May 11, 2009
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Also Worth Noting: Walking for AIDS: Reflections on Losing a Father to HIV

Image from the May 2009 Visual AIDS Web Gallery

In 2002, when Amanda was only 21, her dad died suddenly from AIDS-related pneumonia. Amanda had no idea her father even had HIV. The event catapulted her into the world of HIV activism. Soon she was participating in her first AIDS walk. "As I walked, joined by thousands of participants, I suddenly no longer felt alone in my grief," Amanda recalls. "I sobbed behind big sunglasses." Years later, she's still doing those AIDS walks; in this moving article, she explains why.
LIVING WITH HIV

 I Used Nandrolone for Lipodystrophy for Years and Now I Can't Get It Anymore!
I have been using the steroid nandrolone decanoate (Deca-Durabolin) for 10 years to reshape my body after lipodystrophy. Now I can't get it anymore and compounding pharmacies (pharmacies that mix supplements especially for individuals) have told me that China is not exporting the raw material to the United States anymore. I really don't want to look like crap again and my energy level drops horribly without nandrolone. What can we do to get it in the U.S.? I am desperate!


MIXED-STATUS COUPLES

 My Ladyboy Friend Was Just Diagnosed HIV Positive: Should I Leave or Stay?
I have been with a Thai "ladyboy" for one month. I agreed to pay for a breast operation for her, and blood samples, etc., were taken. It turned out she had HIV. She was in shock, as I was. Although we had had unprotected sex at least 50 times during the month we were together, I was HIV negative at the three-month mark. Now I'm trying to decide whether to stay or go. I really love her, but will life be too complicated with an HIV-positive partner? What's your advice?


OTHER HEALTH ISSUES

 Is Swine Flu Particularly Dangerous for People With HIV?
Should an HIVer be doing more than an HIV-negative person to avoid swine flu? What should I do if I develop symptoms of swine flu? Are the antivirals that are given to someone when they have swine flu OK to take along with HIV medications?


 What Could Be Causing My Rectal Bleeding?
I've been HIV positive for five years. For the past two months I have been experiencing daily rectal bleeding. It only happens when I have a bowel movement. There is no discharge, pain, hemorrhoids or anal fissures. I went to see a colon specialist who treated the bleeding with suppositories and got no results. I even had a colonoscopy. The doctor found some swelling, but my biopsies came back negative for unusual infections, ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease (a disease of the digestive tract). My doctor suggested I wait three months to see if the bleeding goes away on its own. I do have anal sex, but always with protection, and I don't use any anal toys or enemas. Can you help?


 Cholesterol-Lowering Drugs and HIV Medications
I'm taking Truvada (tenofovir/FTC), Norvir (ritonavir) and Reyataz (atazanavir). My doctor switched me from Zocor (simvastatin) to Lipitor (atorvastatin) for lowering my cholesterol. Do you think this was a smart move given my HIV med regimen?


Also Worth Noting: Visual AIDS

Image from the May 2009 Visual AIDS Web Gallery
"Album (Time Flies)," 1995; Stephen Andrews

Visit the May 2009 Visual AIDS Web Gallery to view our latest collection of art by HIV-positive artists! This month's gallery, entitled "Warrior," is curated by Ruben Natal-San Miguel.
YOU & YOUR LABS

 What Can I Do to Enhance My CD4 Count?
I was diagnosed with HIV in 2006 with a CD4 count of 12. I'm not aware of what my viral load was then. I was treated with Atripla (efavirenz/tenofovir/FTC); my CD4 count rose to 150 and my viral load dropped to undetectable levels. However, although my viral load has remained undetectable for the past two years, my CD4 count hasn't budged from 150. My doc is baffled at how to get my CD4 count to go up. Do you have any suggestions?


 Roller-Coaster Viral Load?
I have been positive for about seven years. I'm not yet on HIV medications. My T-cell (CD4) count has never dipped below 850, but my viral load is what confuses me. It had always been in the 3,000 range until about six months ago when it went up to 36,000. Recently I had another set of lab tests -- my T-cell count has remained the same, but my viral load has fallen back down to the four-digit range. Are these normal fluctuations?


HIV TRANSMISSION

 Information to Counter Religious Miseducation?
I am a student at a Catholic high school and must endure the abstinence-only "chastity education program." They are downright lying to us! From telling us that there are tiny holes in condoms that allow HIV to pass through to telling us that abortion causes breast cancer, it is getting insane. Can you point me in the direction of some recent, large studies that disprove these lies?


 Unprotected Sex Between Treatment-Naive and Treatment-Experienced Pos Men: What's the Risk of Superinfection?
My boyfriend and I are in a monogamous relationship. I am HIV-treatment naive (I'm not on HIV meds) and I am a bottom. My boyfriend is a top and he is treatment experienced (he's taken meds before). Recently we've been having anal sex without protection. He's had an undetectable viral load for a year and a half now and he still takes his meds. He does not ejaculate (cum) inside me. How high do you think is the risk of superinfection in our situation?


Also Worth Noting: Connect With Others
Living in China With an HIV-Positive Partner
(A recent post from the "My Loved One Has HIV/AIDS" board)

I am living in Beijing, China and my partner was recently diagnosed HIV positive. His CD4 count is hovering around 200. Is there anyone out there who's living with HIV in China (or with an infected partner)? It's a bit maddening trying to navigate the health care system here (even though I've lived here for 10 years and my partner was born and raised here). With his first CD4 results at 204, we're anxious for him to begin medication as soon as possible but the hospital -- one of the best for PLHIV/AIDS in Beijing and really supportive -- is now saying he needs to have a complete health evaluation before they can start medication for him and the results will take three weeks. This seems like too long to wait when his CD4 count is so low. I'm not really looking for advice, I'm just checking to see if anyone out there is in China (and I needed a venue to get some of my frustration off my chest)!

-- geekboy75

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

STRANGE BUT TRUE

 Porn + Pimples = HIV?
I have a friend who buys used porn DVDs online and then gives them to me. Recently I went through all the DVDs, then minutes later I did some "acne surgery" on my face. I suddenly realized that I hadn't washed my hands and had been touching a pimple-popping wound the size of a dime! If the previous porn-DVD owner managed to spill some jizz (ejaculate) on the discs or covers, could I have touched it and put myself at risk for HIV while pimple-popping?


 Could I Get HIV by Contact-Lens Sabotage?
I'm a medical resident. What if someone came into my on-call room when I wasn't there and put HIV-infected cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) in my contact lens case, and then a couple days later I put the contacts in my eyes? Could I get infected this way?






Activist Central

 Help Restore Critical Funding for New York City AIDS Services


 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!