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June 15, 2005

In This Update:
  • A Guide to HIV Drug Resistance
  • HIV News & Views
  • HIV Transmission & Testing
  • HIV-Related Policy in the U.S.
  • HIV/AIDS Outside the U.S.
  •   THE BODY PRESENTS: A GUIDE TO HIV DRUG RESISTANCE

    New Booklet on Resistance Is Now Available Online!
    It's one of the most complicated things about HIV treatment: resistance. How to prevent it is clear: Take all of your meds on time. But how does HIV actually become resistant to your meds? When do you need to have a resistance test done, and how do those tests figure out which meds will work in your body and which won't?

    The Body's new online booklet, "A Guide to HIV Drug Resistance," will answer all these questions and more. Written by The Body's expert staff and reviewed by top HIV physicians, "A Guide to HIV Drug Resistance" is a fully illustrated, easy-to-read overview of this difficult topic. Check it out online now, or stop by your nearest AIDS organization or clinic to ask for a print copy!


    U.S. AIDS Orgs and Healthcare Professionals: Order Your Free Printed Booklets
    If you work for an AIDS organization, doctor's office or clinic in the United States, you can also download this order form to request FREE print copies of this extremely useful educational booklet!

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      HIV NEWS & VIEWS

    Expanded Access to Begin Soon for Developmental Protease Inhibitor TMC114
    The maker of TMC114, a protease inhibitor in development, has announced that it will start an expanded access program for the drug this fall, making it available to people who may urgently need it. Studies so far have shown that TMC114 appears highly promising in people who have heavy resistance to currently approved HIV meds. In this press release, the company also announced that it will seek to have TMC114 officially approved for use in the United States and Europe as early as the beginning of 2006.


    Tenofovir May Leave Bloodstream More Slowly Than First Thought
    A small study by French and Spanish researchers has revealed that tenofovir (Viread) may take far longer to clear out of a person's bloodstream than previously thought, a finding that could impact the way people stop taking the medication. The researchers estimated that it took 180 hours (that's 7.5 days) for tenofovir to be completely eliminated from the bloodstream, three times longer than expected. Although this study is tiny, and is far from the final word on this issue, it may suggest that there's a little more leeway than previously thought if a person mistakenly misses a tenofovir dose (unless they're taking other HIV meds that are eliminated from the bloodstream more quickly, like protease inhibitors or AZT [zidovudine, Retrovir]). However, if a person needs to stop taking tenofovir for some reason, this finding might call for a more cautious approach so as to avoid the onset of resistance. (Web highlight from aidsmap.com)


    HIV and Pregnancy: What to Do After Your Baby's Born
    HIV positive and having a baby? If you live in the United States and are seeing an obstetrician who's knowledgeable about HIV, the odds are excellent that you'll give birth to a healthy, HIV-free child. Be sure to talk with your doctor, however, about your next steps after your baby is born, including whether you'll need to change HIV treatment regimens and what sort of testing and treatment your baby will have to receive. This fact sheet from the U.S. health department can help answer some questions about the after-birth period; print it out and bring it to your doctor's office to talk about the issues it raises.


    Summer Camps for HIV-Affected Youths
    Do you know a child affected by HIV and living in the United States? There may still be time to sign him or her up for a summer camp for HIV-affected kids. Visit this page to see a lengthy list of these camps within the United States.


    A New Chance at Life: Adopting a Child With HIV
    Thinking of adopting an HIV-positive child from a developing country? Read this fascinating story about Margaret Fleming, who has adopted many children with HIV. She's now on a mission to find more families in the United States who are willing to adopt HIV-positive children. (Web highlight from Newsweek)

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      HIV TRANSMISSION & TESTING

    Over a Million Americans Have HIV, CDC Announces
    Between 1,039,000 and 1,185,000 people were living with HIV as of December 2003, according to new estimates released by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This is the first time that HIV estimates in the United States have topped one million. As expected, HIV continues to have the greatest impact among African Americans and men who have sex with men. Data released by the CDC show that while HIV diagnoses have declined steadily among women ages 13 to 24, diagnoses among men have increased in recent years.

