February 25, 2009
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Joel Gallant, M.D., M.P.H. CROI 2009: Which Studies Are Most Likely to Change the Lives of People With HIV?
Tune in as Joel Gallant, M.D., M.P.H., one of the United States' foremost HIV experts, walks us through some of the most important findings in HIV treatment strategies presented earlier this month at the 16th Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI 2009). Dr. Gallant explains why we're more likely to see a risk for Ziagen (abacavir)-related heart disease in someone whose viral load is already suppressed. He also delves into why protease inhibitors such as Kaletra (lopinavir/ritonavir) may increase heart disease risk: "A lot of people have just assumed that the protease inhibitors increase heart disease risks because they increase cholesterol," he says. "The D:A:D study suggested that while cholesterol is part of the problem, it may not be the only problem, and that there may be an independent association that's not just explained by cholesterol effects." (Article and podcast from TheBody.com)

CROI 2009, Montréal, February 8-11Our in-depth coverage of CROI 2009 continues to roll in! Visit our CROI 2009 home page for the latest research summaries, overviews and podcast interviews from this major HIV conference. More highlights from the conference are included throughout this week's newsletter.

Brian Kearney, Pharm.D. The Next Generation of Boosters: Promising Data on Potential Alternatives to Ritonavir
Technically, they're known as "pharmacokinetic enhancers." You might know them by an easier name: booster drugs. Right now, Norvir (ritonavir) is the only drug on the market that's approved for "boosting," or strengthening, the power of HIV medications. But two new drugs in the development pipeline may threaten Norvir's stranglehold on the booster market. Brian Kearney, Pharm.D., of Gilead Sciences Inc., and Robert Guttendorf, Ph.D., of Sequoia Pharmaceuticals, provide the details. (Article and podcast from The Body PRO)

 Interleukin-2 Boosts CD4, But Has No Effect on Long-Term Health, Studies Find
For a long time now, the HIV community has looked for something that could boost an HIV-positive person's immune system while -- or before -- they use HIV medications. Many people thought interleukin-2 (IL-2) was the answer -- but two large, long-term, international studies may have shut the door on IL-2 for good. The studies found that using IL-2 in addition to HIV meds did heavily increase CD4 count. But mysteriously, that CD4 increase did absolutely nothing to reduce a person's risk of developing an opportunistic infection or dying. (Article from The Body PRO)

Robert Siliciano, M.D. An Update on the Present -- and Future -- of HIV Eradication
Are we having a renaissance in the quest for HIV eradication? Robert Siliciano, M.D., one of the world's foremost researchers on the subject, is at the center of a whirlwind of new developments that have many in the HIV community buzzing. We caught up with him recently to discuss some of this recent research, and to get the lowdown on what the future may hold as researchers renew their search for a way to destroy HIV within a person's body. (Article and podcast from The Body PRO)


Leanna, Jessica and Kyle HIVers Tell Their Stories About Life With HIV
Three HIV-positive people from different walks of life are featured in our newest collection of first-person videos from The Positive Project:

  • Leanna, now 15 years old, was born with HIV. Despite her youth, she already does public speaking about HIV. She lives with her HIV-positive mom and HIV-negative sister.

  • Jessica is 30 years old and has been positive for 11 years. In this interview, the Mississippi resident describes how she fell into drugs and alcohol after her diagnosis, but has since turned her life completely around.

  • Kyle is an American Indian who has been living with HIV for five years. He's come a long way since he was first diagnosed; in this moving interview, he recounts his journey.


 Salmonella Outbreak in U.S., Canada Raises Important Concerns for People With Low CD4 Count
Have you heard about the salmonella outbreak linked to some peanut-based products distributed in the U.S. and parts of Canada? The outbreak can be of particular concern to HIVers with a low CD4 count, since people with compromised immune systems are more likely to become seriously ill from salmonella poisoning. Symptoms include diarrhea (sometimes bloody), vomiting, fever and abdominal cramps, which occur within 12 to 72 hours after infection. If you experience any of these symptoms, please see your health care provider immediately; antibiotics can treat the problem before it has a chance to become life-threatening. (Article from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration)

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has been recalling all products tied to the U.S. peanut plant where the outbreak began, and the investigation continues into which products may be unsafe. (Note: major brands of peanut butter, such as Jif and Skippy, are not included in the recall.) Click here to check out the FDA's peanut product recall Web site, which includes answers to frequently asked questions about the recall, as well as a list of products affected by the recall.

For more on food-related risks for people with a low CD4 count, browse through our library of articles.

