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August 4, 2004

In This Update:
  • HIV Treatment
  • Life With HIV
  • HIV/HAART-Related Health Problems
  • HIV Prevention
  • HIV/AIDS Activism & Drug Pricing
  • HIV/AIDS Outside the U.S.

    Epzicom and Truvada Join Combivir and Trizivir as U.S.'s Only Fixed-Dose Combinations
    Two new, single-pill, once-a-day combination drugs -- abacavir/lamivudine (Epzicom) and tenofovir/emtricitabine (Truvada) -- have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for use as part of a HAART regimen.

    An Antiretroviral Patch? It May Be in Our Future
    Wouldn't it be wonderful if taking your HIV meds meant that, instead of popping pills or giving yourself injections every day, you only had to slap a patch on your back or use a special inhaler once a week? Although these types of HIV treatments don't yet exist, the technology to create them does. This overview from Project Inform explains how these more convenient methods of drug delivery might work in the future.

    Why Clinical Trials Need Minority Volunteers
    Why is it important that people of color participate in HIV clinical trials? Because, by not participating, minorities may be costing themselves equal access to treatment, says William Strain in this article from Positively Aware.

    Drugs in Development: New Tricks for Old Dogs
    Although it's important for researchers to develop HIV meds that are able to fight the virus in new, unique ways, it's equally pivotal that new meds be created in existing drug classes in order to provide more options for people whose current regimens have lost their effectiveness. Four drugs in the pipeline seek to do just that: the protease inhibitors tipranavir and TMC-114, the NNRTI capravirine and the NRTI D-D4FC (Reverset). Project Inform provides an update on the development of these meds.

    Tenofovir and Efavirenz Show Promise as Two-Drug Maintenance Regimen
    Most HAART regimens now consist of three or four meds, but there are early signs that a maintenance regimen consisting of two powerful meds -- efavirenz (Sustiva, Stocrin) and tenofovir (Viread) -- could control viral load and boost CD4 counts just as well as those more robust combinations. The so-called "COOL Study" tested the two-drug regimen in people who already had undetectable viral loads on traditional, three-drug HAART. (Web highlight from

    Atazanavir Has Similar Efficacy, Safety to Efavirenz
    The protease inhibitor atazanavir (Reyataz) is similar to the potent NNRTI efavirenz (Sustiva, Stocrin) in terms of its effectiveness and safety, according to newly published results from a final-phase study. Researchers added that, unlike most protease inhibitors, atazanavir appears not to increase cholesterol, triglycerides or blood-sugar levels, potentially making it a more attractive option for people at risk of developing cardiovascular disease. (Web highlight from



    As Age Increases, Concerns Other Than HIV Sneak In
    For one 65-year-old gay HIVer, health is far from his main concern. "HIV infection, although I know it remains an ominous threat, has not yet been the calamity for me that it has been for others. My most urgent concerns are financial and romantic. In those areas, my advancing age and previous health problems cause more grief than the HIV."

    When It Comes to Gay Men and HIV, Denial's the Name of the Game
    With the recent release of the film adaptation of A Home at the End of the World, LA Weekly reporter David Ehrenstein muses about the film, gay men and HIV. He writes, "Despite all that's happened since the 1980s in the way of activism, awareness and treatments, we're still staring into [a maw of absolute terror and doom], whether we want to believe it or not. And for the most part we don't. The disease has killed off the better part of a generation of activists. Those who have followed have yet to rise to the new challenges the disease has created. While the world is alert to the way AIDS has ruined Africa and now threatens China and Russia, complacency has hit stateside." (Web highlight from LA Weekly)



    Meet Three Men Who Credit Fuzeon With Their New Lease on Life
    Fred from New Orleans, Rob from Los Angeles and Greg from Chicago share their inspiring stories about living with HIV and the impact that Fuzeon (T-20, enfuvirtide) has had on their health. Their stories are just a part of the Fusion Inhibitor Resource Center, a close-up look at Fuzeon that also includes an overview of how the drug works, a list of tips on how to inject it and a forum where you can ask a nurse practitioner questions about using this medication. The Resource Center was developed independently through an unrestricted educational grant from Roche/Trimeris.


    At Long Last, Facial Wasting Treatment Is Approved in the U.S.
    The facial wasting treatment best known as New-Fill has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The approval means that trained U.S. healthcare providers are now allowed to prescribe and administer the treatment, which will be called Sculptra, to HIV-positive people with facial wasting. Sculptra was approved in Europe as a wrinkle treatment called New-Fill more than five years ago, but various regulatory hurdles delayed its approval in the United States. Whether Sculptra will be covered by HMOs, Medicare and AIDS Drug Assistance Programs remains a question.

