January 19, 2010
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HIV/AIDS & BODY SHAPE CHANGES


 How Much Radiesse Do I Need to Treat My Lipoatrophy?
How much does Radiesse (calcium hydroxylapatite, Radiance) cost per syringe without the patient-assistance payment program? How many syringes would I need for treating moderate lipoatrophy?


 Could Testosterone Gel Be Making My Lipodystrophy Worse?
I am currently taking Norvir (ritonavir), Reyataz (atazanavir), Viread (tenofovir) and Videx (didanosine, ddI). I noticed that when I stopped using Androgel, the fat around my stomach started to improve. When I returned to using Androgel, the fat around my abdominal and chest areas became much worse. This seems to be the opposite of what one would expect to happen. Is this unusual?


Haiti Relief: A U.S. Activist Blogs from Haiti

Charles King

"The situation here is clearly deteriorating," says Charles King, head of HIV service organizations Housing Works. In the wake of the devastating earthquake that hit Haiti last week, King travelled to Haiti to help provide desperately needed medical services and supplies to Haitians living with HIV/AIDS. King will be blogging as much as possible during the trip.

Learn more and find out how you can help in TheBody.com's collection of Haiti earthquake resources.
MIXED-STATUS COUPLES


 How Can I Help My Partner Cope With My New HIV Status?
About a year ago I cheated on my partner for the first time in our 18 years together and ended up becoming HIV positive. My partner is HIV negative and I'm still with him, but we haven't had sex since I tested positive. I don't want him to do anything he doesn't feel comfortable doing, but it's been a year! I've tried to get him involved with my providers so they could answer his questions about sex, but he never brings it up to them. Do you have any suggestions?


LIVING WITH HIV/AIDS


 Accidental Live Vaccination: Should My Husband Now Take the "Dead" Vaccine?
My husband is HIV positive with an undetectable viral load and a T-cell count of 212. He accidentally took the H1N1 (swine flu) vaccine "mist," which has live virus in it, instead of the injectable vaccine with dead virus that HIVers are advised to take. His infectious disease doctor basically said that all we can do is wait and see if he develops severe flu-like symptoms. So far he's fine, but would it be advisable for him to get the injectable vaccine at some point as well?


 How Should HIVers Care for New Nipple Piercings?
I've got an undetectable viral load, more than 975 T cells, and a new nipple piercing! How long does it take for a nipple piercing to heal, and how do I properly care for mine?


HIV/AIDS TREATMENT


 How Long Should Someone Wait to Eat After Taking Atripla?
My husband takes Atripla (efavirenz/tenofovir/FTC) at 8 p.m. every day, 30 minutes before we eat. Lately his stomach has been upset after he takes his medicine. Is there a better time of day for him to take Atripla?


 Ran Out of One of My Meds: Should I Worry About Resistance?
I'm on Truvada (tenofovir/FTC) and Sustiva (efavirenz, Stocrin). I've always been adherent to this regimen, but three days ago I ran out of Truvada. I still have Sustiva but I haven't taken it since the Truvada ran out. I'll be getting more Truvada in two days. Should I be concerned about drug resistance?


This Positive Life: Living With HIV in a Small Island Town

Marama Pala

When indigenous New Zealander Marama Pala was diagnosed with HIV, she didn't have the option of telling her loved ones on her own terms. "Because we are such a tight-knit community ... news of my diagnosis spread like wildfire," she explains. In this interview, Marama talks about being an HIV/AIDS activist in her indigenous community -- as well as finding love and having children with her husband, who's also HIV positive.
COINFECTIONS & COMPLICATIONS OF HIV/HIV MEDICATIONS


 How Can I Stop Being So Tired?
I am a woman in my 50s. Although I was diagnosed with AIDS in 2002, my T-cell count is about 1,000 and my viral load had been undetectable for a while until I had a "blip" last month. For the past year I've been experiencing extreme fatigue. I take Epzicom (abacavir/3TC, Kivexa) as well as thyroid meds, and I've been on Lexapro (escitalopram) for about three months. Lexapro has helped with aches and pains but not the fatigue. I'm also slightly above the healthy weight for my height and age. What can I do to stop feeling tired all the time?


 Will I Ever Stop Getting Dizzy on Atripla?
It's been two days since I started taking Atripla (efavirenz/tenofovir/FTC), and I always get dizzy after I take it. Will this dizziness ever go away? What can I do about it? Could taking Atripla at 7:30 a.m. rather than at bedtime have some effect on this symptom?


