LIVING WITH HIV
Celebrating Cellulite: HIV and Body Image
"The first thing I did after I found out I was HIV positive was eat. I decided that if I was going to die, I was going to die fat. F*ck 'em, I thought; let 'em buy an extra large coffin." So writes River Huston in her latest blog entry on TheBody.com. When she was diagnosed, River thought HIV was a death sentence -- and she decided she didn't want her last meal to be Egg Beaters. Now, more than 15 years later, River has finally beaten her life-long body image problems: not by starving, not by bingeing, but by finally accepting herself as she is. (Blog from TheBody.com)
New Blog on TheBody.com: Jimmy Mack Is Proud to Set an Example
Meet TheBody's newest blogger: Jimmy Mack. For his first entry, he writes about what it means to him to talk publicly about his life with HIV, and his past struggles with addiction, on a major HIV Web site like TheBody.com. "I live my life openly as a proud, HIV-positive, sober gay man," Jimmy says. "I share my experience, strength and hope whenever I can in the hope that others will see me and think, 'If he can do it, so can I.'" (Blog from TheBody.com)
You may remember Jimmy from TheBody.com's recent interview with him, which we posted just a few weeks ago as part of our This Positive Life podcast series. As Jimmy notes in his new blog, he was inspired by the tremendous support he got from readers around the world who read or listened to that interview. That interview is still available online, as is every episode of our moving This Positive Life series.
HIV TREATMENT & HEALTH ISSUES
Key to HIV Eradication May Lie in Memory T Cells, Researchers Say
Is this another scheme to eradicate HIV that's doomed to fail, or have researchers from the U.S. and Canada found something amazing? In a newly published study, the scientists say they've been able to pinpoint the specific types of HIV-infected T cells that know how to avoid being attacked by HIV medications. Even better, they say they've figured out how those cells remain alive and duck HIV meds. Their plan: To use new forms of treatment to stop those memory T cells from replenishing themselves. Their goal: the complete elimination of HIV in the human body. Will it work? Stay tuned; animal studies have yet to begin. (Article from TheBody.com)
Early HIV Treatment Doesn't Increase Drug Resistance Risk, Study Finds
If you're worried that starting HIV treatment too soon may just make you more likely to develop drug resistance, a new U.S. study may put those fears to rest. The study found that earlier treatment does not increase a person's resistance risk: In fact, the higher a person's CD4 count was when she or he started treatment, the less likely drug resistance mutations were to develop. (Study summary from aidsmap.com)
Videx Labeling Updated With New Drug Interaction Warnings, Other Revisions
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently approved new labeling for Videx (didanosine) EC capsules and pediatric powder. Revisions were made to a number of sections, including warnings about potential interactions with other drugs. Modifications were also made in areas dealing with dosage adjustments and possible side effects. (Announcement from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration)
One Woman's Story|
(A recent post from the "Women With HIV" board)
I was diagnosed in 1999 when I was 8 months pregnant. I was separated from my husband for a year and was living with my (then) boyfriend. He already had two children from two previous relationships. Naive as I was, I assumed that made him "safe." We broke up ... [then I found] out I was pregnant, then eight months later: HIV positive. ... He wasn't surprised at all, but wouldn't admit to being positive himself. ...
That was 11+ years ago. I am healthy and my son was born negative. I have since had another child, also negative. ... I was placed on Combivir and Viramune from the start and they served me well all this time. ... I am and have been undetectable since the birth of my first child.
As for the ex-boyfriend, he's still out there somewhere, spreading it to others. I don't and never did blame him, though: I was responsible for me and should have been safe. It's an unfortunate thing, but you pick yourself up, brush yourself off and keep going.
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HIV AND U.S. HEALTH CARE REFORM
HIV Physicians' Organization Chimes in on U.S. Health Care Debate for the U.S. Congress to consider as it hashes out reforms.
As the health care reform debate heats up in the U.S. Congress, important HIV organizations from across the country are lining up to advocate for people with HIV. The HIV Medicine Association (HIVMA), which represents many HIV physicians, recently joined the debate on the side of the Obama administration: It says that including a "public plan option" as an alternative to private insurance could go a long way toward providing affordable care to people with HIV who currently have no insurance at all. "A public plan option will better ensure all of our patients have the opportunity to benefit from HIV treatment and live healthy and productive lives," says HIVMA's chairperson, Arlene Bardeguez, M.D., M.P.H. (Press release from HIV Medicine Association)
HIVMA has also created a handy nine-point list of key goals it feels a U.S. national health care reform plan must achieve.
