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March 16, 2005

In This Update:
  • HIV/HAART-Related Health Problems
  • HIV Treatment
  • HIV Prevention
  • HIV/AIDS Outside the U.S.

    Lipodystrophy "Checklist" for HIV-Positive Women
    Are you an HIV-positive woman who's concerned about developing lipodystrophy? Changes in the way your clothes fit or your body feels can be a warning sign. Run through this checklist of 13 questions, provided by Project Inform, and talk to your doctor if you think you might be experiencing body changes.

    Can Human Growth Hormone Treat Lipodystrophy?
    Researchers are investigating human growth hormone -- which is already used to treat AIDS-related wasting -- to see if it can help people with various types of lipodystrophy as well. It's important to note, though, that human growth hormone is not yet an approved lipodystrophy treatment -- which means it could be difficult to get insurance to pay for it if your doctor prescribes it for that purpose. Also remember that prescription human growth hormone is different from "herbal" or "natural" human growth hormone, which is sold over-the-counter and is unlikely to have the same benefits of the prescription drug.

    The lipodystrophy checklist and human growth hormone overview above are just two parts of a much larger overview of lipodystrophy in women provided by Project Inform's Wise Words. Click here to read the full article!

    Distilling Hepatitis C Treatment Guidelines
    If you’ve been diagnosed with hepatitis C, what are the next steps you should take? U.S. government guidelines can help, but they can also be difficult to make sense of, since they’re written by physicians and researchers. This fact sheet from PositiveWords whittles those dense guidelines down to the essentials.



    Be Your Doctor's Safety Net
    "I see my relationship with my current doctor as a partnership," says Kath Webster. Her doctor might be the medical expert, but all the decisions are ultimately Kath's to make. Although Webster says she trusts her doctor's opinion, she also realizes that even physicians make mistakes, so she learns as much as she can about HIV and its effects on her health. Having the ability to catch her doctor's mistakes gives Kath an awful lot of power over her body -- and her HIV.

    200 Alabama HIVers May Lose ADAP Coverage
    Alabama's AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP) sent letters to the doctors of 200 HIV-positive people who receive HIV meds through the program. The letters said that the 200 people will be dropped from ADAP unless the state Legislature approves $1 million in emergency funding by April.

    How About Tat: An Old-But-New Type of HIV Medication
    Years ago, researchers developed a new kind of HIV medication that blocks a protein called Tat, which HIV needs in order to reproduce. Though it looked good in the lab, the drug failed to work in HIV-positive people, and it was tossed onto the medication scrap heap. Recently, though, this discounted drug has gotten renewed attention. In this interview, researcher Dr. Olaf Kutsch discusses the potential rebirth of Tat-based medications.

    A Pocket Guide to HIV Treatment (PDF)
    It's almost like having an HIV doctor whenever you need one: The Pocket Guide to Adult HIV/AIDS Treatment is a free, printable reference that provides medical information about HIV meds, treatment strategies and HIV- or HAART-related health problems. It was created for use by healthcare professionals, but anyone with a little HIV savvy can find it a valuable, handy tool. (Web highlight from the Johns Hopkins AIDS Service)

    My Friend Ritonavir: The Concept of "Boosting"
    More than a year after the price of ritonavir (Norvir) skyrocketed by 400%, spurring international protest, the drug is as widely used as ever -- if not more so. "Boosting" protease inhibitors with ritonavir has become increasingly necessary, since researchers have found that doing so often lessens the side effects, pill burden and dietary restrictions of many protease inhibitors. In this research update, Dr. Marta Boffito of London's Chelsea and Westminster Hospital reviews what we know about boosting to date. (Web highlight from The PRN Notebook)



    HIV Peer Education: Hitting At-Risk Youth Close to Home
    When HIV prevention not only comes from peers, but from peers who have HIV, it can offer a strong dose of reality. Yuri, who was diagnosed with HIV when he was 17, last year helped found P4 (Positive Peers Promoting Prevention) in Miami. The group's members are HIV-positive people in their teens and 20s who focus on spreading info about HIV prevention to at-risk youths.

