July 1, 2009
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LIVING WITH HIV

Jeff Berry Early Aging and HIV: A Personal Look
When longtime HIVer Jeff Berry used to imagine growing old, he pictured himself with a house, a family and "distinguished-looking" white hair. As Berry ages, he's finding that he is as happy and fulfilled as he hoped. However, he's also facing some of the realities of aging with HIV, which can include the risk of ailments like memory loss and osteoporosis. These conditions appear to happen earlier in HIV-positive people than in HIV-negative people. Researchers are studying premature aging in people with HIV, but they're still a long way from getting definitive results. "There may indeed be light at the end of the tunnel," Berry writes. "We just may need to put on our granny glasses in order to see it." (Article from Test Positive Aware Network)

This column by Jeff Berry is only one of a series of great articles and reports from Positively Aware on aging when you have HIV. You can download a PDF of the full issue to read the other articles, or you can visit TheBody.com's page on aging and HIV for a full rundown of the latest news, overviews and personal stories.


 An Easy-to-Follow Guide for Getting the Most Out of Your Medical Visits
Do you sometimes leave your medical provider's office feeling rushed or saddled with unanswered questions? If so, you're not alone. These days, docs and HIVers alike are frustrated with the ways the U.S. medical system makes it harder for people to get thorough care. This handy article from San Francisco AIDS Foundation provides useful tips for working with health care professionals to make the best use of your medical visits. And, if you're in the market for a new doc, the article includes a checklist to help you think about the traits you'd want in your ideal provider. (Article from San Francisco AIDS Foundation)

Need some guidance finding a doc that's right for you? TheBody.com has tons of articles on choosing and working with care providers -- including social workers, therapists and other specialists.


VIEWPOINTS

Denying AIDS One Man's Strange Journey Into HIV/AIDS Denialism
How can you help a newly diagnosed HIVer avoid the pitfalls of AIDS denialism? Can an AIDS denialist ever be convinced to accept the scientifically proven facts about HIV/AIDS? Just ask Seth Kalichman, Ph.D. He's a researcher and clinical psychologist who learn all about AIDS denialism by actually immersing himself in the denialist movement. He interviewed denialists, studied them, and ultimately wrote Denying AIDS, a fascinating book that explores what makes denialists tick. In this excerpt from the book, Kalichman talks about how former AIDS denialists became AIDS realists -- and how denialism can finally be defeated. (Book excerpt from Copernicus Books)

If you're intrigued by this book excerpt, be sure to check out TheBody.com's one-on-one interview with Dr. Kalichman about AIDS denialism, which was our featured topic for our most recent episode of This Month in HIV (available as an online article or a podcast). Also be sure to visit our ever-growing collection of articles and resources on AIDS denialism.


Gary Bell Transition to Hope: New Blog on TheBody.com by HIV Advocate Gary Bell
Back in 1987, Gary Bell was just as ignorant about HIV as most everybody else in the U.S. "I believed, as many did, that HIV was a gay white disease," he recalls. Then he met his first HIV-positive client at the community service organization where he worked: "a middle-aged African-American mother of six children, living in a housing project. ... To say that I was shocked to see this black family struggling to make sense of this frightening illness was an understatement." From that moment on, Gary knew that HIV -- and HIV stigma -- could affect anyone. It was one of the key moments that cemented Bell's commitment to the fight against HIV. For the last 14 years, he's headed BEBASHI (Blacks Educating Blacks About Sexual Health) -- and now, as TheBody.com's newest blogger, he'll regularly share his experiences as an HIV advocate and educator. (Blog entry from TheBody.com)


Aid for AIDS International

Your extra medications are needed by many people with HIV outside the U.S. Organizations such as Aid for AIDS collect extra meds for HIV and related illnesses, and ship them to people in South America and Africa who would die without them. In past years, Aid for AIDS has collected over $4.2 million worth of medications and helped over 5,000 people get into treatment.

If you have extra meds, please visit Aid for AIDS' medicine recycling page to find out how you can mail in or drop off your donations.
HIV TREATMENT & HEALTH ISSUES

 An Outbreak of Hep C Hits Gay, HIV-Positive Men Hardest
"Serosorting" -- i.e., only having unprotected sex with people who share your HIV status -- is not the same as having safer sex, experts warn. The latest warning against serosorting has just emerged: A recent study has confirmed that outbreaks of hepatitis C are happening among HIV-positive gay men in Europe and Australia. What may make this strain particularly dangerous is that it is often sexually transmitted and may not respond well to therapy. As a result, experts are recommending that all HIV-positive gay and bisexual men get annual tests for hep C. Of course, doing your best to use protection during sex is another important takeaway. (Article from Canadian AIDS Treatment Information Exchange)


 NHL Less Deadly in Modern HIV Treatment Era
HIV-positive people who are diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL) have nearly the same survival odds as HIV-negative people, according to a large European study. NHL, an AIDS-defining condition, has become less deadly as HIV treatment has become more effective. This new study shows that 66 percent of HIVers who were diagnosed with NHL were still alive within a year, and more than half were still alive after five years -- both of which are pretty close to the survival rates for the general public. (Study summary from aidsmap.com)


