April 29, 2009
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HIV TREATMENT & HEALTH ISSUES

Joel Gallant, M.D., M.P.H. What Does Swine Flu Mean for People With HIV? HIV Expert Joel Gallant, M.D., M.P.H., Dishes the Details
Is swine flu more dangerous for people with HIV? Is there anything special that HIV-positive people need to do to protect themselves from the virus? What should you do if you start to feel flu symptoms? Top HIV clinician Joel Gallant, M.D., M.P.H. (photo on left), will tell you everything you need to know about how the swine flu outbreak affects people living with HIV. (Sneak preview: It's not a whole lot different from regular flu. But you should wash your hands a lot -- and not let sick people sneeze on you.) (News report and audio from TheBody.com)

The bottom line on swine flu, at least at the moment, is that it's nothing to panic over. As long as you take the same precautions you normally take against the "regular" flu (which, incidentally, kills about 36,000 people per year in the U.S. alone), and as long as you go to your doctor, clinic or hospital promptly if you develop flu symptoms, you should be just fine. If you want to stay up on the latest information on the swine flu outbreak and how it can impact people with HIV, be sure to browse our frequently updated collection of articles.


 A, B, C, D: Regardless of Your HIV Subtype, HIV Meds Work Well, Study Says
There are differences between HIV subtypes, but combination HIV treatment works extremely well against all of them, according to a British study of more than 2,000 people with HIV who started HIV treatment between 1996 and 2006. The study's major finding was that a stunningly high 97 percent of people in the study eventually reached an undetectable viral load, regardless of their HIV subtype. Many subtle differences were noted between subtypes, however, including the time it takes to become undetectable, the likelihood of having a lower CD4 count when starting treatment and the risk of viral load rebound. (Study summary from aidsmap.com)


 Getting to Know Your HIV Drug Classes
What's the difference between an NRTI and an NNRTI? An entry inhibitor and an integrase inhibitor? If you've ever been curious about how each class of HIV medications works, take a look at this quick overview written by HIV specialist Joel Gallant, M.D., M.P.H. It includes a quick guide to so-called "patient assistance programs" offered by some HIV drug companies to help you offset some of the costs of your meds. (Article from Test Positive Aware Network)


Also Worth Noting: Video Blog: Mark King & Friends Talk Life & Love

Mark King and Friends

It's so important to have emotional support when you're living with HIV. In the latest of longtime HIV survivor Mark King's entertainingly poignant video blogs, he invites a group of his HIV-positive friends over for dinner. Together they share intimate stories about disclosure, sex, dating and how they've coped with their status.
LIVING WITH HIV

Nelson Vergel The Emotional Impact of Body Shape Changes
Although HIV treatment has been a resounding success, all is not rosy in the world of HIV. Too many people with HIV are still dealing with often-disfiguring body shape changes caused by HIV medications or by simply having HIV in their body -- and these changes may cause a more intense emotional impact on people than previously believed. Nelson Vergel (photo on left), a longtime HIV activist and 26-year survivor of HIV, created an anonymous Internet survey that asks people with HIV to detail the impact of body shape changes on their quality of life and self esteem. In this interview, Nelson summarizes the results of his survey. (Article and audio from TheBody.com)


HIV IN THE NEWS

 New PEPFAR Head Is Nominated: Eric Goosby, M.D., Experienced HIV Specialist
Meet Eric Goosby, M.D.: He's been nominated by U.S. President Barack Obama to fill the post of global AIDS coordinator, which puts him in charge of the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). Goosby, the former head of the U.S. health department's Office of HIV/AIDS Policy when Bill Clinton was president, is an HIV specialist with more than 25 years of experience. He's also the chief medical officer of the Pangaea Global AIDS Foundation in San Francisco. His nomination has been pretty well received so far, which may come as a relief to Obama; his abrupt dismissal of the former PEPFAR chief Mark Dybul shortly after the inauguration generated some controversy. (Article from kaisernetwork.org)


 After 25 Years, a Landmark HIV Study Is Still Going Strong
There have been thousands upon thousands of studies on HIV, but few of them are legendary. The Multicenter AIDS Cohort Study (MACS) is one for the history books: It's one of the most important HIV/AIDS studies ever done, and over the past 25 years it has brought about many major discoveries. The study, which has followed more than 6,000 gay and bisexual men since 1984, helped pin down how the virus spreads and exactly how it affects the immune system. MACS is also credited with discovering that some people are naturally immune to HIV, which researchers hope may someday lead to an HIV vaccine -- or even a cure. (Article and audio from National Public Radio)


Also Worth Noting: Connect With Others
Your Greatest Blessings, and Your Biggest Obstacles
(A recent post from the "Living With HIV" board)

I'm still pretty screwed up about the whole HIV thing. In looking for strategies to help me move forward from this point (which feels like self-imposed incarceration) I thought that you forum members might be able to assist me.

Because many of you have had a wealth of experience with dealing with being HIV positive, I would be interested to know what the one or two main things were that you did on your journey that assisted you in dealing with your diagnosis. ... Of course, the other side of the coin is probably a bit more complex: To identify the one or two main things that held you back or slowed the healing process. ...

I guess I may be asking the impossible question here, but I thought I would try and tap into the collective experience of the forum group. ... I hope others as well as me will be able to gain some benefit from your responses.

