August 6, 2009
What's New at
News & Views Library
Change/Update Subscription


Jimmy Mack Living With Two Diseases: HIV and Alcoholism
Jimmy Mack has been living with HIV since 1987. But he's been living with another disease for a lot longer. Like HIV, it's an illness that has no cure -- but with the appropriate treatment, it can be "managed." That disease is alcoholism. "This is a disease that I believe I was born with, just like I know I was born gay, and both have shaped my life in a big way," Jimmy says. In his latest blog entry, Jimmy recounts why he found drinking so seductive: "The shame I felt at being gay, coupled with my Catholic upbringing, was the very shame that filled me when I met the only thing that quieted that shame: alcohol." (Blog entry from

River Huston Safer-Sex Education: Too Hot for High School?
HIV advocate River Huston woke up one morning to discover her safer-sex education video removed from YouTube. It's not the first time that being candid about how to have safer sex has gotten her in trouble: The same presentation once got her banned from speaking in high schools for about a decade. So what's the scandal? In both cases, River was demonstrating how to put a condom on with your mouth -- a tactic that she says can make safer sex a lot more fun, and may be the only way that a lot of people can make sure their partner puts a condom on. In this blog entry, River writes about the value of "erotic education," and shares the educational video that YouTube deemed obscene. (Blog entry from

Write a comment in support of Medicare coverage for the treatment of facial wasting in HIV-infected individuals. Comment period closes on Aug. 15, 2009.

 IAS 2009: Which Studies Are Most Likely to Change the Lives of People With HIV?
Tune in as Joel Gallant, M.D., M.P.H., one of the United States' foremost HIV experts, walks us through some of the most important findings in HIV treatment strategies presented last month at the 5th International AIDS Society Conference on HIV Pathogenesis, Treatment and Prevention (IAS 2009). "The answer to a lot of the problems we face with HIV is treatment," he said, "in terms of what's beneficial for the individual who is infected, and what's also beneficial for prevention of transmission." Gallant discusses studies on vitamin D deficiency in people with HIV and the ability of Isentress (raltegravir) to boost CD4 counts, in addition to a host of other interesting research. (IAS 2009 coverage from The Body PRO)

 For Some, Boosted Prezista Works as Well by Itself as It Does With Other HIV Meds, Studies Find
HAART, or combination HIV therapy, is the gold standard of HIV treatment. But can people still keep their viral load down if they remove the "combination" from their HIV therapy? A couple of recent studies tested this idea: People who had already achieved an undetectable viral load on combination therapy switched to Prezista (darunavir) "monotherapy" boosted only with a dose of Norvir (ritonavir). In general, the monotherapy worked just as well as the combination therapy. (Article from

What do these study results mean for someone with HIV who's currently on treatment? In his recap of the highlights from IAS 2009, Joel Gallant, M.D., M.P.H., offered his take on this story. Gallant noted that the findings probably wouldn't mean much for most HIV-positive people in wealthy countries, but said they were promising results for people whose HIV treatment options were limited by side effects, or for HIV treatment programs in the developing world, where a smaller treatment regimen can save a lot of money.

 Discovery Raises Hopes for New Form of Kaposi's Sarcoma Treatment
A new type of protease inhibitor may be able to stop Kaposi's sarcoma (KS) in its tracks, U.S. researchers have found. KS, a cancer caused by a form of herpes virus, isn't nearly as common today in wealthy countries as it was before the combination HIV treatment era. However, many HIVers still get KS, even if they're on HIV meds, and if HIV meds are unable to treat it, the only real option that remains is chemotherapy. A new study suggests that a less-toxic option may be on the way: Researchers believe that engineering a new type of protease inhibitor could prove to be an effective form of KS treatment. (Press release from the University of California-San Francisco)

 HIV Has No Impact on Success of Diabetes Treatment, Study Suggests
If you've got diabetes (and many people with HIV do), there's a series of goals important for you to reach when it comes to "blood lipids," such as cholesterol and triglycerides. Fortunately, HIV-positive diabetics are just as likely to achieve these goals as HIV-negative diabetics, according to a study of 216 volunteers in Chicago, Ill. The researchers noted, however, that HIV meds can make these goals harder to achieve, which makes it even more important that people who have HIV and diabetes monitor their blood fats closely and talk with an expert about nutrition and diet. (Article from

 Reports of Organ Failure With Some Body Building Supplements
Some body building products may be more dangerous than you think. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has warned the public to stop using any body building products that claim to contain steroids or steroid-like substances. The FDA says it's received reports of serious liver injury, stroke, kidney failure and pulmonary embolism (blockage of an artery in the lung) among people who took these supplements. Eight supplements in particular were cited by the FDA, including TREN-Xtreme, MASS Xtreme and six other products with "Xtreme" in their names. (Press release by the FDA)

Were you or someone you know harmed by using one of these body building supplements? Use this official online form to make a report to the FDA.

