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February 11, 2004
In This Update:
  • From the Editor
  • Conference Coverage
  • HIV Treatment
  • Life With HIV
  • U.S. HIV Policy & Drug Alerts
  • HIV Risk, Prevention & Outreach
  • HIV-Related Coinfections
  • HIV Outside the U.S.
  • Web Highlights
  •   FROM THE EDITOR

    The U.S.'s largest AIDS conference of the year, the 11th Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI 2004), is now taking place. Some of our top medical experts are in San Francisco attending sessions; their coverage is already being posted. This update includes several conference highlights, but for more on CROI 2004, visit our conference home page.

    - Bonnie Goldman, Editorial Director, The Body

      CONFERENCE COVERAGE

    When Starting Treatment, Keep Heart Risks in Mind
    Cardiovascular risk is an important variable to take into consideration at the time of selection of antiretroviral therapy, reports Pablo Tebas, M.D., in review of a large study.


    HIV Outbreak at North Carolina Colleges Raises Alarm
    HIV has made inroads into North Carolina's college campuses, researchers have found -- and it may not be a rare, isolated outbreak. A unique form of HIV screening was able to identify a "sexual network" of new HIV infections among black male college students that appears to have grown in size over the past few years.


    Confusion Persists Over Value of Three-NRTI Regimens
    A set of presentations regarding antiretroviral regimens consisting entirely of three NRTIs failed to reveal conclusive evidence that these regimens are, or are not, prone to fail at a far greater rate than other regimens.


    New York City's Gay Men May Be on Brink of New HIV Outbreak
    Rates of HIV infection among gay men in New York City have remained steady, according to new figures, but more than half of the city's gay men routinely don't use a condom when having anal sex, a finding that doesn't bode well for the continued stagnation of HIV rates.


    Nevirapine Use Prevents HIV Transmission to Babies, but There's a Catch
    HIV-positive pregnant women who take a single dose of the antiretroviral drug nevirapine (Viramune) at delivery to prevent vertical HIV transmission could develop resistance to the drug, according to a study presented on Feb. 9.


    Superinfection Occurs at 5% a Year in Recently Infected Gay Men Not on Therapy
    HIV-positive people can become infected with a different strain of the virus, this study finds, although it appears as though superinfection only occurs in people not taking HIV meds. aidsmap.com reports.

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      HIV TREATMENT

    Behold, the Power of Plants
    In the never-ending search for new ways to fight HIV, researchers are investigating a family of chemicals called betulinic acid derivatives, which have been found in lab tests to have some ability to prevent HIV from replicating. Betulinic acid is a chemical found in some plants and trees.


    Meet Fosamprenavir, the U.S.'s Newest Protease Inhibitor
    Fosamprenavir (908, Lexiva) is a new formulation of the older protease inhibitor amprenavir (Agenerase). Project Inform has put together a handy fact sheet for those looking to learn more about the drug.

    For more information on fosamprenavir, browse through our library!

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      LIFE WITH HIV

    Info for Those on Disability Headed Back Into the Workforce
    What key information do you need to know when you're heading back to work after being on disability? Read this article for a review of some of the major issues you're likely to face.
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      U.S. HIV POLICY & DRUG ALERTS

    Update on Backlash Against Ritonavir Price Increase
    The protests against Abbott Laboratories' sharp price increase for ritonavir (Norvir) in the U.S. have grown more public and more vocal. As a number of HIV physicians spoke at a press conference this week asking Abbott to rescind the price increase, U.S. healthcare provider AIDS Healthcare Foundation said it would file an antitrust lawsuit against the company.

    Amidst this growing clamor, Abbott has officially responded a second time in the past month, this time making some concessions (PDF). Meanwhile, Illinois and New York have decided to launch their own investigations into the motivations behind Abbott's drug increase.

    Need a little extra background on the ritonavir drug-pricing controversy? Click here to see a collection of articles, protest letters and Abbott's responses from the American Academy of HIV Medicine.


    Counterfeit Drug Threat Includes Wasting Medication
    Although the U.S. pharmaceutical supply is the "safest in the world," acccording to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, recent seizures of counterfeit drugs raise concerns that consumers can no longer be certain that the drugs they receive are genuine and safe, the Los Angeles Times reports. One of the drugs counterfeiters have targeted is Serostim, which some HIV-positive people take to treat wasting.