-- Mondo

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

Also Worth Noting: Sweepstakes: Win up to $100 From Amazon for Reading Our Newsletters!
As a special thank-you to all of you who are registered to receive TheBody.com's e-mail newsletters, we're giving away five Amazon.com gift cards worth up to $100 at the end of this month! Anyone who signs up for our newsletters before May 1 is automatically eligible, as is anybody who's already signed up. Read the official rules for more information!
HIV, HPV AND CANCER

 Oral Sex -- and Even Kissing -- Can Pass Along HPV, New Study Finds
Most of us probably don't think of human papillomavirus (HPV), the main cause of cervical and anal cancer, as a virus we can get by mouth. But according to a new study, nearly 5 percent of people in the U.S. have oral HPV infection, and oral sex -- or even open-mouthed kissing -- appears to potentially transmit the virus. Some experts say the study may make HPV vaccination even more important, and at ages even earlier than the vaccine is currently recommended. (Arguably, it's also yet another reason why the HPV vaccine should be offered to men and boys.) (Editorial from the Journal of Infectious Diseases)

In addition to the editorial we link to above, the full study itself is also available in the same issue of the Journal of Infectious Diseases.


Alexandra Oster, M.D. Many HIV-Positive Women Don't Get Screened for Cervical Cancer Nearly Often Enough, Study Suggests
Once a year: That's how often current guidelines recommend that HIV-positive women get screened for cervical cancer, since women with HIV are thought to be twice as likely as HIV-negative women to have human papillomavirus, which can cause cervical cancer. But 23 percent of 2,400 HIV-positive women in a recent U.S. study said they didn't get a Pap smear within the past year -- and some of those who said they got a Pap smear may actually have been wrong, reports study presenter Alexandra Oster, M.D. (photo on left). The upshot: Cervical cancer screening is extremely important for HIV-positive women, and both women and their health care providers need to do all they can to ensure it happens regularly. (Article and audio from The Body PRO)


 If You're a Gay Man and You're HIV Positive, You Almost Certainly Have Anal HPV, Study Says
Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a common infection, and anal HPV is common among gay men. But it's so common among gay men with HIV that it's basically universal, according to a new Australian study. The 331-person study found that an amazing 94 percent of gay, HIV-positive men had anal HPV, which can potentially lead to anal cancer if not monitored. That's compared to 70 percent of gay, HIV-negative men. A third of the HIV-positive gay men were found to have HPV-16, the specific strain of HPV that is most associated with anal cancer risk -- and, incidentally, one of the strains that the HPV vaccine Gardasil (currently approved only for women) protects against. This study also highlights why it's particularly important for gay men to get anal Pap smears regularly. (Study summary from aidsmap.com)


Also Worth Noting: Visual AIDS

Image from the April 2009 Visual AIDS Web Gallery
"Narcissus," 1990; John Lesnick

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.
HIV PREVENTION

 While Abstinence-Only Education Comes Under Review, U.S. States Make Do
As most of us know, there's overwhelming evidence that abstinence-only sex education is ineffective at reducing the odds a teenager will have sex. But although there's change in the wind, abstinence is still pushed strongly in many U.S. schools due to federal funding regulations. For a real-world look at how sex ed works (or fails to work) in the U.S. public school system, read this report on how Illinois educators cope with abstinence requirements when they teach sex education. (Article from the Chicago Tribune)


 Could Isentress Be Used as an HIV Prevention Drug?
Move over, Truvada and Viread: When it comes to using HIV meds for HIV prevention, integrase inhibitors may be the next big thing. For years now, researchers have been looking into the idea of whether HIV-negative people can safely protect themselves from HIV by taking regular doses of Truvada (tenofovir/FTC) or Viread (tenofovir). However, those meds may soon face competition from one of the newest HIV drugs, Isentress (raltegravir), and other drugs in the integrase inhibitor class. (Study summary from aidsmap.com)


HIV THROUGHOUT THE WORLD

 Global Economic Crisis Could Cripple HIV Treatment, Prevention Efforts in Poor Countries, World Bank Report Warns
Lifesaving HIV treatment for as many as 1.7 million HIVers worldwide may be at stake due to the global economic crisis, according to a World Bank report released last week. The report focused on the effect of the crisis in 69 of the most resource-limited nations in the world. Fifteen of those countries warned that decreases in funding could interrupt the flow of meds to HIVers on treatment. In addition, 34 of the countries -- which are home to a combined 75 percent of the world's people living with HIV -- could see severe cuts to programs geared toward preventing new HIV infections, the report says. "People with AIDS could be in danger of losing their place in the lifeboat," warned Joy Phumaphi of the World Bank. (Article from kaisernetwork.org)

The full World Bank report is available online.


 Worldwide HIV Community Celebrates Release of Senegalese HIV Advocates
Score another victory for HIV advocates fighting for human rights: Members of the international HIV community are praising last week's release of nine Senegalese HIV advocates. The men were jailed for "engaging in acts against the order of nature" (because they were thought to be gay) and "membership of a criminal organization" (because of their HIV prevention work). While the men's release is welcome news, the fact that homosexuality remains a crime in many nations -- including Senegal -- continues to hinder HIV prevention work in those nations, advocates say. "Evidence shows us that criminalizing and discriminating against any group of individuals only serves to fuel the HIV/AIDS epidemic," said International AIDS Society president Julio Montaner. (Press release from the International AIDS Society)







Activist Central

 Action Alert: Tell Your Senator to Co-Sponsor the Early Treatment for HIV Act!


 Write a Letter to President Obama to Support the Action Plan for Rapid Scale-Up of Routine, Voluntary Testing


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


 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!