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April 13, 2005

In This Update:
  • Living With HIV
  • HIV Treatment
  • HIV/HAART-Related Health Problems
  • amfAR HIV Update Conference
  • HIV/STD Education & Awareness
  • U.S. AIDS Policy
  • HIV/AIDS Outside the U.S.
  •   LIVING WITH HIV

    Bisexuality, Lies and HIV: The Pain, and Necessity, of Disclosure and Acceptance
    Keith Green's girlfriend Angela (not her real name) knew that he also had sex with men -- but for years, she had no idea he was HIV positive, even as their relationship deepened. When Keith finally got up the courage to tell her, Angela was devastated, her trust in him damaged beyond repair. For both of them, the moral of their story is that up-front disclosure is pivotal. In this moving, riveting story, Keith recounts the advice that Angela passed along years later, when she finally agreed to talk to him again. "We as women have got to learn to ask questions. And not just ask questions, but make him follow it up with some proof! If he tells you that he is HIV-negative, make him prove that to you."


    Where Straight HIVers Go to Meet in New York City
    Straight people with HIV in New York City have traditionally had trouble finding a place to get group support or to meet other heterosexuals with HIV. That's why Thorner Harris created Guys and Girls -- and 10 years, many new friendships, 12 marriages and several babies later, the social club has successfully turned that trend around.



    Travel Advice for HIVers on the Go
    HIV positive and thinking of traveling this summer? Check out The Body's "Precautions for the HIV-Positive Traveler" page for some helpful tips on staying safe and healthy while you're away from home.

    And if you're planning an international trip, be sure to use these resources to learn more about potential travel restrictions and HIV testing requirements in the countries you're hoping to visit.

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      HIV TREATMENT

    Breeding a Weaker Virus: Treatment Interruptions With a Twist
    We all know about structured treatment interruptions (or "drug holidays"), but what about partial treatment interruptions? Dr. Andrew Zalski explains the theory behind this experimental strategy, which involves stopping all but one drug in the HAART regimen of a person with multi-drug resistance. Some scientists believe that, in select situations, this might help ensure that a person's dominant strain of HIV is relatively weak, which could help slow disease progression during a person's HAART break.



    Hivid, Fortovase to Be Discontinued
    Two little-used HIV meds -- ddC (zalcitabine, Hivid) and saquinavir soft-gel capsule (Fortovase) -- will be discontinued by their manufacturer, Roche. The company says it will probably stop producing both drugs sometime in 2006. ddC never really caught on as an antiretroviral, due to the high rates of neuropathy it caused; Fortovase has more or less become obsolete with the recent launch of a higher-dose formulation for Invirase (the tablet/hard-gel form of saquinavir). (Web highlight from aidsmap.com)


    Advances in Immune-Based Therapies for HIV
    HIV researchers are always looking for new ways to help the body's CD4 cells fight off HIV and keep the immune system healthy. Over the years, we've heard about different experimental treatments -- like interleukin-2 -- that scientists hope will eventually become useful immune-system boosters. But for an effective treatment to be designed, researchers need to first understand a lot more about exactly how, and why, CD4 cell counts rise and fall in people with HIV. Researcher Laura A. Napolitano, M.D., explained some of the latest research on this front in a talk she recently gave to HIV physicians. (Web highlight from The PRN Notebook; free registration required)

     
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      HIV/HAART-RELATED HEALTH PROBLEMS

    HIV and Cocaine Use Increase a Risk Factor for Heart Disease
    HIV-positive people who use cocaine may be increasing their risk of heart disease, according to a study by researchers at Johns Hopkins University. The researchers found that both HIV status and cocaine use were linked to a greater risk that a person would experience a hardening of the heart's arteries -- and when people were both HIV positive AND using cocaine, the risk was even higher. (Web highlight from aidsmap.com)

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      AMFAR HIV UPDATE CONFERENCE

    Watch Webcasts of Excellent HIV Prevention, Research Overviews
    The 17th annual National HIV/AIDS Update Conference, organized by the AIDS research organization amfAR, ends on April 13 in Oakland, Calif. With so many AIDS conferences competing for the attention of nurses, social workers and AIDS organization workers -- and with shrinking funds available to allow these people to go to conferences -- the amfAR conference seems to be getting smaller and smaller each year. However, there were still a number of excellent presentations on the latest developments in U.S. HIV prevention, treatment and care, including:

    • A terrific review of highlights from the 12th Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections by Calvin Cohen, M.D., research director of the Community Research Initiative of New England.

    • A fascinating plenary on HIV, mental health and drug addictions, which included topics such as "Drug Abuse Treatment is HIV Prevention," by Steven Shoptaw, Ph.D., of UCLA Integrated Substance Abuse Programs, and "The Interface of Mental Health Disorders and HIV Prevention," by Francine Cournos, M.D., a professor of clinical psychiatry at Columbia University.