 Could HIV Have Caused My Low Platelets?
I was diagnosed with HIV in August 2007 and my last CD4 count was over 600. Nine months ago my platelet count dropped very low, and my doctor told me I had idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP). I get bruises on my body sometimes and feel tired most of the time, nothing more than that. My doctor thinks the ITP could be HIV related and wants me to start HIV meds soon with Sustiva (efavirenz, Stocrin) and Combivir (AZT/3TC). In my country, people with HIV only start meds once their CD4 counts drop to less than 250. What if it's not the virus that's causing my low platelets? Do you think HIV meds will help?


 What's Castleman's Disease, and How Can I Treat It?
I was diagnosed with Castleman's disease in 2007. I was told that they don't know what type I have, and that there are no treatments available. Where can I find information about treating Castleman's disease?


UNDERSTANDING HIV/AIDS LABS


 What's the Difference Between "Undetectable" and "Zero" Viral Load?
My CD4 count is 940 and my CD4 percentage is now 50.6. The number of copies per millileter (copies/mL) on my last two viral load test results was reported as "not detected." However, this month my test result was less than 20 copies/mL (all tests were done in the same lab using the same method). Is there any real difference?


 What's the Point of a Trofile Test?
I've been a hard-to-treat patient in the past and have experienced drastic side effects on several HIV meds, especially protease inhibitors. I now take Epzicom (abacavir/3TC, Kivexa) with no negative effects. My doctor recently gave me a test called Trofile which came back "dual mixed." Why did she want to do this? What do the results have to do with my treatment?


Also Worth Noting: Connect With Others
I'm Here ... Not Going Anywhere
(A recent post from the "My Loved One Has HIV/AIDS" board)

"I waited for love before I actually gave myself to someone. ... I fell hard and fast and so did he. After us being together for about six months, we found out he was HIV positive. It never bothered me because my biggest concern wasn't myself, but him and how he was coping with it. At first, things were the same except that he became more affectionate towards me. He used to tell me he loved me and made me feel loved. We moved in together and things did a complete 180. I was no longer "Baby" or any of the other pet names he called me. I was no longer told he loved me. I no longer could satisfy him sexually. ... I know that he loves me and that he needs and wants me in his life so I'm doing my best to stick in there for him because I truly, truly love him unconditionally. ... Is this just a simple phase in acceptance that he's going through, or is it that he no longer wants to be with me?" -- LovingHim
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HIV TRANSMISSION


 Kissing and Oral Sex Without Disclosure: Is My Partner at Risk?
I was diagnosed with HIV three years ago. My CD4 count is in the 400s, my viral load is undetectable and I'm ready to start dating again. I recently spent time with an acquaintance and we both admitted longtime crushes on one another. I got carried away in the moment with feelings I hadn't felt in many years: We kissed (tongue in mouth) and I let him perform oral sex on me briefly, but I didn't disclose my HIV status. He really wants to get to know me, and I realize he needs to know my status. What's the risk of my having transmitted HIV to him during our recent encounter?


 How Come Your PEP Didn't Work, Dr. Bob?
Dear Dr. Bob: My sister-in-law, who is a nurse, got stuck with a needle from an HIV-positive person with a very high viral load. She went on PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis) and will be having her three-month HIV test soon. I read your personal story and saw that you went on PEP when this happened to you in 1991. Why didn't your course of PEP prevent you from becoming HIV positive? Are the meds used for PEP better nowadays?

Read more of Dr. Bob's thoughts on life, love, sex and HIV in his brand-new blog on TheBody.com!


STRANGE BUT TRUE


 Say It, Don't Spray It!
You know how you can be talking to someone and feel little drops of their spit hit your eye, or by your lips? What if this happens to you when you have a cut by your lip from shaving, or on your tongue from a mint Life Saver, and the "wet talker" is HIV positive? What are your chances of getting HIV this way?






Activist Central

 Apply to Attend or Present at This Summer's AIDS 2010 Conference by Feb. 10!


 End the Two-Year Wait for Medicare


 In California, ADAP Gets a Boost -- but HIV/AIDS Advocates Push for More Help


 Ensure HIV Care Is a Priority in Health Care Reform: Contact Your Senators and Representatives Today!