January 4, 2011
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ANNOUNCING THE "STRANGEST BUT TRUEST" OF 2010!


We here at TheBody.com scoured the "Strange but True" sections of last year's Hot Topics newsletters and nominated some of the most unusual HIV-related scenarios people asked about in 2010. Some are shocking, some are sad, many are hilarious -- and they're all reminders of how far we still have to go to educate the world about HIV.

Hundreds of you voted on which of the 10 finalists represented the most bizarre post. We've tallied up the votes and calculated their average ratings, so check out the "best of the worst" (or the worst of the worst, depending on how you look at it) of 2010!


LIVING WITH HIV/AIDS


 Where Are the Charities for "the Cure"?
There seem to be many organizations out there that will help people with HIV, but I'm having trouble finding one that helps fund research for a cure. With so many avenues being followed to find a cure, and the "Berlin patient" announcement reinforcing the idea that some sort of cure can be found, it's odd that no one rallies around finding a cure for HIV. Where can I find charities that are devoted to finding a way to tame this tenacious little virus?


 Can I Exercise, Even With a Low CD4 Count?
My CD4 count is around 88, but I feel all right. Can I engage in some forms of light exercise? Do you have any information on exercise, immune function and managing HIV med side effects?


 Recently Diagnosed and Worried: Can I Still Achieve My Dreams?
I was diagnosed HIV positive six months ago. My CD4 count was 192 and I was put on Combivir (AZT/3TC) and Sustiva (efavirenz, Stocrin) immediately. Today my CD4 count is up to 385. How long am I going to live? Can I get married and have children? Will my CD4 count continue to rise? Can I still travel?


MIXED-STATUS COUPLES


  Do the Rules of the "Swiss Statement" Make Unprotected Sex Safe?
I discussed with my doctor the "Swiss statement," which claims that a condom is not imperative in a monogamous, mixed-status heterosexual relationship as long as the infected partner is on treatment and has an undetectable viral load. My doctor agrees. I asked him about the possibilities of blips and viral load differences between plasma and seminal fluids. He said that those variations likely do not pose a significant transmission risk. Do you also believe that, under the rules of the Swiss statement, condoms could be avoided for the purpose of conception?

The headline above links to this question and its response in the "Choosing Your Meds" forum. The same question was also posted in Bob Frascino, M.D.'s "Safe Sex and HIV Prevention" forum. Read Dr. Bob's thoughts on the Swiss statement and compare the two experts' perspectives.


 What's the Point of Telling My Kids Their Father Died of AIDS Complications?
My husband and the father of my children had an affair about seven years ago and became HIV positive. My children and I have all tested HIV negative. My husband has since died of complications of advanced HIV, and I've been debating whether I should ever tell my children how he died. They're all under 18. We live in a small town, and fortunately some degree of confidentiality has been maintained about my husband's diagnosis or else no one would ever have anything to do with me or my children. What do you think I should do?


BODY SHAPE CHANGES & HIV/AIDS


 What Should HIVers Know About Weightlifting?
I'm 36 years old, 5 feet 6 inches tall and weigh 138 pounds. I became HIV positive earlier this year and am about to start Atripla (efavirenz/tenofovir/FTC). I'm worried about body fat changes and general health, and I've been weightlifting for almost eight years, but I was told that lifting heavy weights is not a good idea for people living with HIV. Is this true?


 Does Surgery Permanently Remove Increased Breast Tissue in Men?
I plan to have surgery to reduce my increased breast tissue (gynecomastia), but I'm concerned that it will come back. Will I need surgery again down the road? Should I take an estrogen blocker afterward to prevent this condition from returning?


HIV/AIDS TREATMENT


 Viral Load Still Detectable: Was My Regimen Switch Effective?
I was on my first HIV med regimen, Trizivir (AZT/3TC/abacavir) and Viramune (nevirapine), for seven years. I had high CD4 counts (between 1,000 and 1,400) and low viral loads (from undetectable to around 100). Recently my viral load started creeping up, and it was found that some of my meds were failing. I switched to Intelence (etravirine), Kaletra (lopinavir/ritonavir) and Truvada (tenofovir/FTC). After three weeks my CD4 count is 1,152, but my viral load is still detectable at 350. Should I worry that it hasn't gone down more, or wait and see what the results of my next test reveal?


 What Are "Immune-Based" Therapies?
Can you explain the concept behind immune-based therapies, and how these approaches might someday work in treating HIV infection?


More Questions About HIV/AIDS Treatment:


Connect With Others

Just Diagnosed but Afraid My Family Won't Understand
(A recent post from the "I Just Tested Positive" board)

I tested positive three days before Christmas and I think I am still numb to the fact. I haven't told any friends or family because I really don't know how. Most of them are judgmental and I'm sure will walk away. ... The ones I'm most concerned with are my children. We are very, very close. ... In the past, my daughter has panicked about something happening to me, such as a car crash, heart attack or even murder. But I'm sure all our minds were far from HIV. She said if she ever lost me, she would join me. That scares me the most. And she now has a 4-month-old baby she needs to focus on. My son would just be angry. So I feel really alone at this time. And having found out so close to Christmas, my first thought was, will this be my last? -- LostNconfused

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UNDERSTANDING HIV/AIDS LABS


 CD4 Count and Weight Dropping: Any Cause for Concern?
I take Combivir (AZT/3TC) and Viramune (nevirapine). My CD4 count is 450, but six months ago it was 517. I've also lost almost 20 pounds over the last year and a half. Are these changes normal, a side effect of my HIV meds or a sign of some other infection?


HIV/HEPATITIS TESTING & TRANSMISSION


 Do I Still Need an HIV Test at the 6-Month Mark?
I know that the result of an HIV test taken three months after a potential exposure is usually considered conclusive, but this used to be the case at the six-month mark. In what scenario would testing at the six-month mark still be required?


 I Got Fisted by the Same Guy as an HIV-Positive Person: Am I at Risk?
Yesterday I was playing with three guys; one of them was HIV positive with an undetectable viral load. Another guy performed light fisting on him (fingering, actually) and then did the same on me. In the meantime he washed his hands properly with soap and hot water. How risky was this encounter?


More Questions About HIV/Hepatitis Testing & Transmission:






Activist Central

 Let 2011 Be a Year of Action! Ask Family and Friends How They'll Join the Fight


 Act Now: No Airtime for Killer AIDS Denialist


 Demand That the CDC Reach Out to Transgender Youth


 Call on Peruvian Authorities for Justice in Murder of HIV/AIDS & Gay Activist