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May 11, 2005

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

    Adherence to HIV Medications: Why Is It so Important?
    As most everyone who reads these updates knows, the best way to avoid HIV drug resistance (or to avoid additional resistance if you already have some) is to take all of your HIV meds on time at least 95% of the time. This near-perfect adherence is critical in keeping HIV meds working. In this newest chapter from the HIV InSite Knowledge Base, an online HIV textbook from the University of California-San Francisco and San Francisco General Hospital, you can read up on all of the notable studies on adherence and learn more about why it's so important. (Web highlight from HIV InSite)



    The Different Causes, and Treatments, for Weight Loss in HIVers
    Although involuntary loss of body weight isn’t as common now as it was earlier in the United States' HIV epidemic, it still impacts many HIV-positive people. Figuring out how to treat this problem can be a little tricky, though. The solution depends on why a person is losing weight, which can be related to any number of reasons. AIDS Treatment News recently talked with HIV specialist Dr. Lisa Capaldini to learn more.

    HIV Expert Panel Issues Advice to Clinicians on Treating Metabolic Problems
    What's the most effective way for healthcare providers to help HIVers with lipodystrophy or other metabolic problems, like diabetes and high cholesterol or triglycerides? Unfortunately, in many cases there are still more questions than answers. However, an advisory panel of HIV specialists with the International Association of Physicians in AIDS Care recently published a statement meant to guide HIV healthcare providers in managing these health problems.

    Study Ties Diabetes Risk for Women to Body Mass Index, Not HIV or HAART
    Unexpectedly, a team of U.S. researchers has found that neither HIV nor the use of HAART appear to impact a woman's risk for developing diabetes -- a finding that runs contrary to earlier studies. The study of 258 overweight women (74 were HIV positive but not on HAART, 96 were on HAART, and 88 were HIV negative) found no significant difference between the groups in terms of glucose tolerance, prediabetes or diabetes. The researchers found that only a woman's body mass index was associated with glucose intolerance and insulin sensitivity, both key risk factors for diabetes. (Web highlight from

    Body Fat Changes Associated With Greater Cardio Disease Risk in Women With HIV
    If you are an HIV-positive woman with abnormal body fat redistribution, you may be at greater risk for heart disease than HIV-negative women, say U.S. researchers in a recently published study. The takeaway from this study is unclear, however: The study wasn't set up to look for ways to prevent or treat this problem, and it also didn't determine whether those cardiovascular risk factors actually made people more likely to experience life-threatening complications, like heart attacks. (Web highlight from

    An Almost-Illegal Steroid Supplement Gets a Reprieve
    DHEA is the name for a steroid that occurs naturally in humans. In fact, it's the most common steroid found in the human body, and is used to regulate production of hormones like testosterone and estrogen. DHEA replacement therapy has been found to help increase energy levels and improve sleep -- both of which are key concerns for many people with HIV- or HAART-related problems like anemia, fatigue or insomnia. So why did the U.S. government nearly ban DHEA early this year? John James of AIDS Treatment News explains.



    Larry Kramer May Be Fed Up With Activism, but He's as Angry as Ever
    It was a remarkable speech: Given shortly after the November 2004 election, it gushed with frustration, anger, doomsday predictions and withering accusations. Now Larry Kramer, one of the most important AIDS activists in the United States, has turned his speech into a book and is reading from it in different cities. As usual, he's saying lots of things that no one wants to hear -- about gay promiscuity, the Bush administration, global AIDS and civil rights for gay men. (Web highlight from The Washington Post; free registration required)

    Fresh Criticism of Kramer Accompanies His New Book
    Larry Kramer's outspoken, over-the-top activism has rubbed a lot of people the wrong way -- including many of his fellow AIDS advocates and gay rights activists. In this review of Kramer's new book, "The Tragedy of Today's Gays," Richard Kim criticizes what he refers to as Kramer's fear-mongering approach, chastises his tendency to twist facts and accuses him of fighting a battle that no longer exists in today's HIV epidemic: "Like a general who fails to notice that the war has long since moved on to new frontiers," Kim writes, "Kramer keeps beating the drums and waiting for people to show up." (Web highlight from Salon; must view advertisement or subscribe to read)



