March 15, 2010
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LIVING WITH HIV/AIDS


 Coming off Unemployment and New Insurance: Will I Be Denied Coverage?
I recently returned to work after being unemployed for quite some time. For the last four years, until Jan. 1, I paid monthly for COBRA continuation coverage with Aetna. I have also been covered since Oct. 1, 2009, by D.C. HealthCare Alliance (a public health plan for Washington, D.C., residents) and will remain so until Oct. 1 of this year. I will be eligible for health insurance with my new employer on May 1, again through Aetna. Since it will have been more than 62 days since I cancelled the original Aetna coverage, will the D.C. HealthCare Alliance qualify as continuous coverage? Can Aetna deny me coverage with my new employer?


 Why Did My Testosterone Therapy Stop Working?
I have been on testosterone therapy for more than six months. In the beginning I noticed a significant positive change in body composition and increased sex drive. However, as the months went on I noticed more bloating and fat retention in my stomach area. I also lost sex drive and muscle hardness, became very anxious, achy and lethargic, and my blood pressure went up. I stopped the testosterone gel at that point. Are these normal reactions to long-term use of hormone replacement therapy?


HIV/AIDS & BODY SHAPE CHANGES


 I Know About Facial Wasting Injections, but What About Shots for My Legs and Butt?
I have mild lipodystrophy right now, but am not currently on HIV meds. I'd like to get some filler treatments before I have to go on meds so that I can head off the lipodystrophy before it potentially becomes a problem. I know about Sculptra (poly-L-lactic acid, New-Fill) and Radiesse (calcium hydroxylapatite, Radiance) for the face, but are there filler injections for the legs or buttocks?


 What Is the Deal With Metacrill, and Can It Be Used in the U.S.?
A doctor told me in an e-mail that I could buy 10 syringes of Metacrill (one of several brand names for polymethyl-methacrylate, or PMMA) from him for $500. He asks that the payment be made via wire transfer to a bank in Madrid in his name and he will send me the package, and a doctor in New York City could do the injections for me. Is Metacrill an effective product? Does this sound like a legitimate plan?


MIXED-STATUS COUPLES


 How Could My Pregnant Wife Test HIV Positive When I'm Negative?
My wife of three years tested HIV positive in her seventh month of pregnancy, and I tested HIV negative. Since we've been together I've gotten tested for HIV regularly, but she hasn't, saying she had no reason to if I was negative. We've never practiced safer sex. How is it possible that I'm negative and she's positive?


The Latest Posts at TheBody.com's Blog Central
Enrique FrancoEnrique Franco: When Enrique Met Charlie
You'd think that meeting your partner's parents would be the most important test of a relationship. But for Enrique Franco, the more important test he had to pass with his partner, Devin, was meeting Charlie, Devin's miniature Dachshund. "The future of our relationship is all but placed in the hands of this little miniaturized dog?" Enrique recalls thinking. In his latest blog entry, Enrique shares how he learned to appreciate the little things in life from a little guy named Charlie.

Scott SimpsonScott Simpson: Felled by the Flu?
HIV-positive blogger and triathlete Scott Simpson has been sick for a while now, with what he thought was the flu. But he's also had some stranger symptoms, like ringing in his ears, rapid breathing and sweaty palms -- so now he's scheduled for additional tests, to figure out what's really going on. The upshot, Scott writes: "If I don't get better soon, getting to the start line of Ironman Louisville is in serious jeopardy."


HIV/AIDS TREATMENT


 What's the Benefit of Starting Meds With a High CD4 Count?
I've been HIV positive for about nine years and I'm not on HIV meds yet. I have debates every day about starting meds. Since my CD4 count has been stable around 800, my doc keeps saying there is no rush. However, I keep reading about the unseen damage HIV is doing. I would hate to wonder down the road why I waited if I should get sick with something. Still, I've also read that the "hit hard and early" approach may be responsible for some drug resistance issues. What do you think?


 Are My HIV Meds Making Viagra Not Work for Me?
I am 54 years old and I was diagnosed HIV positive a year ago. I've used Viagra (sildenafil citrate) about three times a week before sex since long before I was diagnosed. However, I've noticed that since I started HIV meds a year ago, the Viagra doesn't produce the full erection that it used to. Could there be an interaction between Viagra and my HIV meds, or do you think the effect could be psychological?


