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December 8, 2004

In This Update:
  • HIV Treatment News
  • HIV/HAART-Related Health Problems
  • HIV Testing & Transmission
  • Mental Health & HIV
  • AIDS Activism
  • HIV Prevention News
  • HIV/AIDS Outside the U.S.
  •   HIV TREATMENT NEWS

    United States Approves Its First Generic Antiretroviral, ddI
    Cheaper ddI prices may be just around the corner. A generic version of once-a-day ddI (didanosine, known by the brand name Videx EC) has become the first generic HIV medication approved in the United States. Barr Laboratories, the maker of the generic ddI, says it plans to begin distributing the drug immediately; it will be available in the United States as well as other countries.


    The Debate Over Kaletra-Only HIV Treatment
    The possibility of using an HIV treatment regimen consisting entirely of Kaletra (lopinavir/ritonavir) has ignited controversy among some HIV physicians and treatment activists. Proponents say it could be a boon for people -- and healthcare systems -- who can't afford the price tag of complex HAART regimens. Critics counter that using a single pill is less likely to work than multi-drug regimens, and that it might make it easier for a person to develop resistance. The small studies conducted so far on so-called "Kaletra monotherapy," however, have not yet proven the case for either camp. This article examines both sides of the debate. (Web highlight from the American Foundation for AIDS Research)


    Not Undetectable, But Still Content
    HIVers who don't care about having an undetectable viral load are nuts, right? New research shows they may not be, igniting fresh -- and even hostile -- debate about undetectability and long-term health. (Web highlight from POZ Magazine)


    A Glance at the Next Generation of Entry Inhibitors
    The good news about entry inhibitors? New members of this drug family will probably not have to be injected, unlike T-20 (enfuvirtide, Fuzeon). The bad news? It's likely to be another several years before new entry inhibitors begin to hit the market. The newsletter HIV Treatment ALERTS! offers this quick update.

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      HIV/HAART-RELATED HEALTH PROBLEMS

    Drug-Drug Interaction Risk With Erythromycin, Protease Inhibitors
    People who take protease inhibitors at the same time as the antibiotic erythromycin, used to treat a range of bacterial infections such as pneumonia, skin infections and chlamydia, may be at a higher-than-usual risk of developing potentially life-threatening heart problems, according to a newly published study.


    Acupuncture & Acetyl-L-Carnitine Examined as Neuropathy Treatments
    Could acupuncture help treat the pain and numbness caused by neuropathy? After a five-week, 10-session course of the Chinese needle treatment, a group of 21 HIVers reported a significant lessening of their neuropathy symptoms. The study was small, but its findings nonetheless point to the potential of this form of therapy. Meanwhile, another small study published this year showed promise for the use of acetyl-L-carnitine supplements to help regrow nerves damaged by neuropathy.

    For more on dealing with neuropathy, browse through The Body's extensive collection of articles.

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      HIV TESTING & TRANSMISSION

    HIV Testing Rates Remain Steady in United States; 62% Have Never Been Tested
    The proportion of U.S. adults who report recently being tested for HIV has remained stable at 10% to 12%, according to survey data through 2002 released by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). However, about half of all pregnant women surveyed in 2002 said they've been tested for HIV, and the overall number of adults who said they've been tested in their lifetimes increased to 37.8%. The CDC still estimates that 25% of all HIV-infected Americans -- as many as 280,000 people -- have no idea they're infected.


    HIV in Patients Over 50: An Increasing Problem
    It's no secret that as the HIV epidemic gets older in the United States, so do people with HIV. With the number of newly infected people over the age of 50 also growing, the unique impact of HIV on older people is becoming more of a concern. In this clinical report, Dr. Kelly A. Gebo takes a closer look at this increasingly urgent issue, and discusses some of the important health problems that HIV-positive people over 50 are more likely to face. (Web highlight from The Hopkins HIV Report)


    HIV, Syphilis, Drug-Resistant Gonorrhea Grow More Common Among U.S. MSM
    Sexually transmitted diseases are growing ever more common among U.S. men who have sex with men (MSM), with syphilis numbers going through the roof in some cities and the latest government figures showing that HIV infections are on the rise as well. Ready for more sobering news? Although gonorrhea infection rates are at an all-time low, drug-resistant gonorrhea is becoming more common among MSM, making the disease all the more dangerous. (Web highlight from the Washington Blade)

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      MENTAL HEALTH & HIV

    HIV, Depression and Gay Men
    Diver Greg Louganis and actor Chad Allen recently spoke in New York at a public forum to raise awareness, and reduce the stigma, of depression in the gay community. Their talk raises a related issue: What are the benefits and risks for HIV-positive people who take antidepressant drugs? AIDS Treatment News provides a brief analysis.