    Webcast: Where Crystal Meth and HIV Meet
    The spread of HIV doesn't happen in a bubble; high-risk behavior, drug use and unprotected sex help it spread. Crystal methamphetamine use is becoming an epidemic of its own in the United States, especially among gay men, and helps contribute to the spread of HIV. A panel of experts recently gathered to talk about this risky combination, and what steps communities can take to lessen crystal meth's dangerous impact on HIV transmission. (Web highlight from

    Medieval Plague May Explain Resistance to HIV
    Could it be that some of Europe's most devastating plagues have had an unexpected benefit: natural resistance to HIV? British researchers say it's likely; since many of the plagues that swept through Europe during the Middle Ages attacked CD4 cells the same way that HIV does, people who survived those plagues were more likely to have a genetic mutation that blunted the attack. The descendants of those survivors still have that mutation, which helps protect them from HIV infection. (Web highlight from Agence de Presse Medicale)

    African-American Community Slow to Wake Up to Rapid Spread of HIV
    "[AIDS] has not been part of our consciousness," says Phill Wilson, executive director of the Black AIDS Institute in Los Angeles. "The perception that AIDS is primarily, if not exclusively, a white gay disease persists to this day." But the growing HIV rate among African Americans -- about 2% of all African Americans now have HIV -- is beginning to strip away that denial, and forcing black leaders and health workers to confront the epidemic more openly. (Web highlight from the St. Petersburg Times)

    United States Puts the Brakes on Global Push Toward Needle Exchange
    On March 14, a major international meeting on controlling narcotic drugs concluded with no major progress to report on one major issue: needle exchange. In this opinion piece, Toronto Star columnist Carol Goar laments the United States' stubborn refusal to consider needle exchange -- or basically anything other than abstinence -- as a viable way to fight HIV. "No one disputes Bush's contention that AIDS would spread less quickly if no one had sex before marriage, no one was promiscuous, no one was raped or forced into prostitution and no one used injection drugs," she writes. "But in a world of pain and poverty, that's not going to happen. For all its resources and good intentions, America is a tragically blinkered general in a fight the world can't afford to lose." (Web highlight from the Toronto Star)



    The Mission: Change Men, Prevent HIV in South Africa
    "I'm glad I'm a man because I can have multiple partners," writes one South African man. "If I were a man I could sleep around the way I want," writes a South African woman. Both are taking part in a workshop called Men as Partners, an HIV prevention program in South Africa that encourages open communication about sex between men and women -- and that encourages men to take greater responsibility for their health and the health of their partners. (Web highlight from Christian Science Monitor)

    British Doctors Call for Free Nationwide HIV Treatment
    A new report by four British HIV experts says that the government should consider HIV prevention, diagnosis and treatment to be a human right, and should use taxpayer dollars to give those services to everyone in the United Kingdom who needs it. The report calls for Britain to reclassify HIV as a sexually transmitted disease, so that even asylum seekers and other immigrants can be treated for free by Britain's National Health Service. (Web highlight from The Guardian)

    Global Women's AIDS Coalition Seeks Inspiration in United States
    A delegation of the Global Coalition on Women and AIDS recently began a five-city U.S. tour to discuss women's experiences and to learn new prevention strategies for women. "The purpose of our Global Coalition is to shine a bright light on the very specific problems women and girls face, and to learn what works to fight them," said Dr. Kathleen Cravero, the deputy executive director of UNAIDS, who led the visit.


    Connect With Others at
    The Body's Bulletin Boards

    "Just Found Out
    About It"

    (A recent post from
    the "Gay Men" board)

    "I'm 27 years old and just found out on 2/9/05 that I'm HIV positive and scared as hell ... As I sat in the hospital, I thought to myself, is this it? ... What is going to happen to family and friends when they find out? As I started to cry and think about it, [I thought,] why should I worry about that, if they love me they should be there no matter what happens, right? Well, as days go by and tears continue to fall, I open up to my family and friends, to see that they are still here. WOW!!!

    "But why am I still depressed about things, and also worried about what the next day is going to bring? I try to be strong, but it is hard sometimes just to think, what is the next chapter of your life going to be?"
    -- mickeymouse

    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
    "God Smiles," 1995; Joel Wateres
    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.