    Inside ATAC: The Activists Behind the Curtain
    Who are the people behind the AIDS Treatment Activists Coalition, a group spearheading efforts to pressure U.S. politicians into providing sorely needed funds for the country's AIDS Drug Assistance Programs? AIDS advocate Gary Karch took a closer look as he attended ATAC's first-ever summit meeting in December.


    New NIAID Advisory Council Members Appointed
    Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy G. Thompson announced five appointments to the National Advisory Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) Council, the principal advisory body of NIAID.

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      HIV RISK, PREVENTION & OUTREACH

    U.S. Marks Fourth Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day
    Although African Americans represent about 12 percent of the U.S. population, more than 50 percent of all AIDS cases diagnosed in 2002 in the U.S. were among African Americans. To bring attention to this community, Feb. 7 marked the fourth annual National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. Read this article for a look at some of the events that took place to commemorate the day.

    For more information on African Americans and HIV, browse through The Body's collection of articles.


    Harlem Women Get SMART About HIV
    A group of women in New York City's Harlem neighborhood aren't taking the area's escalating HIV numbers sitting down: They've formed a support group called SMART specifically to provide information and treatment education to minority women with HIV.

    Looking for HIV support in your community? Visit The Body's extensive listing of AIDS hotlines and services throughout the U.S.


    HIV Risk Underestimated Among Asian Americans
    Asian Americans are often overlooked as an HIV-risk group not just by the healthcare community at large, but by Asian Americans themselves. The risk is real, however: This article provides an overview of the HIV/AIDS situation among Asians and Pacific Islanders living in New York City.


    New Findings Into How the Mouth Protects Against HIV
    U.S. researchers say that a pair of molecules found within the lining of the mouth human beta-defensins 2 and 3 (hBD2 and hBD3) may be at least part of the reason why it's so hard to become orally infected with HIV.

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      HIV-RELATED COINFECTIONS

    Drug Shows Promise Against Resistant HBV
    When chronic hepatitis B virus (HBV) becomes resistant to the standard 3TC (lamivudine, Epivir) treatment, the antiviral adefovir (Preveon), alone or in combination with ongoing 3TC therapy, appears to be effective, according to a study in the medical journal Gastroenterology.


    Hepatitis C Epidemic Worsens
    Hepatitis C is rapidly spreading, especially in much of Europe. Read some of the latest research on this growing epidemic and how it affects people living with HIV.


    What Are MRSA and VRE?
    Two types of drug-resistant bacteria known as MRSA and VRE don't pose much of a threat to completely healthy people, but can be a risk among people with HIV. Learn more about these two nasty little germs and what HIV-positive people can do to avoid becoming infected.

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      HIV OUTSIDE THE U.S.

    Russian AIDS Activism Grows in New York
    Although Russia has one of the world's fastest growing HIV infection rates, its AIDS advocacy movement has only just begun to form. A special program in New York City, however, trains Central and Eastern European activists on how to create an effective advocacy movement back home.

    One Russian AIDS advocate who took part in this New York City program has written about his experiences there; click here to read what he had to say.


    Tuberculosis Treatment: It Requires More Than Research
    In Africa, the treatment of life-threatening diseases like tuberculosis and HIV is about more than just developing drugs in a laboratory, says Winstone Zulu, an AIDS treatment activist in Zambia. "It's not only about the germs and the pills, but also about the people under the microscopes and behind PowerPoint presentations. ... Tuberculosis cannot be fought in the labs alone, and I think this is what has been missing."


    Brazil Steps Up Prevention Efforts as Holiday Draws Near
    The Brazilian government began distributing what it says is a "record" 10 million condoms as part of a campaign to help limit the spread of HIV during the Carnival season, which begins in less than two weeks and is a time when they say people are more likely to engage in casual sex.


    International Doctor Group Pushes for U.S. Assistance in Global AIDS Battle
    The International Association of Physicians in AIDS Care is one among many organizations pressing the Bush administration for better funding of the global fight against HIV. In this release the prominent group outlines its positions.

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      WEB HIGHLIGHTS

    Aventis Applies for FDA Approval of Lipoatrophy Treatment
    The facial wasting treatment known most widely as New-Fill seeks review for possible approval in the U.S.
    From Advocate.com, February 10, 2004


    200 Atlanta Gays to Test Whether Pill Stops HIV
    The group is part of several studies worldwide to test the ability of the HIV drug tenofovir (Viread) to prevent HIV infection.
    From The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, February 5, 2004


    Innovative Strategies Prevention Through the Arts
    A look at several unique programs that use film, music, radio and other artistic methods to educate people about the risks of HIV infection.
    From Transitions, January 2004

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