December 9, 2009
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ON THE PERSONAL SIDE

fogcityjohn New Kid on the Blog: John's Journey With HIV
"With the diagnosis, my life has taken a decisive turn. That positive test result would be a line of demarcation in time. My life's history would henceforth be divided into the time 'before' and the time 'after.'" In his first blog entry, John describes a little of what happened after his diagnosis and also discusses his unique status in the HIV community: He's what's known as a "viremic controller," which means his body is able to keep HIV under control without the use of medications. (Blog from TheBody.com)


Scott Simpson Me, Obama and the HIV Travel Ban
Blogger and triathlete Scott Simpson was relieved when he heard the announcement that the U.S. travel ban was about to end. You see, Scott is Canadian. "Color me paranoid," he writes, "but I had felt that publicizing on the Net that I was going to be traveling to the U.S. for an Ironman triathlon could potentially have me placed on some sort of HIV blacklist ... and stopped me at the border." (Blog from TheBody.com)


Recycle Meds

Your extra medications are needed by many people with HIV outside the U.S. Organizations such as Aid for AIDS collect extra meds for HIV and related illnesses, and ship them to people in South America and Africa who would die without them. In past years, Aid for AIDS has collected over $4.2 million worth of medications and helped over 5,000 people get into treatment.

If you have extra meds, please visit Aid for AIDS' medicine recycling page to find out how you can mail in or drop off your donations.
HIV TREATMENT & HEALTH ISSUES

 Aging & HIV: An Expert Brings Us Up-to-Date
Every week it seems like a new article or study comes out about aging and HIV. Don't you wish an expert could pull all the important information together in a brief overview? Enter Malcolm John, M.D., M.P.H.: In this recent interview, he explains what research has shown to date about the health problems HIVers commonly experience as they get older, why they happen and what people can do to help avoid them. (Article from San Francisco AIDS Foundation)


 Anal Cancer, HIV and Gay/Bisexual Men
If you're HIV positive and you're a man who has sex with men, there's about a 95 percent chance you also have anal human papillomavirus (HPV), the virus that's responsible for most anal cancers. While most people with HPV don't develop anal cancer, the risk is real -- and that's why it's important to educate yourself about HPV and cancer, as well as what you can do to keep yourself healthy. This in-depth overview has more. (Article from Gay Men's Health Crisis)


 Lexiva Label Updated With Warnings About Cholesterol, Possible Heart Attack Risk
The makers of Lexiva (fosamprenavir) have updated the drug's labeling to acknowledge that taking Lexiva may increase a person's cholesterol levels -- and could potentially increase the risk for heart attack as well. The warning doesn't mean that anybody taking Lexiva should immediately stop, but it does make it more important for people on Lexiva to closely monitor their heart health. (Article from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

Lexiva is one of a few HIV meds that have been tied to a possible increased risk of high blood lipids (such as cholesterol and triglycerides) and risk of heart attack. Generally, though, the danger tied to these drugs is believed to be less than that of the more traditional risk factors associated with heart attack, such as smoking, high blood pressure and diabetes. For more on the possible link between some HIV meds and heart problems, check out our interview with HIV/AIDS researcher Jens Lundgren, M.D., from earlier this year -- as well this important discussion with researchers Carl Grunfeld, M.D., Ph.D., and Colette Smith.


MAKING A DIFFERENCE

Postcards From the Edge Submit Your Tiny Art to Postcards From the Edge and Help Benefit Visual AIDS!
Are you an artist? Submit a postcard-sized art piece to Visual AIDS' 12th annual Postcards From the Edge exhibition and benefit sale! Participation gets you free admission to the preview party in New York City on Friday, Jan. 8; proceeds from the sale of your work will help support Visual AIDS' vital programs. (Announcement from Visual AIDS)

If you're mailing your work, it should be postmarked by Thursday, Dec. 10; otherwise, you can drop your work off at Visual AIDS' office in New York City until Friday, Dec. 18, at 6 p.m.!


Connect With Others
Coming to Terms With My Status
(A recent post from the "Living With HIV" board)

"My partner and I were both diagnosed in October this year. It took me longer to accept it. I spent more time being concerned for my man that myself, but I did read up on anything and everything I could. The way that I came to terms about being positive was a strange one, but while doing the dishes one day and accidentally dropping a saucer, part of it hit me on the leg and I started to bleed. I stared at the blood for a good five minutes and then decided to clean it up. The following morning when I woke up, all the stress, fear and sadness about being positive had vanished." -- Woof_n_Grrr
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 IN THE NEWS

 Utah Closes ADAP Enrollment, Leaving 36 People Waiting -- And More Kicked Off the Rolls
Due to a lack of funding for HIV treatment, news for low-income HIVers in Utah has gone from bad to worse. Utah's AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP) waiting list just keeps growing; it's now up to 36 people -- and that's not even the full story. Utah has also lowered the maximum eligible income for the program, dropping 87 additional people who no longer qualify for help. (Article from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)


