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February 9, 2005

In This Update:
  • Living With HIV
  • HIV Treatment News & Information
  • HIV/STD Transmission
  • HIV Prevention
  • HIV-Related Health Problems
  • HIV/AIDS Outside the U.S.
  •   LIVING WITH HIV

    Tips for Coping When You're Over 50 and Newly Diagnosed
    Think that people over 50 still make up a tiny proportion of Americans living with HIV? Then you might be surprised to hear that in New York City in 2003, 15% of all HIV-positive people were over the age of 50. If you're over 50 and were recently diagnosed with HIV, that means you're certainly not alone. There are plenty of steps you can take to cope with your diagnosis and get the help and support you need. This overview from PositiveWords has more advice.


    Getting Life (and Burial) Insurance When You're HIV Positive
    Worried that, as an HIV-positive person, you won't be able to get life insurance? Don't be: Although some companies may give you trouble, there are others in the United States that are willing to sell you a policy. Mark Scherzer gives the lowdown on life insurance and burial insurance for people with HIV.

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      MARK YOUR CALENDAR: HIV TREATMENT CHAT NEXT WEDNESDAY!

    Treatment Advocate Nelson Vergel Chats About Drug Resistance, Rescue Therapy

    Are you running out of HIV treatment options? Have you been told that your HIV is resistant to many HIV meds? Visit The Body on Wednesday, Feb. 16 at 9 p.m. Eastern Standard Time (6 p.m. Pacific) to talk about it! Widely known HIV treatment advocate Nelson Vergel will answer any questions you might have about drug resistance, third-line treatment, new antiretrovirals or keeping a positive outlook when your HIV treatment possibilities are shrinking. Visit our chat page now to presubmit your questions!

    Click here to learn more about our chat's host, the effusive, energetic Nelson Vergel.

    This chat is sponsored by Trimeris and Roche, the makers of Fuzeon (enfuvirtide, T-20).

      HIV TREATMENT NEWS & INFORMATION

    The Body Pro's HIV JournalView Rounds Up the Top Research of 2004
    New research about HIV is constantly streaming in, but figuring out which study is truly significant is a continuing challenge. Can the world of HIV be changing that rapidly? Or are many of the studies not meaningful? How do you make sense of it all? Sometimes it's best to get the point of view of a savvy HIV clinician/researcher, who can boil down the research to a few crisp summaries and provide some pointed analysis. This is exactly what The Body Pro's Dr. David Wohl has done. He's put together a review of what he considers the best HIV research of 2004, including some of his hopes for 2005. It's now exclusively available at The Body Pro, The Body's sister site for healthcare professionals.


    How to Work With Your HIV Healthcare Providers
    Looking to develop the best possible relationship with your HIV doctor? Want to ensure you get the highest quality of care? From choosing a new doc to getting a second opinion, this lengthy list of tips from AIDS Community Research Initiative of America provides key points to keep in mind every step along the way.


    Positively Isolated: A Personal Story on Getting HIV Treatment in the Country
    Will you be better off getting your HIV care in a tiny doctor’s office out in the country instead of going to a huge, reputable clinic in a major city? That depends on the kind of care you’re looking for. For one HIV-positive baby boomer, rural Michigan gave him exactly what he needed -- the kind of personal attention that a bustling clinic wasn’t able to provide.


    Strategies for Making the Most of Rescue Therapy
    You’ve tried many HAART regimens, but for any number of reasons -- drug resistance, side effects, high costs -- none of them have lasted. Now you’re starting to run out of treatment options. What should you do? Read through this easy-to-read overview from Project Inform to get a better sense of some of your options.



    Resistance Testing: An Overview for the Medically Minded
    Choosing a new HAART regimen when you’re already resistant to some HIV meds can be complicated. Resistance testing is one method doctors use to try to make that process a little easier. Want to learn more about how resistance testing works? For people already familiar with medical terminology, this detailed overview provides an explanation.


    How Do Immune-Based Therapies Differ From HIV Antiretrovirals?
    Unlike antiretrovirals, which fight the HIV in your body, immune-based therapies have a different mission: to improve your body’s ability to fight off HIV on its own. In theory at least, these types of treatments would be less costly and less prone to creating side effects than long-term HAART. This overview from Search For A Cure explains immune-based therapies further, and talks about some potential therapies currently being studied.

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      HIV/STD TRANSMISSION

    New York Registers Cases of Potentially Severe STD; HIVers, Gay Men at Highest Risk
    New York City health officials urge men who have sex with men to have safe sex and try to limit their number of sex partners, with the announcement that a rare but dangerous sexually transmitted disease (STD) has been diagnosed in 2 local men. The chlamydia-like illness, lymphogranuloma venereum (LGV), can be treated with antibiotics, but can permanently damage a person's genitals and gastrointestinal system if not treated quickly. Recent LGV cases have now been diagnosed in Atlanta, New York, San Francisco and several Western European countries. Most diagnoses have been among HIV-positive people and men who have sex with men; fisting and unprotected anal sex are believed to increase the chances of infection.


    HIV Awareness Still Very Low Among African-American Women in North Carolina
    The HIV-infection rate for heterosexual black women in North Carolina was 14 times higher than that for white women in 2003. Why are so many black women getting HIV? There have been few studies examining HIV transmission among black women in the United States, particularly in the South. In a recent study, however, what the researchers found was startling. Although we are more than 2 decades into this epidemic, the majority of HIV-positive and HIV-negative black women examined in the study perceived themselves to be at low risk for HIV, although they all engaged in high-risk activities.