    New Hepatitis C Combination Therapy Is More Effective, Safe in People on HAART
    A new drug combination that includes a chemically modified form of interferon known as peginterferon is much more effective in treating hepatitis C in HIV-positive people than the standard hepatitis C treatment, and does not interfere with HAART, according to two studies published in the July 29 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

    New Policy Recommendations on Research, Care for Hepatitis C Infection
    Treatment Action Group, a prominent U.S. AIDS advocacy organization, has released a detailed report explaining key areas in which the group says hepatitis C infection can be more effectively prevented, monitored and treated throughout the world. (Web highlight from Treatment Action Group)

    A summary of the most significant recommendations outlined in the report is available in this article from



    Condoms Help Prevent Pelvic Inflammatory Disease
    Consistent condom use doesn't just help prevent viral infections like HIV; it also cuts the risk of pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), which is usually caused by the bacterial sexually transmitted diseases gonorrhea and chlamydia, according to a recent study. Consistent condom use helped prevent the recurrence of PID among 684 symptomatic women ages 14-37 involved in the prospective study.

    Confronting Stigmas About HIV and Condoms Among Older People
    Vilma, a 70-year-old widow, was mortified the first time she bought condoms for a rendezvous with her new beau. "When I think of it now, I laugh," she said. "It's still one of those things where there's a stigma, especially for older adults who feel 'I can't get AIDS.' But yes, you can." HIV rates among people age 50 and older are growing faster than any other group in New York City, but there is dangerously little awareness about the issue, says Betty DeBaptiste, the program coordinator for Seniors Educating Seniors (SES), a new awareness campaign. SES sends volunteers to five neighborhood senior centers in New York City to speak about their experiences.

    Sterile Syringe Access Can Reduce Infectious Disease Rates
    We're more than 20 years into the AIDS pandemic, and there are still far from enough programs in the United States that provide access to clean needles. Can the distribution of sterile syringes really have an impact on HIV and hepatitis C infection rates? Absolutely, as this fact sheet from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention explains.

    New Alliance Seeks to Reinvigorate Fight Against HIV for Gay Men
    Gay Men's Health Crisis and AIDS Project Los Angeles have come together to form the Institute for Gay Men's Health. The new organization will promote a nationwide health and wellness agenda, as well as address HIV risks for men who have sex with men.



    How Prices for HIV Meds Impact U.S. Government Treatment Programs
    When thinking about issues like HIV/AIDS care, U.S. lawmakers often only consider the bottom line, says Lanny Cross, Program Manager of New York State's AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP). This leaves them blind to the cost-effectiveness of HIV treatment programs like ADAP, and unwilling to spend money up front to keep HIV-positive people from getting sick and needing more expensive care down the road. In this transcript of a recent lecture, Cross explains how HIV drug prices for government programs are determined, and how pressure from both doctors and activists is needed to get lawmakers to improve the funding situation.

    U.S. Government Gives Short Shrift to Prevention
    The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's shift of HIV-prevention funds from programs targeting people at risk to those targeting HIV-positive people is "a shortsighted strategy that fails to acknowledge the importance of teaching young people how to be smart about HIV and AIDS -- before they are infected," says The Washington Post in an Aug. 2 editorial. (Web highlight from The Washington Post; free registration required)

    Drug Companies Implement Programs for Low-Income HIVers ...
    Amidst growing pressure from AIDS advocates in the United States and throughout the world, many pharmaceutical companies have begun to set up special programs and pricing deals to help provide HIV-positive people with access to sorely needed drugs. One such program is Pfizer's new "Helpful Answers," which the company says will cut the cost of its drugs by more than a third for Americans without insurance. Among other medications, Pfizer makes nelfinavir (Viracept) and fluconazole (Diflucan), an antifungal medication.

    ... But Not Everyone Is Benefiting
    AIDS advocates are fuming over Pfizer's drug-pricing policies outside the United States -- specifically in Latin America. In that largely poor region, the steps Pfizer has taken to protect its bottom line and its executive salaries "border on genocidal," writes Richard Stern, Director of the Agua Buena Human Rights Association, in this scathing letter to the company.



    Gender Inequality and AIDS: Stephen Lewis Stands Up for Women
    "We're paying a dreadful and inconsolable price for the refusal of the international community, every member of the community without exception, to embrace gender equality," warns Stephen Lewis, the United Nations Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa. "In the last two and a half years, traveling extensively on the African continent, I have seen virtually no improvement in the status of women. Virtually none. It's too painful for words. It makes me feel almost criminally complicit. I have come to the personal conclusion -- and I admit it's personal -- that it's time, truly and resoundingly, to take off the gloves."

    Gay Men and AIDS in Thailand: Lost In Paradise
    In Asia's bleak HIV landscape, Thailand has long stood out as a prevention miracle. So why are Thai men who have sex with men on the verge of an AIDS catastrophe? POZ's Austin Bunn investigates in this on-location report. (Web highlight from POZ)

    China Launches Prevention-for-Positives Campaign With Free Condoms
    The Chinese government has announced that it plans to begin providing free condoms to all HIV-positive citizens as part of the country's efforts to prevent the spread of HIV.

    Thai Dancers
    Image from the AIDS 2004 Photo Journal
    Throughout the XV International AIDS Conference in Bangkok, Thailand, spectacularly costumed men and women performed traditional Thai dances. The image above is one of many that comprise The Body's AIDS 2004 Photo Journal.
    Image from the August 2004 Visual AIDS Web Gallery
    "Puerto Rican Day Parade," 1998;
    Martin Wong
    Visit the August 2004 Visual AIDS Web Gallery to view this month's new collection of art by HIV-positive artists.