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November 24, 2004

In This Update:
  • Life With HIV
  • HIV Treatment
  • HIV History, Facts & Figures
  • HIV/HAART-Related Health Problems
  • 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? Only six days remain 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

    To those of you in the United States who are celebrating Thanksgiving this week, we'd like to wish you and yours a very happy -- and healthy -- holiday!

    - Bonnie Goldman, Editorial Director, The Body


    Looking to Tone Down Your Party-Mad Lifestyle?
    Are you doing way too much drinking and drugging? Getting up late and partying 'til dawn? For all the excitement, it's not exactly the most healthy lifestyle -- especially if you're HIV positive. How do you give it up? Psychologist Dr. J. Buzz von Ornsteiner offers this in-depth advice.

    Oregon Man Hailed as Health "Genius" for Efforts to Help HIVers
    Billy Russo managed Ruby House in Winston, Ore., from 1988 to 1998, where he helped provide a home and resource center to people with AIDS. Now, Russo is being recognized for his efforts. He received one of Oregon's Public Health Genius Awards for his achievements with Ruby House and the operation he now directs, HIV Resource Center. With the award came a check for $3,000, which Russo gave entirely to the center's outreach program for women and teens. (Web highlight from The News-Review)



    Is 350 the Magic Number for Starting HIV Treatment?
    It's one of the hottest topics in HIV medicine today: Experts are engaged in a see-saw battle over whether starting HAART at higher CD4 counts is a good idea, given the risks that HIV medications pose to people's health and the potential for developing resistance. For instance, in the medical journal Clinical Infectious Diseases, a new study suggests that it's actually preferable to start HIV treatment when a person's CD4 count is still above 350, provided they use HIV meds approved within the past couple of years. But in the very same journal, a pair of HIV doctors refute the study's findings, saying there's barely any evidence to support starting HAART that early. (Web highlight from

    How Do HIV Medications Work?
    Each class, or type, of HIV medication fulfills its mission differently, be it a protease inhibitor, nucleoside (or nucleotide) reverse transcriptase inhibitor, non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor or fusion inhibitor. How does each HIV drug class work? Pharmacist Steve Meyer provides an overview.



    20 Years Later, HIV's Discoverer Reflects on a Long, Hard Battle
    It's been 20 years since Dr. Robert Gallo and Dr. Luc Montagnier discovered HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. The Baltimore Sun recently sat down with Dr. Gallo to reflect on the epidemic's past, present and future. (Web highlight from Institute of Human Virology)

    Preserving AIDS History, One Conference at a Time
    Sister Mary Elizabeth of AEGiS has taken on the momentous task of making her Web site a repository for abstracts from every AIDS conference that has ever occurred. By doing so, she's helping to preserve an important part of the history of the epidemic; without her efforts, many of those HIV research abstracts would most likely become lost to the world. AIDS Treatment News interviews Sister Mary about her work.

    HIV in Prison: Silence Is Deadly
    More than 12,000 people who are incarcerated in New York are HIV positive. Yet despite that huge -- and growing -- number, there is a lot that people don't know about HIV in prisons, or don't even want to learn. In this report, Ronald F. Day seeks to raise the veil hanging over an issue whose impact stretches far beyond that of New York's HIV-positive prison population.

    U.S. HIV Report: HIV Infections, Treatment Funding
    Looking for a review of U.S. HIV infection numbers and treatment funding information? Consult this brief report from AIDS Action, a prominent advocacy group based in Washington, D.C.



    Frequently Asked Questions About Flu Prevention
    HIV positive, living in the United States and still wondering about flu shots? This updated fact sheet from the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention provides answers to several frequently asked questions about flu vaccination in HIV-positive people, as well as the use of antiviral drugs specifically to prevent flu infection.

    Protease Inhibitors ... for Hepatitis C?
    Protease inhibitors ain't just for HIV: Researchers are hoping that this class of drugs can also be used to fight hepatitis C, one of the most common coinfections in HIV-positive people. A couple of new protease inhibitors specifically created to treat hepatitis C are now in the pipeline.

