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August 24, 2005

In This Update:
  • Living With HIV
  • The HIV Treatment Pipeline
  • Hepatitis B & C
  • HIV Prevention
  • U.S. HIV Policy
  • HIV Outside the U.S.

    When the Side Effects Keep Rolling: One Woman's Story
    Six months after Pamela Yelsky began HIV treatment, she had gained so much weight in her waist and stomach that her former hairdresser thought she was pregnant. Deciding how to respond to such acquaintances was just one of many dilemmas Pamela would have to struggle with as she dealt with HIV medication side effects. In this article, she explains her hopes and the challenges she's faced.



    Treatment Down Under: Could a New HIV Med Live in a Crocodile's Veins?
    It's no crock: Australian researchers say they've found evidence that crocodile blood could help them create a potent new type of HIV medication. HIV was unable to survive in the croc's bloodstream due to the reptile's powerful immune system, the researchers found. "It's like putting a gun to the head of the bacteria and pulling the trigger," one researcher said. (Web highlight from Reuters Health)

    Maturation Inhibitor Shows Strength in 10-Day Study
    PA-457 is a type of HIV medication called a "maturation" inhibitor, which seeks to prevent HIV from entering cells by messing around with the protein coat on the outside of the virus. PA-457 is currently in a middle stage of development -- and doing quite well, according to the company developing the drug. Results from a small clinical trial have shown that PA-457, when taken by itself once a day, was able to reduce viral load by 90% within 10 days, with no severe side effects.

    A press release from Panacos Pharmaceuticals, which contains more data from the study, is available here.



    Advice for People With HIV and Hepatitis C
    As a counselor and researcher who works with people coinfected with HIV and hepatitis C, Gary R. McClain has gotten an intimate look at what it means to live with these two viruses. Many of the coinfected people he meets with ask him, "How do you even get to the point where you can motivate yourself to take charge?" "How do you power up when you feel powerless?" Gary has identified four key factors that are impacted by HIV and hepatitis C coinfection: your doctor, your body, your emotions and your spirit. He's also compiled a list of resources you can check out for more advice.

    Hepatitis C Coinfection Greatly Increases HIVers' Risk of Death
    HIV-positive people who are coinfected with hepatitis C are between 30% and 80% more likely to die than people infected with HIV alone, even if they're on successful HIV treatment, according to a distressing new study by U.S. researchers. However, the researchers noted that their study took place before the new generation of hepatitis C treatment, pegylated interferon + ribavirin, came into widespread use. They also added that efforts to treat mental illness and drug/alcohol abuse, which are relatively common among people with hepatitis C, could also help reduce the risk of death. (Web highlight from

    Living With Hepatitis B
    "My liver started to hurt as soon as I started Norvir and Combivir," Mitchell A.G. Luna recalls. But it wasn't the HIV meds that were causing the pain -- it was hepatitis B. A longtime user of recreational drugs, Mitchell doesn't know how long he had hepatitis B before he was diagnosed, but as he explains in this personal story, the coinfection made his life a lot more complicated. And the hepatitis B treatment, though successful, brought its own set of side effects.



    Serosorting and the Internet May Be Slowing Spread of HIV in San Francisco
    It's a welcome change to the regular HIV grind: Some good news on the HIV prevention front! In San Francisco, the number of new HIV infections is now lower than it's been since 1997 -- and scientists are trying to figure out why. Some theorize it's because of
    "serosorting," in which HIVers, particularly men who have sex with men, make sure that if they do have unprotected sex, it's only with other HIV-positive people. The practice may be made easier thanks to the Internet, which allows people to disclose their status with much less fear of stigma or disappointment. (Web highlight from The New York Times)

    Syringe Exchange Program Causes Drop in Shared Needles Among NY Drug Users
    Yet another study has been published that demonstrates the success of making syringes more accessible for injection drug users (IDUs). This time, researchers looked at New York state's Expanded Syringe Access Demonstration Program (ESAP), which took effect on Jan. 1, 2001. Their investigation found that since ESAP's inception, receptive syringe sharing decreased significantly, from 13.4% of participants to 3.6% in June 2005. The percentage of IDUs who obtained their most recent injection syringe from an ESAP source (chiefly pharmacies) more than tripled in two and a half years, from 7.5% in January 2001 to 25% in June 2005.

    Locally Produced Billboards Spread HIV Awareness in Fresno, Calif.
    The 10 HIV prevention billboards that have been erected in southern Fresno, Calif., have a straightforward message: "Know the Facts. Protect Yourself. Get Tested." The billboards, which went up last week, are the first to have been created locally in an effort to raise awareness about HIV.



    If You Don't Know the Ryan White CARE Act, Now's the Time to Meet It
    The Ryan White CARE Act is one of the most important laws in the United States for uninsured people living with HIV. The funding provided by the act makes it possible for states, cities and organizations to offer a whole host of services to HIVers, including AIDS Drug Assistance Programs, which help about 136,000 HIV-positive Americans get access to their meds. This fall, for the first time in five years, the Ryan White CARE Act is up for reauthorization -- meaning the entire law is being revisited, which could result in major changes in the way the act works and funding is doled out. What are some of the biggest issues this year, and how might they impact you? Visit The Bodys main page on the Ryan White CARE Act reauthorization for background, news, policy statements and more!