    For more on these new numbers, read this news summary from the Kaiser HIV/AIDS Daily Report or this excerpted article from The New York Times.


    Key Webcasts From the U.S. National HIV Prevention Conference
    This year, the U.S. 2005 National HIV Prevention Conference featured presentations on updated HIV infection figures (like those we just mentioned above) and discussions about some of the successful methods being used around the country to teach people about HIV, encourage them to get tested and help stem the growing spread of the virus. Although the conference ends today, June 15, thanks to the magic of the Internet (and to the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation), some of the most important sessions of the conference will live on forever. Some of these sessions are available now; others will be posted later this week. (Web highlight from kaisernetwork.org)


    Rubber or Skin? Many MSM Use Viral Load Tests to Help Decide
    Are HIV-positive men who have sex with men (MSM) more likely to have unprotected sex when they have an undetectable viral load? Maybe so, according to two studies presented at the U.S. 2005 National HIV Prevention Conference. The studies -- one in Boston, the other in San Francisco -- found that a large number of MSM with HIV use their viral load tests as a sort of unsafe-sex barometer; the lower the viral load, the more likely they are to feel OK about having unprotected sex. (Web highlight from aidsmap.com)

    Unfortunately, although having an undetectable viral load may technically make someone less likely to transmit HIV, this does not mean there is zero risk. Many people, for instance, have detectable amounts of HIV in their genital tract, even when the viral load in their blood is undetectable. Researchers also believe that other factors, like gonorrhea and herpes infection, can make HIV transmission more likely. In addition, a viral load test is only as good as the day it was given.


    HIV Testing Day Approaches: Spread the Word!
    The United States commemorates HIV Testing Day on June 27. An estimated one out of every four people infected with HIV in the United States have no idea they're infected, which not only puts their own health at risk, but also makes them that much more likely to unwittingly pass HIV to others. This is why it's pivotal that people understand the importance of HIV testing and awareness -- and why it's good to see local newspapers covering this extremely important issue. This article from the Chillicothe Gazette of central Ohio is one example. (Web highlight from the Chillicothe Gazette)

    Want to see an article like this in your local newspaper, but don't know how to spread the word? Find out at this comprehensive Web site set up by the National Association of People With AIDS, where you can learn more about National HIV Testing Day and download educational materials.

    And if you know someone who wants to get tested for HIV, help them find their way to a testing site! Check out our nationwide listing to find a testing site near you.


    HIV Infection in 2005: The "Good" and the Bad
    Obviously, there's never a "good" time to be infected with HIV -- that's as much a fact now as it was 20 years ago, even though the epidemic itself has undergone tremendous change in the United States. We may now know more about HIV than we ever have, and we may have a larger number of medications available to keep the virus down, but between concerns about drug resistance, side effects, superinfection and (most recently) rapid disease progression, some might say it's still one of the worst times to get HIV. Dr. Stephen J. Fallon explains.

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      HIV-RELATED POLICY IN THE U.S.

    Medicare Drug Plans Required to Cover HIV Medications
    The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services said it is requiring Medicare prescription drug plans to cover "all or substantially all" HIV-related medications. As a result of the requirement, health insurance plans will not be allowed to require prior authorization or step therapy for HIV medications, with the exception of T-20 (enfuvirtide, Fuzeon). More information about enrollment, premiums and fees is available in this article.

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      HIV/AIDS OUTSIDE THE UNITED STATES

    Pakistani Hijra at High Risk for HIV Explosion
    Although HIV infection rates in Pakistan are currently low, health experts warn that hijra, part of South Asia's ancient community of transsexuals, hermaphrodites and eunuchs, are at high risk of contracting and spreading HIV. A recent survey by Family Health International found only 2% of hijra were HIV positive, but that approximately 60% have syphilis, which can increase a person's risk of contracting HIV. The survey also found that more than 40% of hijra have never even heard of HIV -- and, even more alarmingly, that only 9% use condoms.