    The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation was on hand to record these and other talks for posterity. Audio and video Webcasts are now available (or will be shortly), and transcripts will be available soon. (Web highlight from kaisernetwork.org)

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      HIV/STD EDUCATION & AWARENESS

    How Much Do You Really Know About STDs?
    Think you know a lot about sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)? Think again! Did you know that you can get gonorrhea through oral sex, both in your throat and on your you-know-what? Or that human papillomavirus and herpes are passed through skin-to-skin contact? Or that HIV is not the only incurable STD? If you didn't, there's no better time than now to get all the facts -- April is National STD Awareness Month, after all. Browse through our comprehensive section on STDs to learn more! (Plus, if you've never seen what the visible symptoms of some STDs actually look like -- and you have the stomach for it -- we have graphic photos.)


    Stars Hit Airwaves to Support Better HIV Awareness in U.S.
    A number of famous public figures -- including Brad Pitt, Jewel, Mos Def, Al Pacino, Jamie Foxx, the ubiquitous Bono and even ultra-conservative evangelist Pat Robertson -- recently starred in a 60-second public service announcement (PSA) on U.S. network TV and cable stations. The PSA was aimed at raising American awareness of the HIV pandemic and the need for poverty reduction in developing countries.

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      U.S. AIDS POLICY

    The Tragedy of the Bush Administration's Crusade Against Needle Exchange
    Needle-exchange programs have been proven countless times in studies to be a tremendously effective way to slow the spread of HIV, but the Bush administration is using a range of immoral techniques to undermine the programs, says recovering injection-drug user Maia Szalavitz. "I can't abide the idea that my country is still fighting against HIV prevention. But what's most infuriating is that such action is not only unnecessary but also inhumane," Szalavitz writes. "It's throwing a symbolic sop to the religious right ... at the demonstrable cost of human lives." (Web highlight from Salon.com; unregistered Salon users must view an ad before reading this article)

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      HIV/AIDS OUTSIDE THE UNITED STATES

    Indians More Likely to Experience Faster HIV Disease Progression
    A study in India has found that a gene associated with faster progression from HIV to AIDS is 2.5 times more common in Indians than another, more protective gene, according to researchers at India's premier medical school. The study results were reported by BBC News. Previous research has found that the gene, HLA-B*35-Px, substantially accelerates the rate of HIV disease progression. (Web highlight from BBC News)


    In Africa, Hope That a New Pope Will Bring a New Stance on Condoms
    HIV prevention workers and AIDS advocates throughout Africa hope that the imminent selection of a new pope to lead the Roman Catholic Church will lead to a less-rigid stance regarding the use of condoms to prevent the transmission of HIV -- or, at the very least, a clearer argument for responsible sexual behavior among all people, HIV infected or HIV uninfected, married or single. (Web highlight from BBC News)

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    Connect With Others at
    The Body's Bulletin Boards

    "Quality vs. Quantity"
    (A recent post from the
    "Gay Men With HIV" board)

    "I try not to think about the fact that I am HIV positive, but somehow each day in the back of my mind there is a voice that reminds me, the side effects remind me. When I switched to my current medications I had a three-week holiday, and I felt normal, alive, happy and energetic. Now I am on my current meds and suffering from all the same things, literally my body feels toxic and I seem like a zombie going through my daily routine. I am considering giving up on the meds but also know that is not an option. Am I the only one who is asking what is more important in life, quality of life or quantity? It would help if I knew I was not alone."
    -- christopher_blue

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

    "Looking 4 Help on Having a Baby"
    (A recent post from the
    "My Loved One Has HIV" board)

    "Can anyone give me some advice on having children with my hubby, who is [HIV] positive? We are living in the UK and have looked into sperm washing, but we would have to pay £5,000 [about US$9,500] for each treatment, which we can't afford to do. ... The only other option for us is for him to go on meds and when his viral load is non detectable, we can have unprotected sex at the right time of the month for me to get pregnant. I know that there is a risk with this, but it is all we can do in the UK. We did this in October 2004 and I got pregnant the first month, but I had a miscarriage in January, so we have started again. If anyone can help or give advice I would be grateful."
    -- Charlie

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

    Art From HIV-Positive Artists
    Image from the April 2005 Visual AIDS Web Gallery
    Untitled (Innocence), 2001;
    Hamlet Manzueta
    Visit the April 2005 Visual AIDS Web Gallery to view this month's new collection of art by HIV-positive artists!

    Clinical Trials Now Enrolling for Kaposi's Sarcoma Treatment

    HIV positive and diagnosed with Kaposi Sarcoma (KS)? If you live in Los Angeles, there are two open clinical trials on experimental KS treatments that may interest you. One study will investigate the use of oral valproic acid; the other will examine the potential benefits of halofuginone ointment. Both studies will last for 24 weeks.

    Interested? Fill out our clinical trial application form. If you qualify for either of these studies, or for another clinical trial that may be of interest to you, you'll be contacted with more information!