October 8, 2009
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HIV TREATMENT & HEALTH ISSUES

 Reducing Sustiva Dose May Be Safe for Some People Who Experience Side Effects
Are you experiencing mental side effects from Sustiva (efavirenz, Stocrin) -- such as crazy, vivid dreams, trouble sleeping or depression -- that persist even after your first few weeks on treatment? It may be because too much of the drug is circulating in your bloodstream, even though you're taking the correct dose. A new study has found that if this is the case, it may be safe for your doctor to reduce your Sustiva dose. Research has shown that some people appear to naturally have higher-than-usual concentrations of Sustiva in their blood, possibly due to low body weight or a genetic mutation. (Article from aidsmap.com)


 New Assistance Program Will Help People in U.S. Pay Viramune Copays
This week, the makers of Viramune (nevirapine) announced a new payment assistance program. The program covers up to $50 a month for people who are insured but have trouble affording their copays. People who are interested in the program can talk to their doctor or call a hotline at Boehringer Ingelheim to find out how to sign up. Once they're accepted, they'll receive a debit card (accepted at any pharmacies that take MasterCard, including mail-in pharmacies) that will give them an instant rebate when they use it for Viramune purchases. (Article from TheBody.com)


 GS-9350, a "Norvir Alternative," Shows Promise in New Study
Norvir (ritonavir) has long been the only approved drug used to "boost" the strength of some other HIV meds, such as Prezista (darunavir) and Reyataz (atazanavir). But the drug is both expensive and known to cause some uncomfortable side effects (such as nausea, gas and diarrhea). Enter GS-9350, a new type of "booster" drug now in development. At a recent conference, researchers presented a study that found GS-9350 worked just as well as Norvir at boosting the levels of Reyataz in a person's blood. It's the latest in a series of promising studies on GS-9350. (Article from aidsmap.com)

To learn more about GS-9350 and another possible Norvir alternative in the works, SPI-452, check out this discussion from earlier this year featuring researchers who are deeply involved in the development of each drug.


 "Non-AIDS-Defining" Illnesses, Particularly Cancer, Are on the Rise, Italian Study Finds
It's becoming increasingly clear that the illnesses we've traditionally associated with advanced HIV disease, such as Kaposi's sarcoma or pneumocystis pneumonia, are no longer the kinds of diseases that commonly threaten HIVers' lives. A long-term study of nearly 10,000 Italians who were diagnosed with AIDS found a huge shift in the types of illnesses those people developed. Of those who died in 2006, nearly 57 percent had a non-AIDS-defining illness and nearly 9 percent had a non-AIDS-defining cancer. Both figures mark a sharp rise compared to people with AIDS who died in 1999; the study found that among those HIVers, about 38 percent had a non-AIDS-defining illness at death and nearly 4 percent had a non-AIDS-defining cancer. (Article from the International AIDS Society)


HIV IN THE NEWS

 amfAR Applauds Obama Administration for Funding HIV/AIDS Research
President Barack Obama has announced that his administration, as part of its economic recovery plan, is giving $5 billion to the U.S. National Institutes of Health for scientific research, part of which will be dedicated to HIV/AIDS research. Kevin Robert Frost, CEO of amfAR, the Foundation for AIDS Research, applauded the move in an editorial. "We have long understood that the end of the AIDS epidemic will come only through research," he writes. "I am thankful that the President understands that a renewed government effort to fund research will continue to change lives." (Article from amfAR)


 AIDS Alabama Gets $1 Million in Federal Stimulus Funds
Many HIV/AIDS organizations in the U.S. are struggling to stay afloat during the economic crisis, but some have managed to find ways to keep their head above water. AIDS Alabama, which provides housing assistance for HIV-positive Alabamans, is one of those groups: It will receive $1 million in federal stimulus funds to help it continue to provide services. (Article from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)


MAKING A DIFFERENCE

U.S. National Latino AIDS Awareness Day Get the Word Out About U.S. National Latino AIDS Awareness Day, Oct. 15
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 of HIV within Latino communities, where new cases of HIV are on the rise and where immigration status, language and cultural barriers contribute to the spread of the virus. (Web site from the U.S. Dept. of Health & Human Services)

There are plenty of free, customizable posters available online to acknowledge the day. You can also learn more about Latinos and HIV/AIDS in this fact sheet or in TheBody.com's collection of articles and personal stories focusing on Latino communities.

