May 27, 2009
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Mark King My Search for Meaning
"Don't give me all that crap about 'HIV is a gift' and 'HIV taught me how to live,'" Mark King says. "Life teaches us about life. HIV is not a gift; a Mercedes is a gift." After more than 20 years living with HIV, Mark is still searching for meaning in his life and the role that HIV has played in it. In this emotional episode of Mark's ongoing video blog, he talks with three key people who helped him make sense of it all: Jesse Peel, a retired psychiatrist living with AIDS; David Morris, Mark's physician; and Rev. Chris Glaser, a longtime gay Christian activist -- and Mark's former partner of 10 years. (Video blog from

Also Worth Noting: Swine Flu Update: What HIV-Positive People Need to Know
In the U.S., some of the public panic has subsided over the outbreak of "swine flu," now referred to officially as "novel influenza A (H1N1)." But the virus continues to spread around the world, with nearly 14,000 cases reported in 48 countries as of May 27 -- and nearly half of those cases reported in the U.S.

So, where do we stand on swine flu and HIV? As reported when the outbreak first began, there's still no need to panic; for now, at least, this just appears to be a new type of flu, nothing more. But it does offer an important reminder of the precautions anybody with HIV should be taking to protect themselves from this, or any, strain of flu virus. Visit's library of articles on swine flu and HIV for the latest information and expert advice.

 Sustiva + Ginkgo: Possible Recipe for Resistance, Doctors Report
It's still unknown exactly which herbal treatments interact with HIV medications. Researchers haven't yet studied all the possible interactions, so it sometimes takes time to discover them. For instance, it turns out that Sustiva (efavirenz, Stocrin), one of the most commonly used HIV meds, may stop working in people who take ginkgo biloba, one of the most commonly used herbal supplements, according to researchers in the Netherlands. They recently published the case of a 47-year-old man who reported never missing a dose of his HIV treatment since 2005, but who suddenly developed a detectable viral load and almost complete resistance to Sustiva, which is also part of the combination med Atripla (efavirenz/tenofovir/FTC). The doctors determined that a reaction between Sustiva and the ginkgo biloba supplement he was taking was the only likely explanation. (Study summary from

 Testosterone Patch May Be Good for HIV-Positive Women's Weight, Bones, Mood, Study Says
If you're an HIV-positive woman struggling with low testosterone levels (and the low bone mineral density and low body weight that can be associated with it), you may benefit from the use of a testosterone replacement patch, a U.S. study has found. It was a small study, involving just 25 HIV-positive women with low testosterone, but the researchers found that after 18 months, women who used a testosterone patch saw improvements in lean body mass, bone mineral density in the hip and thigh, and even overall mood. Testosterone patches aren't currently approved for use in the U.S., but testosterone replacement is available in other forms. The researchers also noted that, although the patch seemed safe through 18 months, larger studies were needed to confirm its long-term benefits for HIV-positive women. (Study summary from

 Leptin Injections May Help HIVers With Lipoatrophy, Other Metabolic Problems, According to Small Study
Could a treatment known as leptin replacement therapy provide HIVers with a way to stop -- or even reverse -- problems with body fat, cholesterol or triglycerides? New research suggests it may: A tiny proof-of-concept study has provided alluring signs that injections of leptin, a naturally occurring hormone that helps regulate how our bodies process fat, may help reduce the effects of lipoatrophy in people with HIV, as well as other fat-related problems such as high cholesterol, high triglycerides and insulin resistance. (Full study from the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, courtesy NATAP)

In addition to this intriguing study, the same issue of the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism includes an editorial by Christos Mantzoros, M.D., an associate professor at Harvard Medical School. Mantzoros analyzes the results in detail and offers his take on whether there's a future for leptin replacement therapy in people with HIV.

Mabel Rice, Ph.D. Kids Who Grow Up With HIV May Be More Likely to Have Language Impairment, Study Suggests
There's precious little research on the long-term health of children who were infected with HIV when they were born. But as HIV meds allow these kids to live longer and longer, we're beginning to learn more about how HIV or HIV meds might affect them as they grow older. A recent study by Mabel Rice, Ph.D. (photo on left), for instance, suggests that children in the U.S. who were born with HIV may, years later, be more likely to have language development problems than children who are born without HIV. (Article and podcast from The Body PRO)

Also Worth Noting: Connect With Others
Why a Second Opinion on HIV Treatment Can Be a Lifesaver
(A recent post from the "I Just Tested Positive" board)

A public health center started me on Atripla. After two months, my creatinine levels were moving up (not good). The doctor recommended taking the Atripla every other day with a different drug on the alternate days. I decided to get a second opinion. Boy am I lucky I did. ... My current doctor said that in that time, I could have gone into irreversible renal failure. Pretty horrifying stuff. I stopped the Atripla as advised while the new doc did more gene studies. A week later I went on a combination of Sustiva and Epzicom. ...

