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November 17, 2004

In This Update:
  • Health and Nutrition
  • HIV Treatment
  • HIV/HAART-Related Health Problems
  • HIV Transmission News
  • HIV-Related Policy & Activism
  • HIV Outside the United States

    Do you know a U.S. healthcare professional or an inspiring person living with HIV who deserves recognition? You have just 13 days left to nominate someone for one of The Body's HIV Leadership Awards! Visit our HIV Leadership Awards home page, fill out a brief form and nominate them before the Nov. 30 deadline!

    All nominations will be judged by a distinguished panel of peers, as well as The Body's staff. Got questions about the awards? Contact our awards coordinator, Jay Dewey, at

    - Bonnie Goldman, Editorial Director, The Body


    Vitamin E May Be Dangerous in Doses Over 400 IU/Day
    A new study has found that in chronically ill people, high doses of vitamin E (more than 400 IU, or International Units, per day -- that's about 267 mg) are associated with a higher death rate. However, there was benefit found in taking low doses of vitamin E. Click on the link above to read the abstract of this study. (Web highlight from the Annals of Internal Medicine)

    For a discussion of the significance of this study, click here to read an editorial by Dr. E. Robert Greenberg, who conducted one of the trials that the study examined.

    Tips on Having a Healthy Thanksgiving ...
    The United States' annual celebration of the autumn harvest arrives next week, as millions of Americans observe Thanksgiving by gorging themselves on stuffed turkey, pumpkin pie and countless other delicacies. Watching what you eat can be hard during this time, but if you have HIV it's especially important to do so -- particularly if you're also experiencing problems with cholesterol or high blood pressure. This informative article from Body Positive reviews the history of Thanksgiving in the United States, and offers a host of advice on which foods to eat (and avoid) if you have health concerns.

    ... And a Fulfilling Holiday Season
    The month of December can wear out even the hardiest of us. It's not just the frequent parties and the rich food that can wear you down, but the stress of dealing with family reunions, organizing get-togethers or coping with difficult memories that bubble to the surface during the holiday season. How can you keep yourself healthy and sane? Fitness and nutrition expert Glenn R. Preston offers this excellent advice.



    Kaletra "Monotherapy" Shows New Promise in Clinical Trial
    The tantalizing prospect of HIV "monotherapy" may be making a comeback, as new research on lopinavir/ritonavir (Kaletra) suggests. Even when people experience virologic failure on this single-pill regimen, there appears to be no rapid occurrence of resistance to the drug, according to the latest results from two small studies. Dr. Margaret Hoffman-Terry reports from ICAAC 2004.

    Warning Issued on ddI + Tenofovir When Taken With Efavirenz or Nevirapine
    For people who have high viral loads and are taking treatment for the first time, a regimen consisting of three drugs -- once-a-day ddI (didanosine, Videx EC), tenofovir (Viread) and either efavirenz (Sustiva, Stocrin) or nevirapine (Viramune) -- is likely to fail about half the time. This is according to a warning letter sent to healthcare providers on Nov. 12 from Bristol-Myers Squibb, which produces ddI and efavirenz.

    On Saturday, Nov. 20, Stop in at New York City's Clinical Trials Fair
    Living in New York City and interested in becoming a part of cutting-edge HIV research? Search for a Cure is hosting a "Clinical Trials Fair" in Manhattan on Nov. 20, featuring info provided by HIV healthcare workers who are involved with the latest clinical trials. Free food, music and prizes will be available!

    Questions to Ask If You're Thinking of Switching Regimens
    If you've already switched HAART regimens in the past, how do you know when it's time to switch again -- and what should you switch to? The decision to switch to a "third-line therapy" isn't always an easy one, and is a choice best made with your doctor. WISE Words provides this list of key questions to consider when exploring a change in your treatment.

    HAART Doesn't Work as Well in Former Injection Drug Users
    The CD4 counts of HIV-positive former injection drug users rise much more slowly than the CD4 counts of HIVers who never took injection drugs, according to the results of a 288-person Spanish study. The long-term damage to the immune system caused by drugs like cocaine and heroin is believed to be the reason. (Web highlight from

    Overview of New Research on HIV Drug Resistance
    "ICAAC 2004 had only a handful of reports on resistance to antiretrovirals, but they were enlightening," writes Mark Mascolini. In this summary of new studies, he talks about a spike in the transmission of drug-resistant HIV in the United States, the lack of a tie between resistance and viral load "blips," the existence of a tie between resistance and persistently detectable viral load, and the significance of a specific HIV mutation found in people taking tenofovir. (Web highlight from the National AIDS Treatment Advocacy Project)

    Drug Resistance Overview
    What, exactly, does it mean if your HIV is "resistant" -- and how do doctors determine which meds your virus is resistant to? Read this overview from WISE Words to learn more about this often-confusing topic.



