July 6, 2010
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LIVING WITH HIV/AIDS


 What Can HIVers Do to Decrease Inflammation in Their Bodies?
I'm so confused with all the recent talk about how HIV causes inflammation. What do you know about this phenomenon, and are there steps HIVers can take to lower their risk of inflammation?


 Dear Dr. Bob: What Do You Suggest?
I recently tested positive for HIV. I'm not on HIV meds yet and I'm looking for ways to lower my viral load and boost my CD4 count. I've read many of your answers to people's questions about complementary therapies, and in some of them you seem negative and condescending about anything that's not a prescription drug. Why is that; and what do you suggest to a person wanting to live healthily with HIV?


 Ensure Is Working for Weight Gain, but How Do I Pay for It?
I had wasting syndrome when I was first diagnosed with HIV. My weight sunk to 95 pounds, and now I'm having trouble gaining weight. The only thing that seems to work is the nutritional shake Ensure. I've put on about two pounds per month since I started using it. If my doctor wrote me a prescription for Ensure, would it be covered by Medicare?


MIXED-STATUS COUPLES


 How Can My Partner and I Avoid Condom Malfunction?
I'm HIV positive with an undetectable viral load and a CD4 count of 740, and I take Atripla (efavirenz/tenofovir/FTC). Recently my boyfriend (HIV negative, insertive partner) and I were having sex and the condom broke. He immediately pulled out and that day he started post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) with Truvada (tenofovir/FTC). Today we had sex and the condom broke again. Does my boyfriend need to take more Truvada now? How can we avoid condom problems in the future?


Also Worth Noting: Visual AIDS

Image from the July 2010 Visual AIDS Web Gallery
"Gaultier" 1990-1994; Joe DeHoyos

Visit the July 2010 Visual AIDS Web Gallery to view our latest collection of art by HIV-positive artists! This month's gallery, entitled "Dream Makers," is curated by Wayne Northcross.
HIV/AIDS TREATMENT & COMPLICATIONS


 How Long Will My Meds Be Effective?
I'm doing quite well on Sustiva (efavirenz, Stocrin) and Truvada (tenofovir/FTC). Is there a "lifespan" for how long the drugs will be effective in treating my virus? Has HIV ever found a way to become resistant to meds even when adherence is excellent?


 How Do I Get to the Bottom of My Fatigue?
I'm a 54-year-old woman who's been living with HIV for three years. I take Kaletra (lopinavir/ritonavir) and Truvada (tenofovir/FTC), which are working well. However, about four months ago I started falling asleep suddenly while working on the computer, driving or knitting. My doctor prescribed Ritalin (methylphenidate) to help me during the day, but how can I figure out the cause of my fatigue?


 Severe Abdominal Cramping on Norvir: What Can Be Done?
I've been taking Norvir (ritonavir) as part of my HIV med regimen for about a week. I'm experiencing pretty intense abdominal cramping and lower back pain, which make it difficult to sit comfortably or stand up from a seated position. What can I do about this?


More Questions About HIV/AIDS Treatment & Complications:


HIV/AIDS & OTHER HEALTH ISSUES


 What's Causing My Erectile Dysfunction?
I'm a 40-year-old HIV-positive man currently taking Norvir (ritonavir), Reyataz (atazanavir) and Truvada (tenofovir/FTC), as well as Zoloft (sertraline) for depression and anxiety. Lately I've been tired all the time. I've also noticed a gradual drop in my libido, and in the strength of my erection on those rare occasions that I get one. What could be causing these effects?


 Will Taking Finasteride Boost My Testosterone?
I have low free testosterone. Is taking finasteride (Proscar, Propecia) a good option for raising my testosterone levels?


More Questions About HIV/AIDS & Other Health Issues:


Connect With Others

Telling Dating Partners I'm Positive: Anyone Got Advice?
(A recent post from the "Living With HIV" board)

"I'm a hetero white male in my mid-20s and where I live, it's pretty damn difficult to tell a girl about my status and have her be OK with it. That is the hardest part about this whole deal. I was dating a very nice and beautiful girl when I found out about my condition and when I opened up to her about it, she decided it was more than she could handle. That was a year ago and I haven't dated since then. Now I just started seeing someone and she seems to really be into me ... but I haven't told her yet. In my mind, I am certain that she will not accept it; I don't know what to do. We've seen each other three times now, and I always feel great at the start but toward the end of our date, I just start to feel like crap. I'm not being honest with her and that isn't right. I don't want to let her get attached to me and then come out with this news ... I'd feel like a complete ass, but at the same time I'm afraid. Very afraid. ... I feel like this is like the lottery, you just keep playing until you eventually win. I need some advice here ..." -- ComeAlive

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UNDERSTANDING HIV/AIDS LABS


  Recently Diagnosed, Normal CD4 Count and High Viral Load: Should I Start Meds?
I'm pretty sure I became HIV positive in February, and I was diagnosed on June 1. I just received my first set of blood test results: My CD4 count is 460 and my viral load is 800,000. The doctor seemed slightly shocked by my viral load and suggested that I might want to start HIV meds right away. What's your opinion?


 Can You Explain HIV-1 "Subtypes"?
I read online that, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, current HIV-1 EIA (ELISA) tests "can accurately identify infections with nearly all non-B subtypes and many infections with group O HIV subtypes." Does this mean that the tests don't look for subtype B -- which I thought was the most common?


STRANGE BUT TRUE


 Could My "Crappy" Cell Phone Give Me HIV?
The other night I went to the bathroom in a gay club and dropped my phone in the toilet before I flushed. I didn't see if the bowl was clean before I did my business, but in my drunkenness I just put my hand in and fished out my phone. Would I be at risk for HIV if there were sperm or blood in the water?



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