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July 7, 2004

In This Update:
  • From the Editor
  • International AIDS Conference News
  • HIV Treatment
  • HIV/HAART-Related Health Problems
  • HIV Prevention & Vaccine Research
  • U.S. HIV/AIDS Policy & Activism
  • Mental Health & Quality of Life
  • HIV/AIDS Outside the U.S.
  • HIV/AIDS History

    The Body is the place to be for extensive coverage of the largest HIV/AIDS conference of the year: the XV International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2004) in Bangkok, Thailand. More than 150,000 HIV healthcare professionals, AIDS advocates, politicians and HIV-positive people from 160 countries are expected to attend hundreds of conference events -- and we've got your ticket!

    Stop in at The Body's AIDS 2004 home page starting July 12 to read the latest research and news from this pivotal meeting, or to watch Webcasts of key conference sessions and speeches from major politicians, scientists and media figures. Twelve top HIV physicians from across the United States will provide The Body with coverage of dozens of AIDS 2004 presentations.

    It's Bangkok up close and personal: AIDS 2004 at The Body!

    - Bonnie Goldman, Editorial Director, The Body


    Activists Prepare as International AIDS Conference Nears
    A range of protests will mark the opening of the XV International AIDS Conference in Thailand this weekend. A coalition of AIDS activists from Thailand and the United States plan to publicly accuse the United States and other countries of bureaucratic foot-dragging, political obstruction and providing insufficient funding for the fight against a worsening pandemic.

    Thailand's Efforts to Fight HIV Forced Into Spotlight
    Several aggressive moves by Thailand to control HIV transmission within its borders -- including a policy of mandatory condom use for Thai sex workers and free HIV treatment for pregnant women -- have made the country a model to others in the region, reports Mark Schoofs in the Wall Street Journal. Some experts warn, however, that if Thailand doesn't maintain its vigilance, it could easily experience a resurgence of the epidemic.



    Visit the New Fusion Inhibitor Resource Center (Sponsored by Roche/Trimeris)
    Got questions about Fuzeon (T-20, enfuvirtide), the first of a new family of HIV medications known as fusion inhibitors? From general overviews to first-person stories to injection tips, the new Fusion Inhibitor Resource Center has answers for you.

    Switching Treatment: What to Discuss With Your Doctor
    Think it's time to switch to a new HAART regimen? Switching isn't a decision to be taken lightly; you've got a lot to talk over with your doctor first. This U.S. health department fact sheet offers basic guidance on the topics you and your doc should discuss before switching to a new combination of meds.

    Drug Resistance in Treatment-Naive Patients Only Briefly Impacts CD4 Counts
    When people are infected with drug-resistant HIV, they experience a much sharper short-term drop in their CD4 counts than people who are infected with wild-type HIV, British researchers have found. After the first year, though, the difference vanishes, and the decline in CD4 counts becomes the same for all HIV-positive people. (Web highlight from



    Kidney Fat Could Be a Predictor of Lipodystrophy
    By measuring with an ultrasound the thickness of the fat surrounding the kidneys, Spanish researchers say they can accurately predict whether a treatment-naive person with HIV will develop lipodystrophy once he or she starts treatment. The researchers also say the procedure can predict whether a person who switches meds because of lipodystrophy is likely to see any improvement. (Web highlight from

    HAART Side Effects More Likely Among People With High Viral Loads
    As many as 13% of people with HIV experience a severe side effect within a year after they begin a HAART regimen containing a protease inhibitor, according to the results of a small French study. The study also found that side effects were even more likely for those with viral loads over 100,000 at treatment initiation, although the researchers note that this may partly be due to the efforts of the body's recovering immune system to fight off infections it had previously been too weak to fight.
    (Web highlight from

    A Guide to Managing HIV-Related Symptoms
    From fatigue and nausea to neuropathy and dementia, this comprehensive, clinical guide from the University of California-San Francisco offers information on how to manage some of the most common symptoms associated with HIV infection, particularly in people who haven't yet begun HAART. Though geared toward healthcare professionals, this resource is also useful for people with HIV. It's part of a comprehensive online textbook called the HIV Knowledge Base. (Web highlight from HIV InSite)



    The Trouble With HIV Vaccines
    Although it has the potential to prevent millions of people from becoming infected with HIV, the development of an HIV vaccine has been painfully slow. This overview from the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases explains in detail the difficulties that scientists must overcome in their quest to produce an effective HIV vaccine.

    Should You Join an HIV Vaccine Study?
    HIV negative? You can help advance the search for a cure by volunteering for a clinical trial of an HIV vaccine.
    This helpful article from WISE Words provides the 411 on the benefits and risks of participating in studies of experimental HIV vaccines.

    Vaccine Trial Now Recruiting in New York
    A study of ADVAX, an HIV vaccine in development, is seeking volunteers in New York City and Rochester. If you're HIV negative, live in one of these areas and are interested in participating in a major HIV vaccine trial, read this article from AIDS Treatment News for more details.

    The Abstinence Puzzle: A Take on Why It Can't Work by Itself
    If abstinence is 100% effective in preventing sexual transmission of HIV, why don't abstinence-only programs work well? And why, despite President Bush's support of faith-based efforts to fight HIV, have so few mainstream religious organizations stepped up to the plate? AIDS advocate John S. James offers his analysis of these hotly debated issues.



    Treatment Access: The Best of Times, the Worst of Times
    "We live in one of the best of times with regard to access to antiretroviral therapy," says Jose Zuniga, president of the International Association of Physicians in AIDS Care. "Regrettably, this is also among the worst of times,” he says, because the growing number -- and growing cost -- of HIV meds is putting tremendous financial strain on HIVers and their healthcare providers.