 HPV, Anal Cancer and Cervical Cancer: An Update on Prevention and Treatment
Cancers are on the rise among HIV-positive people, and a little virus known as human papillomavirus (HPV) bears some of the blame. HPV is extremely common, especially among people with HIV, and it's the cause behind most cases of cervical and anal cancers. However, scientists are learning more about how to prevent these cancers from developing -- and how to treat them once they begin to form. In this interview, cancer researcher Joel Palefsky, M.D., walks us through some of the latest research. (Article and podcast from The Body PRO)

Stephen Berry, M.D. HIV Meds Need a While to "Kick In," Especially for People With Low CD4 Counts, Study Finds
If you start HIV treatment with a low CD4 count, it can take about 45 days for the immune-protecting benefits to really begin to kick in, according to a large U.S. study. The study, presented by Stephen Berry, M.D., looked at the reasons why HIV-positive people in Baltimore, Md., were hospitalized before and after starting HIV medications. It found that hospitalizations dropped off dramatically beginning 45 days after people start HIV therapy, but up until then people got sick for a wide range of reasons -- many of which weren't traditional AIDS-related problems. (Article and podcast from The Body PRO)

Also Worth Noting: Connect With Others
HIV Didn't Stop Me From Getting a Job in Medicine!
(A recent post from the "Women" board)

I was diagnosed in December 2007, and since then, I never thought I could apply for any job in the medical field ever again (I was a nurse before). ... [But] I found the a classified ad looking for a nursing director, so I sent my CV in. ... After the interview, they offered me a job.

It made me so worried, as I didn't tell them that I am positive -- I was thinking about it all day and all night! ... My fiance encouraged me to fight. ... He said I shouldn't let HIV prevent me from taking this wonderful job. So I decided to inform my future boss that I am HIV positive and asked if this could be a "NO" for me to work in the hospital. But they said it is no problem, as long as I protect myself!

This changed my life and the way I feel. I am back to myself again. ... I lost all my confidence and lost direction in my life until I got this job and proved to myself that there is still room for HIV-positive people in this world. ... Get up on your feet and fight for anything that you think is not possible. If it can't kill us, it will make us stronger!

-- Talika

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

Also Worth Noting: Rememberance: Martin Delaney

Martin Delaney

Activist and Project Inform founder Martin Delaney will be missed by many within the HIV community. The Eureka Valley Recreation Center in San Francisco's Castro District invites all who knew him to attend a civic memorial on March 14. Everyone is welcome to come celebrate Martin's life, beginning at 4:30 p.m. For those wishing to contribute, Martin requested donations be made to Project Inform in his honor.

Chris Pilcher, M.D. Building a Better Rapid HIV Test
Currently available HIV tests are not sensitive enough to detect acute infection (i.e., the first weeks after a person has been infected with HIV) in people who are at high risk for HIV, says researcher Chris Pilcher, M.D. -- but that may be about to change. Dr. Pilcher recently presented a study showing that a new type of rapid HIV blood test may be especially good at detecting acute infection. "For those of us who are in the HIV acute infection prevention business, having a rapid test is sort of the holy grail of making acute HIV prevention a potentially effective strategy to reduce transmission," Pilcher says. (Article and podcast from The Body PRO)

Michael Campsmith, D.D.S., M.P.H. Revised Estimate of HIVers Living in U.S. Tops 1 Million for First Time; Number of Undiagnosed People Drops
New calculations put the number of people living with HIV in the United States at 1.1 million, a 10 percent increase from the age-old estimate of 1 million. About 21 percent of those people have no idea they're HIV positive, these new estimates say -- which is actually a lower percentage than was previously thought. In this interview, Michael Campsmith, D.D.S., M.P.H., of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention gives us a breakdown of the revised official figures on the state of the U.S. HIV epidemic. (Article and podcast from The Body PRO)

 Discovery of Potent Antibody to HIV Could Yield New Path to HIV Vaccine
An important antibody that could potentially play a key role in the design of an HIV vaccine has been identified by scientists at Duke University Medical Center. "The 2F5-like antibody is one of the gold standards for what an HIV vaccine needs to induce, but no one had ever found it before circulating in the blood of infected patients," says Georgia Tomaras, Ph.D., the senior author of the study. Previous research has shown the 2F5 antibody can neutralize 80 percent of transmitted HIV viruses. (Press release from Duke Medicine News and Communications)


 Study Reports on British Health Service's HIV/Hep C Transmission Disaster
It was "the worst treatment disaster" in the history of the United Kingdom's National Health Service (NHS). At least, that's the conclusion of a newly released independent report on how the NHS responded to a rash of contaminated blood products in the 1970s and '80s. The NHS was too slow to respond to the threat of HIV and hepatitis C caused by the contamination, the report says -- and as a result, several thousand infections occurred that could have been prevented. The report recommends monetary compensation and free health care to people who were infected. (Article from kaisernetwork.org)

Activist Central

 Tell President Obama: No More Money for Ineffective Abstinence-Only-Until-Marriage Programs

 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!