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June 22, 2005

In This Update:
  • The Body Presents: A Guide to Fuzeon
  • HIV Treatment
  • HIV/HAART-Related Health Issues
  • Mental Health Issues
  • HIV Transmission in the U.S.
  • HIV Prevention
  • HIV-Related Policy in the U.S.
  • HIV/AIDS Outside the U.S.

    Learn All About Fuzeon, And Meet Some of the People Who Take It
    Whether you're looking to learn more about how T-20 (enfuvirtide, Fuzeon) works, or you want to hear about how T-20 has changed the lives of HIV-positive people who are running low on treatment options,
    The Body's new online booklet, "A Guide to Fuzeon, the First Fusion Inhibitor," is worth checking out. Featuring injection tips and personal stories, our new booklet on T-20 is an informative read for anybody who's currently taking this important medication -- as well as anybody who may need to take T-20 in the future. View it on our Web site 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 download this order form to request FREE print copies of The Body's educational booklet on T-20!



    Fosamprenavir and Nexium: A Safe Combination?
    Although researchers have learned a lot in recent years about which medications are safe (or not) to take with HIV meds, there's still much we don't know. When it comes to the acid-reflux treatment Nexium (generic name: esomeprazole) and the protease inhibitor fosamprenavir (Lexiva), for instance, a recent study found that there appear to be no interactions between the two. However, some researchers are still worried that when a person takes the two drugs could determine whether an interaction occurs that may reduce fosamprenavir's effectiveness. AIDS Treatment News' John S. James has more.

    Not Just Voodoo: An Alternative HIV Therapist Speaks Her Mind
    Alternative therapist Sue Saltmarsh knows what people -- especially those in the scientific community -- say about her profession: That her work is often dismissed as "voodoo," or that her methods have never been proven to work in large clinical studies. But as far as Sue is concerned, the proof is in the pudding: "Herbs, acupuncture, massage and energy work can't handle HIV alone," she admits, but they have a definite, positive impact on the people she treats.



    Lowering Lipids: Statins Work Better Than HAART Switching, Study Suggests
    High lipids (e.g., cholesterol and triglycerides) are a concern for many people who have been taking HAART for a long time. But what's the best way to address it? Many doctors feel that switching from a regimen containing a protease inhibitor (a class of drugs generally associated with lipid elevations, particularly for the older meds) to one containing an NNRTI works best. But according to a recent study in Italy, people who took lipid-lowering drugs known as statins saw their lipid levels drop significantly more over the next year than people who switched from a protease inhibitor to an NNRTI. Despite the dramatic findings, though, the researchers warn that statins should only be used as a last resort, when diet, exercise and HIV treatment switching are no longer an option. (Web highlight from

    Interested in seeing the abstract of this study, which was published in the July 1 issue of the journal AIDS? Click here to read it.

    Hep B Vaccination: For Some HIVers, a Double Dose'll Do Ya
    HIV-positive people with a low viral load and a CD4 count higher than 350 should receive a double dose of hepatitis B vaccine instead of a single dose, say study investigators in Brazil. The double dose of the vaccine dramatically increases the odds that a person will be protected from hepatitis B, the study found. Hepatitis B, which can cause serious liver damage, can be spread through sex and shared injection needles, and is a relatively common coinfection in people with HIV.



    New Group Hopes to Fill Gap in Mental Health Care for Gay Men
    "Despite the key role that depression and other mental health issues play in influencing risks of HIV and other preventable diseases, gay men's mental health needs have gone tragically unaddressed," says long-time AIDS activist Spencer Cox. To address these needs, he has started a health organization that will try to advance research and policies affecting gay men's health. The organization, which will start with a budget of $100,000, will be called the Medius Institute for Gay Men's Health.



    Many Share Their Opinions on New U.S. HIV Statistics
    "America passed a milestone last week," writes columnist Andrew Sullivan. "[One million] people now live with HIV. ... My mother once said that I was one in a million and finally it's true. I wish it weren't because I've had HIV for 12 years but, hey, life is sometimes a little ironic." (Web highlight from the Times Online, London)

    For some other opinions on the new U.S. HIV statistics -- some of which are pretty astonishingly hate-filled -- click here.

    High-Risk Sex More Likely When MSM Hook Up Over the Web, Study Says
    Are men who have sex with other men they meet on the Internet having riskier sex? According to data collected from a sexually transmitted disease clinic in Denver, 41% of men who used the Web to hook up for sex reported having unprotected anal intercourse with their last partner. That's much higher than the 31% of men who met their partners in gay bathhouses, the 29% who used other public sex venues and the 25% who met partners in bars or at parties.



