October 5, 2009
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Also Worth Noting: Latino AIDS Day: Learn More About HIV/AIDS in Latino Communities

National Latino AIDS Awareness Day

Oct. 15 is National Latino AIDS Awareness Day in the U.S. Now in its seventh year, National Latino AIDS Awareness Day focuses on increasing awareness and prevention within Latino communities, where new cases of HIV are increasing and where immigration status, language and cultural barriers contribute to its spread.

There are plenty of free posters available online to acknowledge the day. You can also learn more about Latinos and HIV/AIDS in this fact sheet, or take a look at TheBody.com in Spanish for Spanish-language HIV/AIDS information and resources.
LIVING WITH HIV


 Is It Appropriate for an HIVer to Get PEP to Prevent Superinfection?
I'm HIV positive and have had an undetectable viral load on Atripla (efavirenz/tenofovir/FTC) for about half a year. Last night I was having sex with a guy of unknown status -- he was the insertive partner. When he pulled out, we noticed that the condom was broken. When I told him that he should seek post-HIV-exposure treatment (known as PEP or post-exposure prophylaxis), he did not seem to panic at all. He said he was negative, but I'm not sure he was telling the truth. Now I cannot stop thinking that he could have transmitted a drug-resistant strain of the virus to me. Should I go to an emergency room immediately and request PEP?


 Could Reinfection With "Good" HIV Help?
Is it possible to get reinfected with a "better" strain of HIV? Let's say someone has a very high viral load and very low CD4 count, despite taking meds. What if he or she attempted to "reinfect" themselves with semen from somebody who has perfect numbers, feels great all the time and has no problems related to HIV? Could the recipient benefit from this "good" virus? I know that no doctor will condone such behavior, but I am curious.


BODY SHAPE CHANGES


 High CD4 Count and Muscle Wasting: Should I Switch Meds?
I have been on Trizivir (AZT/3TC/abacavir) for 10 years and have experienced some muscle wasting. I work out three times a week and my CD4 count has been around 950 for the past five years. I have no other major issues. My doctor says it's not time to switch meds yet because of my high CD4 count. He encourages me to pump more weight at the gym, but I just want to try new meds. Do you have any suggestions?


 Where Can I Get PMMA Injections in Mexico?
I will be taking a trip to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, and wanted to know if there are any doctors there that do PMMA (polymethyl-methacrylate, Articol, Artefill, Metacrill) injections for facial wasting. I've had it done here in the U.S., but it is very costly.


HIV TREATMENT


 Did I Choose the Right HIV Med Regimen to Start With?
I've had HIV for five years now. My CD4 count has been consistently between 500 and 800, and my viral load has ranged from 15,000 to more than one million. Each time I was fighting a sunburn, a sinus infection or some other infection. My doc put me on Atripla (efavirenz/tenofovir/FTC). Is Atripla a good, long-lasting regimen? Should I have even started treatment?


 Can My Husband Still Use Atripla Even Though the Pills Expired Three Months Ago?
My husband is positive and has been on Atripla (efavirenz/tenofovir/FTC) since June 11. We just found out that the Atripla pills that he's been taking from day one expired in June. Now we are worried that he's been taking drugs that have no strength. How long after the expiration date can HIV medications still be good?


Also Worth Noting: ONAP AIDS Talks: Be Part of a White House HIV/AIDS Talk Near You!
The White House Office of National AIDS Policy (ONAP) has launched a series of HIV/AIDS community discussions throughout the U.S. -- and there may be one coming to your area. Take a look at the list of cities, and follow the directions to prepare for the meeting of your choice. The next discussion will take place in Albuquerque, N.M., on Oct. 9.
COINFECTIONS & COMPLICATIONS OF HIV/HIV MEDICATIONS


 Did My Doc Drop the Ball on Regular Testosterone Testing?
I'm a 52-year-old man who was diagnosed with HIV 15 years ago. My viral load has been undetectable for a number of years and I'm in generally good health. In November of 2002 I was prescribed daily Androgel for low testosterone. I also had a DEXA scan to measure my bone density, which showed osteoporosis. In the last year or so I've been having fatigue, trouble sleeping and lowered libido, and I can't sustain an erection -- just feeling crappy in general. I've mentioned all this to my HIV specialist every visit for a year. This past week he tested my free testosterone again and the test results came back lower than when I was initially prescribed the Androgel. Shouldn't I have had regular tests to check my testosterone levels? And since I'm more than two years overdue for a DEXA scan, should I be concerned that my osteoporosis has worsened? I feel like my doctor has dropped the ball on this one. What can I do on my end to feel like my old self?


