April 8, 2009
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 After Sex Work, Homelessness and Drug Addiction, an HIV-Positive Man Comes of Age
Kevin was a teenager when he was infected with HIV. For years, he didn't even know how HIV transmission worked, let alone his own HIV status. By the time he was 21, he found himself homeless, using drugs and having sex with older men for money. "I was killing myself day by day with the things I was doing," Kevin recalls. In this moving personal story, Kevin explains how his life got so messy -- and how he got the help he needed to clean himself up. "I know I only have one chance to live," he says now. "I don't want to mess that up with drugs and sex." (Article from ACRIA and GMHC)

Also Worth Noting: Visual AIDS

Image from the April 2009 Visual AIDS Web Gallery
"Black Narcissus," 1995; Frank Moore

Visit the April 2009 Visual AIDS Web Gallery to view our latest collection of art by HIV-positive artists! This month's gallery, entitled "Mythologies," is curated by Anne Couillaud.

 Low Doses of Norvir May Help Prevent Fat Loss
Could avoiding HIV treatment-related lipoatrophy be as simple as adding a little Norvir (ritonavir) to your regimen? New study findings show that people who take Reyataz (atazanavir) boosted with Norvir (ritonavir) are less likely to lose body fat than people who take Reyataz without Norvir. Although more research needs to be done on this topic, these new findings from an international study offer an intriguing possibility: Low doses of Norvir may help offset the fat-wasting effects (a.k.a. lipoatrophy) that have been associated with some HIV meds, such as Zerit (stavudine, d4T) and possibly Sustiva (Stocrin, efavirenz). (Article from Canadian AIDS Treatment Information Exchange)

Want to get up to speed on the latest developments in lipoatrophy? Tune in to our latest edition of This Month in HIV. HIV activist and long-time survivor Nelson Vergel leads a discussion with Donald Kotler, M.D., who is an expert on metabolic complications and HIV. They fill us in on some of the latest updates regarding this important issue.

 People With Certain Heart Problems Are Warned to Use Caution When Taking Kaletra
HIVers who have "electrical" problems with their heart -- problems that impact their heart rhythm, for instance -- should be wary of using Kaletra (lopinavir/ritonavir), according to new information added to the drug's official labeling. The new warning pertains to two types of problems: QT interval prolongation and PR interval prolongation. Both have potentially been associated with Kaletra use in some people. If you're unsure whether this warning applies to you, share the labeling changes with your HIV doctor or pharmacist. (Press release from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration)

In addition to the revised labeling, the makers of Kaletra have released a new "Medication Guide" that is specifically made for HIV-positive people. The guide includes a rundown of the side effects that Kaletra may cause, specific reasons why Kaletra may not be a good fit for everybody with HIV, medications to avoid while taking Kaletra, and a list of tips on how to maximize your chances of Kaletra working well against your HIV.

 Starting HIV Treatment With CD4 Above 500 Could Reduce Risk of Death, Study Suggests
Why wait until your CD4 count is 350 or lower before starting HIV meds? Here's the latest salvo in this debate: A major U.S. study has investigated whether there are any benefits to beginning HIV meds with a CD4 count above 500, earlier than current guidelines recommend. The study found that when people "delayed" treatment until their CD4 count was below 500, they were nearly twice as likely to die as people who started treatment with a CD4 count above 500. The findings aren't conclusive, but they're likely to reignite the debate over the "when to start" question. (Article from kaisernetwork.org)

Although this study was just published in a major clinical journal (the New England Journal of Medicine), it was presented earlier this year at the largest HIV medical conference of the year. The Body PRO covered the study findings when they were discussed by lead author Mari Kitahata, M.D. You can read or listen to Dr. Kitahata summarize those findings on our site.

So, if you haven't started HIV treatment yet, what might the results of this major study mean for you? In this wrap-up interview at the end of the conference where the study results were first presented, top HIV researcher Joel Gallant, M.D., M.P.H., offers his take on the intriguing findings. (Dr. Gallant's analysis begins about two-thirds of the way through the interview.) And for another perspective on the story, tune in to this panel discussion between HIV researcher Pablo Tebas, M.D., and HIV advocates Rob Camp and Bob Munk. (The analysis of this study begins about one-quarter of the way into their conversation.)

Also Worth Noting: Video Central: At 15, a Leader in the Fight Against HIV


Leanna, now 15 years old, was born with HIV. Despite her youth, she frequently speaks in public about HIV. She lives with her HIV-positive mom and HIV-negative sister. Tune in to this video to get Leanna's take on life with HIV.