    Unsafe Blood Transfusions Cause Many HIV Infections in Poor Nations
    Getting a blood transfusion in the developed world nowadays is quite safe. But for about 80% of people worldwide, every blood transfusion puts them at risk for many bloodborne diseases. In fact, the World Health Organization notes that contaminated blood still causes about 5% of all new HIV infections in Africa. Most developing nations do not test blood for HIV or hepatitis C.


    Mexico: Promoting Tolerance, Not Abstinence, as the Key to Fighting HIV
    In the United States, the Bush administration strenuously pushes abstinence before marriage as the way to reverse the growing number of people with HIV, a strategy that ignores the existence of men who have sex with men. Mexico, however, takes a more realistic approach: Its government has initiated a stunningly original antihomophobia campaign designed to remove many of society's taboos about homosexuality. Jorge Saavedra, head of Mexico's national AIDS program, explains why his country has launched the campaign (using logic that seems impossible to replicate in the U.S. government): "How can we start effective prevention campaigns, programs that get information out here about how people can protect themselves, if society rejects those most vulnerable to AIDS? Taking on homophobia is a first step." Saavedra adds, "If we build tolerance, then perhaps more people will become empowered and get tested. And the more people who know their status, the better our chances of reducing AIDS."

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    Meet the Winners of TheBody.com's 2005 HIV Leadership Awards!
    Guy Vandenberg, winner of a TheBody.com 2005 HIV Leadership Award
    Meet Guy Vandenberg from San Francisco, one of 10 HIV nurses who have won a 2005 HIV Leadership Award from TheBody.com!

    Guy is a Netherlands native whose experiences at a San Francisco HIV hospice inspired him to dedicate his life to HIV nursing -- and particularly to care for those who lack the economic means to take care of themselves.


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

    Connect With Others at
    The Body's Bulletin Boards

    "VA Questions"
    (A recent post from the
    "HIV in the Military" board)

    "I am in the Army and positive, [and I'm] looking to be medically boarded within the next 13 months. Does anyone have any information on how to put the packet together and what benefits are like once you get out?"
    -- Anonymous

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

    "Houston Guy
    Looking for Other
    HIV+ to Talk To"

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

    "I am a recently diagnosed HIV-positive guy living inside the loop in Houston, and I am looking for other people to sit down and talk to. It is very hard for me to find support since I am married to a woman (yes, I am out to her) and many gay men are turned off by this. ... Just trying to find others to share what is going on in life as far as emotional issues and treatment issues. If I was looking for sex, this is not the Web site I would be posting on. E-mail me if interested in chatting and maybe meeting."
    -- Got2Lift

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

    Celebrate Gay Pride! Use Visual AIDS' HIV Awareness Broadsides
    "Be Creative But Be Safe"
    by Joe De Hoyos
    In honor of National LGBT Pride Month, Visual AIDS has created this and several other HIV awareness "broadsides" for use by AIDS groups and cultural organizations. The posters are available while supplies last! You can also download PDF versions of each poster here.
    Will You Pass the Test?
    (100 Bucks Says You Will)

    Looking for a little extra pocket change? Take The Body's brand-new HIV/AIDS Knowledge Quiz for a chance to win a $100 cash prize. You may also learn some things about HIV that you didn't already know!

    How can you get in on the action? Easy: Just take our five-question quiz. Answers to all five questions can be found on The Body. A particularly good place to look for answers is in recent editions of our weekly e-mail updates. You are one of more than 36,000 people who already rely on these updates to get the latest in HIV/AIDS news -- and now it's a quick path to free cash, too.

    For more info or to take this month's HIV/AIDS Knowledge Quiz, just click here.

    The Body's HIV/AIDS Knowledge Quiz is sponsored by Gilead Sciences, Inc., the maker of the HIV medication Truvada.