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June 9, 2004
In This Update:
  • HIV Treatment
  • HIV/HAART-Related Health Problems
  • Mental Health & Quality of Life
  • News on HIV Testing
  • U.S. Treatment Access
  • Ronald Reagan's HIV Legacy
  • HIV/AIDS Outside the U.S.

    HIV Drug Resistance Most Common in U.S. Among Whites, Gay Men
    Testing for drug resistance immediately after HIV diagnosis could identify a large number of people who are already resistant to one or more HIV medications, allowing doctors to more effectively decide which HAART regimen is best to use. In a nationwide study of 1,082 HIV-positive people who had not yet started HIV treatment, drug resistance was more likely to be found in whites (13%), men who had sex with men (12%) and those whose sexual partner was already taking HIV meds (15%).

    What to Expect From Your HIV Doctor
    Newly diagnosed with HIV and nervous about your first appointment with an HIV specialist? Don’t be: There are some easy steps you can take to ensure you stay in control and get the most out of your visit. Read this fact sheet to learn more.

    Want more information on choosing and working with an HIV doctor? The Body’s collection of articles on the subject is loaded with useful advice.

    Government-Recommended First-Line HIV Treatment Regimens
    HAART regimens can come in all sorts of different combinations, but only a few have been proven to work well. What do U.S. HIV treatment guidelines recommend? This fact sheet lays out the basics.

    Reverse Transcriptase Mutations Linked to Better Response to NNRTIs
    A number of HIV mutations that cause someone's virus to become resistant to NRTIs may actually make that person more sensitive to NNRTIs, a new study has found. (Web highlight from Reuters Health; requires free registration)

    Where to Turn for Treatment Info (Besides Us, of Course)
    In addition to The Body, there are scores of AIDS organizations, newsletters, Web sites and other resources you can use to find information about HIV treatment. The New York-based organization AIDS Community Research Initiative of America has put together a list of some of the best treatment resources.



    Supplements Containing Glutamine May Help Relieve Diarrhea
    Although glutamine has been used by savvy doctors and their patients for years to alleviate diarrhea, there have been few studies to test its true efficacy. But a small Brazilian study recently showed that dietary supplements containing glutamine or alanyl-glutamine improved diarrhea symptoms associated with many HIV medications. By easing diarrhea, the supplements may also increase absorption of HIV meds, making them more effective, the study found. (Web highlight from

    Show Your Liver You Love It
    Until we begin to take medications, most of us don't realize just how important our livers are in keeping our bodies in working order. However, some HIV meds and coinfections, such as hepatitis, can severely damage the liver, putting a person's health at risk. What can people with HIV do to keep their livers as healthy as possible? Read this article for 15 useful tips.

    HPV and Anal Cancer: Get Tested Early!
    Anal cancer is growing increasingly common among HIV-positive men who have anal sex with other men, thanks to a virus known as HPV that is easily transmitted during unprotected anal sex. Early screening for HPV infection can help avoid anal cancer, which can be painful and difficult to treat.



    The Lowdown on Feeling Down: HIV and Depression
    Depression is extremely common among HIV-positive people: Surveys show that an estimated 20% of HIVers are clinically depressed. This overview from Dr. Ross Slotten looks more closely at depression in people with HIV, which can often be just as debilitating as the disease itself.

    Don't Use Crystal -- But if You Do, Use It Safely
    A growing number of gay men are using crystal meth despite the drug’s weighty risks, which include tooth loss, brain damage, impotence and increased risk of HIV infection. If you use crystal or know someone who does, there are some basic precautions you can easily take to ensure you use it as safely as possible. This message from STEP Ezine has the rundown.

    Got the Travel Bug? Advice for HIV-Positive Trip Takers
    Thinking of traveling this summer (or, if you're reading this from south of the Equator, this winter)? Check out The Body's collection of articles on travel precautions for HIV-positive people.

    Nutritional Supplements to Watch Out For
    As several news articles recently published on our site have noted, there are some nutritional supplements that can be risky for people with HIV to take, a few of which can be downright dangerous. This fact sheet from PositiveWords provides a brief primer on several supplements that HIV-positive people should watch out for.

    Looking to learn more about nutritional supplements and their benefits (or risks) for people with HIV? Browse through The Body’s sizeable collection of articles on diet and nutrition.

    Find an HIV/AIDS Support Organization Near You
    Looking for a nearby AIDS hotline or support organization? The Body's extensive listing can help you find the assistance you need, whether you live in California, Australia or just about anywhere in between.



