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September 15, 2004

In This Update:
  • Life With HIV
  • HIV Treatment News
  • HIV/HAART-Related Health Problems
  • HIV Prevention
  • U.S. AIDS Policy & Activism
  • Public Access to HIV Research
  • HIV/AIDS Outside the U.S.

    Poor Mental Health Still Affects Many HIV-Positive Women in the HAART Era
    HAART may be saving lives and improving the physical health of people with HIV, but among a sample of HIV-positive women in New York, it hasn't improved their mental well-being, according to a study by Columbia University researchers. The study found levels of psychosocial distress among HIV-positive women in 2000-2002 comparable to those it found among HIV-positive women before HAART was available. The reasons include side effects, treatment failure, treatment fatigue and difficulty coping with diagnosis, the researchers say -- and stigma is still a huge factor, too.

    HIV in Fiction: "Bodysurfing" By Rob Phelps
    "A peculiar sensation began to gnaw at Matt's belly. It was something he'd never felt before. A hollowness, an ache. It expanded throughout his body. Was this some sort of reaction to his new drugs or the warning shot of an impending infection? No, it was more of an emotional thing -- a sadness that carried the weight of nostalgia." Body Positive presents "Bodysurfing," a fictional story by Rob Phelps about HIV, relationships and a day at the beach.

    How HIV Affects Fertility
    More and more HIV-positive people want to have children. What is the impact of HIV on fertility? How can mixed-status couples safely conceive? In this report for the San Francisco AIDS Foundation, Shari Margolese examines these fertility-related issues, as well as our growing knowledge about reproductive technologies that improve the chances of parenthood for HIV-infected and mixed-status couples. As awareness increases of how many people with HIV want children, more clinics in the United States and elsewhere may be inspired to offer help.



    HIV JournalView at The Body Pro: A Close-Up Look at Breaking Research
    One of our most popular articles every month has been JournalView, a new monthly review of published research authored by one of The Body's experienced HIV physicians. Offered on The Body Pro, The Body's sister site for healthcare professionals, JournalView is for those who enjoy diving into the nitty-gritty details of the latest clinical trials. In our August 2004 issue, Dr. David Wohl looks at some of the research highlights of the past two months.

    Low But Detectable Viral Load Can Still Keep HIVers Healthy
    Even HAART that's only partially successful can still protect people with HIV from developing life-threatening illnesses, according to results from a massive U.S. study. The study found that people with viral loads that were relatively low (between 400 and 20,000) but steady were no more likely to die or develop AIDS-defining illnesses than were people with viral loads below 400. For people with viral loads higher than 20,000, though, the risk of death and illness rose considerably.
    (Web highlight from

    Epzicom and Truvada: Meet the New Drugs on the Block
    Earlier this summer, the United States approved Epzicom (abacavir/3TC) and Truvada (tenofovir/FTC), each of which is once-a-day HIV med that combines two existing drugs into a single pill. Want to learn more about these meds, including who should take them and what their common side effects are? The Body's collection of resources on each drug will give you a complete rundown.

    To browse The Body's Epzicom page, click here.

    To browse The Body's Truvada page, click here.



    A Closer Look at HHV-8 and Kaposi's Sarcoma
    Kaposi's sarcoma and the virus that causes it, human herpesvirus-8 (HHV-8), continue to affect HIV-infected patients well into the HAART era. In this highly informative, newly updated chapter from the HIV InSite Knowledge Base, Corey Casper, M.D., M.P.H., reviews the available epidemiological and virological research regarding the virus. (Web highlight from HIV InSite)

    Women and HIV: Topic Receives Extra Attention at International AIDS Conference
    The XV International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2004) may have been short on important treatment research, but it presented plenty of information regarding the impact of HIV on women. In this recap for The Hopkins HIV Report, Dr. Jean R. Anderson highlights AIDS 2004 research on pregnancy, menopause and differences in the types of opportunistic infections seen in men and women. (Web highlight from The Hopkins HIV Report)



    Slow But Real Progress on the AIDS Vaccine Front
    It's no secret that we have a long way to go before we have an effective vaccine against HIV. But scientists believe that they are, at last, starting to figure out how to develop vaccine candidates that show real signs of promise. At the AIDS Vaccine 04 conference, the largest annual gathering of vaccine researchers, which concluded on Sep. 1, these new methods were discussed in detail. Julian Meldrum provides this summary for (Web highlight from

    New U.S. Needle-Exchange Fund Announces $1M in Grants
    The newly formed Syringe Access Fund announced its first round of grants aimed at supporting needle-exchange programs and policy activities to prevent the spread of HIV among injection drug users in the United States. The grants total $950,000 and were awarded to 20 organizations in California, Florida, New Jersey, New York, Texas and Washington, D.C.