 States Scramble to Cut Costs as U.S. ADAP Waiting Lists Grow
Utah is just one of several states whose AIDS Drug Assistance Programs (ADAPs) are in trouble, leaving some HIVers without access to treatment. Nine states have a total of 346 people on ADAP wait lists, and five more states are considering new cost-containment measures, such as capping enrollment or reducing formularies. (Article from TheBody.com)


Sir Elton John Elton John Plans to Support Ukrainian HIV-Positive Toddler
Elton John and his partner David Furnish reportedly plan to support the HIV-positive toddler they couldn't adopt. John was rejected from the adoption process after Ukrainian authorities said that John was too old and not heterosexually married. Furnish said the couple was "massively gutted" by the rejection and would campaign to change the Ukrainian law that disallowed the adoption. (Article from The Associated Press)


 New Five-Year PEPFAR Strategy Garners Criticism From HIV/AIDS Advocates
The U.S. global AIDS czar has just unveiled the new President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) strategy for the next five years, which provides lifesaving assistance to resource-limited countries highly affected by HIV/AIDS. The new plan features a greater focus on HIV prevention and strengthening health systems, but many HIV/AIDS advocates have expressed concern that it appears to pull back on HIV treatment scale-up. (Article from kaisernetwork.org)

Could the new PEPFAR plan be bad enough to make advocates nostalgic for the Bush years? "I'm holding my nose as I say this, but I miss George W. Bush," said longtime HIV/AIDS activist Gregg Gonsalves in a recent New York Times report. Advocates also accuse the new plan of failing to denounce with force some of the bugaboos from Bush's PEPFAR, such as abstinence education and inadequate condom distribution.

For more background on PEPFAR and other HIV/AIDS relief efforts in resource-limited nations, check out TheBody.com's collection of articles on global HIV/AIDS funding.


Also Worth Noting: U.S. HIV/AIDS Plan: Final Meeting Next Monday in Puerto Rico!
The White House Office of National AIDS Policy (ONAP)'s historic series of HIV/AIDS community discussions is almost over. The final discussion will take place in Caguas, Puerto Rico, on Monday, Dec. 14. If you live in or near Caguas, take a look at the details and register for the meeting!
HIV TESTING & TRANSMISSION

 In Europe, Gay Men Remain Focus of the HIV/AIDS Pandemic
We all know that HIV is not, and never was, a "gay disease." But we also can't deny the catastrophic impact HIV/AIDS has had on gay communities throughout the world. Yet here we are, more than 25 years into the pandemic, and HIV risk is actually increasing among gay men in many countries, including much of Europe, according to recent research. (Article from aidsmap.com)


 Is HIV Treatment a Form of HIV Prevention? A Closer Look
There's still plenty of debate going on in the global HIV/AIDS community about just how much of a role HIV medications can, and should, play in preventing the spread of HIV. Should people take HIV meds when they're HIV negative just to help ensure they'll stay that way? Should a "test-and-treat" strategy be employed worldwide for everyone? Questions abound; read this in-depth overview to explore them further. (Article from San Francisco AIDS Foundation)

There's a growing amount of research on the topic of suppressing HIV to prevent its transmission to others. Take a look at this rather technical report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It summarizes and discusses much of the available research to date on the extent to which HIVers who are on effective antiretroviral therapy may pass their strain of HIV to their HIV-negative partners or may "superinfect" their HIV-positive partners.


 Innovative Test Being Used in New York City Clinics to Detect Early HIV Infections
Standard HIV antibody tests can detect the virus two to eight weeks after HIV exposure. Unfortunately, it's exactly that period of time, called "acute infection," when a newly infected person may be most likely to transmit HIV. In this detailed report, researchers explain how an innovative form of HIV testing is being used in New York City to help acutely infected people learn their status as early as possible. (Report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)


HIV THROUGHOUT THE WORLD

 Russia's Official HIV/AIDS Numbers Fail to Remotely Match WHO Estimates
Russian public health officials recently said that only 516,000 people have been diagnosed with HIV in their country since 1987. However, according to World Health Organization (WHO) estimates, that number is way off. The WHO estimates that there were between 630,000 and 940,000 people living with HIV in Russia in 2007 alone. (Article summary from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

Russia may have trouble counting its own HIV-positive citizens because of the stigma and criminalization associated not only with having HIV, but with being either gay or an injection drug user -- two major risk groups in Russia. "The Russian Government has to leave ideology aside ... or else it is looking down the barrel of a severe long-term health crisis," said one international harm reduction advocate in a recent report by the International AIDS Society.






Activist Central

 Vanishing AIDS Housing? Tell the Feds No 2010 Cut-Offs!


 Call on Your Senator to Support Health Care Reform


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


 Don't Let Dems Wimp Out on Opposing Abstinence-Only Funding


 U.S. Territories Separate and Unequal in Health Care Reform; How You Can Help


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