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March 9, 2005

In This Update:
  • Latest HIV Treatment Research
  • Other HIV Treatment News
  • Living With HIV
  • HIV-Related Health Problems
  • HIV Prevention News (U.S.)
  • HIV Policy & Activism (U.S.)
  • HIV/AIDS Outside the U.S.

    Acute HIV Infection: An Ideal Time for Treatment?
    One of the biggest questions for people recently infected with HIV is whether it is wise to begin treatment during this early period of infection. Some studies say yes, others no. Brian Conway, M.D., reviews some new studies on this topic that were presented at the 12th Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI 2005). His conclusion? "Acute HIV infection only comes around once, and it may well be a unique opportunity to intervene."

    Tipranavir Update: Promising Drug for People With Resistance
    As the protease inhibitor tipranavir nears U.S. approval, new studies continue to show the drug's potential in HIVers with multi-drug resistance. Gerald Pierone Jr., M.D., reports from CROI 2005.

    Visit CROI 2005 at The Body for More Expert Analyses of Breaking Research
    Looking for more reviews of the latest HIV research to come out of CROI 2005? The Body is the place to find it: Browse through highlights, Webcasts and exclusive summaries of key studies from this important HIV medical conference. Our coverage continues to roll in!



    Nevirapine Often Still a Wise Choice for Women
    If there are so many different cases in which women shouldn't use nevirapine (Viramune), why should any woman ever take the drug? Two reasons: One, it can save your life, and two, it can save your baby's life, writes Cara Emery of AIDS Survival Project. "Yes, liver failure may be fatal," she says. "But so is HIV, especially if it is untreated."

    More Support for Treatment Holidays in Some HIVers
    The Body has highlighted many articles in this newsletter over the past year examining the potential benefits (and risks) of structured treatment interruptions. The latest study to come through the pipe continues the trend of research finding that people who were in pretty good health when they started treatment (a CD4 count that never dropped below 250) -- and remain in pretty good health now (a CD4 count above 500) -- may be able to safely take a treatment holiday for a year or longer. (Web highlight from

    For more info on the pros and cons of taking a structured treatment interruption, browse through The Body's collection of articles.



    Good Nutrition: Often Overlooked, But Awfully Important
    It's National Nutrition Month in the United States -- what better time to point out how important good nutrition is for people living with HIV? The Body's comprehensive collection of articles provides advice, nutrition tips and information on healthy living for HIVers.

    Tips for Ensuring a Smooth Doctor/Patient Relationship
    Are you afraid your doctor may be missing an illness or a medication side effect that you're certain you have? What's the best way to say so without offending your doctor -- or, worse, without your doc waving off your concerns as misinformed paranoia? David Elfstrom provides some tips on how to keep your next doctor's appointment from turning into a pitched battle over symptoms and diagnoses.

    The Spiritual Side of HIV Treatment
    "Body, mind and spirit are interconnected and essentially determine who we are as human beings," says Guy Pujol of AIDS Survival Project. "Caring for our spiritual selves, therefore, is just as important as monitoring CD4 counts and viral load." In this article, Guy explains his theories on the body-soul connection in HIV.



    The Bottom Line on Facial Wasting
    Facial wasting (a.k.a. lipoatrophy) is one of the most challenging side effects facing people with HIV who are on treatment. What are the main risk factors for this disfiguring problem? What treatments are available to people with facial fat loss, besides the widely known poly-L-lactic acid (Sculptra, New-Fill)? Project Inform answers these questions and more in this informative overview.

    Large U.S. Transplant Study Seeks Volunteers
    It used to be that people with HIV who needed a liver or kidney transplant had virtually no chance of getting one. Now there is a large, multi-city U.S. study on kidney and liver transplants in HIVers that is looking for enrollees. You don't need to actually be in imminent need of a transplant to join the study, which will try to assess the risks and outcomes of organ transplants in people with HIV.



    Black Churches Mobilize to Spread HIV Awareness
    This week is the 16th Annual Black Church Week of Prayer for the Healing of AIDS, in which thousands of black churches throughout the United States, Africa and the Caribbean join in an effort to help prevent the spread of HIV. This yearly tradition is an extremely important effort by churches to preach HIV education from the pulpit as well as from the streets. The need for these kinds of efforts only continues to grow: African-Americans accounted for 54% of new HIV/AIDS cases in 2002, and the disease is the leading cause of death among African-American men ages 35 to 44.

    Washington State Takes Step Toward Banning Abstinence-Only Education
    Washington state's House of Representatives has passed a bill that would prevent high schools from offering abstinence-only education. Schools that choose to teach sex education -- a subject not required in Washington -- would have to discuss contraception as well as abstinence. The bill must still pass the state Senate and receive the governor's signature in order to become law.

    Novel HIV/STD Prevention Program Makes Headway in U.S. South
    With the number of U.S. women with HIV/AIDS almost tripling between 1993-2002, there's more reason than ever to find new ways to help HIV-positive women live safer, healthier lives. A project called WiLLOW is one result. The WiLLOW program, in which small groups of HIV-positive women sit down with a female health educator and an HIV-positive female peer educator, was tested in Alabama and Georgia. The study found that women in the program developed fewer bacterial sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and understood more about HIV than women who weren't in the program.

