August 12, 2009
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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.

Joel Gallant, M.D., M.P.H. HIV and Swine Flu (H1N1): An Update From a Leading HIV Specialist
We had a short break from the panic over swine flu (H1N1). But fear appears to be ramping up again as this year's flu season approaches in the U.S. and the rest of the Northern Hemisphere. Even top experts are wondering just how bad this winter will be. Have we learned anything new about swine flu since April, when the global outbreak began? What is known about what lies in store over the months to come, and about what people with HIV can do to protect themselves? We caught up with top HIV physician Joel Gallant, M.D., M.P.H., for the latest news and predictions. (Interview from

Be sure to check out our continually updated sections on swine flu and flu in general for the latest news.

 Anal Cancer Treatment Works as Well in HIVers as Non-HIVers, Study Shows
If you're living with HIV and are worried about anal cancer, here's a bit of good news: A study of people with epidermoid anal cancer (the most common type of anal cancer) found that HIV-positive people responded just as well to standard cancer treatment as those who were HIV negative. Treatment appeared to wipe out the anal cancer in 82 percent of the HIV-positive people (all of whom were men) compared to 75 percent of the HIV-negative people (most of whom were women). (Study from the medical journal Alimentary Pharmacology & Therapeutics)

This study is welcome news, particularly since several studies have suggested that HIV-positive men and women are more likely than HIV-negative people to have anal human papillomavirus (HPV), which is known to increase the risk of developing anal cancer. For more information, you can read's interview with Joel Palefsky, M.D., who presented a study on HPV and cancer at a major research conference earlier this year. You can also look at our large collection of articles on anal cancer and HIV.


HIV Genome "Aerial View" An "Aerial View" of HIV: Scientists Diagram HIV's Genetic Structure
What does HIV really look like? Although we have photos and videos of the virus that offer some level of detail, scientists have never been able to take an intricate picture of the genetic structure of HIV. But we're getting closer: A newly published study unveils the first-ever complete diagram of HIV's genome, or its genetic makeup. It's not incredibly detailed -- one researcher referred to it as an "aerial view" -- but it's probably enough to provide scientists with an important new way to understand how HIV is constructed, and in turn how to break that construction apart. (Press release from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill)

 Reuters Offers Course on HIV/AIDS Reporting for Developing World Journalists
Are you a journalist in the developing world? Interested in covering HIV? The Thomas Reuters Foundation has developed a course on HIV/AIDS reporting, designed to help developing-world journalists learn the intricacies of writing about HIV, ranging from medical science, to international politics, economics and even first-person stories. The five-day course begins on November 2 and takes place in Nairobi. The deadline to apply is August 14. Tuition is £200 each day, but bursaries are available. (Article from

Also Worth Noting: Blog Central: Banned by YouTube for Safer-Sex Education

River Huston

HIV advocate River Huston woke up one morning to discover her safer-sex education video removed from YouTube. What's the scandal? River was demonstrating how to put a condom on with your mouth. In this blog entry, River writes about the value of "erotic education" and shares the educational video that YouTube deemed obscene.

Lisa Tiger Lisa Tiger: An HIV-Positive Native American Woman's Story
"Things just don't embarrass me. From the moment I found out I was positive, I told everybody," says Lisa Tiger. A mother and advocate who's been living with HIV since 1992, Lisa is one of the few public faces of HIV/AIDS in the U.S. Native American community. Though she's experienced far more than her share of tragedies, Lisa has found healing through speaking publicly and educating her community about HIV. Lisa shares more of her secrets to survival in this inspiring interview. (Article from Positively Aware)

Did you know that Native Americans are the U.S. group with the third-highest AIDS rate among adults and adolescents, after African Americans and Hispanics? If you want to learn more about the unique issues facing Native Americans with regards to HIV prevention and care, browse's library of articles and resources on Native Americans and HIV/AIDS.

Gary Bell HIV Conspiracy Theories Fall Apart When Faced by Evidence, Advocate Writes
"With so much evidence available that HIV ... originated from an animal host, in this case, chimpanzees, then why do so many people still believe that the HIV epidemic is a government conspiracy or some equally paranoid theory?" asks HIV advocate Gary Bell in his latest blog entry. "Clearly, we need a little science lesson," he says. "It's time to jettison the conspiracy theories and understand that we -- our behavior, our ignorance, our intolerance and our apathy -- pose our greatest risk for HIV infection, not a government test tube!" (Blog entry from

 Without Treatment, HIV May Progress Faster Than Experts Thought, Small Study Suggests
How quickly does the average person's CD4 count drop when they're not taking HIV meds? Experts have long thought that HIVers who had never started treatment would see their CD4 count fall by about 60 each year. But results from a small study suggest that this CD4 drop may occur much more quickly. The results were so stark, in fact, that the study was stopped early. Although the findings need to be confirmed in studies involving more people, they're just the latest bit of evidence to support starting HIV treatment early. (Press release from the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases)

