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March 3, 2004
In This Update:
  • HIV Treatment & Care
  • New at The Body
  • Health Problems for HIVers
  • HIV Research
  • U.S. AIDS Policy & the Media
  • HIV/STD Transmission Risks
  • HIV Outside the U.S.
  • Web Highlights

    To Get the Best Medical Care, First Know Yourself
    One of the keys to finding the right HIV specialist is understanding your own needs first, and then making sure that the doctor you find is able to meet them. This article from Survival News can help you work through those early steps on the path toward securing the best medical care for you.

    For more advice on choosing the ideal HIV specialist, browse through The Body's library of articles.

    Complementary Therapy: What Are You Getting Into?
    Thinking of adding complementary therapy to your HIV treatment plan? Whether you're considering aromatherapy or just planning to buy a new bottle of vitamins, make sure beforehand that you know both the benefits and risks involved. This fact sheet from the U.S. National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine answers some of the most frequently asked questions about complementary medicine.



    Calvin SpinksSafe Sex/HIV Transmission Forum Welcomes Its Newest Expert
    The Body is pleased to welcome Calvin Spinks, an HIV education and prevention expert, into the ranks of our "Ask the Experts" staff! Calvin, who specializes in HIV outreach and counseling in St. Louis, particularly in African-American communities, is now available to answer your questions about safe sex and HIV prevention.



    Liver Transplants Safe, Successful in Otherwise Healthy HIVers
    Liver transplants are just as safe for HIV-positive people as they are for HIV-negative people, provided the transplant recipients have good CD4 counts and viral loads, according to recent research. The Body reports from last month's Retrovirus conference.

    New Study to Examine Long-Term Impact of Transplants
    The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases has begun a five-year study to examine the outcomes of organ transplants in HIV-positive people, for whom organ failure often "has nothing to do with HIV" but stems from other diseases including diabetes or hepatitis, the Boston Globe reports.

    The Hepatitis C Treatment Pipeline
    New, more effective, less toxic treatments for hepatitis C have been a long time coming, but several are currently in development. HIV/Hepatitis C coinfection expert Tracy Swan provides an update.

    Silent but Dangerous: Latent Tuberculosis
    Tuberculosis (TB) and HIV often go hand in hand in the developing world, making both diseases even more deadly. Worse, many people are infected with what's known as latent TB, which has virtually no symptoms and is extremely hard to detect -- thus making it more likely that people will spread it to others. What are researchers doing to combat latent TB? GMHC Treatment Issues provides an update.



    Monkeys May Hold the Secret to HIV Immunity
    Why are some monkeys immune to HIV? Researchers think they may have found the reason: a protein that appears to prevent HIV from shedding its protective coating, leaving the virus unable to fuse with immune cells. Researchers hope the finding will lead to brand new avenues for HIV treatment in humans, or even a new method for developing an HIV vaccine.

    Highlights in HIV Research From the Year's Biggest AIDS Conference
    What were some of the top stories from last month's Retrovirus conference -- and what kind of impact will they have on HIV prevention and treatment? AIDS Survival Project reviews the news, including updates on the spread of HIV among minorities, new findings on HIV superinfection and a look at the potential risks of "oversimplifying" some HIV treatment regimens.

    Looking for more detailed recaps of research presented at this conference? Browse through The Body's thorough coverage of the 11th Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections.



    Government Considers Law to Provide HAART to More Low-Income HIVers
    The Early Treatment for HIV Act, which, if signed into law, will allow U.S. states to provide Medicaid coverage for HIV treatment before HIV-positive people ever develop AIDS, was introduced to the U.S. Congress on Dec. 26. In this press release, the American Academy of HIV Medicine hails the act as "a life-saving piece of domestic legislation."

    U.S. Media Has Reduced Its Coverage of HIV
    Overall U.S. media coverage of HIV/AIDS has decreased steadily since reaching its peak in 1987, according to a comprehensive review of national news sources. The review also found that, although U.S. media attention of the global AIDS epidemic has increased dramatically in the past eight years, the focus on HIV/AIDS within the U.S. has declined by more than half over the same period.



    Possible Link Found Between Oral Sex and Oral Cancer
    There is a small risk that oral sex can lead to cancer of the mouth, according to French researchers. Their study found that people with oral cancer containing a strain of human papillomavirus (HPV) known as HPV 16 were three times more likely to report having had oral sex than those without HPV 16.

    Romanticized View of Meth Leading to Increase in HIV, Syphilis Cases
    Health officials say methamphetamine use in South Florida has contributed to the recent spike in HIV and syphilis rates. Methamphetamine, a growing problem nationwide, began to surface in South Florida over the past few years. White-collar users in the gay party circuit call the drug "Tina" and claim that it keeps their abs tight, allows them to dance all night and loosens their inhibitions.

    STD Prevention Messages Losing Their Clout
    Fatigue over safe-sex messages is contributing to an aggressive comeback of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) in Toronto, health officials say. They have reported a sharp increase in syphilis rates over the past year, particularly among men who have sex with men, as well as smaller increases in new cases of chlamydia and gonorrhea.



    Why the Global AIDS Fund Can't Work Miracles
    As much as we'd like to think that waves of cash can wash away the AIDS epidemic, the truth is that money isn't always enough. The Global Fund to Fight HIV, Tuberculosis and Malaria has been praised for its efforts to provide developing countries with the money needed to stop the world's deadliest diseases. As this view from Latin America shows, however, those efforts often don't always translate immediately into miracles on the ground.

    HIV More Common Among Young, Married African Women Than Single Women
    Young, married African women are becoming infected with HIV at higher rates than unmarried girls of similar ages in the same areas, according to United Nations officials. The officials say that husbands tend to be much older than their brides and are more likely to have already been infected with HIV. They point to these findings as a reason why abstinence-only HIV prevention efforts can't work in Africa.



    Girls Twice as Likely as Boys to Get HIV From Their Mothers in the Womb

    This European investigation of births stretching back to 1986 found that, of all infants born using a caesarean during that period, 6.2% of girls and 2.8% of boys were infected with HIV.
    Article from, March 1, 2004

    AIDS Death of DJ Highlights Anguish of South Africa
    Although Fana Khaba, a rich and famous DJ, was highly knowledgeable about HIV and AIDS, he shunned antiretrovirals and went to traditional healers. He was the first young, black male celebrity to publicly disclose his HIV status in South Africa.
    Article from The Observer, February 29, 2004

    Netherlands to Crack Down on Complementary Medicine
    The death of a famous actress, who shunned traditional treatment for her breast cancer and instead went to assorted healers, leads a liberal country to consider tougher laws on practitioners of complementary medicine.
    Article from the British Medical Journal, February 28, 2004

    Adherence, not Baseline CD4 Cell Count, Linked to CD4 Cell Gain on HAART
    Researchers find that HAART adherence has a much stronger impact on CD4 counts than the number of CD4 cells patients may have had when they started therapy. The authors of the study say their findings may raise confidence in a doctor's decision to delay treatment until a person's CD4 cell count falls near 200.
    Article from, February 25, 2004

    African Girls Taught to Say No to "Sugar Daddies"
    Backed by $5 million in grants from the U.S. National Institutes of Health, California researchers are testing a new HIV prevention tool in Zimbabwe -- a financial prophylactic aimed at protecting young women from sexual liaisons that transmit HIV.
    Article from the Associated Press, February 25, 2004

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    Image from the March 2004 Visual AIDS Web Gallery
    Untitled, 1988; John Morrison