 Canadian Court Says: HIV Transmission Is Murder
Telling a partner you have HIV can be hard -- but could not doing it get you convicted for murder? Johnson Aziga, an HIV-positive Canadian man who was diagnosed in 1996, has just been found guilty of murder for not disclosing his status to many women, leading to seven transmissions and two deaths from AIDS-related complications. Aziga had been legally ordered to use condoms and inform his partners of his status, but according to prosecutors, he told women he was negative. He will be sentenced in May. (Article from the Ottawa Citizen)

 U.S. Launches New Five-Year, $45 Million Campaign to Educate Its Citizens About HIV
The U.S. government has announced the launch of a five-year, $45 million campaign to increase HIV awareness in the U.S. The campaign, which will be called Act Against AIDS, hopes to bring a sense of urgency about HIV risk back into mainstream society after years in which the public has become more complacent about the virus. The goal "is to put the HIV epidemic back on the front burner, on the radar screen," said Kevin Fenton, the director of the National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD and TB Prevention at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The campaign plans to saturate the country with ads: public service announcements, text messages, public transit ads, radio spots, online videos and even airport dioramas. (Article from kaisernetwork.org)

Also Worth Noting: Connect With Others
I Have an "Aggressive" HIV Strain; What Does That Mean?
(A recent post from the "Living With HIV" board)

Is there anyone who has an "aggressive strain" of HIV who can share about his/her health and survival experiences? I was told last Monday that I have an aggressive strain and I'm being started right away on meds after 13 months of infection. ... Is it a not-so-good picture ahead, having an aggressive strain?

-- borrowedtime

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


 Barebacking Between HIVers May Lead to Superinfection, Viral Load Spikes, Study Finds
What are the risks of unprotected sex between two HIV-positive gay men? Superinfection -- becoming infected with another person's HIV strain -- may be a bigger danger than previously thought, according to a tiny, but interesting, study out of Britain. In the study of eight gay men who were not taking HIV treatment and kept having unprotected sex after their diagnosis, two of the men experienced at least a temporary leap in viral load (and one developed HIV drug resistance) after a new strain of HIV was found to have "taken over" their original strain. The researchers recommended superinfection screening for people with HIV whose viral load unexpectedly increases. (Article from aidsmap.com)

Suzanne Whitmore, Dr.Ph. Number of HIV-Positive Women Giving Birth in U.S. Increased 40% From 2000 to 2006, Estimates Show
The number of HIV-positive women having babies in the U.S. is on the rise, according to new estimates from U.S. health department researchers. As Suzanne Whitmore, Dr.Ph., explains in this research summary, as many as 8,900 HIV-positive women gave birth in the U.S. in 2006, compared to as many as 6,422 in 2000. The increase suggests that HIV-positive women are living longer, healthier lives, and have more options available that allow them to give birth without putting their baby at risk. However, the findings also highlight just how important it is that pregnant women with HIV get the services they need to keep themselves and their babies healthy. (Article and podcast from The Body PRO)

Want to learn more about how to safely have a child when you're HIV positive? Check out TheBody.com's articles and resources for HIV-positive women (or men) who would like to have a baby and want to do everything possible to minimize the risk of giving their child HIV.

 Male Circumcision Can Protect Against More Than HIV, Study Suggests
Circumcised men are less likely to have genital herpes or be infected with human papillomavirus (HPV) than uncircumcised men, according to a large new study. The two-year study, which was conducted in Uganda by U.S. and African researchers, found that men who were circumcised at the beginning of the study were 28 percent less likely to get herpes simplex virus-2 and 35 percent less likely to get HPV than men who remained uncircumcised. When it came to preventing syphilis, however, circumcision appeared to have no effect. (Article from the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases)


 PEPFAR Has Dramatically Cut HIV Deaths in Africa, but Hasn't Impacted Prevention, Study Says
More than one million people are alive in Africa today because they received HIV meds through the U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), according to a new study. The study found that 10.5 percent fewer people died per year in countries receiving PEPFAR funds than in countries not receiving PEPFAR funds. Of course, the program still has its work cut out for it: many millions of HIVers in developing nations still have no access to treatment. But without PEPFAR, the situation would clearly be far worse. PEPFAR "is changing the course of the AIDS epidemic," said Peter Piot, the former head of UNAIDS. "People are not dying. That is spectacular." (Article from kaisernetwork.org)

Activist Central

 Sign Up Now for AIDS Housing Summit June 3-5 in D.C.!

 Act Now to Stop Misleading "AIDS Charity"

 Give Our Youth the Facts! Tell your senator to co-sponsor the REAL act.

 ART Initiation at <350 -- Call on WHO and UNAIDS to Save Lives!

 Volunteer at a Camp for HIV-Affected Kids

 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!