September 24, 2009
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After years of failure and frustration, a major breakthrough has been announced in HIV/AIDS vaccine development: For the first time, a vaccine has been found to be safe and at least partly effective in protecting humans from HIV.

A U.S. government-funded study of 16,400 people in Thailand found that a two-stage "prime-boost" vaccine appeared to reduce HIV risk by 31 percent in a relatively low-risk, primarily heterosexual population. That is, admittedly, only a modest benefit, and it's also worth noting that the vaccine was not designed to protect against every strain of HIV. However, the news that this vaccine had any benefit at all is nonetheless extremely welcome and has powerful implications for the long journey we still need to take to discover a vaccine that will be useful.

Check out our "Thai Trial" page throughout the day for additional information and analysis on this breaking story!


Jack Mackenroth Designer, Ex-Reality Star, Activist and 19-Year HIV Survivor Jack Mackenroth Shares His "Design for Living"
"People expect there's a certain way you're supposed to look or act when you're HIV-positive," says fashion designer and HIV advocate Jack Mackenroth. "I'd say, 'No, HIV looks like me. HIV doesn't look like anything -- it looks like everybody.'" Although Mackenroth, a former contestant on the hit reality TV competition Project Runway, doesn't consider himself a celebrity, he is one of the rare prominent figures to not only go public about being HIV positive, but to also put his time and energy toward ending stigma and helping people live better with HIV. In this profile, Jack talks about relationships, his 1990 diagnosis and his newfound place in HIV advocacy. (Article from Test Positive Aware Network)

Want to hear Jack talk about his experiences living with HIV? Read or listen to Jack's This Positive Life interview with, as well as his advice for the recently diagnosed and the craziest HIV myth he's ever heard.

Also Worth Noting: Most Viewed: The Most Popular Articles on

• This Month in HIV: An Update on the Amazing Story of the First Man to Be Cured of HIV

• How Long Will You Live With HIV? Take Studies With a Grain of Salt: A Blog Entry by Myles Helfand

• Breaking Research on HIV/AIDS Treatment: An Interview With Joel Gallant, M.D., M.P.H.

• HIV's Silent Dangers Make Early HIV Treatment Critical, Expert Says

• Coverage of IAS 2009: The 5th International AIDS Society Conference on HIV Pathogenesis, Treatment and Prevention

 HIV and the Immune System
Your body's immune system is usually great at getting rid of infections. So why can't it fight off HIV like it does a common cold? Whether you're new to the science of HIV or you're a long-term survivor just looking to learn more, check out this article for a step-by-step explanation of how HIV attacks the immune system -- and why today's HIV meds are so effective at preventing the virus from doing its dirtywork. (Article from Test Positive Aware Network)

For more information and research, you can also browse our library of articles on HIV and the immune system.

 Making a Meal of the Issue: HIV and Nutrition
Good nutrition is vital to staying healthy, whether you're HIV positive or HIV negative. But having HIV means it's important to work extra hard at keeping your body in top shape. Eating balanced meals is important, but what is a "balanced meal"? Why are some fats good, but other fats bad? Is drinking coffee as good as drinking water? Figuring out what to eat and drink can be overwhelming, but this guide breaks it down for you: what's vital, what you should avoid, and what you should talk to your doctor about. (Article from Test Positive Aware Network)

Edwin DeJesus, M.D. Isentress Has Smaller Impact on Lipids, Blood Sugar Than Sustiva, Study Finds
Cholesterol and glucose levels don't increase as much in people who start HIV treatment with a regimen containing Isentress (raltegravir) compared to a regimen containing Sustiva (efavirenz, Stocrin), researchers have found. The study results, which we discussed with lead author Edwin DeJesus, M.D., also found that treatment-naive people taking Isentress experienced a slight drop in triglycerides, compared to an increase among people taking Sustiva, one of the meds in the brand-name combination drug Atripla. (From The Body PRO's coverage of ICAAC 2009)

 Greater Colon Cancer Risk May Warrant Colonoscopies for HIVers, Study Finds
HIV-positive people may be more likely than HIV-negative people to develop cancerous growths in their colons, according to a newly published U.S. study. The study compared colonoscopy results among 408 people age 50 or older, 136 of whom had HIV and 272 of whom did not. Although more research is needed to better understand the risks of colon cancer among people with HIV, the findings are the latest to show that HIV-positive people are more likely to develop some types of cancer than HIV-negative people. This study also suggests that colonoscopies to screen for cancer are important for people with HIV. (Article from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

 Taking Vitamins or Other Complementary Therapies? Take This Survey!
Have you ever used "complementary therapy" (such as vitamins, supplements, herbal treatments or mind/body healing) to help manage your HIV? Do you wish there was more research on whether (and what types of) complementary therapies were beneficial to people with HIV? In an effort to spur researchers to delve more into these issues, long time HIV/AIDS survivor and activist Nelson Vergel is asking HIV-positive people to take this brief, anonymous survey. The results will be presented at an upcoming HIV/AIDS meeting!

