May 24, 2011
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LIVING WITH HIV/AIDS


 How Can I Deal With All the Issues Surrounding Living With HIV?
I'm a 41-year-old man and I've been HIV positive for about 11 years. My HIV meds are Isentress (raltegravir) and Truvada (tenofovir/FTC). I also take Lyrica (pregabalin) and methadone because I suffer from pretty bad neuropathy, but these medications are no longer effective. My prescription copays have all gone up -- now I can't afford meds, and I make too much money to be eligible for any type of assistance. I'm just so tired of all these hurdles; I'm tempted to just let the virus run its course. I can't go to therapy, but I do take a small dose of Prozac (fluoxetine) which helps a little. What else do you suggest to help me keep on living?

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


 First Time With Benefits: What Should I Know About Health Insurance Eligibility?
I was diagnosed HIV positive a year ago. During that time I've been outside the U.S., but I just accepted a university teaching position in the States and will be heading back. This will be the first time I've ever had medical insurance through a job. I know I don't need to disclose my HIV status to the insurance company or the job, and they can't deny me coverage, but what should I know about pre-existing condition clauses and such? And can administrators disclose my status to my employer? Basically, what are the rules?

Lynn Franzoi responds in the "Workplace and Insurance Issues" forum


MIXED-STATUS COUPLES


 I Want to Marry My Poz Partner: How Do I Convince My Family It's a Good Idea?
I'm a 27-year-old male medical doctor currently in a relationship with an HIV-positive nurse. We've been together for more than a year and are really in love. We've had amazing protected sex for that period and are both comfortable with it. I want to be with this person for the rest of my life, but how do I convince my parents and relatives that my partner is the one for me?

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


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Also Worth Noting: Visual AIDS

Image from the May 2011 Visual AIDS Web Gallery
"Self Portrait as Case Study (Detail)," 1994; Frank Green

Visit the May 2011 Visual AIDS Web Gallery to view our latest collection of art by HIV-positive artists! This month's gallery, entitled "Personal, Jesus," is curated by Matthew Lawrence.

HIV/AIDS TREATMENT


 Which HIV Drug Regimens Are Most Commonly Recommended for People Starting Treatment?
I was diagnosed HIV positive two months ago. Apparently I was infected about three or four years ago. Which are the best medications to treat this frightening disease?

Nelson Vergel responds in the "Nutrition and Exercise" forum


 Will Sustiva Side Effects Eventually Subside?
I've been on Sustiva (efavirenz, Stocrin) for a month and I work mostly at night. Will my side effects -- including nightmares and not being able to think straight -- ever stop?

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


 Can I Drink Alcohol While Taking Experimental HIV Meds?
I'm a moderate drinker (one or two drinks per day, with dinner or out with friends) and I just started on a regimen of Epzicom (abacavir/3TC, Kivexa) and GSK-572, an experimental integrase inhibitor. I've read about interactions between alcohol and some drugs. Do you think I should completely cut drinking out of my life while I'm part of this clinical trial?

Mark Holodniy, M.D., F.A.C.P., C.I.C., responds in the "Understanding Your Labs" forum


OTHER HEALTH ISSUES & HIV/AIDS


 What Could Be Causing My Chronic Pain?
I've known I'm HIV positive since 1990 though I believe I became positive in the early '80s. I've always been very athletic, and it's always been hard for me to gain or maintain weight. I've tried testosterone and steroid injections, patches and pills, and I'm now trying to get hold of the growth hormone Serostim. I've run into a wall with my workouts recently because I'm always in pain. Just stretching can make me sore for days, and the recuperation time is much longer than it's ever been. What could be causing this condition?

Nelson Vergel responds in the "Nutrition and Exercise" forum


 Can People Living With HIV Take Diet Pills?
What are the risks involved with HIV-positive people taking pills to lose weight? What are some other ways to control our weight?

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


Connect With Others

Recently Diagnosed With HIV: What Now?
(A recent post from the "Gay Men" board)

Just diagnosed three and a half weeks ago and I am not quite sure how to move forward. I am feeling well at the moment and have a CD4 count near 500 so my ID doc wants to wait a bit before starting treatment. My issue is how this illness is consuming my life. I am having trouble sleeping, concentrating at work, and am avoiding any social interaction ... My partner and I were diagnosed at the same time and his health is not quite as strong as mine. My entire existence seems to revolve around seeing to his needs and worrying about his levels and general health, all to my detriment. ... I have told one friend who has been incredibly supportive but also admonished me to not be too selfish when thinking about my condition as it affects millions of people ... I know he is right but at this moment all I want to do is cry. ... Does this sound familiar to anyone? -- Zach

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UNDERSTANDING HIV/AIDS LABS


 Is It Possible to Have a Low CD4 Count and an Undetectable Viral Load?
I started taking HIV meds in September 2010 with a CD4 count of 3. After six months on treatment my viral load was undetectable but my CD4 count was only 92. Is this normal?

Nelson Vergel responds in the "Nutrition and Exercise" forum


HIV TRANSMISSION


 Confused Dosage of PEP: Is the Treatment Now Worthless?
A condom was left inside me after my HIV-positive partner came. He retrieved it quite easily, and after eight hours I started PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis) medication: one blue Truvada (tenofovir/FTC) tablet in the evening and two yellow Kaletra (lopinavir/ritonavir) tablets twice a day. However, in my panic I got the dosing wrong and took only one Kaletra tablet instead of two in the morning and evening for the first five days. Other than that I've religiously taken the doses correctly, and I finish in three days. Will the treatment not work because of my error?

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






Activist Central

 Call to Action: Sign a Petition to Support Youth Participation in Global HIV/AIDS Decision-Making


 Action Alert: Condemn NY Post for Revealing Strauss-Kahn Victim Lives in AIDS Housing


 Join June 8 NYC Rally at Critical UN Meeting on HIV/AIDS


 Tell Washington, D.C., to Fully Fund ADAP and Other HIV/AIDS Programs to Prevent Needless Deaths


 NMAC's ADAP Action Campaign: Get Free Flip Video Camera to Collect Stories