Also Worth Noting: Connect With Others
Should I Start HIV Medication?
(A recent post from the "Living With HIV" board)

I'm Coco from NYC. I thought the benefit of getting tested for HIV is to find out early so you can get good treatment that will prolong your life. I got my first results a month ago and my CD4 was 276 and viral load was 3,616. My doctor told me to get a second result in two weeks to make sure. ... I did and my CD4 is 429 and viral load is 2,290. My doctor says I don't need medication, but some people say I should start now, even though my results are OK. Any advice?

-- coconyc

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!

Also Worth Noting: IAS 2009: Breaking HIV Research

Joel E. Gallant, M.D., M.P.H.

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."

 Long-Term HIV Treatment May Reduce a Key Measure of Heart Risk, Study Finds
Could HIV medications actually be good for your heart? The debate has gone back and forth over the role that HIV and HIV meds play in heart disease risk. Recently, research has suggested that HIV meds aren't nearly as much of a culprit as we'd thought (it's HIV, rather, that seems largely at fault). For instance, new results from a major U.S. study show that HIV-positive men who had been on treatment for more than eight years were significantly less likely to experience a hardening of their arteries than HIV-negative men. (Press release from the University of Pittsburgh)

It is the meds, it's not the meds -- if your head is spinning from the back-and-forth research findings related to HIV and heart disease risk that have come out over the past couple of years, you're not alone. Get some perspective by browsing's extensive collection of articles on HIV and heart disease research.

 Women's "Weaker Response" to HIV Could Be Key to More Effective Treatment
Are women weaker than men when it comes to fighting HIV? Could understanding the differences in how each gender responds to HIV become a powerful tool in developing new HIV treatment strategies? Researchers have long known that women's immune systems are able to control HIV better than men early on in their infection, but that strangely, women progress to AIDS more quickly. A recent U.S. study of this phenomenon has uncovered some exciting findings that may help experts figure out why it's happening -- and what to do about it. (Article from

 HIV 101: The Drug Development Process
If you like staying up on the latest HIV meds in development, there's an awful lot of technical jargon to wade through. For instance, what's the difference between a Phase I trial and a Phase II trial? What's a "clinical endpoint," and why is it important that a study be "blinded" or "randomized"? In this article, you'll get a quick overview of the most important points to know about the HIV drug development process. (Fact sheet from AIDS InfoNet)


Paula Akugizibwe Before We Can Beat HIV in Africa, We Must Defeat Stigma and Discrimination, Advocate Says
"Right now, we're standing in a sinkhole, with regards to HIV and TB [tuberculosis] treatment" in Africa, says HIV advocate Paula Akugizibwe. Her eloquent, passionate words were uttered at IAS 2009, a major medical conference that took place in South Africa last month. In a speech at the conference, she implored leaders to do far more to battle the deep HIV stigma that still pervades the African continent and the world: "Until we do some serious work, and invest money and time on creating human rights sensitization ... and the imperative of governments to fund this right, then everything else we're doing is essentially self-defeating." (Article from The Body PRO)
Image © International AIDS Society / Simon Deiner / SDR Photo

David Kaawa-Mafigiri, Ph.D., M.P.H. Women With HIV, TB Are Afraid to Access Care in Parts of Africa, Study Finds
If women weren't so low on the totem pole in many African communities, it'd probably be a lot easier for them to get the HIV or tuberculosis (TB) treatment they need, according to David Kaawa-Mafigiri, Ph.D., M.P.H. He presented a study from Uganda at the IAS 2009 conference, but just as interesting as his findings was the captivating way in which he explained just how wretched the social status can be for many women in Uganda -- and why this lack of empowerment endangers their health. (Interview from The Body PRO)

 Clinton Foundation Reaches Deal to Slash Prices of Second-Line HIV Meds, TB Drug in Developing World
Imagine developing resistance to your very first HIV treatment regimen, yet suddenly finding yourself with no more options because second-line meds are just too expensive. That's the predicament for many people in the developing world. However, second-line HIV treatment is about to get a whole lot more affordable in some of the world's poorest nations. Former U.S. President Bill Clinton has announced that his foundation reached an agreement with two drugmakers to slice the prices of a number of HIV medications that may be used when HIVers develop resistance to their first treatment regimens. Clinton also announced an agreement to reduce the cost of rifabutin, a key tuberculosis (TB) drug, by 60 percent in developing countries, to $1 per dose. (Article from

Activist Central

 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

 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