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December 22, 2004

In This Update:
  • Mental Health
  • HIV Treatment News
  • HIV Drugs in Development
  • HIV/HAART-Related Health Problems
  • HIV/STD Transmission
  • U.S. HIV/AIDS Advocacy & Outreach
  • HIV/AIDS Outside the U.S.

    We would like to wish everyone a happy holiday season and a wonderful, healthy 2005!

    We hope that in the coming year, millions more people in the world who need HIV treatment will receive it.

    We hope that those at risk for HIV infection get the information and empowerment they need to avoid this illness.

    And we hope -- as we hope every day of every year -- that the year to come yields a discovery that finally leads to a cure for HIV!

    Best wishes,

    - Bonnie Goldman, Editorial Director, The Body


    Eight Simple Rules for Managing Those Holiday Blues
    The holiday season is a time of joy for some, but for others it just ain't. If you find yourself stressed, anxious or down this time of year, what can you do to help keep your spirits up? Social worker Sarah Biel-Cunningham offers a concise list of simple steps you can take.

    The Most Wonderful Time of the Year? Give Me a Break
    "When I state to co-workers that I am depressed during the holidays, they tell me to just get over it and be happy, get a drink or pop a pill, because this is the most wonderful time of the year. I would like some suggestions on how I can make the holiday season easier to cope with." Psychologist Dr. J. Buzz von Ornsteiner responds to this heartfelt message from an HIV-positive, single, gay man who finds little cheer in the December holidays.



    Interaction Warning Issued for Atazanavir and Heartburn Drug
    Atazanavir (Reyataz) should not be taken with omeprazole (Prilosec, Zegerid), a drug used to treat heartburn and ulcers, according to a new warning issued by Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. If the two drugs are taken at the same time, the amount of atazanavir in a person's blood can drop dramatically, potentially making it less effective and raising a person's chances of developing resistance. The warning applies to over-the-counter versions of omeprazole as well as prescriptions.

    Once-a-Day HAART Pill to Be Developed Jointly by Two Drug Firms
    An entire HAART regimen in a single, once-a-day pill? It may be closer to reality than you think. Two competing HIV drug makers have announced they will collaborate to develop a once-a-day med combining efavirenz (Sustiva, Stocrin), emtricitabine (FTC, Emtriva) and tenofovir (Viread), one of the regimens recommended by U.S. treatment guidelines. They hope the pill will be available in the United States within the next 18 to 24 months.

    More Convenient Tablet Form of Invirase Approved in U.S.
    The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved a new tablet form of saquinavir hard-gel capsule (Invirase), which means fewer pills to pop for people taking this drug. In addition to being smaller than the capsule form, the new tablet is 500 mg, so a normal dose consists of two pills taken twice a day. The hard-gel capsule had to be taken as five pills twice a day.



    A More Realistic Take on a Therapeutic HIV Vaccine Study
    Promising results from a study on a new type of therapeutic HIV vaccine -- one customized to fight an individual person's virus -- recently blew a gust of excitement through a relatively stagnant area of HIV research. But the titillating results are less impressive when you take a closer look, says Mike Barr of Treatment Action Group.

    Drug Company-Supported Studies Can Be Untrustworthy, Activist Physician Says
    Dr. Steven Miles provides this eye-opening criticism of the design of many pharmaceutical company-supported clinical trials in the United States. Appearing in TAGline, a patient advocacy newsletter, Miles writes that drug companies' tendency to create studies that paint their drug in the best possible light make their results less reliable, trustworthy and realistic.



    Beware of Grapefruits While Taking Statins for Cholesterol, Report Suggests
    It's amazing how careful you have to be when you take your medications. Even foods like garlic and grapefruit juice can powerfully affect your meds. A recent medical journal report said that an HIV-negative woman may have quickly developed a skeletal muscle disorder because she regularly ate grapefruit while taking statins for high cholesterol -- drugs that people with HIV often take.

    Hepatitis B and HIV: A Clinical Overview
    At least half of all people with HIV in the United States have been infected with hepatitis B at some point in their lives, and as many as one out of 10 HIVers are chronically infected with hep B, putting them at a greater risk of developing health problems like liver disease. Dr. Marion Peters, an expert on HIV/hepatitis B coinfection, recently gave a talk on the history and treatment of hepatitis B; that talk is summarized in this report by Tim Horn. (Web highlight from The PRN Notebook)



    American Gay Men Warned of Dangerous, Chlamydia-Like Outbreak
    Four gay men in San Francisco were recently found to have a rare and potentially debilitating sexually transmitted disease that can potentially be mistaken for a typical chlamydia infection. Lymphogranuloma venereum (LGV), a form of chlamydia rarely seen outside of poor, tropical nations, can cause scarring of the genitals and colon, rectal bleeding, constipation and swelling/rupturing of lymph glands near the groin. LGV can be cured with a three-week course of antibiotics, but because it is easily misdiagnosed and not typically tested for, officials are concerned that many infections won't be spotted by doctors or reported by people who've been infected.