    Needle Exchange Put on Hold in New Jersey -- Again
    To most people, needle exchange may seem like a win-win: A humanitarian strategy to reduce the harm caused by unsafe injections. But in the United States, the needle exchange effort is fraught with political wrangling. After decades of struggle, New Jersey was on the verge of starting its first needle-exchange programs on July 1 in Camden and Atlantic City -- but they have now been halted by an appeals court, pending arguments about their legality. "It's definitely a setback," said Roseanne Scotti, director of the Drug Policy Alliance of New Jersey. "Now we are in the situation where at least two people a day will get infected from sharing dirty needles."

    Detroit's Arab-American Community Takes Important Step Against HIV
    For the first time, Arab-American leaders in the Detroit area have bucked deeply held taboos about sex and HIV, pledging a united campaign for broader HIV testing and educational programs in the community. "The epidemic hasn't hit the Arab community as hard as some others," said David Ponsart, health educator with the Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services. "We have an opportunity to save thousands of lives. We don't want to look back 10-15 years from now and say, 'I wish we had done more.'" (Web highlight from the Detroit Free Press)

    A New Partnership Pursues a New Type of HIV Vaccine
    The International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI) and GlaxoSmithKline say they're working together to develop a new type of HIV vaccine. The announcement marks the first time a major drug company has entered a public-private partnership to develop an HIV vaccine. IAVI and Glaxo's plan is to take a type of virus found in chimpanzees, render it harmless, put HIV proteins (but not HIV itself) in it, and then put the chimp virus into people. The goal is to train the human immune system to destroy HIV, so that if the person ever is exposed to the virus, it won't be able to gain a foothold. This new vaccine technology is unlikely to begin clinical trials for at least a few years.



    All Generic, All the Time: A New Plan for Drug Approvals in United States
    One brave U.S. Congressman, Vermont's Bernard Sanders, has proposed a revolution in the way that prescription drugs are sold in the United States. His proposal? Allow generic versions of a drug to be sold as soon as the brand-name version is approved, so people (and healthcare plans) will always have a cheaper alternative. Under Sanders' plan, though, pharmaceutical companies would still reap a windfall, even though they can't charge monopoly prices: A special "Prize Fund" would provide the drug's patent holder with money based on the actual impact its drug has on people's health over the next 10 years.



    Culture of Male Promiscuity Helps HIV Spread Through Africa, Filmmaker Says
    Sorious Samura, a documentary filmmaker from Sierra Leone who now lives in the United Kingdom, has a theory about why HIV is spreading so quickly in Africa. After speaking to a number of men who are HIV positive and still having unprotected sex without disclosing to their partners, Sorious came to realize that sexual attitudes played a huge role. He says that in a culture where children start having sex at five, six or seven, "success [for men] is measured by the number of women they sleep around with" and that women are "disempowered." His documentary, Living with Aids, will be shown on British television. (Web highlight from The Guardian)

    Meet the Winners of's 2005 HIV Leadership Awards!
    Michelle Lopez, winner of a 2005 HIV Leadership Award
    Meet Michelle Lopez from the Bronx, N.Y., one of 10 inspiring HIV-positive people who have won a 2005 HIV Leadership Award from!

    Diagnosed with HIV after the birth of her second child, Ms. Lopez -- a lesbian who emigrated from Trinidad at the age of 16 -- fought the loneliness and isolation that accompanied her diagnosis. Empowered by her own boldness and desire to understand and survive HIV infection, she now advocates for some of the most vulnerable members of the U.S. HIV community, including undocumented HIV-positive people.

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

    Connect With Others at
    The Body's Bulletin Boards

    "Newbie With a Question About Support"
    (A recent post from the
    "Living With HIV" board)

    "I have been HIV positive since 1998 and was doing OK until this past year. I have just started my second HAART regimen and I wanted to know why family/friends have decided to distance themselves. ... This happened last time and again this time -- I have been really sick and they abandon me. Why? If I was negative and had a friend/family member sick with HIV, I would be there in a second to help."
    -- Davidw

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

    "OMG -- Just
    Started Sustiva"

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

    "I took my first Sustiva [efavirenz, Stocrin] pill about 6 hours ago and I'm finally conscious enough to walk around. Please tell me that those side effects go away. ... No dreams, just any waking moments were like ... like ... I have no idea how to describe it. No frame of reference from which to get the idea across. Oh, here's one! My whole body on novocaine, stuff you get at the dentist's office, but 100 times worse, and it affects the mind in the same way it affects the body."
    -- Anonymous

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

    Spread the Word: June 27 is
    National HIV Testing Day!
    "I got tested for HIV to take control of my health and my life. What's your reason?"
    HIV Testing Day in the United States is coming up next Monday, June 27. This is one of 5 posters available in both English and Spanish that you can download, print and distribute in order to make more people aware of this important day. Click here to download a PDF file containing all 10 posters! (Be patient, though; it's a large file, so it may take a while to download.)