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Chicago Tribune Examines HIV-Positive Athletes in the Gay Games

July 20, 2006

The Chicago Tribune on Wednesday examined the challenges faced by HIV-positive athletes attending the Gay Games 2006, which are being held from July 15 though July 22 in Chicago (Meyer, Chicago Tribune, 7/19). About 12,000 athletes from 100 countries are expected to participate in the event (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 3/20). In addition to "tiresome training," HIV-positive athletes face the "debilitating" side effects of antiretroviral treatment -- including vomiting, sleep disturbances, nausea and damage to nerve endings -- the Tribune reports. "[F]or an athlete to have to train and overcome those things, it's a huge challenge," Daniel Berger -- director of the Northstar Medical Center, which specializes in HIV/AIDS research and treatment -- said. According to the Tribune, the "drain of competition" makes athletes living with HIV more susceptible to common infections such as flu and colds. "Because they're an athlete and because they're HIV-positive, it puts them doubly at risk for progression and further complications," Berger said. Greg Louganis, an HIV-positive Olympic gold medalist who spoke at the opening ceremony of the Games, said that being involved in athletics can help HIV-positive people. "I feel that getting into the gym is as important as taking my medications," Louganis said. According to the Tribune, physicians who treat HIV-positive people often recommend exercise. "Not only are athletics empowering for HIV-positive people, but it also helps get their virus under control," Robert Garofalo of the Howard Brown Health Center in Chicago said (Chicago Tribune, 7/19).

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