Also Worth Noting: Connect With Others
How Do I Get Over My Fear of Infecting My Boyfriend?
(A recent post from the "Gay Men" board)

I have been positive for over two years now. I met my boyfriend a year and two months ago. We have a typical relationship; we love each other but have ups and downs. I fear that my sexual desire has been lessened because of being infected, and I also started having a fear of infecting him early on in our relationship. I am sexually attracted to him, but when we get in the bed, sometimes it is hit or miss for me. I sometimes lose my erection and don't know why, and then the thoughts in my head begin to race, and I could swear there were five different people in my head talking at the same time. My problem is that I am 23 and I hope that this does not carry on for too long. Anyone out there have the same problems as me?

-- DS86

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

To do this, you'll need to register with'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!


Gorilla (Ron Cohen/Gorilla Foundation) HIV (Apparently) Comes From Gorillas: What This Means for the HIV Community
Say hello to a new strain of HIV: "HIV-1 group P." It was found in a 62-year-old woman from Cameroon -- and, unlike any strain of HIV we've seen so far, it appears to have jumped to humans from gorillas, rather than chimps or monkeys. Still, why should this story be such a big deal? How's the woman doing now? And what are the important questions this new finding raises? In his first blog entry,'s managing editor Myles Helfand takes a closer look at this story -- and explains why, despite the blaring headlines, there's no cause for panic. (Blog entry from

 Meeting Seeks to Boost HIV/AIDS Awareness, Support for African-American Women
Because the U.S. HIV/AIDS epidemic has hit African-American women with such force, prominent African-American women's groups have begun to take notice. Last month, the Oakland chapter of the National Coalition of 100 Black Women held a day-long conference addressing both HIV prevention and coping with an HIV diagnosis. Conference organizers felt that tackling both issues would help women address the stigma of HIV so they would feel more comfortable talking to their partners about risk -- and getting tested themselves. (Article from the San Francisco Chronicle)

Also Worth Noting: My Health Tracker: Check Out This Exciting Tool!

My Health Tracker

Join the growing number of HIVers who now use My Health Tracker at to track their CD4 counts, viral loads, medications and more.

Now you can update your My Health Tracker account via mobile phone! Visit My Health Tracker for more info.

 Scientists Learn Why Even Treated Genital Herpes Sores Boost the Risk of HIV Infection
Even if weeks have passed since it healed, the site of a genital herpes sore may be especially prone to being infected by HIV, U.S. researchers say. In a small but detailed study of eight HIV-negative people (all but one of them women), the researchers found a dramatically higher number of CD4 cells just under the skin where a genital herpes sore used to be. When they took samples of that skin for lab testing, they found HIV was able to replicate as much as five times more within that skin than areas that had never been affected by a genital herpes sore. (Press release from the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases)

These findings help explain why acyclovir (Zovirax), a commonly used genital herpes treatment, appears to have no effect on the likelihood that a person will become HIV positive. And, of course, it serves as yet another reminder that safer sex (or abstinence) is extremely important, even if you're with a person who shows no symptoms of sexually transmitted diseases.

 Why Don't Young People Want to Join HIV Prevention Studies?
Why is it so hard to find young people to participate in HIV-related studies? While trying to find an assistant to help recruit young, gay men for a trial of pre-exposure HIV prophylaxis (PrEP), HIV advocate Keith Green may have stumbled on an answer: homophobia. One applicant looked perfect on paper, but in reality didn't entirely approve of homosexuality -- even though he himself occasionally "got down with" other men. "There was no way in hell I could trust him with the potentially vulnerable members of the population that our study intends to enroll," Green says. "Could this mentality be partially to blame for why the existing PrEP studies (and many other types of studies related to HIV for that matter) lack participation from young people, and young people of color specifically?" (Article from Positively Aware)


 South Africa Vows to Strengthen HIV Treatment Programs
South Africa's new government has announced it will dramatically scale up its efforts to provide HIV treatment to its citizens. The announcement comes just weeks after top scientists gathered at IAS 2009 -- a major HIV conference that took place in South Africa -- and discussed the serious benefits of providing early, universal access to medications for people living with HIV. The International AIDS Society has hailed South Africa's decision as a welcome change from many other countries, such as the G8 nations, who have fallen far behind on their goals of universal treatment access by 2010. (Press release from the International AIDS Society)

Visit our IAS 2009 home page to view our complete library of conference coverage, which includes a wide range of articles, interviews and podcasts.

Activist Central

 Petition for a Robust National Public Health Care Option and Expansion and Enhancement of Medicaid Coverage

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

 Ensure Congress Has a National AIDS Strategy

 Urge Your Senators to Co-Sponsor the Early Treatment for HIV Act


 Help Get Health Care Reform Back on Track

 Twelve Weeks and Counting: Extend Ryan White Now!

 Sound the Alarm: HIV Is Not in Recession

 Write to U.S. 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!