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January 5, 2005

In This Update:
  • Life With HIV
  • HIV Treatment News
  • HIV/HAART-Related Health Problems
  • HIV/STD Transmission
  • HIV/AIDS Advocacy & Outreach
  • HIV/AIDS Outside the U.S.
  •   LIFE WITH HIV

    An HIV Doc Who Actually Cares: It's Not Too Much to Ask For
    Have you ever had an HIV doctor who barely acknowledged your existence? You're not alone: Steven James knows first-hand just how bad some HIV doctors can be. When his life was in a spiral and he most needed a sympathetic doctor, James writes, he got exactly the opposite -- and when that kind of thing happens, both doctor and patient lose.


    For the Love of His Family, He's Leaving His AIDS Organization Behind
    For Al McKittrick, love and AIDS have long gone hand in hand; AIDS claimed the life of his girlfriend, led him to meet his wife and brought him to the helm of the People With AIDS Coalition Colorado. But as his recently adopted baby daughter grew older, Al faced a fork in the road: Should he continue to run the AIDS organization he'd devoted his life to, or should he devote his life anew to the family he loved? "I had to make a choice, and I chose my family; my daughter, my wife and myself," Al writes in this moving article.

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      HIV TREATMENT NEWS

    Pregnant Women Should Not Use Indinavir
    HIV-positive pregnant women should no longer use indinavir (Crixivan), according to an announcement by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. A recent study on indinavir found that drug levels dropped dramatically in some pregnant women, which could make the drug significantly less effective.


    Nevirapine Still a Wise Choice as HIV Therapy, Despite the Latest Headlines
    Recent newspaper headlines might lead you to think that new, deadly dangers have been found with nevirapine (Viramune). But as AIDS Treatment News explains, there's very little "news" in the latest news on nevirapine, and nothing to suggest that people should stop taking it.


    Family of U.S. Woman Sues Over Nevirapine-Related Death
    Meanwhile, the family of a pregnant, HIV-positive U.S. woman who died shortly after taking nevirapine (Viramune) as part of a government-funded trial has filed a lawsuit against the doctors, drug makers and hospitals involved in the study. In the suit, Joyce Ann Hafford's mother and sister allege that doctors in the trial, which examined the effectiveness of nevirapine and Combivir (AZT/3TC) in preventing mother-to-child HIV transmission, continued giving Hafford nevirapine despite signs of liver failure, and that Hafford was not warned of the trial's dangers. Hafford's family seeks $10 million in damages.


    Europe Approves Fixed-Dose Combination of Abacavir and 3TC
    The fixed-dose combination drug known in the United States as Epzicom (abacavir/3TC) has been approved in Europe as well, but under a different name: Kivexa. The drug is one of two fixed-dose combinations that were approved in the United States last year; the other is Truvada (tenofovir/FTC).

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      HIV/HAART-RELATED HEALTH PROBLEMS

    Treating Opportunistic Infections: New U.S. Guidelines Released
    It's been a while since the United States updated its recommendations on the treatment of HIV-related opportunistic infections. Last month, however, new recommendations were released. These hefty guidelines are for healthcare professionals to use when diagnosing, treating and managing 28 of the diseases associated with HIV infection, including candidiasis (thrush), herpes, human papillomavirus and pneumonia.


    Nutrition Tips for Preventing and Treating HIV-Related Health Problems
    HIV, as well as the meds people take to treat it, can have a harmful effect on your body, but some of that damage can be offset or avoided by taking some simple nutritional steps. Marjorie Williams, M.P.H., offers several tips on good nutrition in this article from the newsletter HIV Treatment ALERTS!


    New Severe-Pain Drug Approved in United States
    For people who experience severe pain from AIDS-related illnesses and can't get relief from morphine, a newly approved prescription drug may help. The drug, called ziconotide (Prialt), was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration last month. Ziconotide is as much as 1,000 times more powerful than morphine. The drug is delivered directly into the fluid surrounding the spinal cord.

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      HIV/STD TRANSMISSION

    Battle of the Condoms: Durex Is Durable, But Planned Parenthood's Are Poor
    Even among top condom makers in the United States, some condoms are of higher quality than others -- at least according to researchers at Consumer Reports magazine. In a test of 23 different latex condoms, Durex Extra Sensitive Lubricated Latex scored the highest marks on strength and reliability. The lowest scores went to Honeydew and Assorted Colors, two condoms produced by Planned Parenthood -- although Consumer Reports noted that all of the condoms they tested still passed minimum industry standards. The report found that price and thickness had no bearing on a condom's performance.

    Click here to read an overview of the report, which includes tips on purchasing condoms and an explanation of other contraceptive methods.


    Can an Artist Prevent HIV Better Than a Health Official?
    Artists might not be able to cure HIV, but they have the "potential to teach the facts of HIV transmission more compellingly than any white-coat wearing public health worker ever could," says David Gere, director of MAKE ART/STOP AIDS and an associate professor of world arts and cultures at the University of California-Los Angeles. He says that using art as an HIV education tool could be far more effective than traditional methods.


    New York Should Require HIV Testing in Some Cases, Hospital Officials Say
    It's time to change the HIV testing law in New York, say officials from one of the state's top hospitals. The law, which currently requires healthcare workers to obtain "informed consent" before they can test people for HIV, makes it difficult to test people who can't provide that consent -- including people who are critically ill or mentally impaired, say the officials, who hail from NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital in New York City. They say exceptions should be allowed for these cases, and HIV testing should be required whenever healthcare workers have been exposed to a patient's blood.

