then either freeze completely or do it once and, having reflected, cannot do it again. ... How do you guys handle it? I know the ideal would be to get to know each other for several weeks, make an emotional bond, then deal with the disclosure before getting physical, but is that really workable in the gay dating world?

-- britishguy78

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


HIV TRANSMISSION & TESTING

 Circumcision May Protect Heterosexual Men From HIV in U.S., Study Says
Could circumcision be as important an HIV prevention tool for men in the U.S. as it is in Africa? Possibly, according to a new study. U.S. researchers found that, among black, heterosexual men living in Baltimore who had been exposed to HIV, men who were uncircumcised were more than twice as likely to be HIV positive than men who were circumcised. Experts note that circumcision is less common among African Americans and Hispanic Americans, and that the procedure is not currently covered by Medicaid. (Article from kaisernetwork.org)


 HIV Can Pass Through Healthy Vaginal Tissue, Study Finds
A woman can have a perfectly healthy vagina -- with no breaks in the outer skin or other injuries -- yet she can still become infected with HIV during unprotected sex, a new study warns. To reach their findings, U.S. researchers looked at healthy samples of women's vaginal lining under a microscope, and introduced HIV that had been turned fluorescent so it stood out. The researchers watched as the HIV easily penetrated the perfectly healthy vaginal cells. The findings don't come as much of a surprise to experts, but they do drive home the importance of using a condom during intercourse. The findings also have no bearing on the risk of HIV passing through regular skin (on your hands, for instance), which it can't do unless there is an open cut. (Article from kaisernetwork.org)


 Forced Sex Poses Greater HIV Risk for Women Than Consensual Sex, Researchers Find
What factors, exactly, put women who have been raped at such a high risk for HIV? Is it that the sheer violence of a rape causes injuries that give HIV more of a chance to enter a woman's body? Or could it be that people who commit rape are more likely to be HIV positive? In this interview, British researcher Anna Foss talks about these issues, and stresses the importance of taking forced sex into account when creating HIV programs. (Interview from The Body PRO)

For more information on women, violence and HIV, browse TheBody.com's collection of articles.


 High Childhood Sexual Assault Rates on Hawaiian Island Spur Need for Youth HIV Prevention
Beyond its white sand beaches and lush gardens, many citizens of Kauai, Hawaii, endure poverty and violence -- including alarmingly high rates of childhood sexual assault, which has been linked to HIV risk. On Kauai, statistics indicate that an astonishing one in four girls and one in six boys will be sexually abused. "Victims of sexual assault need to know that they can have counseling and testing," says Marie-Claude Julsaint of the World YWCA (Young Women's Christian Association). As she explains in this interview, her group has developed a fun, youth-friendly HIV prevention program geared toward Kauai's kids. (Interview and podcast from The Body PRO)


 Treatment After Exposure to HIV: Learn the Facts
If you are HIV negative and have been exposed to HIV sexually, through sharing needles or other high-risk activities, there's a treatment available that could potentially prevent you from becoming infected. It's called post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP), and it's often available at clinics, hospitals and private physicians' offices. Unfortunately, many people at great risk for HIV infection may not be aware that they can get PEP, or about how PEP actually works. Read this article for an important overview of what you need to know about PEP -- and why it's not nearly as simple as a "morning-after pill" for someone who's had unprotected sex. (Article from AIDS InfoNet)

A new British study shows just how much people at risk for HIV still have to learn about how PEP works. The researchers interviewed a small group of gay men who received PEP after having unprotected anal sex. All of the men knew about PEP, of course, but it wasn't until after they started treatment that they realized some of the most important facts about PEP: that it must be started within three days of an HIV exposure; that it involves taking actual HIV medications for several weeks; and that the treatment isn't guaranteed to work.

For more information about PEP, browse through our library of articles.