Alcohol and HIV: Not a Good Mix for Treatment Adherence
It's common sense: Taking all your HIV medicines on time requires discipline. You've got to know where your meds are, remember all your doses and get refills in advance. It's logical that drinking and drugging will only distract you. Now there's further scientific evidence to back this logic up: A U.S. analysis of 40 previous studies on alcohol and HIV found that HIVers who drank alcohol were half as likely to remember their HIV meds compared to HIVers who never drank at all. Interestingly, the study also noted that the quantity of alcohol mattered more than the frequency of a person's drinking. (Article from aidsmap.com)
Gays Twice as Likely as Heterosexuals to Seek Mental Health Counseling, Study Finds
Gays, lesbians and bisexuals are more likely to seek mental health services than heterosexuals, a new study has found. The fact that many communities still believe that homosexuality itself is a mental problem may lead some gay people to seek mental health treatment. Experiences with discrimination and violence may also be more common among gays, increasing the need for counseling. What, you might ask, does this have to do with HIV? It's these bad experiences that can hurt someone's self-esteem, leaving them stressed or depressed -- and that, in turn, is known to increase a person's HIV risk. (Press release from the University of California-Los Angeles)
Study: Kaletra May Reduce Levels of Lopid, a Commonly Used Triglyceride Drug
A heads-up for those of you with HIV and high cholesterol/triglycerides: Depending on which HIV meds you're taking, lipid-busting drugs may not work exactly the way they're supposed to. The latest warning concerns a drug known as Lopid (generic name: gemfibrozil), part of a family of triglyceride-fighting drugs called fibrates. Researchers have found that Lopid may not work as well in people who are taking the HIV medication Kaletra (lopinavir/ritonavir). But what does this finding actually mean for people with HIV? Read on to get the details. (Blog entry from TheBody.com)
It's worth noting that this is only the most recent example of a lipid-fighting drug not getting along terribly well with HIV meds. Our drug interactions overview section features some fact sheets on interactions with each class of HIV meds. A number of cholesterol-fighting drugs known as statins come up frequently on these fact sheets; several statins can alter drug levels of many NNRTIs and protease inhibitors (or vice versa), often requiring some dosing adjustments. Be sure to bring this up when you're talking treatment options with your health care provider.
HIV IN THE NEWS
Happy Ending for HIV-Positive Pregnant Woman Sentenced to Serve Jail Time Past Her Due Date
Imagine being pregnant and HIV positive when you're sentenced to serve extra time in prison -- but only because a judge doesn't think you'll take proper care of your baby. That's what happened to Quinta Layin Tuleh, a 28-year-old Maine resident, in May 2009, when a judge sentenced her to an unusually long prison sentence (for using fake identification) specifically because she was pregnant and HIV positive. At the time, the judge claimed that keeping Tuleh behind bars until after her due date would ensure that she got proper medical care. However, he apparently ignored the fact that Tuleh had already arranged for her own prenatal care. Tuleh appealed the verdict and won; she was just resentenced to time already served and is now free. (Article from the Bangor Daily News)
For more context on this case, take a look at a thorough, impassioned review of the issues surrounding the case that was published in a June 2009 installment of the Center for HIV Law and Policy's blog.
Though the ending was a happy one in this instance, Tuleh's case represents yet another chapter in the struggle to destigmatize HIV. Take a look at TheBody.com's library of articles on HIV/AIDS-related discrimination cases.
Alabama Ends Work Release Ban for HIV-Positive Prisoners, but Discrimination Continues
For more than 20 years, Alabama banned HIV-positive prisoners from participating in the state jail system's work-release program. But that ban has finally ended, which promises to give eligible HIVers valuable help in getting a paying job when they leave prison, one of the most successful ways to ease the transition out of jail. But despite this step forward, other forms of discrimination against prisoners with HIV continue, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) reports: HIVers are excluded from other prison programs and are given only limited access to some recreational facilities and prison jobs. (Press release from the American Civil Liberties Union)
For more information on HIV/AIDS and incarcerated people, browse our library of articles.
Pay More Attention to HIV-Positive Women's Needs in New U.S. National AIDS Strategy, Group Urges
"Health care systems have largely neglected the complex medical, economic and social realities of HIV-positive women," says Gina Brown of NO/AIDS Taskforce. Brown and other representatives from 14 HIV/AIDS, human rights and women's health organizations have released a set of recommendations they want the Obama administration to focus on to make certain that HIV-positive women's concerns are addressed as the government crafts its first nationwide strategy to fight HIV/AIDS. (Press release from the Center for Health and Gender Equity, WORLD, Center for HIV Law and Policy and other organizations)
The working group's full report is available online.
It's Been a Month, but This Is Just Getting Harder!|
(A recent post from the "I Just Tested Positive" board)
It's been just over a month since my diagnosis and I have been on a roller coaster of emotions! I have an exam coming in three weeks' time and I can hardly focus on it. I am so scared to fail this exam, yet I cannot study. ...
I hate myself for my moment of weakness. I find myself going on the Internet every two hours looking for an HIV cure and there isn't one yet! ... There is so much recent cure news -- is that all hopeless? I feel dead, lifeless and getting to the point where I feel like just ending it all. I know I won't, as what's the point in doing that, but then what's the point of living as well now?
I am so sorry for this message, as it is so negative, but I need to vent!
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!
LIVING WITH HIV
Zephyr Foundation Launches New Community Forum for "HIV Controllers"
Are you among the tiny percentage of HIV-positive people whose bodies are able to control the virus without the help of HIV meds? If you're an "HIV controller," you may be interested in joining the Zephyr Foundation's new community forum. The foundation was created to bring together members of this small, unique worldwide community so they can more easily share their thoughts, feelings and stories -- and learn about opportunities to participate in research that might one day lead to a cure for HIV. (Press release from the Zephyr Foundation)
Loreen Willenberg, founder of the Zephyr Foundation, is also a blogger on TheBody.com! Read Loreen's blog or her personal story in TheBody.com's HIV/AIDS Resource Center for Women to learn more about her.
If you're looking for more information about HIV controllers, check out our library of research articles and personal stories.
HIV TRANSMISSION & EDUCATION
Philadelphia HIV Educator Talks About Sexual Health -- in a Children's Hospital
"Yes, babies are pretty, but they grow up to have sex ... and to potentially expose themselves to HIV," says HIV advocate Kai Chandler. Part of Chandler's work at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia involves getting preteens and teens tested for HIV, as well as talking to them about some pretty heavy issues -- sexual risk, partner negotiation and healthy relationships -- while they're still young enough for prevention messages to have the greatest impact. In this interview, Chandler explains how this job gets done -- and what else is going on in Philadelphia, a vibrant center of HIV/AIDS activism. (Interview by TheBody.com)
"Protect Yourselves, Ladies": Taking Responsibility for Your Own Health
Too many women still believe that HIV is a "gay disease," says Enid Vázquez, a staff member for the Chicago HIV/AIDS organization Test Positive Aware Network (TPAN). But it's not just ignorance about HIV that lies behind the growing number of HIV-positive women in the U.S. (especially among African Americans); it's also a matter of empowerment and personal responsibility. "Something's got to be wrong with you to knowingly infect someone. But something's not quite right with you if you're not protecting yourself," points out Keith Green, another TPAN staff member. (Article from Test Positive Aware Network)