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April 28, 2004
In This Update:
  • HIV Treatment
  • HIV & HAART-Related Health Problems
  • U.S. AIDS Activism & Drug Pricing
  • HIV/AIDS Outside the U.S.
  • HIV & STD Infection News
  • Web Highlights

    Making Sense of Structured Treatment Interruptions
    Structured HIV treatment interruptions now come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, each with its own set of rules and goals. Need an overview? Our own Dr. Gerald Pierone Jr. provides it in this exclusive report.

    Healthcare professionals: You can earn free CME/CE credit by reading this article at The Body Pro, The Body's sister site for healthcare workers!

    Immune-Boosting IL-2 Therapy Makes a Comeback in New Study
    By taking periodic, five-day courses of an experimental immune-boosting drug known as interleukin-2 (IL-2), a group of people with HIV were able to maintain near-normal CD4 counts for long periods of time, according to scientists from the U.S. National Institutes of Health. They say that IL-2, which has been investigated as a potential HIV therapy for many years, could be a helpful addition to HAART in restoring immune function.

    Want to learn more about interleukin? The Body's large archive of articles on this immune-based therapy has got you covered.

    T-20 Now Available at U.S. Pharmacies
    As of April 26, T-20 (enfuvirtide, Fuzeon) became available for sale at retail and specialty pharmacies throughout the U.S., making it possible for people with HIV to receive prescriptions from their doctors and have them filled at a nearby pharmacy. T-20 had previously been available only by mail order; doctors had to fax prescriptions to the mail-order company themselves.

    A Rough Early Road for T-20
    T-20's first year on the market has not gone well: After it was approved with great fanfare in the U.S. last March, it was not prescribed as often as expected. What happened? Mike Barr of Treatment Action Group offers one activist's perspective.



    Efavirenz Side Effects: A Personal Perspective
    During his four years on efavirenz (Sustiva), Gerry Hoyt's mental state subtly but steadily worsened. He's one of a small number of people taking efavirenz who experience severe, long-term side effects like crippling depression and extreme social anxiety. In this article, Gerry describes the gradual erosion of his sanity while on efavirenz -- and how he eventually pulled himself from that emotional abyss.

    Women and Lipodystrophy: "A Beach Ball on Legs"
    Barbara Marcotte knows first-hand what it's like to deal with lipodystrophy as an HIV-positive woman -- and she also knows how to get through it. "You can take control of HIV and what it does to you physically and mentally," she writes. "There are many ways to learn about how to take care of your body and make changes or prevent these changes from occurring."



    Cirque du Soleil Settles HIV Discrimination Case
    After months of protests and negative publicity, Cirque du Soleil has agreed to pay $600,000 to Matthew Cusick, the gymnast who was fired because he is HIV positive. Under the settlement, which is one of the largest made public for an HIV discrimination case mediated by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Cirque agreed to pay Cusick for a year of lost wages, his attorneys' fees and $200,000 in future wages. It also agreed to provide anti-discrimination training for all of its employees.

    Columnist Says Abbott Has Nobody to Blame But Itself for Ritonavir Price Hike
    Although the U.S. government is partly to blame for allowing the ritonavir (Norvir) price hike to happen, most of the finger-pointing should be directed at the company that produced the drug, writes David Salyer. "Year after year, pharmaceutical companies like Abbott Laboratories are the most profitable companies in the world. Acknowledging this indisputable fact, how can Abbott possibly justify a 400% price increase for an eight-year-old drug they spent nothing to develop in the first place?"



    Brazil's Porn Stars Use Condoms; Why Don't the U.S.'s?
    Although most of America's heterosexual adult film industry tries to prevent the spread of HIV by relying on the dubious method of periodically testing its actors, the Brazilian porn industry has chosen a less-expensive, more-reliable method: making sure its actors actually use condoms. Darren James, the American adult film actor whose HIV diagnosis spurred the current uproar, is believed to have contracted HIV while filming in Brazil -- where U.S. companies often require that their actors do not use condoms.