This is a complex disease and there are a ton of meds out there. ... You must get involved with your health. Ask lots of questions. Remember, there are things more important than just your T-cell and viral load counts. You must consider your kidney function, liver, etc. ... Don't hesitate for a moment to get a second opinion, even if it is necessary to go to a different city. ...

Remember, your doctors and physician assistants are well-intentioned, good people, but they can make mistakes. They have a lot of people to deal with. You have only one: YOU.

-- Jim327040

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


Sir Elton John Elton John Calls for Renewed Leadership in Fighting HIV/AIDS
"There are long-standing stereotypes and prejudices that inhibit our efforts to combat AIDS," says Elton John. The singer has been involved in HIV advocacy for more than 17 years, and he's still speaking out against stigma and ignorance. Speaking at the 2009 Bio International Convention recently, John reminded the audience, which included the CEOs of companies that are working on HIV vaccines, about the decline in concern about HIV in the U.S. -- and how prevention and education efforts have declined along with it. "Our failure to [educate people] is costing lives," John said. (Article from

Also Worth Noting: Visual AIDS

Image from the May 2009 Visual AIDS Web Gallery
"Portrait of Michael Wilson," 1988; Bern Boyle

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.

 Pregnancy and HIV: What You Need to Know
If you're an HIV-positive woman living in an area where HIV treatment is available, you're more likely than ever to have a healthy, HIV-negative baby. But there's still a lot to learn about having a baby when you're HIV positive. Read this fact sheet to get started on the basic info you need if you're thinking about starting (or growing) a family. (Article from AIDS InfoNet)

The details in that fact sheet are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to learning about HIV and pregnancy. Browse's extensive collection of articles for more info, which includes recently updated U.S. guidelines on the use of HIV meds by pregnant HIV-positive women.

 World Has Failed to Reach Goals in Preventing Mother-to-Child HIV Transmission, Report Says
Every day in the developing world, more than 900 babies are diagnosed with HIV. In comparison, the number of babies born with HIV in wealthy nations has been reduced to nearly nil. But the vast majority of the 1.5 million HIV-positive women who become pregnant each year in resource-poor countries don't have access to vital services and support, according to a new report. In fact, many are not even counseled about how best to feed their newborns or how to save their own lives with proper HIV treatment, the report says. These heartrending details are from the International Treatment Preparedness Coalition, which asserts in its new report that "governments and UN [United Nations] agencies have failed to meet their commitment to reduce HIV infection in newborns." (Press release from International Treatment Preparedness Coalition)

A PDF of the full report from ITPC is available online. Be sure to read the report's powerful preface, which was written by longtime international HIV advocates.

 HIV "Family Tree" Traces How Virus Has Spread Through Europe
Some people pick up more than trinkets when they take a vacation. According to an international team of researchers, tourist destinations are the focal points for the spread of HIV through Europe. By examining samples of HIV from 16 European countries and Israel, the researchers created a "family tree" that highlights where and how HIV is transmitted. They found that, in vacation areas such as Greece, Portugal, Serbia and Spain, most new infections happen among travelers, not residents; vacationers then bring the virus back to their home countries. It's long been known that HIV travels along tourism routes, but this study highlights the importance of making HIV prevention and education easily accessible for non-residents who are visiting a country, not just people who live within a country. (Article from

 Preventing Common Worm Disease in African Girls Could Reduce HIV Transmission, Study Says
Early treatment with a deworming drug for girls in rural Africa could help reduce the spread of HIV, according to a recent study. Schistosomiasis, a worm disease that comes from snail-infested water, can lead to female genital sores if left untreated -- and these sores can provide an easier avenue for HIV transmission. The drug that protects against schistosomiasis is relatively affordable: Researchers estimate that $22 million would treat all 70 million pediatric schistosomiasis cases in Africa. Girls should be protected before they become sexually active, the researchers advise, because the drug kills the worms but does not cure the genital sores they cause. (Study summary from

The full text of the study was published in the medical journal PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases.

Activist Central

 Sign Your Organization Up for the HIV Prevention Justice Alliance by May 31!

 Tell CVS: Don't Restrict Access to Condoms!

 Endorse the International Declaration on Poverty, Homelessness and HIV/AIDS

 Speak Out Against the Syringe Funding Ban!

 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

 Congratulate Obama ... And remind him of his commitment to a National AIDS Strategy!