Of course, the HIV Medicine Association isn't the only group in the HIV community getting in on the health care reform action. The patient activist organization Treatment Action Group, for instance, is also a fan of the public plan option; it's calling for people in the U.S. to contact their representatives and push for the option, as well as a range of changes to Medicaid and the inclusion of the Early Treatment for HIV Act. And as we noted in last week's newsletter, Project Inform and other advocates have developed a policy platform of HIV-related issues
Stay up to date as the story continues to unfold regarding HIV and health care reform in the U.S.; check back often to browse TheBody.com's growing collection of articles!
Specialized HIV Clinics: What Are They Good For?
Do we still need clinics and health centers that specialize in HIV care? A number of factors -- many of them related to lack of funding -- have contributed to recent closings of some HIV specialty care providers throughout the U.S. Now that effective HIV treatment has made it possible for some HIVers to get their care from general medical providers, there are those who no longer see the need for specialty clinics. On the other hand, people who argue in favor of the clinics say there are many issues that lead HIVers to seek treatment in a specialized clinic, such as privacy concerns. (Article from Kansas City infoZine)
HIV TRANSMISSION & EDUCATION
New U.S. "HIV/AIDS Atlas" Shows Graphic Representation of HIV Rates by County
"If we think of the AIDS pandemic as a global wildfire, the way that you fight wildfires is to identify the hot spots," says Michael Weinstein, President of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation. The U.S. now has an exciting way to quickly identify those HIV hot spots: a brand-new online "HIV/AIDS Atlas" created by the National Minority Quality Forum. The atlas shows a vivid, graphic representation of HIV rates by county in all 50 states, Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. It promises to provide HIV advocates and policymakers with a powerful new tool in their efforts to fight HIV/AIDS in the areas of the U.S. that are most in need of services, such as urban areas and specific sections of southern states. (Article from TheBody.com)
Do Your Part: National HIV Testing Day Is This Saturday!
There are more than 1 million people living with HIV in the U.S. -- and a quarter of them don't know they're infected. That's why major awareness events, such as U.S. National HIV Testing Day (which takes place this Saturday, June 27), are so important. This year, the American Academy of HIV Medicine (AAHIVM), one of the largest HIV specialist organizations, is joining the push for an expansion of routine HIV testing: It's calling on all medical providers to perform at least one HIV test on June 27. AAHIVM is also working with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to develop programs to help health care providers implement routine testing year-round for everyone between the ages of 13 and 64. (Press release from AAHIVM)
Want to do your part to spread the word on HIV Testing Day? Check out the U.S. National Testing Day official Web site to find an event near you or to download printable awareness posters.
Young Gay Men Bear Brunt of Climbing HIV Cases, CDC Reports
There may be no starker example of the failures of sex education, HIV prevention and HIV testing efforts in the U.S. than the current state of the epidemic among young gay men. Given the devastating effect HIV had on the gay community in the 1980s and 1990s, the latest statistics from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are even more stunning: While rates of new HIV infections are dropping in most vulnerable populations, among gay males age 13 to 24 -- especially gay males of color -- HIV rates are climbing. In this fact sheet, the CDC explains the disturbing numbers and offers recommendations on how to turn the tide. (Fact sheet from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
Interested in learning more about HIV prevention research and programs specifically focused on youth? Check out TheBody.com's collection of resources on youth HIV education and prevention. Also be sure to browse our massive library of articles on gay men and HIV.
U.S. Researchers Find Link Between Gay Intolerance and Rising HIV Rates
If a U.S. state bans same-sex marriage, will HIV rates go up in that state? That's the intriguing conclusion drawn by two Emory University economists. In what the university believes is the first study ever to examine how gay stigma affects HIV rates in the U.S., the researchers surmise that a constitutional ban on gay marriage in a state may account for three to five new HIV cases per 100,000 people in that state. "Intolerance is deadly," explains Hugo Mialon, one of the researchers. "Bans on gay marriage codify intolerance, causing more gay people to shift to underground sexual behaviors that carry more risk." (Press release from Emory University)
Read the PDF of the full study if you'd like to find out more about the researchers' methods. Be warned: This is an academic paper that contains lots of social-science talk! In it, the researchers explain how they've studied society's feelings about homosexuality over the years and what those attitudes have to do with HIV rates.