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August 17, 2005

In This Update:
  • Health Complications
  • HIV Treatment
  • HIV Prevention

  • U.S. HIV Policy
  • HIV Outside the U.S.

    Combination of Meth Use, HIV Infection May Cause More Brain Damage Than Either Factor Alone
    Methamphetamine use and HIV infection might significantly alter the size of a person's brain structure, leading to problems with cognitive functions -- for instance, problems learning or processing information, according to a small study by University of California-San Diego researchers. The study also found that meth use by people with HIV might cause a greater level of cognitive impairment than each condition may cause on its own.

    To learn much more about the effects of meth use on HIV disease, read through this summary of a recent discussion by University of California-San Diego researcher Scott Letendre. In addition to a review of recent research findings, Dr. Letendre talks about how methamphetamine is made, how it works, and what HIV specialists can do to help people on meth to overcome their addiction and lessen the cognitive problems it can cause. (Web highlight from PRN Notebook, free registration required)

    Tackling Lipodystrophy From Many Different Directions
    HIV treatment may have turned James Laub's HIV into a chronic disease, rather than a life-threatening one, but treatment came with a price: lipodystrophy. From his chin down to his legs, James' HIV meds changed his physical appearance and impacted his mental health as well. It's taken a lot of work on his part, and a willingness to try many different solutions, but James is finally back on the upswing. "Sometimes the most unlikely sources in life can become our allies," he says. "Between my acupuncturist, my doctor, the dermatologist, and the plastic surgeon, everything and everyone came together for a wonderful outcome."

    Finding the Way Back From a Self-Destructive Life
    What do you do if you are a 37-year-old woman with HIV, hepatitis C and depression who has a history of drug use -- and who sells her body for sex in order to pay the rent? This anonymous woman desperately wants to change her life for the better, but doesn't know how to do so. "Where do I start when I feel inside that I don't belong?" she asks. Psychiatrist J. Buzz von Ornsteiner responds.

    Update on HIV-Related Neurological Problems
    With the new generation of HIV treatment extending people's lives and greatly reducing the risk of many opportunistic infections, some believe that the neurological problems long associated with HIV, like neuropathy and dementia, now occur only rarely. However, in this interesting review of the neurological manifestations of HIV, Justin McArthur, from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, debunks many such ideas. In a recent talk hosted by the Physicians' Research Network, McArthur noted that neuropathy, for instance, can have many different causes and symptoms, and the prevalence of HIV dementia has actually increased since the advent of HAART. (Web highlight from PRN Notebook, free registration required)

    Good Foods and Bad Foods for People With Hepatitis
    If you're living with HIV and hepatitis, keeping a healthy lifestyle is even more important than usual. Although there are medications that some people can take to treat hepatitis, there are also plenty of important nutritional steps you can take to keep your liver (and the rest of your body) in good shape. Licensed naturopath JoAnn Yanez lists many of these helpful tips in this article from Body Positive.



    Nine U.S. States Have ADAP Waiting Lists; Special Funding Initiative Due to Expire
    Sixteen U.S. state AIDS Drug Assistance Programs (ADAPs) either have implemented waiting lists or are considering other cost-containment measures, according to the latest ADAP Watch released by the National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors. As of July 18, 1,922 HIV-positive people were on ADAP waiting lists in 9 states, according to the report. Of those people, 1,487 are currently covered under the special funding initiative announced by President Bush last year -- an initiative that is scheduled to expire in September 2005.

    HIV Treatment and Side Effects: A Survey of HIV-Positive New Yorkers
    What are the most common reasons people skip a dose of their HIV meds? How do people cope with side effects, and how often do they seek out help from their doctors? Researcher Dr. Bruce D. Rapkin sought to answer all of these questions (and more) by conducting a survey of a racially mixed, mostly poor group of 381 New Yorkers with HIV. His findings revealed a few surprises; read this article for a summary of the results.

    Anti-Convulsant Might Help Eliminate Dormant HIV-Infected Cells, Study Says
    When taken along with regular HIV treatment, a substance called valproic acid -- which is used to treat such conditions as bipolar disorder and epilepsy -- may help reduce the number of "latent" HIV-infected cells in a person's body, according to a tiny, preliminary study by U.S. researchers. "This finding, though not definitive, suggests that new approaches will allow the cure of HIV in the future," said David Margolis, one of the study researchers. Current HIV treatment can prevent active HIV from reproducing, but can't touch dormant HIV that may be hiding out in reservoirs throughout the body.

    Gilead Unable to Prove Bioequivalency for Fixed-Dose Pill of Efavirenz/FTC/Tenofovir
    Gilead, in partnership with Bristol-Myers Squibb, is hard at work trying to develop the first single-pill, once-a-day HIV treatment regimen in the United States -- but so far, it hasn't had much success. In its second attempt to create a once-daily, fixed-dose combination pill consisting of three drugs -- efavirenz (Sustiva, Stocrin), FTC (emtricitabine, Emtriva) and tenofovir (Viread) -- Gilead found that the combo pill didn't work the same way as the three drugs taken separately. This "bioequivalency" must be proven before a fixed-dose combination pill can receive U.S. approval.