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      AIDS ACTIVISM

    Remembering a Heroic AIDS Activist: Elizabeth Glazer
    We've already reached the 10th anniversary of Elizabeth Glazer's death. Glazer, an AIDS activist who went public about her status after she was infected with HIV during a blood transfusion while giving birth, poured her heart out during this speech at the 1992 Democratic National Convention. Eerily, much of her speech rings as true now as it did 12 years ago, when another president was being blamed for not doing enough to fight HIV in the United States. "I started out just a mom -- fighting for the life of her child. But along the way I learned how unfair America can be. Not just for the people who have HIV, but for many, many people -- gay people, people of color, children. ... I know that America has lost her path and is at risk of losing her soul." (Web highlight from American Rhetoric)

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      HIV PREVENTION NEWS

    U.S. Congressional Report Blasts Inaccuracies in Abstinence-Only Programs
    A scathing report on abstinence-only sex education programs authored by the staff of U.S. Congressman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) found that 11 of the 13 most common programs contain "unproved claims, subjective conclusions or outright falsehoods regarding reproductive health, gender traits and when life begins." According to the report, some of the claims made by the programs include: that a fetus at 43 days gestation is a "thinking person," that a boy or man can impregnate a woman or girl by touching her genitals, that 50% of gay male teenagers are HIV-positive and that HIV can be spread through sweat and tears.

    In response to the Waxman report, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) said he supported a government review of federally funded abstinence-only sex education programs. A large number of U.S. newspapers have also published editorials and opinion pieces on the issue.

    To read Congressman Waxman's complete report, click here.


    Tenofovir to Prevent HIV? A New Trial Will Try to Find Out
    Clinical trials of tenofovir (Viread) among HIV-negative men who have sex with men (MSM) will begin enrolling this month in San Francisco and Atlanta. The trials are designed to determine if tenofovir is safe to use for HIV prevention among MSM and if using the drug makes people more likely to practice unsafe sex or become infected with HIV.


    Bringing the World Together to Find an HIV Vaccine
    The HIV Vaccine Enterprise is a worldwide effort to make the hunt for an HIV vaccine truly global, and to ensure that vaccine researchers everywhere coordinate their work. Hopefully, the end result will be a strategic plan for vaccine development that spans the entire earth -- a team approach on a massive scale, says Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, in this interview with Wyoming Positives for Positives.


    Pope Says HIV Is a Disease of the Spirit; Calls for Abstinence, "Correct" Sex
    Pope John Paul II called HIV/AIDS a "pathology of the spirit" that should be fought with "correct sexual practice" and "education of sacred values," according to Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragan. The Vatican also reiterated its call for "chastity" and "responsible sexual behavior" as the best ways to prevent HIV infection, upholding its position that condoms do not protect against HIV, despite significant scientific consensus that condoms, when used correctly and consistently, do reduce the risk of HIV transmission.

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      HIV/AIDS OUTSIDE THE UNITED STATES

    Brazil Renews Threat to Break Patents on HIV Meds
    The Brazilian government has threatened once again to break patents on as many as five of the 15 antiretroviral drugs it provides to patients in order to produce less-expensive generic medicines. Although the Brazilian government over the past three years repeatedly has said it might break patent laws in order to negotiate price reductions with pharmaceutical companies, so far it has not.

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    "Being in the military is tough, especially when you have to keep 'the secret' of being HIV positive. I catch myself speaking in code to my friends in order to not tell them. I want them to like me for who I am. I have shared my status and have lost individuals who I thought were good friends. How depressing."
    -- Anonymous

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    ART FROM HIV-POSITIVE ARTISTS
    Image from the December 2004 Visual AIDS Web Gallery
    "House of Cards," 1986;
    Ken Goodman
    HIV POSITIVE AND LOOKING
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    WORLD AIDS DAY 2004
    AT THE BODY

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    World AIDS Day is over, but it's still pivotal that we educate ourselves and others about the impact of the AIDS pandemic on women. Click here to browse through our online collection of fact sheets, background materials, event listings and World AIDS Day resources!