    HIV Has Taken Severe Toll on World's Youth, Report Says
    Although young people between the ages of 15 and 24 are better educated and have greater access to information than ever before, HIV has taken a "heavy toll" on and "transformed the lives" of the vast majority of the world's 1.1 billion youths, according to the United Nations' "World Youth Report 2003." The report estimates that 7,000 young people are infected with HIV each day, and that up to 0.27% of young U.S. women and 0.57% of young U.S. men were living with HIV at the end of 2001.

    Agreement May Make Global HIV/AIDS Efforts Far More Efficient
    The United States and 15 other wealthy nations, together with the developing nations to which they donate, have agreed to put all of their HIV/AIDS programs under a single umbrella in the hopes of more efficiently using donated funds. Donor nations and developing countries agreed to follow a set of principles called the "Three Ones": one HIV/AIDS action framework to coordinate the work of all involved parties; one national AIDS authority with a mandate that spans multiple sectors of society; and one country-level system to monitor and evaluate programs.

    Voodoo Priests Could Help Fight HIV in Haiti
    Providing HIV education to Haiti's voodoo priests could "significantly lower" the country's HIV prevalence rate, according to Patricia Lawrence, who directs AIDS outreach programs with La Fondation Esther Boucicault in St. Marc, Haiti. Many of Haiti's approximately 400,000 HIV-infected residents reportedly believe that the symptoms of their illness are the result of a curse, and that voodoo can solve their medical problems.



    Why Are HIV and STD Rates Higher Among Minorities?
    Rates of HIV, other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and pregnancy are higher among minority youths than white youths -- but why? This report from the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States investigates, providing a wealth of statistics on the sexual beliefs and behaviors of minority youths.



    Dangerous Supplements: Still at Large
    Twelve dietary supplements that are readily available in the U.S. have been flagged as hazardous to your health by the nonprofit Consumer Reports magazine: androstenedione, aristolochic acid, bitter orange, chaparral, comfrey, germander, kava, lobelia, organ/glandular extracts, pennyroyal oil, skullcap and yohimbe. Many of these supplements have been banned in Europe and other countries.
    Article from Consumer Reports, May 2004

    HAART Alone Not Enough to Stop Spread of HIV in South Africa
    Even when South Africa's HIV treatment program is fully implemented, it won't be enough to stop the spread of HIV through the country, French researchers say. They point out that significant prevention efforts will still be required to curb the epidemic.
    Article from, April 23, 2004

    Debbie Doesn't Do Dallas
    The discovery of two HIV-positive porn stars in California raises an interesting question: Despite this now-swirling controversy, will the heterosexual adult film industry in the U.S. really tolerate safe-sex rules?
    Article from The Economist, April 22, 2004

    Michigan Preparing to Let Doctors Refuse to Treat Gays
    The Michigan State House of Representatives has voted to make healthcare workers immune to disciplinary action or lawsuits should they refuse to treat people on moral or religious ground. The upshot for gay men (or anyone else who doesn't abide by a strict Catholic moral code): If you live in Michigan, a doctor could discriminate against you and you wouldn't be able to do a thing about it. The bill must still be voted on by the state Senate, a majority of which is Republican, and then signed into law by the governor, who is a Democrat.
    Article from, April 21, 2004

    Hepatitis: Glimpses of Optimism Tempered by Sobering Mortality Statistics
    An overview of recent research presented at February's Retrovirus conference on the prognosis, prevention and treatment of people coinfected with HIV and hepatitis A, B or C.
    Article from The Hopkins HIV Report, March 2004

    The Tenacity of NNRTI Drug Resistance
    A review of several presentations from February's Retrovirus conference analyzing the persistence of drug resistance in people at various stages of HIV infection and treatment.
    Article from The Hopkins HIV Report, March 2004

    Image from the January 2003 Visual AIDS Web Gallery
    "Self-Portrait," 1992; Sebron Kendrick
    Visit Visual AIDS at The Body to view this month's Web Gallery, or to browse through Web Galleries from the past five years!
    Dr. Cal Cohen

    Dr. Cal Cohen, Research Director of the Community Research Initiative of New England and a professor at Harvard Medical School, is available to answer any questions you may have about switching or simplifying HIV treatment regimens.


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