March 18, 2009
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HIV TRANSMISSION & TESTING

 Washington, D.C., Report Finds 3% of City Residents Are Living With HIV
If you're looking for evidence that the U.S. hasn't done enough to fight HIV inside its own borders, look no further than the capital city itself: A new official report says that 3 percent of Washington, D.C., residents are living with HIV/AIDS, which puts the city on par with many developing countries. "If you really think that you don't know anyone affected with HIV, maybe it's time to think again," said Shannon Hader, director of D.C.'s HIV/AIDS Administration. (Article from kaisernetwork.org)

The release of the D.C. HIV report became front-page news in the Washington Post and has unleashed a torrent of reaction. "We've long known that HIV and AIDS stalk the district," says the Post itself in an editorial. "But the startling [report] released Monday shows the breathtaking devastation that the disease with no cure has unleashed."

Phill WilsonFor many in the HIV community, of course, this report comes as little surprise. "What is happening in Washington is also happening elsewhere," points out Black AIDS Institute founder and CEO Phill Wilson (photo on left). "HIV prevalence exceeds 5 percent in nine different ZIP codes in Detroit. In New York City's Manhattan borough, 17 percent of black, middle-aged men are living with HIV -- a level of infection that approaches national HIV prevalence in South Africa." It's entirely possible that things are just as bad in D.C.: Hader acknowledged that the 3 percent figure is likely an underestimation, since many people in D.C. do not get tested for HIV.

For even more perspective on this story, you can listen to an interesting radio interview with Phill Wilson, Shannon Hader, M.D., and Jose Antonio Vargas (the writer of the Washington Post article). The full report on HIV in Washington, D.C., is also available online in PDF format.


Judy Chen, M.D., M.S.H.S. People With Classic AIDS-Related Illnesses Are Often Not Tested for HIV Because of Mistaken Assumptions
Health care providers may be good at diagnosing classic AIDS-related illnesses such as pneumocystis pneumonia or cytomegalovirus retinitis. But when a person who hasn't yet been diagnosed with HIV comes into an emergency room with one of these illnesses, those same providers often neglect to connect the dots and order an HIV test, according to the results of a large new U.S. study. As study author Judy Chen, M.D., M.S.H.S., explains, her analysis of 7,451 people enrolled in private U.S. health insurance plans found that many people who were diagnosed with AIDS-defining illnesses were never tested for HIV afterward -- even though HIV was pretty much the only possible explanation for their illnesses. (Article and podcast from The Body PRO)


Walid Heneine, Ph.D. When Using HIV Meds in a Microbicide, Could One Drug Be as Good as Two?
You'd figure that if Viread (tenofovir) works pretty well as an HIV prevention medication, then Truvada (tenofovir/FTC) would work even better, right? Not so fast, says HIV researcher Walid Heneine, Ph.D. In an early clinical trial conducted only on monkeys, he and his team of researchers found that a microbicide gel made with Viread protected the monkeys from the simian version of HIV just as well as a gel made with Truvada. (Article and podcast from The Body PRO)

Also Worth Noting: The Buzz: Follow TheBody.Com on Twitter
Why wait for our weekly mailing when you can receive all of our HIV/AIDS news and headlines as we post them? TheBody.com is now on Twitter! This free service provides an easy way to stay up to date with the latest HIV/AIDS news. Join at twitter.com and visit our page. Click "follow" to receive all of our news and headlines as we post them! You can even receive headlines as text messages on your cell phone!
LIVING WITH HIV

 How Do I Start? A Quick Guide for Newly Diagnosed HIVers
You just found out you're living with HIV. What the heck do you do next? Taking those first few steps after you've been diagnosed can feel dizzying, frightening and overwhelming -- but we've got you covered. Take a look at this quick fact sheet for some basic tips on how to begin answering the millions of questions that may be flying through your head. (Article from AIDS InfoNet)

Once you've read through this fact sheet, visit TheBody.com's Just Diagnosed Resource Center for a huge trove of tips, guides, overviews, podcasts and personal stories from other HIV-positive people who have been through exactly what you're going through now.

HIV IN THE NEWS

 Obama Administration Gets Its 50-Day "Grades" on HIV (PDF)
How is U.S. President Barack Obama doing on his pre-election promises to fight HIV? HIV advocates have been pushing for him to begin this work during his first 100 days in office. Now that we've just passed the halfway point, HIV activists have put together a 50-day "report card" scoring the Obama administration on its progress so far regarding HIV. Some examples: The recent nomination of Jeffrey Crowley as U.S. AIDS czar got a solid A, while progress on global HIV efforts received poorer grades. (Report from Housing Works)


 U.S. Marks National Native HIV/AIDS Awareness Day
Native Americans, Alaskan Natives and Native Hawaiians are a pretty small minority group in the United States, making up less than 2 percent of the population. Yet the rate of new HIV infections among Native Americans and Alaskan Natives (especially women) is higher than among white Americans, and ignorance of HIV is much greater: Native people with HIV die sooner after their diagnosis than any other ethnic group in the country, suggesting that too many people are diagnosed late or are not accessing treatment. These are just a couple of reasons why this Friday, March 20, is important: It's National Native HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, a key opportunity to spread knowledge and understanding about HIV to native communities, and to encourage more access to testing, treatment and counseling. (Statement from the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases)

Be sure to browse through our collection of articles and resources for more info on HIV among Native Americans and Alaska Natives.