    Race Not a Direct Factor in HIV Treatment Success for Women
    Does HIV treatment work better among women of different races? A large study, recently published in a medical journal, tried to answer that question. The results? Regardless of a woman's race, HIV treatment appeared to work equally well. However, the researchers did note that African-American women stopped taking HIV medications more often than other women, and that they struggled more with depression -- the two factors that were the strongest predictors of "unfavorable" treatment outcomes. (Web highlight from the Journal of AIDS)



    Family Health International Will Seek Support From Gates Foundation for Tenofovir Trials to Prevent HIV
    Family Health International (FHI) will ask the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for funds to begin HIV prevention trials using tenofovir (Viread) in Malawi or South Africa. The foundation last year awarded a $6.5 million grant to FHI to conduct trials of tenofovir in several African and Asian countries, but a range of concerns and protests have halted or slowed many of the studies.

    Los Angeles Board Approves Funding for Needle-Exchange Programs
    The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted 3-2 to allocate $500,000 for five needle-exchange programs to help slow the spread of HIV, hepatitis and other bloodborne diseases among injection drug users. The approval will make the service available in local communities outside the city of Los Angeles for the first time.



    Republican U.S. Congressman Protests Conference on Crystal Meth and HIV
    The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is hosting a conference on the link between crystal meth and HIV -- and at least one politician is awfully pissed about it. Republican congressman Mark Souder of Indiana is the one who's incensed; he's protesting government sponsorship of the conference because it promotes "harm reduction," which involves strategies like needle exchange and methadone therapy to help prevent drug users from contracting bloodborne diseases. The Bush administration and many Republicans oppose harm reduction because they say it essentially condones illegal drug use.

    U.S. Group That Provides HIV Prevention Services to Commercial Sex Workers Abroad Sues USAID Over Loss of Grant
    Many AIDS advocates are opposed to U.S. policy on safe sex and risk reduction, but Washington, D.C.-based DKT International, a nonprofit organization that provides HIV prevention services to commercial sex workers worldwide, has become the first to actually sue the government in hopes of getting that policy reversed. DKT 's lawsuit has been filed against USAID; it argues that newly adopted U.S. policy, which requires AIDS organizations seeking federal funds for work overseas to pledge their opposition to commercial sex work, violates DKT's First Amendment right to free speech.



    Caribbean May Be Home to 243,000 More HIVers by 2009
    A new report warns that the HIV epidemic may be on the verge of an explosion in the Caribbean, where more than 2% of the population is already living with the virus. In just four years, the report says, there may be 672,000 people living with HIV in the Caribbean -- an increase of 243,000 -- and that 334,000 more people will have developed AIDS and be in need of HIV treatment. (Web highlight from the Barbados Advocate)

    Syphilis Growing More Common Among HIVers in London
    The number of HIV-positive people with syphilis is on the rise in London, according to a new study. The increase was discovered by researchers at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, who began providing routine syphilis screening to outpatients who visit the hospital's HIV unit. The researchers recommended that other HIV units in the United Kingdom adopt the same screening strategy, in hopes of controlling the country's rising syphilis epidemic.

    Meet the Winners of's 2005 HIV Leadership Awards!
    Fritz Lolagne, winner of a 2005 HIV Leadership Award
    A medical doctor turned full-time prevention educator, Fritz Lolagne of Orlando, Fla., takes pride in being able to directly take part in the fight for people to maintain healthy lives. Born and raised in Port-Au-Prince, Haiti, Fritz is now deeply involved in HIV prevention education not only within Florida's Haitian community, but among a diverse range of other communities in the area as well.

    Fritz is one of 10 outstanding HIV prevention educators who have won a 2005 HIV Leadership Award from To meet all 73 winners of's 2005 HIV Leadership Awards, click here!

    Connect With Others at
    The Body's Bulletin Boards

    "Could This Be Lipodystrophy?"
    (A recent post from the
    "Living With HIV" board)

    "When I was diagnosed with HIV I was real sick and had already lost lots of weight. Now I've been on meds since December 2005. I notice the weight [is only] coming [back] to my butt. My arms and legs are very thin ... my face seems thinner. Could lipodystrophy come that soon, or is this just how you put weight back on [when you have] AIDS?"
    -- ang89

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

    "No Energy "
    (A recent post from the
    "Gay Men With HIV" board)

    "This is actually about ... my partner who is HIV positive, as I am. He is fortunate in that after testing poz four years ago, he is still not on meds. His last labs showed a CD4 count over 400, viral load at 30,000. ... The problem I am looking for some help with is that he is tired all the time. He works three to four 12-hour shifts a week. ... When he is off, all he wants to do is lay around and sleep. He says he has no energy and, even worse, no sex drive. Our doctor says this is normal, but I don't think so. It is very frustrating. Can anyone relate? Can anyone offer me some advice?"
    -- funguy

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

    Calling All Artists:
    Visual AIDS Needs You!
    Postcards From the Edge
    Visual AIDS is now accepting submissions for its eighth annual Postcards From the Edge benefit -- a two-day charity event in New York City in which people can purchase postcard-size artworks! Painting, drawing, photography, printmaking and mixed media are welcomed; proceeds go to Visual AIDS.

    For more information on how to be a part of this incredible event, click here!