Last year, the health-information powerhouse Kaiser Family Foundation and Spanish-language media outlet Univision teamed up to produce "Soy," a groundbreaking video campaign that featured Latinos and their loved ones telling their stories about life with HIV. Watch the powerful video and read about the campaign in Spanish or in English (you can view the video from either link -- it's in Spanish, with English subtitles). Take a look at TheBody.com's Spanish edition for more Spanish-language HIV/AIDS information and resources.


Event of the Week: Poz Life Weekend Seminar in San Diego
The Life Group LA is hosting a free two-day seminar in San Diego, Calif., starting Nov. 14. The seminar is open to HIV-positive men, women and children, as well as their families and loved ones. It focuses on positive lifestyles, overcoming HIV-related fears and other issues of concern to HIVers. Click here to learn more!
 Can't Make It to a White House-Sponsored HIV/AIDS Community Discussion? Testify Online!
Are you bummed that you won't be able to attend a White House HIV/AIDS community discussion in your area? Even if you can't testify in person, you can still add your voice to the conversation over how to create the U.S.'s first-ever national HIV/AIDS strategy. How? Submit your testimony online! The deadline for submitting comments online is Nov. 12, so you've got about a month to develop your online testimony. (Article from CHAMP)

Not sure whether there's a community discussion in your area? Take a look at this list of dates and directions for how to register. TheBody.com will keep this article updated with details about each meeting as they are released, so keep checking back for the latest. The next discussion will take place in Albuquerque, N.M., on Oct. 9.


 HIV/AIDS Advocates Hope to Inspire New Generation of Gay Activists at U.S. March for LGBT Equality
This weekend, an historic march in Washington, D.C., will take place to demand full equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) individuals in the U.S. "We need to use that political power to remind the country that the AIDS epidemic continues," says seasoned activist, longtime HIV survivor and march co-organizer Cleve Jones. An Oct. 10 rally in front of the White House will focus specifically on HIV/AIDS and feature a range of speakers and performers of all sexual orientations, many of whom are living with HIV themselves. "A great many young people will attend the march," says Jones; "we need them to continue the fight against HIV/AIDS." (Press release from Housing Works)


Also Worth Noting: Connect With Others
Tired of Rejection
(A recent post from the "Living With HIV" board)

I have been living with HIV since 1998; I have just been rejected AGAIN for being positive by someone after dating for almost four months. Since I disclosed, he hasn't called. I mean, I am a grown-up woman, 38 years old -- why does it still hurt so much? I hate this, and I am tired. I just want to be in a relationship, have someone to talk to. Does anyone else know how this feels?

-- Christa1

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!

HIV THROUGHOUT THE WORLD

 S. Africa HIV/AIDS Rate Is Stable, but Still Too High, Health Minister Says
"We seem to be losing the battle, but not yet the war." Those unsettling words come from South Africa's health minister; he was reacting to a newly released study which found that found 29.3 percent of South Africa's pregnant women in 2008 were HIV positive. That's a drop of just 0.1 percent since the year before. Although the news suggests that South Africa's HIV epidemic is no longer on the rise, it also means it has settled at a very high rate. (Article from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)


 Rich Countries Must Keep Funding the Push for More HIV Treatment Access, Physicians' Group Says
Although HIV treatment access has dramatically improved in the developing world, we're still a long way from saying "mission accomplished," the International AIDS Society warns. Last month, the World Health Organization, UNAIDS and UNICEF released a report stating that nearly 3 million people in sub-Saharan Africa were receiving HIV medications in 2008, marking a 39 percent jump just since 2007. However, more than half of people in need of HIV meds in the region still weren't receiving them, and the situation is worse in other hard-hit regions of the world, such as Asia and the Pacific. This means wealthy nations and other donors must keep driving for ever-greater treatment access, the International AIDS Society says. (Press release from the International AIDS Society)






Activist Central

 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