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September 8, 2005

In This Update:
  • Katrina's Impact on the AIDS Community
  • HIV Drugs in Development
  • Complications of HIV & HIV Treatment
  • U.S. HIV Policy & Law
  • HIV/STD Prevention & Testing
  • HIV Outside the U.S.
  •   KATRINA'S IMPACT ON THE AIDS COMMUNITY

    AIDS Services Strive to Reach HIVers in Hurricane's Aftermath
    Through this collection of profiles and interviews, The Body has tried to convey a sense of the challenges that face the Gulf Coast HIV community in Katrina's aftermath. If these snapshots of the efforts being made in Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas and our nation's capital are any indication, it's only a matter of time before the dedicated people who provide HIV services in the region are able to reestablish care for thousands of displaced HIVers in need.

    For a more complete picture of HIV care in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, as well as information on what you can do to lend -- or receive -- a hand, click here to browse The Body's listing of articles.

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      HIV DRUGS IN DEVELOPMENT

    Questioning a "Cure": A Closer Look at Valproic Acid
    Last month, newspapers around the United States and Europe reported on a newly published study that one researcher said could lead to a cure for HIV. The supposed miracle elixir? A substance called valproic acid, which is used to help prevent seizures in people with conditions like epilepsy. The thing is, the idea of using valproic acid to treat HIV isn't all that new -- and as the HIV education organization Project Inform explains, calling it a "cure" may not be all that realistic.

    For more on this story, read through The Body's collection of articles and expert opinions on valproic acid and its role in HIV treatment.

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      COMPLICATIONS OF HIV & HIV TREATMENT

    The Basics on Hyperlipidemia (High Cholesterol/Triglycerides)
    There's a single, nearly incomprehensible word that doctors use to describe health problems like high cholesterol and high triglycerides: "hyperlipidemia," which means a high amount of fat in the blood. If it isn't treated, it could potentially lead to health problems like heart disease or damage to your pancreas. Hyperlipidemia can have all sorts of causes -- some of them lifestyle-related, like a lack of exercise or poor diet, and others medication-related, like taking some protease inhibitors. This fact sheet from the U.S. health department further explains the causes of hyperlipidemia, and talks about some of the key steps people can take to treat it.


    An Update on Lipodystrophy and Possible Treatments
    Not to be confused with "hyperlipidemia" is another fat-related problem that many HIVers face: lipodystrophy. Where hyperlipidemia has to do with the amount of fat in a persons blood, lipodystrophy is about the amount of fat outside the bloodstream -- in the face, arms, legs, stomach and so on. Researchers still don't know how to treat lipodystrophy, or even what causes it, although some HIV meds are known to be culprits, and in some cases HIV itself may be a cause. In this article, HIV educator Tim Horn reviews what we know of lipodystrophy to date, and what treatments are being developed for it -- particularly for people who have lost fat in their face.


    Moderate Weight Loss Increasingly Common for HIVers on HAART
    Since combination HIV therapy (HAART) became available nearly a decade ago, the number of HIVers with wasting -- a loss in body weight of 10% or more -- has decreased dramatically. However, a new U.S. study has found that the number of people with moderate weight loss -- 5% or more -- has actually increased steadily since 1995. Oddly, the researchers said, this weight loss seems to have nothing to do with lipodystrophy. (Web highlight from aidsmap.com)

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      U.S. HIV POLICY & LAW

    Philadelphia Approves Switch to Names-Based HIV Reporting System
    Continuing a nationwide trend that has picked up speed in recent years, the Philadelphia Board of Health unanimously voted to implement a names-based HIV reporting system in the city, switching over from the code-based system it currently uses. The rest of Pennsylvania already uses a names-based HIV reporting system, but Philadelphia had been granted a one-year waiver after Mayor John Street and AIDS and privacy advocates pushed for the code-based system, which they said would protect privacy, prevent discrimination and encourage HIV testing. However, the code-based system "proved cumbersome, expensive and incomplete," according to a report in the Philadelphia Inquirer.


    HIV-Positive Utah Man Sues Surgeons for Refusing to Perform Surgery
    A Utah man filed a civil rights lawsuit against HealthSouth Provo Surgical Center and two physicians, saying they refused him surgery for an ulcerated toe because of his HIV infection. The suit says that one of the doctors who referred Richardson for surgery said that "no scrub techs would do the surgery and it was the policy of HealthSouth Provo Surgical Center not to accept HIV-positive patients."