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      HIV PREVENTION

    U.S. National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day Calls Public Attention to Epidemic
    February 7 was National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness and Information Day in the United States. As this government press release states, although significant progress has been made in the fight against HIV, the African-American community continues to be disproportionately affected by the epidemic. African Americans make up approximately 12% of the U.S. population, but account for approximately half of newly reported HIV infections.

    For one day at least, media coverage of National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness and Information Day was thorough, with news articles and radio programs covering the day's events throughout the country.


    Controversial HIV Vaccine Moves Forward in Thailand
    Over the objections of many AIDS advocates, the U.S. government is proceeding with an HIV vaccine study in Thailand that critics say is a fundamentally flawed waste of taxpayer money. In this article, Richard Jefferys of Treatment Action Group explains why his organization thinks the trial is bad science.

    Looking for a little more background on this vaccine study, known by researchers as RV144? This study timeline from Treatment Action Group, which objects to the trial as it’s currently designed, will help bring you up to date.

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      HIV-RELATED HEALTH PROBLEMS

    Can Glitazones Treat Lipoatrophy?
    People suffering the effects of lipoatrophy -- a loss of fat under the skin -- have been urgently seeking solutions, with little success. Slowly but surely there are a growing number of small studies testing out treatments. Researchers are now zeroing in on a group of anti-diabetes drugs called glitazones as possible treatments. Two small, recent studies on these drugs have produced conflicting results, however. So what’s the deal -- do these experimental treatments still have potential? Project Inform takes a closer look.


    Warning Against Taking Tuberculosis Drug Rifampin With Boosted Saquinavir
    HIVers who are taking ritonavir (Norvir)-boosted saquinavir (Fortovase, Invirase) as part of their HAART regimens shouldn’t also take the tuberculosis drug rifampin (rifampicin, Rifadin, Rimactane, Rofact), according to a new warning issued to healthcare providers by Roche Laboratories, Inc. If the 2 drugs are taken together, they can potentially cause liver inflammation, the warning states.


    Metabolic Complications Update: Causes and Treatments
    Researchers from around the world gathered in Washington, D.C., in October 2004 for the 6th International Workshop on Adverse Drug Reactions and Lipodystrophy in HIV. In this wide-ranging conference summary, Todd Brown, M.D., and Joseph Cofrancesco Jr., M.D., M.P.H., analyze some of the studies presented at this conference, which focused on the causes and treatments of insulin resistance (which can lead to diabetes), lipoatrophy (wasting), cardiovascular disease and other metabolic complications in people with HIV. (Web highlight from The Hopkins HIV Report)

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      HIV/AIDS OUTSIDE THE UNITED STATES

    As Chinese New Year Begins, Premier Visits With HIV-Positive People
    The Chinese Year of the Rooster has begun, and in a deeply symbolic gesture, China's premier, Wen Jiabao, spent the first day of the Lunar New Year talking with HIV-positive people and eating dumplings with AIDS orphans. "You have been hurt by AIDS and have suffered the worst agonies, difficulties and loneliness," Wen said. "But the government and the party care about you." (Web highlight from the Associated Press)


    For the Love of Her Children: An AIDS Orphanage Thrives in Kenya
    For many of Nairobi's AIDS orphans, the organization Mothers of St. Rita offers a home away from home -- a place where they can eat, learn and play with other children in their situation, giving them a pivotal layer of support that society at large often doesn't, or can't, provide. The orphanage was started by 53-year-old Bernadette Otieno, who cared for her nephew after the rest of her younger sister's family was wiped out by AIDS in the 1990s. (Web highlight from The Nation, Nairobi)


    Six Million Dying of AIDS Amid Tsunami Largesse
    It took just 3 weeks for the world to pledge nearly US$6 billion to the tsunami relief effort, in the wake of a natural disaster that claimed the lives of more than 250,000 people. The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria has also received about US$6 billion in pledges -- but it's taken 3 years to accumulate it, although millions of people die every year from those diseases. (Web highlight from Inter Press Service)

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    Connect With Others at
    The Body's Bulletin Boards

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

    "I have been pos since Nov 03. I have been having a hard time-esp lately. I have been having lots of suicidal thoughts. I am not on any meds yet, but the things that I was using as my reasons to live are quickly depleting. .... I just want to know if there are other people that r out there that have felt the same way, just to talk and get past this. ... I am already seeing a shrink, but it isn't helping much except for the hour that I am there."
    -- Anonymous

    Click here to join this discussion thread, or to start your own!
    Art From HIV-Positive Artists
    Image from the February 2005 Visual AIDS Web Gallery
    "Billie Holiday's Strange Fruit,"
    2002; Mark Carter
    Visit the February 2005 Visual AIDS Web Gallery to view this month's new collection of art by HIV-positive artists!
    Are You a Visual Artist
    Living With HIV/AIDS?
    Join Visual AIDS' Archive Project! The project supports artists living with HIV while preserving a visual record of the work that member artists produce.

    The Archive Project is a slide resource containing the works of visual artists with HIV. It welcomes submissions from artists living with HIV and the estates of those who have died from AIDS.

    Interested in joining the Archive Project? Click here to learn more.

    Buyers' Clubs Can Offer Discounts on Vitamins, Supplements

    Houston Buyers Club

    The Houston Buyers Club is one of several organizations in the United States that sell nutritional supplements at a reduced cost to people living with HIV/AIDS and other chronic illnesses such as diabetes, hepatitis C and cancer.

    For a listing of other buyers' clubs in the United States, click here.
    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.