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March 31, 2005

In This Update:
  • HIV Transmission & Testing
  • Multi-Drug Resistant HIV Update
  • HIV Prevention
  • HIV Treatment & Health Problems
  • HIV/AIDS Outside the U.S.

    New HIV Infections in Wisconsin Hit Seven-Year High
    In the latest sign that the rebound in U.S. HIV infections isn't just happening in major cities, the state of Wisconsin has reported a 15% jump in new HIV infections last year. The 417 new infections are more than Wisconsin has seen in a year since 1997.

    Heterosexuals Get Tested for HIV Later Than Homosexual, Bisexual Men
    Heterosexual men and women generally test positive for HIV at a later stage of HIV disease (i.e., with a CD4 count under 200) than homosexual or bisexual men, according to a recent British study. The findings synch up with U.S. research on HIV testing, which also found that heterosexuals tend to be "late testers" and highlighted the need to focus HIV awareness on people who may often not consider themselves to be at risk for becoming infected.



    Through a recent flurry of press releases, an HIV physician and health official in the New York City area continue to stir the cauldron following last month's report of a man with a rapidly progressing, multi-drug resistant HIV strain. Although we summarize these developments below, it's important to note that no useful new information has yet been provided on this story; to date, there remains no evidence that the strain is a harbinger of a virulent new wave of HIV infections.

    A Nasty HIV Strain, a Connecticut Doctor and a New York Bathhouse
    As investigators continue their work to trace the origins of the rapidly progressing, multi-drug resistant HIV strain in New York City that exploded onto newspapers in February, plenty of theories continue to circulate. One of them surrounds a doctor in Connecticut named Gary Blick, who decided to issue a press release last week claiming that one of his patients appears to have a strain of HIV related to the one found in the New York City man. Dr. Blick believes a particular bathhouse in New York may have been the place where several different HIV strains found their way into the New York City man, eventually giving rise to last month's public health alarm. (Web highlight from The Guardian)

    New York Researchers Looking Into HIV-Positive Man's Sexual Contacts
    Investigators are largely staying mum about new developments in the New York City case, but a new press release from the New York City Department of Health acknowledges that several possibly related cases are currently being examined. Officials would not say exactly how many patients had been identified as possibly having the strain, however, and said it could take several months to determine if there's any connection.

    If you're new to this dizzying story and would like a little more background on the situation, browse through The Body's collection of articles.



    HIV-Negative? Get the Facts About Joining an HIV Vaccine Trial
    How do you decide if you're a good candidate for an HIV vaccine trial? The first step is to educate yourself. Dr. Beryl Koblin, the lead investigator for Project ACHIEVE, a major vaccine initiative based in New York, provides an overview of the ins and outs of HIV vaccine trials in this recent interview.

    HIV Prevention Study With Tenofovir Suffers Another Setback
    A multinational effort to test the use of tenofovir (Viread) as an HIV prevention drug has hit yet another roadblock, as Nigeria's trial was canceled in the wake of findings that proper scientific standards were not being met by local researchers. Nigeria is the third country to be removed from the international trial: Two other countries that were supposed to take part, Cambodia and Cameroon, backed out following protests over the treatment of sex workers who volunteered for the trial. Studies on the drug continue to get underway in Atlanta and San Francisco, however, and are progressing in other African countries. (Web highlight from United Nations Integrated Regional Information Networks)



    Parting Words From a Prominent Colorado HIV Researcher
    Over the past decade, the University of Colorado has made a name for itself as an important site for HIV research -- and Dr. Chip Schooley and his wife, Dr. Constance Benson, have been smack in the middle of that effort. Now, however, Drs. Schooley and Benson are moving on to greener pastures -- in San Diego, as it happens. In this personal interview, Dr. Schooley explains why, and offers his insights on how the state of HIV medicine has dramatically evolved since he first set foot in Denver.

    Oyster Mushrooms for High Lipids (and Other Complementary Therapy Studies)
    HIV treatment research usually focuses on meds, meds and more meds. But there's a whole other world out there worth investigating: complementary, and perhaps even alternative, forms of medicine. In fact, there are several clinical trials sponsored by the U.S. government currently examining the potential benefits of different complementary therapies -- including acupuncture, massage and even oyster mushrooms -- on HIV disease and HAART side effects. Intrigued? Check out this list of enrolling trials for a rundown. (Web highlight from the U.S. National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine)

    Treating Testosterone Deficiency in HIV-Infected Men and Women
    Testosterone deficiency remains relatively common in people with HIV, even well into the HAART era. It can manifest itself in several ways, including fatigue, reduced body mass and a loss of sexual function. In a recent talk for the Physicians' Research Network, Dr. Steven K. Grinspoon reviewed the causes of this disorder -- known broadly as androgen deficiency -- and discussed recent research on treating the problem with testosterone supplements. (Web highlight from The PRN Notebook; free registration required)



    South African HIV Treatment Activist Has Heart Attack
    The widely known South African HIV treatment advocate Zachie Achmat was hospitalized on March 24 after having a heart attack. A spokesperson for Achmat's advocacy group said that the heart attack was probably a result of stress, Achmat's weight and a lack of physical activity; Achmat, 42, also suggested that his HIV status may have been a cause. He and doctors said it was unlikely that the heart attack was related to the HIV medications he began taking more than a year ago.

    HIV Treatment Program Takes Baby Steps in South Africa as Hundreds Die Daily
    The spread of free HIV treatment through South Africa has been excruciatingly slow. The country is now dotted with isolated areas where hundreds of HIVers are finally benefiting from antiretrovirals, but hundreds of thousands of South Africans are still desperately in need of meds that the government has yet to provide. (Web highlight from The Globe and Mail; free registration required)

    When Marriage Kills: The Danger of Not Pushing Condom Use in Africa
    "President Bush is focusing his program against AIDS in Africa on sexual abstinence and marital fidelity, relegating condoms to a distant third," writes New York Times columnist Nicholas D. Kristof. "It's the kind of well-meaning policy that bubbles up out of a White House prayer meeting but that will mean a lot of unnecessary deaths on the ground in Africa. The stark reality is that ... just about the deadliest thing a woman in southern Africa can do is get married." (Web highlight from The New York Times; free registration required)


    Connect With Others at
    The Body's Bulletin Boards

    "Feeling Different"
    (A recent post from the
    "Gay Men With HIV" board)

    "Hi, I have been HIV positive for a year and a half and am doing well taking my medications. ... The problem is I have really felt different since I acquired this disease. ... I was dating someone who is negative and he couldn't deal with my situation. ... I really would like to meet people who are going through the same feelings and who can understand how I feel. I am afraid to date because of the rejection I may receive from people. Does anybody have any good advice for me and do you feel like I do sometimes?"
    -- jdsk8r

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

    "My Soul Mate"
    (A recent post from the
    "Women With HIV" board)

    "I have a serious dilemma. I found that I was positive in February this year. In December I met a guy that I grew up with. We've always been friends, and we became intimate a few weeks later -- using protection, of course. ... Now that I know my status it is very difficult for me because this guy wants to be serious about our relationship. ... I'm not ready to disclose, not to him or to anyone else. But I'm really in love with this guy. What do I do?"
    -- LOVE

    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
    "Green Sky Landscape," 1991;
    David Faulk
    Visit the March 2005 Visual AIDS Web Gallery to view this month's new collection of art by HIV-positive artists!