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      HIV/AIDS ADVOCACY & OUTREACH

    Worldwide, AIDS Workers Reflect on the Year Gone By
    Straight from the front lines of the global AIDS pandemic, 26 AIDS advocates from around the world offer their thoughts on how the fight against HIV has progressed in their communities. You might be surprised -- and encouraged -- to learn that, in most cases, the last 12 months have been notably better than the 12 that came before.


    AIDS Activist Group Blasted for Involvement With Bush Inauguration
    A barrage of criticism has deluged AIDS Action, one of the United States' most prominent AIDS activism groups. The reason? Its top official was a member of the host committee for one of President Bush's inaugural fundraising events, which was being organized to honor Bush administration AIDS officials -- and which was set up to benefit the AIDS Responsibility Project, an organization that strongly backs Bush administration AIDS policies. Since this story broke, AIDS Action has backed out of the event, but the situation has exposed a simmering debate over the state of AIDS activism today. (Web Highlight from Gay City News)

    What's so scandalous about helping to organize a little fundraising dinner? As this Washington Blade report explains, a "non-partisan" group like AIDS Action is bound to get in hot water when it supports a pro-Republican bash, especially when that bash benefits a group that some critics call a front for U.S. pharmaceutical companies.

    For a scalding analysis of this situation and its deeper ramifications for AIDS activism in the United States, read this commentary from political journalist Doug Ireland, who broke the story late last month.


    U.S. AIDS Groups and George W. Bush: Snuggle Up or Stay Away?
    What's the best way to get the Bush administration to change its approach to AIDS funding in the United States? Is it better to cozy up to the administration, kill it with kindness and hope to alter it from the inside? Or is it better to openly fight -- to refuse to give an inch, and to protest loudly until the administration has no choice but to listen? Charles King, president of the AIDS organization Housing Works, says fighting is the only option. "Insiders are generally most interested in their own interests, not in protecting those who are not invited to the table," King says. (Web highlight from Housing Works)


    Rhode Island Shuts Down Its HIV/AIDS Hotline
    On Dec. 31, Rhode Island's HIV/AIDS hotline ceased operation after 18 years in existence. At its peak a decade ago, the hotline received as many as 5,000 calls annually. In 2004, barely 500 calls came in, and funding for the hotline was discontinued. Callers who phone the hotline during business hours will now reach AIDS Project Rhode Island, the state's oldest AIDS organization.


    Canadian Doctor Single-Handedly Founds Holistic HIV/AIDS Clinic
    Anne-Marie Zajdlik, a Canadian family physician and HIV specialist, has committed $100,000 of her own money to realize her goal of building a Guelph-based regional holistic HIV/AIDS clinic. The clinic would offer conventional medicine by three family doctors, an infectious-disease specialist and a psychiatrist -- all with an HIV/AIDS specialty. It would also have a nutritionist, massage therapist and holistic medicine practitioner.

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      HIV/AIDS OUTSIDE THE UNITED STATES

    Tsunami Orphans Could Be Trafficked, Sexually Abused, Group Warns
    The ramifications of the Indian Ocean tsunami could reach much farther than the loss of life and destruction along the region's coasts. Children orphaned or separated from their parents by the deadly waves may face a new risk: trafficking and sexual abuse, according to the international aid agency Save the Children Fund. This could put many young children who survived the tsunami at risk for HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases -- not to mention a life of disempowerment and servitude.


    One Million Zimbabwean Children Have Lost a Parent to AIDS, UNICEF Says
    Nearly one million children in Zimbabwe have lost one or both parents to AIDS-related illnesses. Dr. Festo Kavishe, a UNICEF representative, said that there are at least 1.8 million HIV-positive people in Zimbabwe, and that 2,000 of them die from AIDS-related causes each week.


    In Cuba, a History of Success Against AIDS May Be at Risk
    The Cuban government's AIDS program has long provided public HIV education, promoted the use of condoms, offered free HIV testing and given its HIV-positive citizens free access to care. As a result, Cuba currently has the lowest HIV infection rate in the Western Hemisphere. But with a thriving sex industry attracting sex tourists from abroad, things are beginning to change.


    6% of White South Africans Have HIV, Despite Feeling Insulated From Epidemic
    Although many white South Africans feel protected from the country's HIV epidemic, a recent study by the Nelson Mandela Foundation and the Human Sciences Research Council showed that at least 6% of South Africa's white community has HIV, compared with 10% of the country's black population -- and compared with less than 1% of the white population in Australia and Britain.

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    Connect With Others at
    The Body's Bulletin Boards

    A recent post from the "Living With HIV" board:

    "Does anyone have some uplifting insights as to how to gain weight after losing so much? My husband suddenly crossed into AIDS (after 10 years with no symptoms, no meds). Has anyone else had some of these complications and have good news to share?"
    -- Anonymous

    Click here to join this discussion thread, or to start your own!
    Art From HIV-Positive Artists
    Image from the January 2005 Visual AIDS Web Gallery
    "Talisman," 1994;
    Barton Lidice Benes
    What better way to usher in a new year than with a new Visual AIDS Web Gallery? Visit the January 2005 Visual AIDS Web Gallery to view this month's new collection of art by HIV-positive artists!
    HIV Positive and Looking
    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 browsable listing of AIDS organizations and hotlines can also be useful for people in the United States or anywhere in the world.

    Your Unused HIV Meds
    Can Save Lives!

    Aid for AIDS

    Aid for AIDS is a New York-based nonprofit organization that collects unused, HIV-related medications and redistributes them to people living with AIDS in Africa, the Caribbean and Latin America.

    Have HIV-related medications (including antiretrovirals and meds used to prevent or treat opportunistic infections) you'd like to donate? Click here to find out how.