May 10, 2011
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LIVING WITH HIV/AIDS


 Where on My Body Should I Apply Testosterone Gels?
I've read in this forum that testosterone gel is best absorbed by areas of the body where there is less fat. I've been applying Androgel to my stomach, upper arms and shoulders as instructed by the manufacturer. Should I be applying it to other areas of my body instead, such as my shin, ankle and/or the top of my foot?

Nelson Vergel responds in the "Nutrition and Exercise" forum


 Will a Vaporizer Eliminate the Dangers of Marijuana Use?
I was diagnosed HIV positive in April 2009 and started on Atripla (efavirenz/tenofovir/FTC) a month later. My CD4 count hovers around the low 500s and my viral load is undetectable. I barely drink alcohol and don't smoke cigarettes, but I do smoke pot two to four times a week after work. I did some research and found that the negative effects of marijuana really come from the smoke. I bought a vaporizer that heats up the marijuana to a temperature where there's no combustion and therefore no smoke. I'm really happy with it, but what are your thoughts on this method of consuming pot?

David Fawcett, Ph.D., L.C.S.W., responds in the "Substance Use and HIV" forum


MIXED-STATUS COUPLES


 My Partner Was Recently Diagnosed: How Do I Keep Myself Safe?
I found out 24 hours ago that my girlfriend of six months, whom I love dearly, is HIV positive. She's taking meds and has a low viral load. We used condoms for most of the relationship but there have been a few occasions where we had unprotected sex. If my test results come back negative, how do I maintain a sexual relationship with her and keep myself from becoming HIV positive?

David Fawcett, Ph.D., L.C.S.W., responds in the "Mental Health and HIV" forum


summertime: a season for hiv retreats!

lodge cliff "It might sound odd to seek out a vacation event just for people with HIV," comments TheBody.com's video blogger Mark S. King. He's participated in HIV retreats and found the experience so rewarding, he compiled a list of several fun options around the U.S. "Joining a group of others living with HIV might be a fun solution if you're looking to make friends with other people living with HIV and build your support network."

Retreats range from carefree holidays off the beaten track to educational weekends in the middle of the biggest U.S. cities. Many retreats are free, low-cost or provide discounts to people in need. Check out Mark's article, as well as TheBody.com's retreat resource page!



HIV/AIDS TREATMENT


 Are There Any Interactions Between My HIV Meds and the Supplements I Take?
I've been on Atripla (efavirenz/tenofovir/FTC) for the past 15 months and have had great results so far. I started a new fitness regimen recently. Along with jogging and a healthy diet, I'm taking Coenzyme Q10, cod liver oil capsules and a multivitamin tablet. Do you have any information about possible negative interactions between these supplements and my HIV medications?

Nelson Vergel responds in the "Nutrition and Exercise" forum


 What's the "Danger" in the K103N Mutation?
My CD4 count has consistently been around 700 and my viral load is around 9,000. In a huge error I was given Sustiva (efavirenz, Stocrin) monotherapy (no other drugs in my regimen), and I learned I had the K103N mutation. I was told it wasn't that big a deal -- it just meant I couldn't take Atripla (efavirenz/tenofovir/FTC). However, I keep reading things like "dangerous K103N mutation." Is there more to be concerned about with this mutation than I was told -- simply losing a class of HIV meds?

Robert J. Frascino, M.D., responds in the "Fatigue and Anemia" forum


 Are Swollen Glands a Side Effect of My HIV Meds?
I started taking Atripla (efavirenz/tenofovir/FTC) just over two months ago. Prior to starting treatment I never had any symptoms of HIV (including during seroconversion), my CD4 count was 410, my CD4 percentage was 34 and my viral load was 13,000. Since starting Atripla the glands in my neck have been swollen and I have a dull ache in my upper left abdomen. Is all this normal? Should I be concerned?

Keith Henry, M.D., responds in the "Managing Side Effects of HIV Treatment" forum


OTHER HEALTH ISSUES & HIV/AIDS


 Is My Heart Condition Related to Long-Term HIV Survival?
I'm a male 22-year HIV survivor and I've recently been having episodes of atrial fibrillation (A-Fib). My primary infectious disease doctor told me that cardiac complications such as A-Fib are turning out to be a main risk factor for those who are long-term HIV survivors. I was warned to back way off the stress, improve my diet, lower the bad cholesterol, and increase the good cholesterol and exercise. Have you heard of this connection between heart issues and long-term HIV? What are some other factors behind cardiac complications, and what more can I do about my bouts with A-Fib?

Keith Henry, M.D., responds in the "Managing Side Effects of HIV Treatment" forum


 Will I Be Able to Swallow My Meds After I Have My Tonsils Out?
I'll be having a tonsillectomy next month due to chronic tonsillitis. I've been taking Atripla (efavirenz/tenofovir/FTC) for more than a year and have had absolutely no side effects. My viral load is undetectable and my CD4 count is in the 500s. Will I be able to swallow my Atripla after surgery?

Benjamin Young, M.D., Ph.D., responds in the "Choosing Your Meds" forum


Connect With Others

Daughter Is 15, May Be Pregnant and Isn't Worried About HIV: What Can a Poz Dad Do?
(A recent post from the "Living With HIV" board)

Happy Mother's Day, everyone. A while back my daughter and I had the sit-down conversation about sex. She can see through my trials in life what HIV is and the toll I pay trying to live with it, but now I feel she didn't hear a single thing I said. She's been sneaking around and having unprotected sex with guys older than her, and skipping school to do it. ... I'm just worried she will be in this spot for doing just the only thing I ever asked my kids not to do. I feel responsible for her not being fazed by HIV. She sees all I do is take tons of pills and I'm still alive. Is this disease becoming so common it's not threatening? My daughter's 15, worried about being pregnant, and doesn't care. Did I do something wrong in this situation? -- alive2

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UNDERSTANDING HIV/AIDS LABS


 Why Isn't My CD4 Count Higher at This Point?
I was diagnosed with HIV two years ago with a CD4 count of 41 and a viral load of 70,000. I was 26. I started taking Atripla (efavirenz/tenofovir/FTC) and within two weeks my CD4 count increased to 70. Within six months it went up to 130. It took me two years just to reach 200, but lately I've noticed that it's not increasing at all. It even went down once, though then it increased again. My viral load has remained undetectable. I really like Atripla because it's not causing many side effects, but should I change meds for a CD4 count increase?

Nelson Vergel responds in the "Nutrition and Exercise" forum

HIV TRANSMISSION


 Is Washing Up With Clorox a Good Idea to Prevent HIV Transmission?
I recently had unprotected intercourse with someone I'd just met outside a bar. Upon realizing how foolishly I had just behaved, I quickly excused myself to the bathroom. I found some of those Clorox bathroom cleaning wipes (whose can promises it kills 99.9% of germs), and a can of Oust air freshener. I rubbed my penis with the Clorox wipes, making sure to wring out enough fluid to pour down my urethra. I also sprayed One-Eyed Willie with the Oust. Because I ejaculated outside of my quickie partner's body, could the "eruption" have been enough to clear my tube of HIV? Was my chemistry experiment in penile punishment unnecessary, or might I have saved myself from potential infection?

Robert J. Frascino, M.D., responds in the "Safe Sex and HIV Prevention" forum






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