    Why Can't the Richest Country in the World Pay for Its Citizens' HIV Meds?
    Despite the United States' advanced treatment infrastructure and President Bush's recent pledge of $20 million in emergency funding for AIDS Drug Assistance Programs, the HIV treatment situation inside the United States continues to worsen. With funding still scarce and healthcare costs rising, many healthcare professionals are facing an extremely uncomfortable reality: Some HIV-positive Americans must to go without the treatment and care to which they are entitled. A recent summit held by the International Association of Physicians in AIDS Care tackled these issues and attempted to find ways to improve them.

    A Life-or-Death Choice: Moving Across the Country for HAART
    Keith Green sorely needed to start HIV medications, but had neither the health insurance nor the cash to pay for them. So he packed up his things and moved from North Carolina, where HIV treatment funding was so tight he would have been placed on a waiting list, to Illinois, where the governor recently pushed through an increase in spending on HIV services. Keith is just one of many people whose lives are being threatened by the dire HIV funding situation in the United States.

    New Mexico Averts HIV Treatment Waiting List With Emergency Funding
    New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson has ordered $2.6 million in state funding to be shifted to New Mexico's HIV-related programs in an effort to restore some services that were recently cut because of statewide budget shortfalls. Those services include dental care, mental health and substance abuse counseling, client transportation and food banks; the government had also considered starting a waiting list for its AIDS Drug Assistance Program, although the funding shift will likely make such a move unnecessary for now.



    Connect With Others at The Body's Bulletin Boards
    From a recent post by Myhighergrounds: "We all react differently [to our HIV diagnosis]; we are all at different stages in life. We all have the right to feel discouraged, angry, desperate… but we owe ourselves love and commitment to a fuller and more meaningful life, whatever your faith is and whether we have 1 day or 45 years to live."

    Stop in at The Body's "Living With HIV" bulletin board and share your thoughts with many HIVers looking to connect with others!

    Multivitamin Helps Slow HIV Progression in Untreated, Pregnant Women
    Although it's far from an effective replacement for HAART, a multivitamin can help slow progression to AIDS and death, according to the results of a recent study conducted among pregnant women in Tanzania, Africa. The women in the study, all of whom had never received HIV meds, took multivitamins containing about three times the recommended daily allowance of vitamin E and six to 10 times the allowance of vitamins C and B-complex. Although the findings have minimal significance for women who are already on HIV treatment, they could help extend the lives of HIV-positive women who need medications but have no access to them, as is the case in much of the developing world.



    Five Million People Newly Infected With HIV in 2003; AIDS Kills Three Million
    Despite greater awareness of HIV throughout the world, the global HIV epidemic is still expanding. Five million people worldwide became infected with HIV in 2003, the highest single-year incidence total in the history of the epidemic, according to the newly released 2004 UNAIDS Report of the Global AIDS Epidemic. The number of people living with HIV worldwide rose from 35 million in 2001 to 38 million in 2003, the report states, even though AIDS claimed the lives of nearly three million people last year alone. UNAIDS reports that the number of people living with HIV in Africa has stabilized, but only because increasing infection rates are being offset by a growing number of AIDS-related deaths. Eastern Europe and Central Asia, meanwhile, are experiencing some of the fastest-growing HIV rates in the world.

    Keeping HIV-Positive Ugandans Alive, One Dollar at a Time
    It costs about a dollar a day to buy HIV medications in Uganda -- a king's ransom in a country where the average person makes only $360 a year. Dr. David Bangsberg has created a way for people in the United States to help: the Family Treatment Fund, a charity that purchases and distributes meds to Ugandans with advanced HIV disease. So far, the fund has raised enough cash to keep ten people with AIDS alive for the next five years. It accepts donations online from the public.

    The Role of Prostitution in South Asia’s Epidemic
    For most of Sakkubai's 50-or-so years, she has sold sex for money on Falkland Road, one of the most notorious red-light districts in Bombay. She has seen life's rougher edges since she was brought here at the age of 14 from a small village in central India. Nothing prepared her, however, for the onslaught of AIDS. (Web highlight from the San Francisco Chronicle)

    Justice Eludes China's Farmers, Infected in World's Largest HIV/AIDS Scandal
    The Chinese government has recently begun to make amends for its disastrous state-run blood donation program, which in the 1980s and 1990s infected tens of thousands of poor farmers with HIV. But most of the farmers still face stigma, neglect, abuse and a lack of access to the treatment promised them by the government. (Web highlight from Agence France Presse)

    U.S. Attempting to Get Even Tougher on Generic Drug Access
    Despite widespread agreement within the United States that essential HIV medications should be made available at low cost to people worldwide, U.S. trade officials are reportedly negotiating a series of agreements that would actually make it more difficult to do so, according to a Wall Street Journal report. The new agreements, which would impact the many countries that have trade agreements with the United States, would delay for years the approval of generic drugs in those countries.



    Interactive Timeline of Global HIV/AIDS Epidemic
    The Kaiser Family Foundation has launched an interactive, Web-based timeline of the global HIV/AIDS epidemic. The timeline, titled "The Global HIV/AIDS Epidemic: A Timeline of Key Milestones," is a handy, easy-to-use and engaging learning aid for people looking to get a quick sense of how the epidemic has progressed since its earliest days. (Web highlight from the Kaiser Family Foundation)

    Image from the July 2004 Visual AIDS Web Gallery
    Untitled, 1998; JD Talasek
    Visit the July 2004 Visual AIDS Web Gallery to view this month's new collection of art by HIV-positive artists.