    U.S. Updates Guidelines on Preventing Mother-to-Child HIV Transmission
    The U.S. health department has released updated guidelines on the use of HIV medications by pregnant women. The guidelines are meant to serve as recommendations to healthcare workers on when, and how, HIV meds should be used in the United States to help prevent HIV-positive women from transmitting HIV to their babies during or after birth. These guidelines may be heavy reading, but they are essential to understanding the recommendations your doctor may be following if you're a pregnant woman considering HIV treatment options.

    Also updated was a supplement to the guidelines that reviews safety issues related to the use of individual HIV medications in pregnant women.

    To Tell or Not to Tell, That is The Question
    A small study in Seattle and Los Angeles recently tried to discover why HIV-positive men who have unprotected sex with men (MSM) decide to tell, or not tell, their status to their partner. They asked men in a sexually transmitted disease clinic their reasons for disclosing or not disclosing. Much of what they discovered is obvious: Some of the reasons the men mentioned for disclosing were: 1) They truly had feelings for their partner; 2) they felt responsible for their partner's health; and 3) they feared being arrested if they didn't disclose and then infected their partner. The researchers concluded that, "HIV positive MSM's decision to disclose their HIV status to sex partners is complex and is influenced by a sense of responsibility to partners, acceptance of being HIV positive, the perceived transmission risk, and the context and meaning of sex. Efforts to promote disclosure will need to address these complex issues."



    Cable Positive Offering Grants for Local HIV-Related TV Programs in U.S.
    Got an idea for a television program or public service announcement on HIV/AIDS that you'd like to run in your community? Cable Positive, the U.S. cable and telecommunications industry's national nonprofit AIDS action organization, is now offering grants up to $5,000 for nonprofits looking to create new, local, HIV-related TV programs within the United States. The next deadline for grant submissions is Feb. 9, 2005.



    Nadine Gordimer: South African Politician, Activist... and AIDS Fiction Author
    Nobel Prize winner Nadine Gordimer is a well-known novelist, a long-time member of South Africa's ruling party, the African National Congress, and a close friend of Nelson Mandela's. Today, Gordimer has turned her energy as an activist -- and as a fiction author -- to the growing AIDS epidemic in her country, as she explains in this audio interview for the National Public Radio-affiliated show, The Connection. (Web highlight from The Connection)

    Nevirapine Use for Pregnant Women Becomes a Political Battle in South Africa
    In the wake of last week's Associated Press reports highlighting problems with a clinical trial looking at the use of single-dose nevirapine (Viramune) to prevent pregnant women from infecting their babies, South Africa's political scene has erupted in debate over whether the drug should still be used. The country's ruling political party, which has long been extremely critical of the use of any HIV meds and has dragged its feet in implementing nationwide HIV treatment programs, publicly accused the United States of treating Africans like "guinea pigs" and "enter[ing] into a conspiracy" to market unsafe drugs to the continent.

    As concerns have grown among South African doctors that the backlash over the nevirapine study news will force them to stop using the drug in HIV-positive pregnant women, South African opposition parties called for the continued use of nevirapine. In 2002, the country's Constitutional Court had ordered the South African government, against its objections, to provide nevirapine to HIV-positive mothers; the opposition parties claim the ruling party's current accusations are being made out of spite.

    Meanwhile, the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases has released this question-and-answer document in response to some of the allegations made in the Associated Press reports on the Ugandan nevirapine study.

    Global Alliance Campaigns for Free Healthcare for HIVers Throughout World
    A worldwide alliance of health experts, institutions and nongovernmental organizations has launched a campaign for free health care and medicines for people living with HIV/AIDS in Africa and other developing regions. On Dec. 14, more than 600 individuals, including the director-general of Doctors Without Borders, Gorik Ooms, and Helene Rossert, vice president of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, signed the "Free by Five" declaration.


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    Art From HIV-Positive Artists
    Image from the December 2004 Visual AIDS Web Gallery
    "Praise," 2002;
    Kenneth Mitchell
    Visit the December 2004 Visual AIDS Web Gallery to view this month's new collection of art by HIV-positive artists!
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    For Advice or Support?
    Need to get U.S. government help for housing? Want to join a support group? Can't figure out how to get help paying for medications? You are not alone!

    There are AIDS organizations throughout the world that offer varying degrees of help. If you live in the United States, search The Body's ASO Finder to find an AIDS group near you.

    The Body's browseable listing of AIDS organizations and hotlines can also be useful for people in the United States or anywhere in the world.

    World AIDS Day 2004
    at The Body

    The Body's HIV Leadership Awards logo

    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!