February 9, 2009
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LIVING WITH HIV

 How Do I Tell Others I Have HIV?
I recently tested HIV positive. I have no idea how to disclose my HIV status to my grown children, my sister and especially the woman I love -- she lives far away from me, in Asia, and she will also need to be tested for HIV. Can you offer any suggestions?


 HIV and AIDS: What's the Difference?
Can you explain the difference between HIV and AIDS? Does everyone diagnosed with AIDS have HIV? Does it work the other way around as well?


 Can Meds Be Transmitted Sexually?
My partner and I are both positive. He takes Atripla (efavirenz/tenofovir/FTC). I am not on HIV meds. For the past three months we have had oral and anal sex without a condom. Now Iím experiencing headaches and insomnia, which he lists as side effects of his meds. Could his meds be present in his semen and be transferred to me?

HIV TREATMENT

 Pros and Cons of Switching From Kaletra to Reyataz + Norvir
My girlfriend takes Kaletra (lopinavir/ritonavir) and Truvada (tenofovir/FTC) once a day. Her doctor suggested she switch the Kaletra for Reyataz (atazanavir) boosted with Norvir (ritonavir), also taken once daily. Are there known benefits of making this switch?


 What Meds Will Help Raise My CD4 Count?
I was diagnosed in 1985 and regularly saw an HIV specialist until 1999, when I moved to a rural area and stopped all HIV monitoring and care. In December 2007 I was hospitalized with pneumocystis pneumonia (PCP) with a CD4 count of 54 and a viral load of 180,000. I started HIV treatment with Epzicom (abacavir/3TC, Kivexa) and Kaletra (lopinavir/ritonavir), but switched the Kaletra for Lexiva (fosamprenavir, Telzir) and Norvir (ritonavir) because of tolerance issues. Within the past year my viral load has stayed undetectable, but my CD4 count is only 230. I also suffer from lipid problems and fatigue, and I am starting to lose hope. Are there other meds that may be better at increasing my CD4 count?

Also Worth Noting: Visual AIDS

Image from the January 2009 Visual AIDS Web Gallery
"Sculpture for a Windowsill," 1995; Tony Feher

Visit the February 2009 Visual AIDS Web Gallery to view our latest collection of art by HIV-positive artists! This month's gallery, entitled "In the Flesh," is curated by Jo-ey Tang.
HEALTH ISSUES & SIDE EFFECTS

 Help for Daily Diarrhea?
I've been HIV positive since July 2008. My CD4 count is 379 and I haven't started HIV meds yet. However, for the past two months I have been having severe diarrhea. What can I do? Are there any foods or medications that might relieve this symptom?


 Can Digestive Enzymes Interact With HIV Meds?
I've been taking Viramune (nevirapine) and Truvada (tenofovir/FTC) since 2004. Recently I've started taking digestive enzymes and other dietary supplements to help with some gas and bloating problems. Can the enzymes and supplements I'm taking interact with my HIV meds?

HIV & FACIAL/BODY FAT

 Codes for Sculptra Insurance Coverage?
I want to get coverage from my insurance company for Sculptra (poly-L-lactic acid, New-Fill) treatments. In a previous note, you gave a diagnosis code of 272.6, but I could not find any mention of a procedure code, which my doctor's office says is required in order to file a claim with Medicare or any other insurer. Can you please tell me the procedure code I should use?


 Comparing Facial Fillers: PMMA and Others
What besides PMMA (short for poly(methyl methacrylate)) is available as a permanent filler for facial lipoatrophy? I'm told there are many different "brands" of PMMA (ArteFill is just one of them). Are there studies or anecdotal information about which is best?

YOU & YOUR LABS

 Huge CD4 Count Drop in One Year: Is This "Normal"?
I was infected with HIV while vacationing in China in January 2008. My initial viral load was 13,000 and my CD4 count was 430. My counts stayed pretty stable until my most recent round of lab tests: My CD4 count is now 281 and my viral load has gone up to 45,000. Is this a normal drop? Do you think it's time for me to start treatment?


 Counts Improving Without Meds: Could I Be an Elite Controller?
I tested HIV positive last year with a viral load of 220 and a CD4 count of 440. My next lab tests seven months later showed that my viral load was undetectable and my CD4 count was much higher. After eight months and two more rounds of labs, this is still the case! My doctor is amazed, as am I. My question is: Is this likely to continue? Could I be an elite controller -- one of the few HIV-positive people whose bodies are able to control the virus without meds? Are there any studies I should join or other ways I can help with research on elite controllers?


Also Worth Noting: Connect With Others
Is It Best to Tell Your HIV Status Even Before You Kiss Someone?
(A recent post from the "Gay Men" board)

I know there's very small risk for transmitting HIV through kissing but I totally feel like I'm hiding something if I don't disclose before kissing. Am I being too paranoid? I've tried both ways and I understand the totally different situations you could encounter. Wondering what others think.

-- car2d2

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

HIV TRANSMISSION

 Barebacking a Positive "Bottom": Am I at Risk?
I'm an HIV-negative man and recently met a guy who said he was positive. We had sex three times; two of those times we didn't use a condom (I was the top). Should I be terribly worried?

STRANGE BUT TRUE

 Seed-Free With HIV?
Is it true that bread with seeds in it or on it is bad for people with HIV?


 Puff, Puff, Pass ... the HIV?
I bought a marijuana pipe from a guy I know who is rumored to have HIV. I smoked out of it and then stopped smoking for a while. Two months later I started smoking again. I smoked out of the pipe the guy sold me, and suddenly I got this surge of panic: If he does in fact have HIV and a bit of his blood that I couldn't see got into the pipe, could I have gotten HIV from sharing the pipe with him or from using the pipe several months after he used it? The pipe is hollow like a syringe, after all.

Activist Central

 Tell Obama to Lift the Federal Ban on Syringe Exchange!

Organizations should sign on to the letter by Tuesday, Feb. 10.


 Do You Think Reconstructive Treatments for Facial Wasting Should Be Covered by Medicare?

Add your own personal experience as a patient or as a clinician. The deadline is Monday, Feb. 16.


 Congratulate Obama ...

... And remind him of his commitment to a National AIDS Strategy!


 Protest Arrests in Iran and Senegal

What to know about arrests in Iran and Senegal, and what you can do to help.


  Demand a National U.S. Strategy to Fight HIV
Support the call and sign the petition!