 Which Meds Should I Take With Isentress?
I seroconverted about a year ago and will probably start HIV meds in the next few months. I have read that the new drug Isentress (raltegravir) carries much less chance than other meds of lipodystrophy and other side effects. However, it seems you have to mix it with other drugs that do cause side effects. Which HIV meds do you suggest I take along with Isentress?


More Questions About HIV/AIDS Treatment:


Also Worth Noting: Visual AIDS

Image from the March 2010 Visual AIDS Web Gallery
"Times Square" 1987; Jason Deneault

Visit the March 2010 Visual AIDS Web Gallery to view our latest collection of art by HIV-positive artists! This month's gallery, entitled "The Pure Cut," is curated by Joseph Akel.
COINFECTIONS & COMPLICATIONS OF
HIV/HIV MEDICATIONS


 Does Having Diarrhea Affect Absorption of HIV Meds?
In response to another query, you mentioned that HIV meds are absorbed into the system within 15-30 minutes of taking them. Does that still hold on days when someone taking meds has diarrhea?


 Unexplained Weight Loss and Low CD4 Count: Any Suggestions?
I am on Combivir (AZT/3TC), Fosamax (alendronate) and Intelence (etravirine). My viral load has been undetectable for the last nine months, but my CD4 count is 190 and I've also lost a bit of weight. Can you suggest any screening tests that might help me figure out how I can increase my CD4 count and weight?


 Could Atripla Be Causing My Weight Gain and Sickly Feeling?
I have been on Atripla (efavirenz/tenofovir/FTC) for two years and have had no problems, except that since starting I have put on 15 pounds. I also have an odd sickly feeling. Could these effects be due to the Atripla?


More Questions About Coinfections & Complications:


UNDERSTANDING HIV/AIDS LABS


 Could My Viral Load Blip Be Due to Superinfection?
I've been on Atripla (efavirenz/tenofovir/FTC) for about two and a half years and have been very adherent. My CD4 count and percentage have also increased during this period. However, my most recent lab results show that my viral load's not undetectable anymore. I had the H1N1 (swine flu) vaccine one week prior to taking the labs; I also had sex a few months earlier (I was the receiver) and am unsure if the condom was still on afterward. Let's say the condom was off when my partner ejaculated, and he had HIV too. Could my detectable viral load be an indication that I've been superinfected with my partner's strain of HIV?


More Questions About Understanding HIV/AIDS Labs:


Also Worth Noting: Connect With Others
Undetectable and Need Sex Advice
(A recent post from the "Living With HIV" board)

I have been on meds and undetectable for two years, a very healthy man. I am dating a wonderful negative guy. We always use protection when having sex. I am the top. A couple of days ago I realized that the condom broke while having anal sex and finishing the act. I am freaking out, very scared that I could have infected him. He has a lot going for him, and I cannot bear the thought that I could have changed his life forever. He thinks that the risk is very low because I'm undetectable and healthy, but I am very worried. Could an undetectable person infect someone? What is the risk for him? Should I only date positive guys to prevent any more worries? -- caliztony
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HIV TESTING & TRANSMISSION


 What Are the Risks of Rimming?
A guy recently performed analingus (anal/oral contact, or rimming) on me for about 45 minutes. I have always assumed that oral sex was pretty low risk for HIV transmission. However, my anus is somewhat chafed from the cheap toilet paper I use, and it's caused me to bleed, so this guy's saliva most likely came into contact with broken skin. What should I do?


More Questions About HIV Testing & Transmission:


STRANGE BUT TRUE


 Red-Carpet Palm-Pressing on Oscars' Eve: What's the Risk?
While in Hollywood for the Oscars I trimmed my fingernails. On the outside of my right thumb I trimmed my nail too short and it stung like a killer bee, but I didn't cover it with anything. At a pre-Oscar party on Saturday evening I had to shake all kinds of hands -- some clean, others with cuts or bandages on them. If one or even all of the hands I touched were attached to an HIV-positive person, what are my chances of getting HIV in this way? I'm so anxious I couldn't even sleep the night before the Oscars!






Activist Central

 Women Living With HIV: Take a Survey on Sexual and Reproductive Health Services


 Tell HHS That Black Women Openly Living With HIV/AIDS Should Be Represented on PACHA


 Action Alert: Tell Congress You Support a Permanent Fix to Ryan White Housing Policy!


 Tell Congress to Finish U.S. Health Care Reform


 Volunteer Doctors and Nurses Needed in Haiti Thru April 30, 2010