    Who Was Ryan White?
    Many people may not realize that the Ryan White CARE Act was named for an HIV-positive person. In fact, it was named for a white, heterosexual, middle-class, Midwestern boy who was infected with HIV through contaminated blood products and faced terrible stigma as a teenager in the 1980s. Before eventually succumbing to AIDS in 1990, Ryan struggled to make people understand that HIV-positive people did not deserve to be treated like pariahs. You can read more of his story in this brief biography from Wikipedia. (Web highlight from Wikipedia)

    Controversy Over Church/State Division Spills Into Sex Education Funding
    Can a U.S. organization use federal funds to preach abstinence with a religious message? The Bush administration seemed to think it was OK -- that is, until an American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) lawsuit reached a federal court three months ago. The ACLU sued the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), accusing the agency of using tax money to promote Christianity when it funded Silver Ring Thing, a Pennsylvania-based evangelistic abstinence program. On Aug. 22, HHS officials finally suspended a federal grant to the abstinence program, concluding that the project "includes both secular and religious components that are not adequately safeguarded."



    Global Fund Has Provided HIV Drugs for 90,000 More People in 2005
    The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria announced it provided HIV treatment to 90,000 new people in the developing world between January and June 2005. This 70% increase put the fund ahead of its midyear target, and brought the total number of HIV-positive people the fund treats up to 220,000. The Global Fund said it hopes to provide 400,000 people with HIV treatment by the end of 2005, and to increase that number to 1.6 million by 2010.

    Jamaica Begins Public Campaign to Fight HIV Stigma
    About 22,000 of Jamaica's 2.7 million residents are living with HIV. AIDS advocates in Jamaica say it's critical to eliminate HIV-related stigma, a problem that is hampering efforts to prevent the spread of the virus, which the government reports is mostly transmitted heterosexually. Jamaica has responded by launching a public advertising campaign. One poster to be displayed throughout the island reads, "When you're HIV positive, you don't need negative vibes."

    Zimbabwe Takes Steps to Help Its Growing Ranks of AIDS Orphans
    In Zimbabwe, just 20,000 out of an estimated 1.8 million people living with HIV are receiving meds from the government, which means that there are a lot of dying people -- and a great number of children being left without parents. In fact, the government estimates that more than 20% of Zimbabwe's 5.8 million children have lost one or both parents to AIDS. In hopes of addressing this growing emergency, Zimbabwe's social welfare ministry has initiated a national plan of action to help these AIDS orphans.

    HIV on the Bench: A South African Supreme Court Judge Goes Public
    HIV stigma is still so great in South Africa that even one of the sons of Nelson Mandela - the most respected man in the country -- died without ever revealing he was HIV positive. But there is at least one prominent man in South Africa who has been willing to disclose his status: Supreme Court judge Edwin Cameron, 52, who is the only person in public office in South Africa to admit to having HIV. In this BBC interview, he talks about going public, his country's political denial surrounding HIV and the drugs keeping him alive. (Web highlight from BBC News)


    The Faces of HIV Care
    Meet the Winners of's 2005 HIV Leadership Awards!

    Dr. Scott Russell, winner of a 2005 HIV Leadership Award
    Dr. Scott Russell oversees the treatment and care of 1,350 HIV-positive people in Biloxi, Miss., and throughout Mississippi's gulf coast. Most of his patients are poor and uninsured, and live in sparsely populated areas where HIV stigma still lingers. "The smartest people I have ever met have been uneducated," he says. "The most giving people I have ever met have been really poor."

    We're honored to present Dr. Russell as one of 10 outstanding HIV physicians who have won a 2005 HIV Leadership Award from! To meet all 73 award winners in our nine award categories, click here.

    Visual AIDS
    t The Body's Bulletin Boards

    "Just Lost Health Insurance"
    (A recent post from the
    "Living With HIV" board)

    "I have been poz for a while now and recently lost my health insurance. I have meds until October, but if I don't find another job by then, what can I do? I live in Chicago, Ill., and need info fast."
    -- Anonymous

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

    "My Boyfriend Is HIV Positive"
    (A recent post from the "My Loved One Has HIV" board)

    "My boyfriend and I had been friends for almost 5 years before we got together, so I knew he was HIV+ before we started this relationship. He contracted it through a blood transfusion when he was 3. He's also a hemophiliac. I thought I knew what I was getting into, but really I feel like I know nothing about his condition. He's always open about it, which I appreciate so much. Recently things have started to get a little hot and heavy, and really I have no clue what's possible. Is it possible to have a safe sexual relationship? ... He's never had a sexual relationship, so he doesn't really know exactly what is possible either."
    -- ladycatalpa

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

    Visual AIDS
    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!