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Wednesday, Feb. 16 at 9 p.m.: Chat live at The Body about HIV rescue treatment!
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February 16, 2005

In This Update:
  • Join The Body's Live Chat Tonight!
  • New York City Reports Rare HIV Strain
  • HIV Treatment
  • HIV Testing & Transmission
  • HIV/AIDS Services & Care
  • HIV-Related Health Problems
  • HIV/AIDS Outside the U.S.

    Chat Time: Wednesday (that's today!), Feb. 16, at 9 p.m. Eastern Standard Time (6 p.m. Pacific). The chat will last about one hour.

    Chat Place:
    Click here a few minutes before the chat is scheduled to start. You'll be able to log in anonymously and immediately join the online discussion. If the link we just gave you doesn't work, copy and paste this address into your browser:

    Chat Info
    : Our featured speaker, Nelson Vergel, will discuss HIV treatment options for people with multi-drug resistance, as well as related issues like new drugs in development and health advice for treatment-experienced people. Nelson is a widely known HIV treatment advocate who's been living with HIV for more than 20 years.

    This chat is sponsored by Trimeris and Roche.

    We hope to see you at the chat tonight!



    The Release:

    New York City Resident Diagnosed With Rare Strain of Multi-Drug Resistant HIV That Rapidly Progresses to AIDS
    A highly drug-resistant, unusually fast-progressing strain of HIV has reportedly been spotted in a New York City man -- and in this public statement, health officials warn people at risk for HIV, especially men who have sex with men, to protect themselves by avoiding risky sex. The diagnosed man was infected only a few months ago, but has already progressed to full-blown AIDS, according to the health department. The man is also said to be resistant to three of the four major drug classes. He apparently became infected with HIV through unsafe sex, which he often participated in after taking crystal meth.

    The Response:

    Is This Announcement Cause for Alarm?
    What's up with all this tumult over the rare HIV strain apparently discovered in one solitary New York City man? Does it mean we need to completely rethink HIV prevention for gay men? Some say yes, some say no: The U.S. AIDS community is embroiled in a debate over just how alarmed we should all be at this news, and over what we should do about it.

    Measured, Careful Response -- Not Panic -- Is Warranted, Org Says
    The San Francisco AIDS organization Project Inform has released this point-by-point response to the New York City Department of Health's public statement on the HIV strain. It notes that, since so many aspects of this story are still uncertain, it's important not to jump to any conclusions or raise too much alarm.

    A New HIV Superbug? AIDS Advocate Begs to Differ
    In this scathing opinion piece, David Scondras of Search for a Cure points out that this isn't the first time U.S. health officials have sounded the alarm about a virulent, multi-drug resistant HIV strain -- and that in the past, those warnings have turned out to be overblown. He writes that "The new 'superbug' is as well documented as Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. The 'superbug' is not new, not super, not widespread, not demonstrably increasing in number and certainly not an immediate crisis."

    The Brits Chime In: It's the Policy, Stupid
    An editor for the British HIV news organization NAM, in recapping the events surrounding this story, can't help but wonder if the U.S. media explosion over this HIV strain is really due to the danger of the strain itself. "Perhaps the reason for the reaction to this case and its reporting lies not in its medical significance, but in its importance to current U.S. debates on comprehensive or abstinence-only HIV prevention," he writes. (Web highlight from



    Marijuana -- When Taken for Nausea -- Improves HAART Adherence, Study Says
    One of the most common side effects of HIV and HAART is moderate to severe nausea. Many HIVers with nausea use marijuana to alleviate the queasiness, although some recent studies have suggested that pot use may reduce HAART adherence. But based on a survey of HIV-positive people in California, researchers say that those earlier studies weren't entirely correct. In fact, they found that people with nausea who used marijuana were three times as likely to adhere to their regimens as people with nausea who didn't use marijuana. However, the survey also found that people without nausea who used marijuana were less likely to adhere to their regimens than people without nausea who didn't use pot. (Web highlight from

    HIV Docs Sound Off on First-Line Therapy Choices
    Although there are only a few HAART regimens that the U.S. health department says are "preferred" as first-line HIV treatment, many docs take a more personalized approach when they decide what combination of drugs to prescribe. The San Francisco AIDS Foundation recently interviewed a range of doctors throughout the country about how they choose first-line regimens for their patients; here's what they had to say.

    Injection-Free T-20? Studies Will Test a New Delivery Method
    Trimeris and Roche have begun tests to determine whether their fusion inhibitor T-20 (enfuvirtide, Fuzeon) can be administered using the needle-free device known as the Biojector instead of a standard syringe. The Biojector is powered by carbon dioxide, and disperses fluid through the skin without actually breaking the skin's surface. The device has already been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, but hasn't been studied for use with T-20.