    Global Support for Needle Exchange Programs to Prevent HIV
    Some congressional Republicans have been working to prevent U.S. federal funding from going to groups that advocate needle-exchange programs to reduce the spread of HIV among injection drug users. In fact, USAID policy already prohibits federal funding from going to needle-exchange efforts. However, as a major international conference on narcotic drugs geared up, more than 300 scientists, policy analysts, human rights proponents and AIDS advocates from 56 countries signed an open letter urging the conference to resist U.S. pressure to withdraw from needle-exchange programs. Here's a look at what some are saying in support of the use of needle exchange as an HIV prevention method.



    Emergency ADAP Funding Doesn't Benefit Everyone
    Last summer, President Bush funneled $20 million in emergency funding into many of the United States' AIDS Drug Assistance Programs (ADAPs), in order to provide HIV meds to people stuck on waiting lists. As with any government initiative, though, the eligibility rules for these emergency funds can be confusing. This fact sheet provides some answers.

    AIDS Advocacy Regroups for Second Bush Term; Nationwide Events Planned
    What does it mean to be an AIDS advocate in the United States today, and how can HIVers be sure that AIDS advocates are fighting for their best interests? AIDS activism has done a good bit of soul-searching lately -- especially since the re-election of George W. Bush last fall. The result of that soul-searching is a renewed push for huge, headline-grabbing events that everyone can get involved in, explains Jeff Graham, the executive director of Atlanta's AIDS Survival Project.

    HIV Discrimination Suit Against American Airlines Gets New Life
    In 1998 and 1999, three men received job offers from American Airlines, contingent on the results of medical examinations and background checks. After blood tests showed that the men were HIV positive, American Airlines withdrew the job offers on the basis that the men failed to disclose accurate information in their medical history questionnaires. The men sued for discrimination. The case was dismissed in 2003, but a Federal Court reinstated the lawsuit last week.



    Three HIV Scenarios for Africa, None of Them Good
    The HIV pandemic in Africa can take three different paths over the next 20 years, a new United Nations report says. Depressingly, the report's best-case scenario would still mean that 67 million Africans will have been killed by the virus by 2025 -- and that's even with an optimistic 70% of the continent's HIVers on treatment. A US$200 billion investment would be needed just to achieve that level of success, the report says. The worst-case scenario: 83 million AIDS-related deaths, with 89 million new infections between 2003 and 2025.

    "African Potatoes": The Anti-Cure?
    Olive oil, onions, garlic, a little lemon and an herb called Hypoxis hemerocallidea (better known as "African potato," though it's not at all related to an actual potato). No, it's not this year's answer to the Atkins diet; it's the prescription that South Africa's top health official (who is, by the way, much despised by South African AIDS activists) says people with HIV should use to boost their immune system. There's only one problem: It might actually do more harm than good. Garlic supplements are known to interfere with some HIV medications, and a new study has found that those "African potatoes" might do the same. (Web highlight from the Sunday Independent, South Africa)

    Where the Fish Go, You'll Also Find HIV
    Many of us might not know that HIV was first discovered in epidemic form in central African fishing villages. In fact, fishing communities throughout the developing world tend to have higher HIV rates and worse access to HIV care than the general population. What is it that puts these fisherfolk at risk? Their mobility; their access to a daily source of cash in a society struck by poverty and vulnerability; the availability of commercial sex in fishing ports; and a subculture of risk taking. (Web highlight from This Day, Nigeria)

    A Second Look at Botswana's HIV Beauty Pageant
    Last week, we highlighted a story on Botswana's third "Miss HIV Stigma Free 2005" beauty pageant, a momentous event in a country (and a region) where people with HIV often avoid disclosing their status in public because of widespread discrimination. This BBC News article on the pageant offers a little more on this story, along with some photos of the contestants. (Web highlight from BBC News)


    Connect With Others at
    The Body's Bulletin Boards

    "Fairy Tales Did Not Come True!"

    "I feel like the last year has been a nightmare and I keep waking each day and hoping that my life will be what it used to be before I contracted this virus. But each day I awake and it is the same outcome. I had, as many others do and did, such plans for my life and my life with my now husband.

    "Much of the plans were fairytale based and I guess right now I am going through the dark valley of the souls. ... I want to know so badly what happened to my dreams? Where have they gone? What has happened to me? Why have I changed so much over the last year because of a disease?

    "I have always considered myself a strong willed person BUT this virus is BREAKING me down. It is ruining my marriage, has stolen my dreams, hurt my loved ones and friends that know and completely altered everything that I have worked so hard for in my life and worked towards having.

    "I just needed to vent cause I feel like I am dying inside ... little by little my soul is being eaten up and my heart is broken, which I wonder if I will ever get back my feelings of 'being normal/feeling normal' again?????"
    -- Jessie

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

    Art From HIV-Positive Artists
    Image from the March 2005 Visual AIDS Web Gallery
    "Forest," 1997; Tom Belloff
    Visit the March 2005 Visual AIDS Web Gallery to view this month's new collection of art by HIV-positive artists!

    Your Unused HIV Meds
    Can Save Lives!


    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.