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      HIV/STD PREVENTION & TESTING

    Many U.S. Lab Tests Often Give False Positives for Genital Herpes
    A recent survey of laboratories performing herpes simplex virus (HSV) testing found many used blood tests that often give false results. Labs involved in the survey were sent a blood sample containing antibodies to one type of herpes, HSV-1, which usually infects a person's lips. Although all of the labs correctly spotted the HSV-1 antibodies, more than half of the labs incorrectly said the sample also had antibodies to HSV-2, which is associated with genital herpes and can be a risk factor for HIV.


    If You're New to San Francisco, It's Not Easy Being Gay
    It may surprise you to know that San Francisco, one of the most gay-friendly cities in the world, has a problem with gay people. Or, more specifically, with newly arrived gay people: A 2001 city survey found that the average gay man leaves San Francisco after only four years; the city estimates that 13.5% of gay men had lived in the city for less than a year. Many say they feel the community is unwelcoming, which can create a sense of alienation that may lead to depression, substance abuse and risky sexual behavior. However, several new programs in San Francisco hope to welcome gay newcomers with a friendly reception -- and, in at least one case, to spread HIV prevention at the same time.

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      HIV OUTSIDE THE UNITED STATES

    Despite Billions in New Pledges, Global Fund's Funding Gap Remains Huge
    In the year's final push to secure international donations for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, the fund managed to secure US$3.7 billion in pledges, only slightly more than half of the $7.1 billion needed for 2006 and 2007. Although United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan said the pledges "will go a long way towards ensuring the longer-term sustainability of the Global Fund," a member of the fund's board, painted a far bleaker picture. "The current funding gap will have devastating effects," the board member said, "depriving poor women, men and children from the hope of accessing lifesaving prevention and treatment services."


    France Plans Global HIV Funding Tax for All Airline Tickets
    The French government plans to implement a tax on airline tickets to help fund the global fight against HIV, tuberculosis and malaria, President Jacques Chirac said. Chirac first proposed the idea in January as part of an international program aimed at raising as much as US$12 billion annually worldwide, but then decided to start planning the program in his own country without waiting to see if other countries would take part.


    Shifting Condom Policy "Threatens to Undermine" Uganda's Success Against HIV, New York Times Says
    Uganda became Africa's leader in reducing the spread of HIV by promoting abstinence, faithfulness and consistent condom use, but now this "balanced approach is tilting, and Ugandans will die as a result," a New York Times editorial says. United Nations Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa Stephen Lewis and other AIDS advocates have recently blamed the Bush administration's policy of emphasizing abstinence-only prevention programs and cutting federal funding for condoms as contributing to an alleged condom shortage in Uganda and undermining the country's HIV fight.


    New South African "Anti-Rape" Condom Goes Medieval on Potential Attackers
    South African inventor Sonette Ehlers has unveiled a new device that, when worn inside a woman's vagina like a tampon, hooks onto a man's penis during intercourse, and is intended to deter sexual assault and rape, two potential causes of HIV transmission. The device -- which is called Rapex -- is made of latex and attaches to the penis by shafts of sharp barbs. The device can only be removed by surgery, which would identify assailants to hospital staff and police.

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    Also Worth Noting

    Visual AIDS
    Art From HIV-Positive Artists

    Image from the September 2005 Visual AIDS Web Gallery
    "Portrait of Michael Wilson," 1989
    Bern Boyle
    Visit the September 2005 Visual AIDS Web Gallery to view this month's collection of art by HIV-positive artists! The September 2005 gallery is entitled "Crossing the Line."

    Ryan White CARE Act
    Stay Informed as
    Reauthorization Heats Up

    The Ryan White CARE Act is one of the most important laws in the United States for uninsured people living with HIV. 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 facing this year's reauthorization, and how might they impact you? Visit The Body's main page on the Ryan White CARE Act reauthorization for background, news, policy statements and more!

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

    Julie Davids, winner of a TheBody.com 2005 HIV Leadership Award

    Outspoken and fiercely political, Julie Davids does HIV prevention in a style that harkens back to the earliest years of the U.S. epidemic. A member of ACT UP Philadelphia for 15 years, she founded the Community HIV/AIDS Mobilization Project to address the underlying challenges of HIV prevention, including poverty, racism and homophobia. "Never underestimate people's potential to change," she says.

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

    Connect With Others
    A
    t The Body's Bulletin Boards

    "One Month on Medication -- First Test Results"
    (A recent post from the
    "HIV Treatment" board)

    "I've been on the Sustiva [efavirenz, Stocrin] + Truvada [tenofovir/FTC] combo for one month. My CD4 count went from 248 to 354 and my viral load went from 39,000 to 83. My doctor says this is good. I guess I just want to hear from others with more treatment experience what they think of these results and what I can expect from continued treatment. Is this really good? Should it be better? ... I'm still a newbie at this and I'm still scared."
    -- Anonymous

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