October 15, 2009
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LIVING WITH HIV

Sherri Lewis Former Pop Star Sherri Lewis Talks About Surviving -- and Thriving -- With HIV
In 1987, Sherri Lewis, who had been the singer in a popular New York City rock band and had appeared on national TV, decided to settle down and get married. But a few months before the wedding, she learned she was HIV positive. She was crushed by the test results. Her fiancé, it turned out, was HIV negative. "We were told we couldn't kiss. We were told saliva had HIV in it," Lewis recalls. "I remember telling my husband under my wedding veil, 'Don't kiss me.'" Although her fiancé stuck by her side, her life was forever changed. "I have succeeded at living with HIV, and living healthy with it," she says. "But it took a big bite out of my life. Life interrupted. Career interrupted." (Interview from TheBody.com)


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. To read a statement by Anthony S. Fauci, M.D., Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases National Institutes of Health, click here.
 How to Survive With HIV -- Without Being Superhuman
Living a healthy life with HIV can feel like a long checklist of don'ts: don't smoke, don't drink, don't eat poorly, don't get stressed, don't forget to exercise. But, says long-term survivor Sal Iacopelli, you also don't need to be a "perfect little HIV robo-tron." Iacopelli admits he's far from perfect himself -- he smokes, loves red meat and drinks coffee "by the gallon" -- but clearly he's done well enough that he's still kicking 16 years after he was diagnosed with HIV and 14 years after he was diagnosed with AIDS. In this article, Iacopelli describes his strategy: surround himself with support and simply do the best he can. (Article from Test Positive Aware Network)


 Ongoing U.S. Immigration Ban for HIVers Has Some Visa Holders on Edge
We're still waiting for final passage of a rule that will lift, once and for all, the ban on HIV-positive immigrants entering the U.S. In the meantime, many HIV-positive immigrants already in the U.S. worry that their citizenship applications and visas will expire before that happens, according to a National Public Radio report. The report gives a history of the HIV immigration ban and highlights one moving story of a gay, HIV-positive Brazilian man who fears being left in the lurch if the discriminatory rule isn't lifted soon. (Podcast and transcript from National Public Radio)


HIV TREATMENT & HEALTH ISSUES

 Scientists Discover New Way to Find Drugs That Coax Dormant HIV Out of Its Hiding Places
The one great weakness of today's HIV meds is that they can't kill all of the HIV in a person's body. Some of the virus lies dormant in "reservoirs" where meds can't reach them. Researchers are toiling to find new drugs that can "reactivate" this latent HIV, but the search for these drugs has been like fumbling through the dark to find a light switch. That is, until now: A team of U.S. researchers may have found a way to greatly speed up the search. "This is a way in which you could envision finding a drug that would, in conjunction with existing treatment, allow us to cure patients," said Robert Siliciano, M.D., who led the team of researchers. (Article from Bloomberg)

Dr. Siliciano is one of the world's foremost experts on the idea of HIV eradication -- i.e., the complete elimination of HIV from a person's body. Earlier this year, we caught up with him at a major research conference to talk about how the search for a cure is going.


 Small, Early Study Suggests Carnitine May Curb Some Metabolic Problems
There's a dearth of research into the possible benefits of complementary therapies for people with HIV. Take a nutrient called carnitine, for instance: We know virtually nothing about how it relates to HIV, but past research has shown tantalizing signs that it may play a role in HIVers' health. Now a new study, albeit a small and preliminary one, lends some support to this idea. It suggests that carnitine, which can be found in some nutritional supplements (in the form of acetyl-L-carnitine, for instance), may have modest metabolic benefits in HIVers, such as improved insulin sensitivity (which can reduce diabetes risk) and higher growth hormone levels (which may reduce the risk of wasting syndrome). (Article from Canadian AIDS Treatment Information Exchange)


 The Basics on HIV and Hepatitis C
One out of every four HIVers in the world is also living with hepatitis C. Like HIV, hep C is a virus that can take many years to do its dirty work; but unlike HIV, which attacks your immune system, hep C confines most of its damage to the liver. That liver damage tends to be worse in people who have both HIV and hep C, though the reasons for this are unknown. What is known is that it's important for people with HIV to learn as much as possible about how to avoid hep C -- and about how to treat it if they've got it. This thorough overview can help get you started. (Article from ACRIA and GMHC)


Also Worth Noting: Connect With Others
My Negative Partner Wants to Have Unprotected Sex. Should I Do It?
(A recent post from the "Living With HIV" board)

I tested positive in March 2009. I recently got into a relationship. I let my partner know, and he was a little hesitant but became OK with it. What a relief -- it seems he was a gift sent to me.