Also Worth Noting: Connect With Others
Newly Diagnosed -- And Already Drug Resistant?
(A recent post from the "Living With HIV" board)

I was diagnosed in March (still feel quite new to this) and am looking for some advice. ... My CD4 is well over 1,000 and viral load is 13,000. However, something unusual showed up: Apparently my virus is resistant to practically all medications!

I was really worried to hear this. I've spent months accepting all this and beginning to believe that it is a very treatable condition (with meds), but if my virus is resistant to most drugs, where does that leave me? The doctor said that if I had to start on meds now, this may be a problem, but given how good my CD4 and viral load are, I shouldn't be concerned too much for the moment. ...

Has anybody had a similar experience? Is there anyone with a "resistant virus" on meds? What are the alternatives, if any?

-- Dreamer76

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!


HIV/AIDS Video Newsbreak, September 22, 2009's HIV/AIDS Video Newsbreak: September 22, 2009
The latest edition of's informative news video is now online! Tune in as we walk you through some of the latest, most noteworthy developments in HIV/AIDS, including a report card for the HIV drug industry, an H1N1 (swine flu) update, a chance for you to donate your unused HIV meds to a great cause, and more! You can also find out how to add our videos to your own Web site or share it with others on Facebook, Twitter and elsewhere. (Video from

 Privacy of HIVers' Medical Records Must Be Respected, New York Court Affirms
A new court decision offers fresh support for the privacy rights of HIV-positive people regarding their medical records. Earlier this year, a New York state medical board was taken to court by an HIV specialist after he refused to hand over some of his patients' medical files as part of a misconduct investigation. In late August, the court said that the specialist does have to hand over the files -- but that it's fine for all personally identifying information to be removed from them first, in respect of HIV privacy laws. (Article from

 Man Given 25-Year Sentence for HIV Exposure Is Released on Probation
Twenty-five years in prison and a lifetime of parole. That's the sentence that was initially handed down to Nick Rhoades, an HIV-positive man living in Iowa who failed to disclose his status to another man before having sex with him. Rhoades pleaded guilty to a charge of criminal transmission of HIV, even though no HIV transmission actually occurred. The judge, Bradley Harris, clearly wanted to make a point -- and apparently, just four months into Rhoades' 25-year sentence, Harris decided his point had been made. Last week, Rhoades' sentence was reduced to five years of probation and he was released from prison. But the controversy may just be beginning. (Blog entry from

 Housing and HIV/AIDS: Researchers Explore the Connection
Having a steady place to live can have a huge impact on the health of someone with HIV/AIDS: People with stable housing are twice as likely to have an undetectable viral load, and 80 percent less likely to die, research shows. That data was presented earlier this year at the North American Housing and HIV/AIDS Research Summit -- and now researchers and advocates are meeting to figure out how to use that knowledge to improve HIVers' access to housing. And you can take part! The first of a series of regional summits will be at Columbia University on Oct. 2. (Article from Housing Works)

If you'd like to take part in the Oct. 2 meeting in New York City, you only have until Sept. 25 to register online for the meeting.

 HIVer Collects $10 Million From Insurance Company in Discrimination Case
Getting an HIV diagnosis is bad enough news; when an insurance company uses that as an excuse to cancel your health coverage, it makes things a lot worse. Yet that's exactly what the insurance company Fortis (now known as Assurant) did to Jerome Mitchell in 2002, when he was diagnosed with HIV at the age of 17. However, after years of court battles, the South Carolina Supreme Court has upheld a decision to award Mitchell $10 million, calling the insurance company "reprehensible" for its actions. (Article from the Huffington Post)


 Equality Rally Aims to Remind the U.S. That HIV/AIDS Is Not Over, Especially in Gay Community
In the U.S., gay and bisexual men are 50 times more likely to get HIV than straight men are. That's one of many reasons why GLBT activists say the gay community needs to keep fighting for people with HIV even as it continues its fight for equal rights. In that spirit, more than 20 activist groups are co-sponsoring a rally on Oct. 10 prior to the Equality March in Washington, D.C. The rally will feature plenty of speakers and performers, many of them living with HIV, and will culminate in a candlelight vigil to remember the more than 500,000 Americans who have died because of the virus. (Press release from Housing Works)

Public Service Announcement

Activist Central

 At National Equality March, Equality To End AIDS Rally to Re-Engage LGBT Community

 Learn How to Participate in the White House's HIV/AIDS Community Discussions on the National HIV/AIDS Strategy

 Tell Sen. Majority Leader Reid to Take Action on Syringe Exchange

 Re-Authorize the Ryan White Act -- Care for People Living With HIV/AIDS

 Action Alert: Easy Steps to Impact U.S. HIV/AIDS Policy!