    Schizophrenia Drug May Help Treat AIDS-Related Brain Disease
    A type of drug used to treat schizophrenia can protect brain cells from a dangerous nervous system disorder known as progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML), researchers say. PML is generally not an issue for HIVers with high CD4 counts, but is believed to occur in about 6 percent of people with AIDS. (Web highlight from BBC News)



    World AIDS Day 2004 Will Focus on HIV Among Women and Girls
    A week from today marks World AIDS Day, and at long last this important event will focus on the female side of the global pandemic. Women now account for nearly half of all HIV cases worldwide, with even higher rates among Africans and youths -- and those numbers are bound to grow only higher, unless we as a society work harder to empower women everywhere to protect themselves from infection. This excerpt from a UNAIDS report has more.

    Is your organization still planning events for World AIDS Day? Don't forget to send out a press release! Here are some tips on putting together an effective strategy for publicizing your event.

    How Will Four More Years of Bush Impact the U.S. AIDS Fight?
    Although much of the U.S. AIDS community let out a collective groan when John Kerry conceded the presidential election, it's too early to know exactly how the election will impact HIVers in the United States. As John S. James explains, however, some facts will clearly not change -- and there are many ways in which the U.S. response to the epidemic has to improve.

    A Look Inside the Ryan White CARE Act
    You may not know it, but the Ryan White CARE Act is arguably the most important law in the United States for ensuring the care and treatment of people with HIV -- especially those who are poor or lack health insurance. How much do you know about what the act does, and about what the future may hold in store for it? AIDS advocate Robert Cordero provides this explanation.

    The Link Between AIDS Activism and ... Vioxx?
    Could U.S. AIDS activism have helped bring about the Vioxx scandal? In the 1980s, AIDS activists fought for -- and won -- faster approval processes for new drugs in the United States. But those changes may be partly responsible for Vioxx's ability to slip past regulators, despite the drug's link to heart attacks and strokes. Now the U.S. Food and Drug Administration finds itself between a rock and a hard place: Should new drugs still be approved quickly, at the risk of unrecognized health risks? Or should they be approved more slowly, at the risk of the well-being of people who desperately need new drugs? (Web highlight from the Los Angeles Times; free registration required)

    Housing Works Sets Up Shop in Washington; Prepares for Heavy AIDS Advocacy Push
    New York City-based housing and AIDS advocacy group Housing Works has opened its first Washington, D.C., office, and it's wasting no time in trying to establish itself as a major player in the United States' capital. "Our D.C. office will be the nerve center for uncompromising every-week advocacy by people living with HIV/AIDS," said Charles King, the group's president and chief executive officer.



    Are There Risks to Improving Treatment Access "Too Quickly"?
    Better access to HIV treatment in the developing world can clearly save countless lives. However, many experts are concerned about two risks: the large-scale development of HIV drug resistance and the problem of ensuring adherence. Those concerns have spurred a heated debate over whether the scale-up of HIV treatment should be delayed in developing countries. In this spirited interview, two prominent HIV researchers, Drs. Joep Lange and Dan Kuritzkes, offer their take.

    Dear Global Fund and United States: Stop Fighting!
    The San Francisco Chronicle chastises both the United States and the Global Fund for their recent bickering in Africa over who should be primarily responsible for saving the world from HIV: "The competitive feelings on display this week are inexcusable. ... It's time to end a pointless rivalry." (Web highlight from the San Francisco Chronicle)

    Singapore's Hard-Line Anti-Gay Stance Hurts HIV Prevention, Advocates Say
    Singapore defines gay sex as "an act of gross indecency" punishable by a maximum of two years in jail. Prosecutions are rare, but as you might imagine, this law has been faulted for hampering HIV prevention efforts among homosexual men in the country.

    Beijing Beefs Up Safe-Sex Education With Prominent Public Ads
    In what AIDS activists are calling a new initiative, advertisements that promote condom use and advise against risky sex are being placed in Beijing's public venues and nightspots. The prominent displays appear ahead of World AIDS Day, and are a response to China's dramatic increase in new cases of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases.

    Nelson Mandela Spearheads New Campaign Against HIV Stigma in South Africa
    The Nelson Mandela Foundation has launched a radio and television campaign in which the former South African president and Hollywood star Brad Pitt encourage people to volunteer to fight HIV in South Africa. The campaign includes a toll-free hotline that people can call for advice, support and referrals.



    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
    "La Corona," 1998;
    Peter Madero III
    Visit the November 2004 Visual AIDS Web Gallery to view this month's new collection of art by HIV-positive artists.