    Coinfection With Hepatitis C May Shorten Lives of HIV-Positive People
    HIV-positive people coinfected with hepatitis C face a greater risk of death than HIV-positive people who are not coinfected with hepatitis C, according to a new study conducted among nearly 1,000 U.S. veterans. Individuals with hepatitis C coinfection were also found to be less likely to receive HAART. The findings point to the importance of testing for, and treating, hepatitis C coinfections in people with HIV.
    (Web highlight from



    AIDS Drug Assistance Programs: A Promising Start, A Shaky Future
    Since AIDS Drug Assistance Programs (ADAPs) first kicked in during the late 1980s, they have been one of the most successful efforts the U.S. government has ever enacted to fight the HIV epidemic. Today, though, ADAP is crumbling under the weight of the demands being placed on it by growing drug costs and expanding caseloads, even as stagnant funding weakens ADAP's foundation. Lei Chou, Director of The Access Project at the AIDS Treatment Data Network, has more in this report.

    In Post-Election Speech, AIDS Activist Decries Death of Gay Rights
    "As of Nov. 2, gay rights are officially dead," Larry Kramer proclaimed in a public address to the gay community on Sunday, Nov. 7. "It's guillotine time; 23 percent of gays voted against us in the election; 60 million people think we are immoral. It's hard to stand up to so much hate." The program was presented by the HIV Forum, a six-man group founded to fight the epidemic of crystal meth abuse among gay men. (Web highlight from the New York Blade)



    Procedure Can Help HIV-Positive Men Safely Conceive With HIV-Negative Women
    An HIV-positive man trying to have a baby with an HIV-negative woman may be able to do so safely via intrauterine insemination after the sperm is separated from HIV in the semen, French researchers say. The study used the technique 213 times on a total of 56 couples; 60 percent of the couples achieved pregnancy, and no women became infected with HIV. (Web highlight from Reuters Health)

    HIV Infection Less Common Among Circumcised Men, New Studies Find
    Circumcised men are significantly less likely to contract HIV than uncircumcised men, according to a pair of recent studies conducted in Africa and India. Many researchers have long theorized that circumcision reduces HIV risk, because the inner surface of the foreskin has a large concentration of a type of white blood cell that HIV may use to enter the body.

    In Defense of "Prevention for Positives"
    Pissed off that the U.S. government has shifted its HIV prevention focus from at-risk, HIV-negative people to people living with HIV? You're not alone, but the decision has many defenders. One of them is HIV prevention educator Justin Patrick Jones; in this article, he explains why the "Prevention With Positives" campaign is not nearly as bad an idea as some say it is.

    Controversial HIV Vaccine Trial Draws Ire of Advocacy Group
    An HIV vaccine study known as RV144 has stirred up a cauldron of controversy this year: The U.S. government is continuing the expensive trial despite strong evidence suggesting it's simply not going to work. This fall, Treatment Action Group expressed its concerns about the study to the Food and Drug Administration during a public hearing; here's what the group had to say.

    African-American Churches Launch Effort to Increase HIV Testing
    A group of California church leaders that offers guidance to African-American churches providing HIV education has begun to distribute HIV/AIDS Church Information Kits. The kits are part of a massive push to get black church congregations throughout the state to get tested for HIV. (Web highlight from The Black Voice News)



    U.S. Organizations Move to Counter Bush Administration's Abstinence-Only Mandate
    The U.S. government's heavy push toward abstinence-only efforts has placed many HIV prevention programs in the developing world in a difficult position: Should they accept U.S. demands that they focus on abstinence, or risk losing vital U.S. funds? A pair of liberal U.S. organizations is trying a third way: They've begun working directly with groups in the developing world to ensure that they keep getting U.S. funds, but that they use those funds to provide HIV prevention that's as comprehensive as possible.

    One Man, One Bicycle and a World of Change in Africa
    Andrew Petkun is a photographer and AIDS activist who has made frequent visits to Africa. His goal: To use photojournalism to help eliminate the stigma attached to HIV. Early in 2004, Petkun returned to an African village he had visited three years earlier, and had the chance to witness the changes his simple acts had brought about. (Web highlight from the U.S. Department of State)



    The Starfish Project

    Got unused meds sitting in your cabinet? The Starfish Project at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital collects extra antiretrovirals and other HIV-related medications, which they ship to healthcare providers in Nigeria. All shipping costs will be reimbursed. Visit or call (212) 746-7164 for more information.

    To learn more about recycling your unused HIV meds, visit The Body's collection of articles.
    Image from the November 2004 Visual AIDS Web Gallery
    "Victoria Peak, Alberta," 1986;
    Tseng Kwong Chi
    Visit the November 2004 Visual AIDS Web Gallery to view this month's new collection of art by HIV-positive artists.