 Successfully Treated for Hepatitis C, but Worried I Have HIV
I have been successfully treated for hepatitis C, and I have been a sustained responder for four years. However, I have cirrhosis now and I have terrible stomach problems. I asked my doctor if I might I have HIV and he said he doubts it, as it would show in my liver function test results. What do you think?


 Why Is My Syphilis Titer Staying So High After Treatment?
I tested positive for HIV in the early 1980s. I have been on HIV meds, my HIV viral load is currently undetectable and my CD4 count is in the 300 to 400 range. I contracted syphilis in the late 1990s, and since then my syphilis titer has remained high. I had a lumbar puncture done and neurosyphilis was confirmed. I underwent two weeks of intravenous penicillin G after previously being treated with Biaxin (clarithromycin) and Rocephin (ceftriaxone). I have not had any sexual contact with anyone in over two years. My doctor is stumped. Why does my syphilis titer remain so high, and what can I do about it?


Also Worth Noting: Women & AIDS Policy: Help Make U.S. AIDS Strategy Work for Women
Imagine a U.S. national HIV/AIDS strategy that truly works for women -- one that prevents new HIV infections in women and reduces disparities for women affected by HIV. What would it look like? Come share your ideas with the U.S. Positive Women's Network on an Oct. 7 conference call! There'll be a discussion as well as an update on the national HIV/AIDS strategy process so far. RSVP to pwn@womenhiv.org by Tuesday, Oct. 6, at 12 p.m. Pacific time.
YOU & YOUR LABS


 Do CD4 Test Results Differ From Lab to Lab?
I had an undetectable viral load and a CD4 count between 730 and 830 for the last 18 months. My count steadily increased until my last test, which showed a CD4 count of 530. The last tests were done at a different lab from my usual one. Do you think the change in labs could account for the difference?


 What's a Normal Testosterone Level for an HIVer?
I'm 52 years old. My HIV specialist ran a testosterone test on me and the result was 5.02 ng/mL. Is that a normal level?


HIV TRANSMISSION


 Young Gay Man With HIV/AIDS Phobia
I am a 23-year-old gay man who has somewhat of an "obsession" with HIV. Ever since coming out, after any sexual encounter I become stressed out about contracting HIV. Every three months I get tested for HIV. I poke and probe the palpable lymph nodes in my groin, neck and underarms. It has been approximately four weeks since my last encounter with a man. Both encounters involved either a lot of kissing or mutual masturbation. This week I noticed the lymph node in my left underarm is slightly swollen, tender and hurts a little when I'm inactive. Would you say my fears are irrational? Could you suggest any methods to calm my fears?


Also Worth Noting: Connect With Others
Any Advice for an HIV-Positive Person Working in Academia?
(A recent post from the "Living With HIV" board)

I'm looking to connect with anyone who has experience as an HIV-positive person working as faculty, a researcher or graduate student in academia. I'm a Ph.D. student in an extremely competitive program at a major research university and I am not "out" at school about my health status. The stigma is still strong and academics -- open-minded as most claim to be -- live in rather insulated worlds, which usually don't include dealing with an HIV-positive student or colleague. I have seen a couple of full professors gossip with glee about the cancer or other health crisis of their colleagues (no joke, unfortunately) and I am not interested in being on the receiving end of it.

Are there any other academics out there dealing with HIV and the pressures of being intellectually functional at all times? I worry that my short-term memory is falling off, that my linguistic capacity is starting to deteriorate, and I am terrified that this will become apparent in my work. I also am in a program that will require me, within the next two years, to go live in Brazil for a year for research. I am completely clueless as to how to deal with acquiring meds in Brazil (I have just started Atripla here), and I am worried about getting the medical clearance necessary to do research on a major grant. Anyone out there going through this too? Anybody have any answers or pointers for how to navigate all this?

-- kuanRC

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STRANGE BUT TRUE


 Gash in Head From Sex-Club Fall: Could Semen on the Floor Give Me HIV?
I slipped in the shower of a sex club and got a gash on my head from the tile floor. Since this was a sex club, it's conceivable that everybody who takes a shower there has semen on him. I wonder if any of the residual semen on the wet floor could transmit HIV, especially to a fresh, deep wound.






Activist Central

 Join an Oct. 7 Conference Call -- Share Your Ideas for Making the U.S. National HIV/AIDS Strategy Work for Women


 Urge President Obama to Lift the Ban on Federal Funding for Syringe Exchange Programs


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


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


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