July 13, 2009
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 Has Spirulina Ever Been Shown to Improve an HIVer's Health?
I have been HIV positive for one year now and doing well on HIV medications. I am taking spirulina as a dietary supplement. Do you think it will improve my health in any way?

 What's the Best Protein Shake and How Can I Regain Muscle?
I want to regain some lost muscle. I've been positive for 12 years now and have been on several HIV treatments. I did weight training for a good 12 years, but as of a couple of years ago, I train rarely because I have neither energy nor motivation. I have muscle loss on my arms, abdomen and legs. It is very depressing. What can I do? I don't want to take too many supplements. Is there a protein shake you would recommend?

Also Worth Noting: HIV Retreats: A Little-Known Way to Meet Other HIVers

HIV Retreats

Are you looking to connect with other HIV-positive people in a supportive environment? One option is to go on an HIV retreat. Retreats range from carefree holidays to educational weekends. There are retreats beachside, in the mountains and in the middle of the biggest U.S. cities. They're geared for the newly positive as well as longtime HIVers just looking for a chance to unwind. Many retreats are free, low-cost or provide discounts to people in need.

 Is It Normal to Still Have Problems With Atripla After a Year?
I have been on Atripla (efavirenz/tenofovir/FTC) for one year. My viral load is undetectable and my T-cell (CD4) numbers have hovered around 300. What's troubling is that I have been experiencing severe anxiety and depression, including thoughts of suicide. I have also been having increased crazy dreams and dizziness. Can it be that for some reason the Sustiva (efavirenz, Stocrin) in the Atripla is starting to cause these symptoms after months of things being OK? I have had a history of anxiety and depression, but never bad enough to warrant going on medication for it. When I have had these symptoms, they have come out of the blue, with no outside life issues prompting them. Any advice?


 Has My Virus Become Resistant to Isentress?
I have had HIV/AIDS for 25 years and I have become resistant to most HIV medications. My latest regimen has been Isentress (raltegravir) and Truvada (tenofovir/FTC). I recently went through an "on and off" phase with my regimen because I moved to a different state. I have had nothing but infections since then. Does this mean I have drug resistance?

 Resistant to All PIs and Almost All NRTIs: What Are My Options?
I have been HIV positive for 25 years and have done pretty well on HIV medications, which I began about 17 years ago. Last year my viral load began to increase so I switched my regimen. My phenotype and genotype tests showed that my virus was resistant to all protease inhibitors (PIs) except Prezista (darunavir) and all nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NRTIs) except Viread (tenofovir). I showed no resistance to any drugs in the non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor (NNRTI) class. My doctor put me on Norvir (ritonavir), Prezista, Isentress (raltegravir) and Atripla (efavirenz/tenofovir/FTC). I have allergies to sulfa drugs and after being on Prezista (which contains sulfa) for one year, I've been dealing with the rashes and itching because it is the only PI that I am not resistant to. However, the itching is getting unbearable. I have had three doctor opinions now and all have concluded that it is a drug reaction. I was hoping for your opinion before I talk to my doctor next week about stopping the Prezista. My viral load is currently undetectable and my T cells (CD4 cells) are at 303. My ratio is 30.3 percent. Am I getting to the end of the road for my options?

Also Worth Noting: Connect With Others
Found Out June 24, First Test Results Next Week
(A recent post from the "I Just Tested Positive" board)

I got an HIV-positive result on June 24. I saw a specialist on July 3 and I get my first test results next week on the 16th. I'm 56 and I am totally overwhelmed by this -- I cry without warning, have anxiety attacks, little interest in food. I'm feeling deeply ashamed and embarrassed. I live in a pretty small town that is OK with gay people but I don't think they can handle this. My husband/partner/best friend of 26 years has been great and I've told our one other sex partner (so far both are negative). Over the July 4th holidays we had lots of family around and everyone could tell I was "not OK" but I couldn't talk to anyone about it ... I still know almost nothing.

I'm feeling very lost and afraid and find it hard to focus on anything. Luckily I'm a runner and still doing my three miles every few days -- it seems an OK way to clear my brain for a short time anyway. ... I'm hugely worried about test results next week. My prior HIV test (the last negative one) was 18 months before.

Anyone out there like me? Being in a rural place is hard and I could use some people to e-mail with.

-- ruralguy

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 Can I Get Butt Augmentation With PMMA in the U.S.?
I am interested in butt augmentation with PMMA (polymethyl-methacrylate, Artefill). Is there anyone doing this procedure in the U.S.? I would rather not travel out of the States.

 What About Facial Lipoatrophy Sufferers in Africa?
I am really depressed about my facial wasting. I recently underwent a general checkup and everything seems to be OK. My CD4 count is about 500 but unfortunately my face is wasting way. We are not privileged enough in my country to have doctors who can treat this. I believe I could cope better with the disease if I looked better. Can you help?

Also Worth Noting: Visual AIDS

Image from the July 2009 Visual AIDS Web Gallery
"Wulf" 1999; Naj Hasoni

Visit the July 2009 Visual AIDS Web Gallery to view our latest collection of art by HIV-positive artists! This month's gallery, entitled "Writing Pictures," is curated by Javier Romero.

 Is My CD4 Count Drop Normal?
I was diagnosed HIV positive in October 2007. At the time, my viral load was 6,310, my CD4 count was around 600 and my CD4 percentage was 28 percent. I've had a few tests since then and the results have been consistent. But in the five months between my two most recent tests, my CD4 count went from 780 with a percentage of 32 to 539 with a percentage of 30. I am not on HIV meds yet. Is this a "normal" drop in CD4?

 Is There a Way to Manage Viral Loads Without Meds?
My first viral load test result was 30,791 and my second result was 37,000. I'm not yet on HIV medications, but I am a healthy eater and a positive thinker, plus I exercise and take some supplements. What else would you recommend I do to manage my viral load? Is there a magic workout formula, food or supplement that would help?


 What Is PEP?
This may be a stupid question, but what is "PEP"?

 Can't Get Tested for HIV Because I Would Be Deported If Positive
I live and work in a country where foreigners are deported if they test HIV positive. I recently visited another country and intended to get tested there but I chickened out at the hospital. I told the doctor I was having pale stools (which is true) and asked if I could get a liver function test and urine test to check my digestive system. I had a blood test and urine test and the results suggest no big problem. My question is: Do these results mean that I should not be worried about HIV? My possible HIV exposure was six months ago.

Also Worth Noting: Connect With Others
Looking for HIV-Positive Facebook Friends
(A recent post from the "Living With HIV" board)

If you are HIV positive and using Facebook and want to get to know more people with the same condition, please contact me.

... I am 30 years old and have been positive for five years, three of which I've been on meds. I have my family, gorgeous partner and friends and strongly feel that I need to connect to other people living with HIV. Let's do it!

-- michalexe

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 Dancing, Kissing and Scratching: What's the Risk?
I love couple dancing. There's a girl I dance with that has some wounds that look like they might be from Kaposi's sarcoma. If she has HIV, can I get it through dance, or if she scratches me while we're dancing? Can I get HIV if I kiss her (not on the mouth or French)?

Activist Central

 Twelve Weeks and Counting: Extend Ryan White Now!

 Sound the Alarm: HIV Is Not In Recession

 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!