Anyway, my question is about sex. We have had sex (protected) and it has been wonderful. However, he has asked to have sex with me unprotected. I didn't know what to think at first. I don't want to do it and infect him, but I also heard that the chances for the top to get infected are much lower than a bottom. Please guys -- anyone -- help me with some advice. I don't want some good sex to mess up my judgment.

-- calmNconnected

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!

Also Worth Noting: World AIDS Day: Tell Us About Your World AIDS Day Events!

World AIDS Day Ribbons

Is your organization, clinic or agency planning to hold an HIV awareness event for World AIDS Day this year? We want the world to hear about it! We're now preparing our global listing of World AIDS Day events and would be happy to add yours, whether it's going to be large or small.

Write us at content@thebody.com with all the info you're able to provide, and we'll do our best to add your event to our listing.
TESTING/TRANSMISSION OF HIV & OTHER STDS

 Condoms Pop More Often for Users of Erectile Dysfunction Drugs, Study Finds
Men who use erectile dysfunction drugs may be four times as likely to break a condom during sex, according to the results of a survey by U.S. researchers. The survey of 440 men who have sex with women found that almost 10 percent used one of the drugs (which we won't name, lest this e-mail get caught in your spam filter) the last time they had sex. Of the men who popped a pill, almost 12 percent reported condom breakage, compared to almost 5 percent of men who didn't take the drugs. That doubled risk became a quadrupled risk when the researchers made some statistical adjustments to even out their findings. (Article from aidsmap.com)


 During Group Sex, Many Gay Men (Whether Pos or Not) Put Pleasure Over Protection, Study Finds
When group sex is on the menu, sexual pleasure often takes priority over HIV risk -- even for gay men who are knowledgeable about HIV, according to one of the few studies ever done on group sex. Australian researchers surveyed 746 men who had group sex (most of whom were gay and 71 percent of whom said they did not have HIV). They found that 9 percent of HIV-negative men had unprotected, receptive anal sex with men whose status they didn't know, and 24 percent of HIV-positive men said they didn't use protection when they had insertive anal sex with someone who they knew was not HIV positive. (Article from Canadian AIDS Treatment Information Exchange)


 New Study Compares Daily HIV Meds vs. Gel as HIV Prevention Tool for Women
Putting the control of HIV prevention in women's hands may be one of the most vital ways to stop the spread of the virus. There are many ongoing studies that explore possible HIV prevention tools for women. Some of them focus on microbicides (drugs that a woman can apply to her vagina as a gel or cream), while others focus on HIV meds that a woman can take daily to prevent HIV infection. A large, exciting new trial in four African countries will compare these two strategies head to head: Five thousand HIV-negative women will take either 1.) a daily Viread (tenofovir) or Truvada (tenofovir/FTC) pill, or 2.) a daily vaginal gel that contains Viread. (Press release from the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases)

This new study only deals with HIV prevention solutions for women. There has yet to be a large, international study that examines the benefits of rectal microbicides, which could be used by both women and men to protect them during anal sex. However, rectal microbicide activism is alive and thriving: You can read about this movement, and much more, in TheBody.com's collection of articles on microbicide history and research.


MAKING A DIFFERENCE

 Update: Join Upcoming Community Discussions in California to Help Build a U.S. National HIV/AIDS Strategy
The White House is sponsoring a series of HIV/AIDS community discussions in cities throughout the U.S., with the goal of involving more people in the effort to build the nation's first-ever national HIV/AIDS strategy. The next meetings are on Friday, Oct. 16 in San Francisco and Sunday, Oct. 18 in Los Angeles. Read our overview for a full listing, as well as information about how to attend and make your voice heard. (Article from TheBody.com)






Activist Central

 Action Alert: Tell Congress to Cut Abstinence-Only Funding!


 Can't Make It to a White House HIV/AIDS Community Discussion? Provide Your Testimony Online for the U.S. National HIV/AIDS Strategy!


 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