HIV IN THE NEWS

 U.S. Officials Formally Propose Eliminating Ban on HIV-Positive Visitors
Could the U.S. finally be on the verge of eliminating its ban on HIV-positive visitors? Looks that way: The government has formally proposed that HIV be removed from an official list of communicable diseases that you're not allowed to have if you want to enter the U.S. but aren't a citizen. Because of standard rules requiring public comment and revision periods, it may be months before the rule change is officially on the books, but that the proposal itself has actually been made means the home stretch has begun. (Article from TheBody.com)

For much more news and reaction on this developing story, visit TheBody.com's collection of articles on HIV and U.S. immigration law.


Also Worth Noting: Connect With Others
How Can I Manage My HIV-Related Wasting?
(A recent post from the "Living With HIV" board)

I was diagnosed with HIV in October 2008, but I've had it since April 2002. ... I started noticing changes in my body composition about four years ago. My legs were slowly getting smaller, my wrists thinner, and my torso and belly bigger. Of course, at the time I was still in denial about my HIV symptoms, so I never saw a doctor.

Today, my lipoatrophy symptoms have gotten worse and more frequent. It's not very noticeable to others, except when family members point out how "skinny" my legs are, but it's having a profound impact on my self-confidence and drive to continue to pursue my writing career. I asked my doctor about it -- who I suspect is a twit -- and he seems convinced that I do not have any wasting symptoms. Yet I notice pain when I sit, clothes becoming ill-fitting, and increased pain whenever I bump a shin or forearm against something. I also have trouble working out and lifting weights -- sometimes I just don't feel up to it. ...

Is there treatment for HIV wasting when you are not on HIV meds? What are some of your experiences fighting and managing wasting? If anyone has any advice for me, it would be greatly appreciate it.

-- StandinOnFaith

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

To do this, you'll need to register with TheBody.com's bulletin boards if you're a new user. Registration is quick and anonymous (all you need is an e-mail address) -- click here to get started!

HIV TRANSMISSION & EDUCATION

 An Expert Speaks: The Role of HIV Meds in HIV Prevention
What role can antiretroviral therapy play in HIV prevention? How important are other sexually transmitted diseases in affecting a person's HIV risk, and what's the most effective way to reduce this risk? In this fascinating interview, Myron Cohen, M.D., a brilliant researcher who has spent many years examining the connection between HIV treatment and HIV prevention, discusses these issues and more. (Article from Gay Men's Health Crisis)


 Sexual Abuse Puts Gay Men at Greater Risk for HIV, Study Says
Gay men who have been sexually abused as children appear more likely to get HIV when they grow older, according to a four-year U.S. study of 4,244 initially HIV-negative men. Studies looking at women have found that HIV risk is tied to a history of early sexual abuse, but this study may be the first to show the same is true for gay men. (Study summary from aidsmap.com)


 Drug Used After Transplants May Increase Power of Some Vaccines, Research Suggests
Could a drug meant to suppress people's immune systems actually help boost the immunizing power of a vaccine? Researchers at the Emory Vaccine Center have found that rapamycin, a drug given to people after they've had organ transplants, can stimulate the formation of memory T cells. Memory T cells remember a disease they've fought before, so the more of these cells a person has, the more effective a vaccine could theoretically be. Researchers on the Emory team believe rapamycin could be given along with a vaccine to make it more potent -- and that some HIV vaccines in development may particularly benefit. (Press release from Emory University)

There have been lots of studies into vaccines against HIV -- many disappointing, some promising. Browse TheBody.com's collections of articles on therapeutic vaccines for HIVers and vaccines to protect against HIV -- for a rundown of the quest to develop an effective HIV vaccine.


 HIV Testing Happens Too Late Too Often in U.S., Report Says
Too many people in the U.S. -- particularly men, older people and people of color -- find out they have HIV when it's already advanced to AIDS, says a new report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC analyzed people who tested positive between 1996 and 2005 in 34 states. They discovered that about 38 percent were diagnosed with AIDS within a year. The dangers are obvious, the CDC says: Not only do late HIV diagnoses put people's health at risk, but it also makes HIV more likely to spread, since people who are unaware they have HIV are less likely to take steps that would prevent transmission. The CDC offered a simple solution to the problem, however: Begin offering routine HIV screening for all people ages 13 to 64, as the CDC has recommended since 2006. (Report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)




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Activist Central

 Take a Survey Addressing the Vocational Needs of HIV-Positive People


 Write to District Court Judge Bradley J. Harris, who sentenced a man to 25 years for not disclosing to another man he was HIV positive.


 Tell Congress to Make Health Care Reform Work for People With HIV/AIDS!


 Tell Abbott That We Will Not Accept a High Price for Their New Norvir!


 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


 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!