September 28, 2010
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LIVING WITH HIV/AIDS


 Insurance Won't Pay for Erectile Dysfunction Drugs: What Are My Options?
I've been HIV positive since 1991. I currently take Norvir (ritonavir), Reyataz (atazanavir) and Truvada (tenofovir/FTC) and have a CD4 count in the 600s and an undetectable viral load. I also take Androgel and Crestor (rosuvastatin). For more than a year I've had a greatly decreased libido and difficulty maintaining an erection. Androgel hasn't helped, and my insurance won't cover "elective" medications like the Viagra (sildenafil) family of drugs. Do you have any suggestions -- or tricks for making a limited supply of Viagra "last"?


 Does Coffee-Drinking Negatively Affect HIVers' Health?
I'm living with HIV and I love coffee. When I drink a cup I feel energized and start thinking more clearly and positively. Could coffee interact with HIV meds -- and could drinking it habitually have any effect on an HIVer's CD4 count or overall health?


MIXED-STATUS COUPLES


 Being Tested After Husband's Recent Diagnosis: For How Long Should I Stop Breastfeeding?
I recently learned that my husband has had numerous male and female partners throughout our marriage, and he contracted HIV 10 weeks ago. My husband and I had unprotected sex a week prior to his positive diagnosis. I had a PCR test two weeks after that encounter and it came back negative. I'm now waiting for the results of my four-week HIV-1 RNA test. I was breastfeeding at the time of exposure, but my doctor has chosen not to have the baby tested unless my results come back positive. Do I need to wait to breastfeed again until my six-month test results (hopefully) come back negative?


 How Can My Husband and I Save Our Relationship?
My husband is HIV positive and takes Sustiva (efavirenz, Stocrin) as well as other meds. I'm HIV negative, and lately I've found it hard to deal with his mood swings. He also sleeps a lot, our sex life is almost nonexistent and I feel that he's shutting me out. I love my husband very much, but we argue a lot. What can we do to save our marriage?


Also Worth Noting: Visual AIDS

Image from the September 2010 Visual AIDS Web Gallery
"Flowers," 1998; Donna Haggerty

Visit the September 2010 Visual AIDS Web Gallery to view our latest collection of art by HIV-positive artists! This month's gallery, entitled "Sida," is curated by Rick Castro.
HIV/AIDS TREATMENT


 Why Would I Switch Off a Regimen That's Working?
I have been taking Combivir (AZT/3TC) and Sustiva (efavirenz, Stocrin) for many years. My viral load is undetectable, my CD4 count is over 800 and I'm tolerating both medications well, but my doctor wants me to switch to Atripla (efavirenz/tenofovir/FTC). Is there a good reason to switch, or should I wait until my current meds no longer work?


 Viread in My Regimen May Be Causing Kidney Injury: What Are My Options?
I take Norvir (ritonavir), Reyataz (atazanavir) and Truvada (tenofovir/FTC). My viral load is undetectable and my CD4 count is around 580, but my kidney is leaking phosphorus. Both my HIV primary care physician and my kidney specialist tell me that this condition is likely caused by the Viread (tenofovir) in Truvada. With what can I replace Truvada in my regimen?


More Questions About HIV/AIDS Treatment:


OTHER HEALTH ISSUES & HIV/AIDS


 HIV and Cancer, Weight Loss and Fatigue: What Are My Next Steps?
I've been HIV positive since 1989 and I started taking meds in 1998. In February of this year I was diagnosed with stage 3C breast cancer. After having a mastectomy and chemotherapy, I lost 25 pounds that I couldn't afford to lose. I stopped taking my HIV meds and antidepressants. A change of diet has kept me from losing any more weight, but my fatigue is enormous. I'm facing six weeks of radiation and I have no energy. What can I do? Would a blood transfusion help?


 Will My Kaposi's Sarcoma Lesions Eventually Fade on Their Own?
I was diagnosed with HIV in June 2009 with a CD4 count of 98, and I'd developed Kaposi's sarcoma (KS) lesions on my right leg. Besides the KS I haven't been ill, and since starting Atripla (efavirenz/tenofovir/FTC) a year ago my CD4 count has gone up to 323 and my viral load is undetectable. I haven't developed a new lesion in months but the ones I had haven't faded. My clinic is taking a wait-and-see approach, but the lesions keep me from going out with friends or being intimate in relationships. It seems most of the KS info online is quite old -- do you know of any up-to-date treatment options? What do you suggest?


 Bump on My Anus: What Could It Be?
I'm a 30-year-old man and I've been HIV positive for five years. I've taken Sustiva (efavirenz, Stocrin) and Truvada (tenofovir/FTC) -- and now Atripla (efavirenz/tenofovir/FTC) -- the whole time. I noticed blood in my stool two months ago, as well as an itchy bump, about 2 inches in size, blocking half my anus. I haven't had anal sex in five years. What could it be? Should I mention it to my doctor, or are such bumps common?


Connect With Others

Can I Ever Have a Relationship Again?
(A recent post from the "Gay Men" board)

I tested positive in May. Five months later I'm still ... trying to wrap my head around this. ... Numbers are good, looking to get on meds -- but then there is life and men. Will I be single forever? That's what I feel like. How could I burden someone else with this pain I am feeling? I go out and meet others and want to date but this rain cloud overhead is weighing on me. Only two people in my life know about my infection.

When do you tell others, or ones you are interested in? I feel as if I shouldn't even pursue something other than a friendship -- ugh. -- jp2626

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UNDERSTANDING HIV/AIDS LABS


 Can I Go 6 Months Without Monitoring Tests?
I was diagnosed with HIV in March with a CD4 count of 950 and a viral load of 900. In June my CD4 count was 750 and in September it was 1,080, and my viral load hasn't changed. My doctor doesn't think I need lab tests every three months at this point and says I can have them every six months. Do you agree?


 Can an HIV-Negative Person Have a Low CD4 Count?
How is it possible for someone to have a very low CD4 count if they're HIV negative?


HIV TRANSMISSION


 If HIV Reached Humans Because They Hunted and Ate Monkeys, Why Can't We Get HIV Through Other Foods?
Until a few days ago I was quite confident that HIV could not be passed through food, and that animals could not be HIV positive, so we could not get HIV from eating them. However, I recently read an article about the origins of HIV, and the hunting and eating of monkeys in Africa has been one of the most commonly accepted theories of how the epidemic started. Does this mean that a person could be infected with HIV by eating certain kinds of foods?


STRANGE BUT TRUE


 Can Drinking Your Own Pee Help Fight HIV?
l was told that drinking your own urine every morning boosts your CD4 numbers and makes your immune system stronger. Is this true?






Activist Central

 500,000 Signatures Before Sept. 30: Sign a Letter to Further the Fight Against HIV, TB and Malaria


 Join a Facebook and Twitter Campaign to Fight NY Gov. Paterson's Rent Cap Veto!


 NIAID to Host Public Meeting on Future HIV/AIDS Research Networks


 Action Alert: Say NO to Abstinence-Only Sex Education


 President Obama: Address the ADAP Crisis!


 NMAC Asks for Your Help Ending S.B. 1070; Promoting Comprehensive Federal Immigration Reform


 Action Alert: Help Homeless AIDS Activist Get Into Housing Today