Also Worth Noting: Connect With Others
How Do I Explain HIV to a Newly Diagnosed 12-Year-Old?
(A recent post from the "My Loved One Has HIV/AIDS" board)

I have to talk to my niece about her recent diagnosis. She is 12 years old. Her mother cannot talk to her about it because she is dealing with her own recent diagnosis and is several states away, recuperating from another illness. I need help answering questions like, "Am I going to die now?" "Can I have a baby?" and "Can I have a boyfriend?" How do I explain CD4 and viral load to her so that she can understand?

-- kat01

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

HEALTH ISSUES

Scott Evans, Ph.D. Neuropathy Still Common Among HIVers on Treatment, Especially as People Age
More than one out of five HIV-positive people already have peripheral neuropathy when they start HIV treatment, and the older a person is the more they're at risk, a new study suggests. In addition, the study found that most people with neuropathy never feel any of the typical symptoms, which include numbness, tingling and pain in the extremities. Scott Evans, Ph.D., explains the results from this analysis of 2,135 U.S. HIVers participating in clinical trials. (Article and podcast from The Body PRO)


 High Lipids May Be Harder to Treat for HIV-Positive People, Study Says
Are lipid problems (such as high cholesterol or triglycerides) more difficult to treat in HIV-positive people than in HIV negative people? The answer appears to be yes, according to a large study by U.S. researchers. However, the researchers noted at least one exception: HIVers who were on NNRTI-based treatment and were taking the lipid-lowering drug Lopid (gemfibrozil) appeared to reduce their triglyceride levels just as much as HIV-negative people. (Study excerpt from the Annals of Internal Medicine)


 How Many Light Bulbs Does It Take to End the World's TB Pandemic?
Tuberculosis (TB) is the No. 1 cause of death for HIV-positive people worldwide, accounting for an estimated 13 percent of global deaths in HIVers. However, British researchers have found that stopping the spread of TB in medical settings may be as stunningly simple as changing a light bulb. The researchers found that a single, shielded, ultraviolet "C" light hanging from the ceiling -- with a fan to mix the air -- damaged the DNA of nearby TB bacteria so badly that it could no longer infect people, grow or divide. Researchers estimate that by simply installing this type of lighting in hospital wards and waiting rooms, the spread of TB within those locations could be sliced by 70 percent. (Article from Agence France-Presse)

Also Worth Noting: Visual AIDS

Image from the March 2009 Visual AIDS Web Gallery
"... Smidgeon of Panic ...," 2003; Michael Golden

Visit the March 2009 Visual AIDS Web Gallery to view our latest collection of art by HIV-positive artists! This month's gallery, entitled "Liminal:Subliminal:
Sublime," is curated by Bernard Leibov.
HIV THROUGHOUT THE WORLD

 Condoms Will Worsen, Not Prevent, Spread of HIV in Africa, Pope Benedict Says
Distributing condoms throughout Africa -- the epicenter of the HIV pandemic -- will only make things worse, claims Pope Benedict XVI. The pope, who has begun a weeklong trip to Africa, instead called for a "humanization of sexuality" and "true friendship" as the primary ways to turn the tide against HIV. (Article from kaisernetwork.org)

As you might imagine, the pope's words have stunned and angered quite a few people in the HIV community -- including members of the pope's own flock. In a public response to Benedict's statement, Jon O'Brien, president of Catholics for Choice, said that condoms were a critical part of HIV-fighting efforts worldwide. "For the Catholic hierarchy to deny the role that condoms play in preventing the further spread of HIV is irresponsible and dangerous," O'Brien said.


 Law Against Gay Men May Pose Major Health Risk in Jamaica
What's it like to be HIV positive in a country where it's a crime for a man to have sex with another man? That's the challenge facing many gay men in the verdant Caribbean island of Jamaica. As a result, few Jamaican men who have sex with men access health care when they need to, a recent survey by the country's health department suggests. The survey found stunningly high sexually transmitted disease rates among gay men in Jamaica: approximately 32 percent had HIV, 9 percent had chlamydia, 6 percent had syphilis and 3 percent had gonorrhea. (Article from Jamaica Gleaner)