December 21, 2009
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We're nearly 30 years into the HIV pandemic, yet a shocking number of people in the United States and around the world don't know the first thing about HIV. You've seen some of that ignorance firsthand right here in our Hot Topics newsletters, where we're sometimes amazed at just how little some people have learned about the virus.

We've scoured our "Ask the Experts" forums and nominated 15 posts we feel are the "best of the worst" of 2009 (or the worst of the worst, depending on how you look at it). They're some of the oddest, most nonsensical questions we've seen people ask about HIV this year. Some are shocking, some are sad, many are hilarious -- and we share them with you as reminders of how far we still have to go to educate the world about HIV.

So, it's up to you: Which of our 15 finalists represents the most bizarre post from our "Ask the Experts" forums during the past year? You have until Jan. 8 to cast your vote for the "strangest but truest" post of 2009!

Holiday Video Blog: Mark King Presents "Drag and Gratitude"!

Mark King as Anita Mann

What better way to ring in the holidays than by dressing up in drag and belting out some tunes? Join Mark King -- and his alter-ego, Anita Mann -- for a very special new episode of his always-entertaining video blog.

 What Is the Relationship Between Allergies and HIV/AIDS?
Some experts say that there is no link between HIV/AIDS and allergies. Others say that people with HIV are more prone to allergies. What is the truth?

 Liver Enzyme Levels High Again After Second Try With Truvada
I've had HIV for 10 years and chronic hepatitis B for four years. My CD4 count is in the low 500s and my HIV viral load is in the low 100s. Early last year I was put on Truvada (tenofovir/FTC) with Reyataz (atazanavir), whereupon my alanine aminotransferase (ALT) and aspartate aminotransferase (AST) liver enzyme levels climbed way above normal. I went off the meds to let my liver rest, then started on Truvada and Isentress (raltegravir) four months ago, once my enzymes dropped back into the normal range. Now my ALT and AST levels are climbing again, so I have once again been told to stop the meds. What would you recommend to someone coinfected with HIV and hepatitis B who appears to be having a reaction to Truvada?


 Viral Load Low, but Detectable: Should I Switch Meds?
I was diagnosed HIV positive in 1997. My first combo was Viracept (nelfinavir), Epivir (lamivudine, 3TC) and Zerit (stavudine, d4T). I was on those meds for several years until they stopped working and my doctor switched me to Trizivir (AZT/3TC/abacavir) alone. After several months of that not working, he added Sustiva (efavirenz, Stocrin). For the last five years I've remained on that cocktail, even though my viral load is usually between 300 and 800. Since it doesn't get above 1,000, my doctor doesn't want to switch me. Do you think I should switch now, or wait until my viral load goes over 1,000 and then do a resistance test?

 Is the Temperature of My Home Too Low or High for Storing Meds?
I always get a one-month supply of Truvada (tenofovir/FTC) and Isentress (raltegravir), and the labels say at what temperature each medication should be stored. I don't have heating or air conditioning where I live, and most times of the year the temperature is either above or below the recommended range for storing my meds. Can that affect the potency and efficacy of my HIV meds in a one-month period?

 Do So-Called "HIV/AIDS Cures" Work?
Does tetrasilver tetroxide (Imusil, Tetrasil) work to cure AIDS? Are these products available? I have been ripped off by "oxygen cures" before.

Holiday Blues: Eight Tips for Getting Through the Season
Ah, the holiday season! A time for joy! A time for good feelings! A time for ... ah, screw it. Plenty of us in the HIV community feel no reason to celebrate during the holidays. If you feel this way and could use some coping advice, take a look at this list of eight simple rules for managing your holiday blues.

 Eighteen Months on Treatment: Why Isn't My CD4 Count Higher?
I'm 45 years old. I was diagnosed with HIV in May '07 with a CD4 count of 442, a CD4 percentage of 34 and a viral load of 5,830. After that my CD4 count dropped and my viral load went up, so I started taking Atripla (efavirenz/tenofovir/FTC) in February '08. My CD4 count went up at first, but has stayed in the 300 range for nearly a year and a half. Is the treatment working? Has my HIV developed resistance?

 Viral Load in the 15,000 Range: Should I Start Meds?
I'm pretty sure I've had HIV for several years, but my CD4 count has stayed above 700 and my viral load is usually below 15,000. My docs say my numbers are great and they won't worry until my viral load gets above 100,000 or my CD4 count drops. However, HIVers I talk with on and other Web sites say that a viral load over 1,000 is "terrible" and I should start treatment right away. How are decisions about starting treatment usually made?


 Could I Have Been Reinfected With HIV by My New Partner?
I am a 42-year-old man who's been HIV positive for 10 years. I am on Sustiva (efavirenz, Stocrin), Epivir (lamivudine, 3TC) and Viread (tenofovir). My partner of the past six weeks has been positive for 25 years and is on Prezista (darunavir), Truvada (tenofovir/FTC) and Isentress (raltegravir). Recently I've been feeling flu-like symptoms. Should I be concerned about reinfection?

 Once and for All: How Risky Is Oral Sex?
Different sources say different things about the risk of HIV from oral sex. What is the true HIV risk from this activity?

Also Worth Noting: Connect With Others
Recently Diagnosed in Ohio
(A recent post from the "Living With HIV" board)

My mom hooked me up with this site. I was recently diagnosed with HIV and feel very alone and frustrated. Can anyone help? -- WTHOH
Click here to join this discussion thread, 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 -- click here to get started!


 Hint: The Answer Is Hiding in the Question!
Can I get HIV from an HIV-negative person?

 Could Mr. Happy's Beer Bath Have Put Me at Greater Risk for HIV?
Last week a sex worker gave me unprotected oral sex. I also fingered her vagina with a finger that had a hangnail on it, and sucked on the finger right afterward. Once the oral sex was done, I washed my penis with beer and methylated spirit. Now I've got symptoms of HIV seroconversion. Could this harsh penis-washing -- or the fact that I had a sore in my mouth when I sucked the lady-juice off my finger -- have increased my risk of HIV?

Activist Central

 Arrests of HIV-Positive People Continue; CDC Must Act! Sign On!

 Support Concrete and Specific HIV Prevention Measures in the National HIV/AIDS Strategy!