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February 23, 2005

In This Update:
  • Coming This Week: CROI 2005
  • HIV Treatment
  • HIV/STD Transmission & Notification
  • Living With HIV
  • HIV-Related Health Problems
  • U.S. Policy & Activism
  • HIV/AIDS Outside the U.S.

    As we noted in our e-mail announcement yesterday, the year's most important AIDS medical conference is now underway in Boston. About 4,000 top HIV researchers have gathered for the 12th Annual Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI 2005). And The Body is there to cover it! From initial to rescue treatment, from side effects to drug resistance, from simpler HAART regimens to new antiretrovirals, The Body's CROI 2005 area is the place to go for the latest breaking HIV research. Fifteen world-class HIV physicians will provide exclusive recaps throughout the conference, as well as comprehensive overviews on important areas of research shortly after the conference ends on Feb. 25!

    In the meantime, check out the action for yourself: Webcasts of all major presentations and speeches are being posted at the CROI 2005 official Web site. Last night's opening keynote speech featured the head of the World Health Organization, who remained optimistic about the group's goal to treat three million people with HIV by the end of this year, but admitted that it would be extremely difficult to achieve. (Read more on that story in our "HIV/AIDS Outside the United States" section below.)



    Therapeutic Vaccines: Still on the Horizon
    How close are we to developing a new type of vaccine that can strengthen an HIVer's natural immune response to the virus? John Hawes brings us in for a closer look at these so-called "therapeutic vaccines." Researchers hope that, in time, these vaccines will become a less-toxic complement to HIV meds, and provide new options for people with multi-drug resistance.

    Enter the Entry Inhibitors
    Although it's been nearly two years since the U.S. approval of T-20 (enfuvirtide, Fuzeon), it's still the only fusion inhibitor available, and there's nothing new coming out on the short-term horizon. But the fusion inhibitor is just one type of drug that's part of a larger class known as "entry inhibitors," and there's been plenty of movement on that front. Dr. Daniel S. Berger explains.

    Successes and Failures of Treatment Interruption Strategies
    What are some of the reasons that HIVers decide to take a break from their meds? From relieving medication side effects to simply taking a much-needed break, the reasons are obvious to most anyone who's had to take HIV meds every day for years on end. Project Inform examines what current studies show about how successful each treatment interruption strategy is.



    Debate Continues Over Importance of Multi-Drug Resistant HIV Strain
    It's been nearly two weeks since news first broke about a rapidly progressing, multi-drug resistant strain of HIV -- and we're still not sure how significant the discovery is. The strain appears somewhat similar to one found in two HIVers in Canada several years ago, when warnings of an imminent superbug were also triggered but then fizzled out. Meanwhile, reports that an HIV strain had been found in San Diego that was similar to the New York City strain also appear to have been overblown.

    Palm Beach Official E-mails Confidential List of HIVers to 800 Colleagues
    A health department statistician in Palm Beach County, Fla., accidentally e-mailed a confidential list of the names of 6,500 HIV-positive county residents to 800 of his colleagues, immediately triggering a frantic scramble to ensure that the list wouldn't become public. The health department said it was "99% sure" that the list didn't make it outside the health department; 10 people had opened the e-mail before it was purged from the department's system, but none of them had saved, printed, forwarded or stored the list.



    Getting to Know Your New HIV Health Worker: Give It Time
    Just starting with a new HIV doc? Give it time, Dr. L. Jeannine Bookhardt-Murray says -- you won't necessarily know right away if he or she is a good fit. "It may take four or five visits with a new provider in order to find out if it will work. Personalities sometimes need time to adjust to one another in order for the relationship to take shape."

    Don't Be Passive About Your Health Care, HIVer Warns
    "Blah blah, blah blah blah, blah," was more or less what Patricia Storey used to hear whenever her doctors spoke. She never listened, never learned, never really cared about her healthcare -- until she was diagnosed with HIV. "I no longer take on the role of a spectator when it comes to my healthcare," she admits.