    Inform Yourself on the Issues! Report Compares Bush and Kerry on Health Care (PDF)
    The prominent AIDS organization Gay Men's Health Crisis (GMHC) has released this in-depth report directly comparing the healthcare proposals from George W. Bush and John Kerry, and examining the impact those proposals are likely to have on people with HIV in the United States. Download this PDF and educate yourself on one of the most important issues of this year's presidential election!

    To read GMHC's press release explaining the report and summarizing some key highlights, click here.

    Bush Administration "Perverts" HIV/AIDS Science, Expert Says
    The U.S. government is carrying out "public health malpractice" in its domestic and global HIV/AIDS prevention initiatives because the Bush administration is using "perverted" science to support its requirements for abstinence-only sex education, Thomas Coates, professor of infectious diseases at the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California-Los Angeles and a UCLA AIDS Institute executive committee member, writes in a Baltimore Sun opinion piece.

    John Kerry Would Double HIV/AIDS Funding, Daughter Pledges
    Vanessa Kerry, daughter of Democratic presidential nominee Sen. John Kerry, spoke at the annual conference of the National Association of People with AIDS. She said that as president her father would double U.S. funds for domestic and global HIV/AIDS programs, expand research on medications and vaccines for the disease and "always use science and not ideology" to make decisions about HIV/AIDS policies.

    Ryan White Funding Would Receive No Increase Under House Budget
    The U.S. House of Representatives has overwhelmingly approved a health, labor and education spending bill that would maintain "flat" funding for the Ryan White CARE Act but includes provisions that would fund clinical trials of generic drugs used by children. The Senate has yet to vote on its version of the spending bill.



    Top Journal Editors Demand Public Disclosure of Research Data
    A group of some of the world's most prominent medical journal editors has announced that it will refuse to publish research from drug companies' clinical trials unless the studies are part of a national registry accessible to the public at no charge -- "a step designed to ferret out unpublished studies that find medications to be ineffective or dangerous," the Washington Post reports. The group consists of editors from 12 publications, including the Journal of the American Medical Association, The Lancet, the New England Journal of Medicine and the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

    U.S. Health Department Proposes Free Public Access to All Research It Funds
    All scientists who receive U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding would be required to make their research results available to the public for free, under a new proposed policy posted on the NIH Web site. Health advocates have been lobbying for the shift, but publishers from the scientific community claim the move could drive some journals out of business and bankrupt some scientific societies that use journal profits to fund their research and educational efforts.



    Western Europe Worried as HIV Rates Climb Sharply
    "HIV/AIDS is not just a problem for Africa and the developing world. We have a serious epidemic beginning to resurface right here in parts of Europe," European Union (EU) Commissioner Pavel Telicka said in a newly released report. The proportion of newly reported HIV cases in Western Europe has doubled since 1995, according to the study, and some EU member nations and neighboring Eastern European countries have some of the highest HIV incidence rates in the world. About 1.3 million HIV-positive people live in Europe.

    Closing the HIV Treatment Gap: It's About More Than Just Meds
    As rich nations like the United States develop better, more advanced ways to fight HIV and improve the lives of HIV-positive people, poor nations where HIV is destroying millions of lives are being left farther and farther in the dust. How do we bridge the growing divide between the haves and the have-nots? José M. Zuniga, president of the International Association of Physicians in AIDS Care, offers his thoughts.

    U.S. President's AIDS Plan Has Treated 25,000 People, Report Says
    At least 25,000 HIV-positive people in the developing world have begun receiving meds under the U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief since the program began distributing funds to developing-world organizations and governments in February, according to an interim report covering nine of the program's 15 recipient countries. PEPFAR administrators have reportedly set a new goal of providing meds for 200,000 patients by June 2005.

    Image from the September 2004 Visual AIDS Web Gallery
    "Medicine Man," 1997;
    Max Greenberg
    Visit the September 2004 Visual AIDS Web Gallery to view this month's new collection of art by HIV-positive artists.

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