    U.S. Orders Halt to Sales of Allegedly Defective HIV Test
    The U.S. government has ordered a halt to sales of Discreet, a home HIV testing kit sold over the Internet but not approved for distribution in the United States. The owner of a pair of Web sites on which Discreet is sold claimed that repeated trials have shown the test to be more than 99 percent accurate, but would not provide any data supporting his claim. U.S. investigators and government researchers say the test frequently produces false results. The Home Access test is currently the only home HIV test approved by the U.S. government.



    More HIVers in U.S. Go Without Meds as ADAP Waiting Lists Balloon
    The number of people waiting to get HIV medications through a U.S. AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP) leaped from 1,263 in April to 1,629 this month, according to the National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors. Eleven states -- Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Idaho, Iowa, Kentucky, Montana, North Carolina, South Dakota and West Virginia -- currently have waiting lists or other access restrictions.



    AIDS Advocates Remember Ronald Reagan
    Largely lost in the memorialization of former U.S. President Ronald Reagan, who passed away last Saturday, are the views of many in the AIDS community who remember a different aspect of Reagan's presidency. Although AIDS advocates generally sympathize with the Reagan family's loss, they have little sympathy for the manner in which the former president acted -- or failed to act -- during the pivotal first years of the AIDS epidemic, when thousands died while the federal government did little to intervene. Meanwhile, a Washington Times opinion piece defends President Reagan's policies, suggesting that without his leadership, the first HIV meds may never have been produced.

    For President, AIDS Was a Blind Spot
    Matt Foreman, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, wrote this letter yesterday to his friend Steven Powsner, the former president of the New York City Lesbian and Gay Community Services Center. It begins: "I so much wish you were here with me to tell me what to do. You would know if I should comment on President Reagan's death or just let the accolades pass. But you're not here. You died in November 1995, at age 40, of complications of AIDS. The policies of the Reagan administration saw to that." (Web highlight from the New York Daily News)

    Rewriting the Script on Reagan: Why the President Ignored AIDS
    Dartmouth College instructor Michael Bronski offers a thoughtful analysis, written last year, about the reasons Ronald Reagan paid so little attention to the growing AIDS epidemic during his tenure as president. (Web highlight from Forward)



    HIV Status Is Not Grounds for Military Dismissal, Mexican Court Rules
    A Mexican armed forces law that made HIV status grounds for discharge is discriminatory and unconstitutional, a Mexican court has ruled. An HIV-positive sergeant filed the lawsuit five years ago, arguing that he was discharged unfairly and was turned away when he sought medical help for himself, his wife and his son, all of whom have HIV.

    Spanish Region Puts Condom Machines in Schools
    The regional government of Catalonia, an area of northeastern Spain, has decided to install condom vending machines in schools, defying rulings of the Roman Catholic Church. The decision came after figures showed a surge in HIV among mothers under the age of 20. One in 75 young moms are infected, according to a large nationwide study.

    Bollywood Tackles AIDS for the First Time
    India's Bollywood film industry, famed for its frothy romances and lavish song-and-dance sequences, is for the first time tackling AIDS and the social stigma attached to the illness. (Web highlight from Agence France-Presse)

    Study: AIDS Has Negative Impact on African Business
    A massive survey by the World Economic Forum has found that nearly two-thirds of African companies expect HIV will have a severe impact on their business. Nearly half of the 1,620 companies surveyed reported lower productivity and increased absenteeism as a result of the continent's AIDS pandemic, although only 12% of surveyed companies actually had written policies in place that dealt specifically with HIV. (Web highlight from the Associated Press)


    Image by Mike Parker
    Turn yourself into a diva at Visual AIDS' wild annual benefit/bash, A Big Hairy Deal! Some of New York City's top professional hair stylists, makeup artists and massage experts will make you feel like a million bucks -- without actually having to spend that much, of course. There'll be music, drinks, raffle prizes and an art exhibition, all during a 10-hour extravaganza on Sunday, June 13.


    The Body's HIV Leadership Awards logo

    Do you know an outstanding or inspiring:

    • HIV-positive person?
    • HIV doctor?
    • HIV physician assistant?
    • HIV nurse or nurse practitioner?
    • HIV case manager?
    • HIV social worker?
    • HIV prevention educator?

    Make a nomination now for one of The Body's HIV Leadership Awards!