    Women With Low Weight Have Greater Risk of Nevirapine Liver Problems
    Underweight HIV-positive women -- those with a body mass index below 18.5 -- are at a greater risk than other HIV-positive women of developing severe liver problems from using nevirapine (Viramune), according to South African researchers. Their study was conducted among South Africans with HIV who had never been on treatment before. In most cases, there were warning signs that suggested a nevirapine-related side effect was taking place, usually the development of rash, nausea or fever during the first 12 weeks of nevirapine use. (Web highlight from

    A Review of HIV and HAART Health Problems in Women
    HIV doesn't always treat men and women the same way. The virus, and the meds used to fight it, can impact women in different ways -- women tend to get more lipodystrophy around their midsections than men do, for instance, and HIV-positive women experience headache and fatigue more frequently than HIV-positive men. In this review, Patrice K. Nicholas points out some of the HIV- and HAART-related health problems that tend to affect women.

    Can a Stronger Immune System Sometimes Make You Sick?
    If you start HIV treatment when your CD4 count is low, there's a chance you might experience something called "immune reconstitution inflammatory syndrome" (IRIS), which happens, ironically, when your immune system begins to grow stronger. If you had some kind of coinfection or underlying illness, your HIV may have weakened your immune system too much to fight that infection off. But as your immune system strengthens, it launches an attack against that infection, triggering IRIS. Nicholas Cheonis of the San Francisco AIDS Foundation has more.

    Headaches and HIV: Causes and Solutions
    Got a headache? Everybody gets them (especially in this political climate), but in people with HIV, the causes may be slightly different. In this overview, Dr. Gregory Pauxtis discusses a few of the potential triggers for headaches in HIV-positive people, and reviews some of the medications that doctors sometimes recommend to prevent or treat them.



    Another Half-Baked Abstinence Idea Pops Out of the Oven, Activist Says
    Did you know the United States has its own abstinence czar? He goes by the rather un-abstinence-sounding name Wade Horn, and he was recently appointed by -- who else? -- George W. Bush to head a new federal program to promote abstinence. "This tired, recycled and very retro Nancy Reagan approach is doomed, and so is Wade Horn," writes outspoken AIDS activist David Salyer. He explains why Horn's appointment is only the latest of many attempts by conservatives to put a fresh coat of paint on something that's never really worked.



    WHO's "3 by 5 Initiative" Can Still Be Achieved, Director Insists
    Meeting the World Health Organization (WHO)'s 3 by 5 Initiative target to treat three million people with antiretrovirals by the end of the year will be "extremely difficult," WHO's HIV/AIDS Program Director Jim Yong Kim said on Feb. 22 at the 12th Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections in Boston. The organization said that 700,000 people in developing countries were on treatment at the end of 2004. Although some countries -- including Botswana and Uganda -- have either met their treatment targets or expect to meet them soon, Kim said that India, Nigeria and South Africa most urgently needed to ramp up their efforts.

    Lack of HIV in U.S. Babies May Mean the World's Children Will Suffer, N.Y. Times Says
    Could the fact that mother-to-child HIV transmission has been "nearly wiped out" in the United States and Western Europe be "bad news for the rest of the world"? A New York Times editorial states that, "with few children with AIDS in rich nations, [drug] companies will have little incentive to improve on current pediatric AIDS products, and governments will continue to make sick children an afterthought."


    Connect With Others at
    The Body's Bulletin Boards

    Recent post:
    "Taking charge of your life"

    "Lately I have been trying to coax myself into starting meds. I am not in the danger zone quite, yet my t-cells flux between 300-400 and for the most part of feel fine. I have had symptoms in the past such as shingles ... I am optimistic and never complain about my disease, I just go with it, but I am scared of the meds. I read posts from people I guess hoping for some inspiration which I do get sometimes, but other times I hear the meds are worse than the disease. I want to fight but not for nothing. Not for a few years of horrible side effects that won't let me leave the house. ... All this has me frozen in my tracks. How did you guys overcome these fears and move on."
    -- stefsorg

    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
    "Incident at Waverly Lane," 1992;
    Martin Wong
    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.