    Many HIV-Positive Parents Avoid Contact With Their Children
    More than a quarter of the people on HIV treatment in the United States have children under age 18, University of California-Los Angeles researchers say. So how does being HIV positive affect parent-child interaction? The researchers interviewed 344 HIV-positive parents, and found that nearly one in five avoided kissing their children on the lips because they were afraid they'd give their kids HIV. About the same percentage avoided sharing eating utensils for the same reason. The results show that, despite widespread HIV education efforts, many people remain confused about HIV risk and mistakenly believe that casual contact can transmit HIV.

    Studies Support Routine HIV Screening Throughout U.S.
    HIV screening as a part of a person's regular doctor's visit? U.S. experts have debated the issue for years. Now, two new studies in a major medical journal say it's not just a smart idea -- it's cost-effective, too. Of course, routine, voluntary HIV screening won't end the United States' HIV epidemic, and better access to health care, full sensitivity training for health workers and adequate post-test counseling are all essential as well. But perhaps these two studies will finally help make routine HIV screening a reality in the United States.



    Shrinking Funds Hurt HIV Case Management in Atlanta
    It used to be that most any HIV-positive person could quickly find a case manager who would help coordinate all the different aspects of their health, financial and mental care. Deep funding cuts, however, are forcing some areas to cut back on these services, so that not everybody who would like to get case management can get it. In the Atlanta area, for instance, new rules going into effect on May 1 will restrict case management to people who meet certain requirements. Social worker Mary Lynn Hemphill explains.

    Canadian Advocates Create Space to Make HIVers Feel at Ease
    In one of the many attempts AIDS advocates are making to battle HIV stigma and depression, workers in Ottawa, Canada, have opened the "Living Room," a drop-in center set up to provide a home-like space for people with HIV. Among the services offered by the Living Room are a community kitchen and nutritional education.



    Overview of Neurological Complications in HIV-Positive People
    Difficulty thinking straight; vision problems; numbness in the feet or hands; seizures -- any of these problems can be a sign of what doctors call neurological complications. They can be caused by anything from HIV to HAART to coinfections to completely unrelated health problems. In this very straightforward, clinical review, Drs. Venkat K. Rao and Florian P. Thomas discuss some of the neurological problems that people may experience at different stages of HIV infection.

    Protease Inhibitors Up Risk of Heart Disease
    The use of protease inhibitors for longer than two months increases an HIVer's risk of developing cardiovascular disease, but not nearly as much as factors such as smoking, age, diabetes and a previous history of heart problems, according to the results of a large new study by U.S. researchers. Earlier studies have also suggested a link between HAART use and heart disease risk. (Web highlight from

    The Basics on HIV/Hepatitis B Coinfection
    If you're HIV positive and you've also been diagnosed with hepatitis B, what are your treatment options? This overview from PositiveWords provides some basic facts on treatment for people who are coinfected with HIV and hepatitis B.



    Lancet Presses South Africa to Seriously Confront HIV Epidemic
    Local activists and international organizations have been trying for years to move South African President Thabo Mbeki to implement a plan to provide free antiretrovirals to millions of South African HIV-positive residents. Mbeki has largely ignored them all, and the country's current treatment plan has fallen far short of expectations. Now the well-known British medical journal Lancet has joined in with a plea of its own.

    Meanwhile, Mbeki used his latest State of the Nation address to attempt to reclaim the high ground on his country's stumbling effort to fight HIV. In his speech, he said that the government's "comprehensive plan" for fighting HIV is being implemented with "greater vigor." Researchers, however, say that only about one of every 50 HIV-positive people in South Africa who need antiretrovirals are receiving them.

    World's HIV Prevention Messages Are Failing, Clinicians Warn
    In the United Kingdom and throughout much of the world, HIV infection rates are still rising, write a pair of clinicians in the prominent British medical journal BMJ. "The underlying reason for this continuing increase is socioeconomic, but the increase also represents a failure of prevention." So what's the solution? The authors ponder some possible approaches. (Web highlight from BMJ)


    Connect With Others at
    The Body's Bulletin Boards

    Recent post: "Mixed status
    GWM -- tell him it's OK"

    "I've known a wonderful guy for a couple years now. We've been talking about taking that step into a relationship. I believe we really do love each other. Problem is, he just found out that he is HIV+. We'll, I'm negative. Honestly, I don't see it as a problem. This guy means the world to me and I want to be with him. How can I show him that knowing is half the battle, life's not over, we could have many great years together and IT CAN WORK? "
    -- Anonymous

    Click here to join this discussion thread, or to start your own!

    New Posters Highlight
    AIDS Education Campaign
    "Safety Is Key When Communicating With Human Fluids," by Neil Farber
    by Neil Farber
    This striking poster by Neil Farber is one of four "broadsides" created as part of an AIDS awareness campaign by Visual AIDS. The posters will be distributed to AIDS and cultural organizations, and are available while supplies last. PDFs of each poster can be downloaded here.
    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.