    26 Pictures, 26 Lives: A Photo Essay on Women and HIV in Africa
    Photographer Sönke C. Weiss has spent the last two years trekking through central and southern Africa, where the HIV pandemic has torn apart families, villages and entire countries. His personal mission: to document the lives of women who have been affected by HIV, and show how they cope with the impact of the virus. Their moving, first-person thoughts caption each photo in this online collection. It's a sad portrait of how helpless women remain in most of the world as HIV continues to spread. (Web highlight from

    Forced Sex for Widows Facilitates Spread of HIV Among African Women, Some Say
    Why are six out of every 10 people infected with HIV in sub-Saharan Africa women? The fledgling women's rights movement there asserts that it's because of women's lack of control over their sex lives. One particular custom they point to is the widely accepted practice of forcing a widow to have unprotected sex with a relative of her former husband in order to "exorcise her dead husband's spirit" and, ironically, to protect the village from insanity and disease.

    Brazil to U.S. on AIDS Help: Thanks, but No Thanks
    In an unprecedented sign of protest against the Bush administration's abstinence-only policies, Brazil has turned down US$40 million in HIV/AIDS assistance from the United States. The reason: One of the strings attached to the aid requires Brazil to condemn prostitution. Brazil feels that doing so would only make it harder to encourage HIV prevention among sex workers and their clients. (Web highlight from The Guardian)

    The New Pope Must Come Around on Condom Use, NY Times Columnist Says
    "Let's hope that Pope Benedict XVI quickly realizes that the worst sex scandal in the Catholic Church doesn't involve predatory priests," writes New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof. "Rather, it involves the Vatican's hostility to condoms, which is creating more AIDS orphans every day." Many devout Catholics support the use of condoms to prevent HIV, Kristof points out -- and, in fact, are already openly flouting the Roman Catholic Church's official opposition to them. (Web highlight from The New York Times; free registration required)

    WHO's Goal to Treat 3 Million HIVers by Year's End Is in Jeopardy, Medical Journal Says
    There are "enormous barriers" to the World Health Organization's 3 by 5 Initiative to treat three million HIV-positive people with antiretrovirals by the end of 2005, according to an editorial in the Lancet. "For what was a modest [treatment] target, it is tragic that many of those with HIV/AIDS who desperately need treatment will not receive it by the end of 2005 and will die as a result," the editorial says.

    India's HIV Epidemic Nears "Tipping Point," Experts Warn
    India is on the verge of reaching what many AIDS experts believe to be the "tipping point" of a country's HIV epidemic -- a 1% adult prevalence rate. Although some experts say the number of HIV cases in the country could reach 20 million within a decade, India currently spends only 30 U.S. cents per person annually on prevention and treatment, which is less than most African nations.

    Meet the Winners of's 2005 HIV Leadership Awards!
    Bethesba Johnson, winner of a 2005 HIV Leadership Award
    Bethsheba Johnson is an outstanding HIV nurse practitioner, and one of the winners of a 2005 HIV Leadership Award from! Bethsheba is an integral part of an entirely African-American medical staff that provides specialized HIV care to a population on Chicago's far South Side that is 97% black.

    Want to meet all 73 winners of's 2005 HIV Leadership Awards? Click here!

    Connect With Others at
    The Body's Bulletin Boards

    "I Just Started
    Taking Meds ..."

    (A recent post from the
    "Living With HIV" board)

    "I was poz for three years before I needed to begin meds, and since I am moving to Costa Rica in the fall I thought 'No time like the present,' to get myself through all the possible side effects. Well, they have begun. [I'm] worn-down, tired, irritable, achy, depressed, [have] a blotchy body rash that glows like [a] sunburn ... sore eyes and hypersensitive teeth. It has not yet been two weeks since I started on Epivir [3TC, lamivudine], Viramune [nevirapine] and Viread [tenofovir]. Is this going to last forever?"
    -- Anonymous

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

    Art From HIV-Positive Artists
    Image from the May 2005 Visual AIDS Web Gallery
    Untitled, 1996; Robert Blanchon
    Visit the May 2005 Visual AIDS Web Gallery to view this month's collection of art by HIV-positive artists!