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September 14, 2005

In This Update:
  • Katrina and the AIDS Community
  • Living With HIV: Research
  • Complications of HIV & HIV Treatment
  • HIV Prevention
  • HIV Testing
  • HIV Outside the U.S.
  •   KATRINA AND THE AIDS COMMUNITY

    If You Need Help: Resources for HIV-Positive Hurricane Survivors
    As the response to Hurricane Katrina continues to gear up, more information is becoming available about what people with HIV whose lives have been disrupted can do to get the assistance they need. The Body is constantly updating this list of resources for Gulf Coast HIVers; refer to it for info on how to get medical help, HIV meds, housing or other types of aid.


    What You Can Do to Help HIV-Positive Victims of Hurricane Katrina
    It's hard to pick up a newspaper, turn on the TV or listen to the radio without being barraged with pleas to donate toward the assistance of the hundreds of thousands whose lives have been turned upside-down by Hurricane Katrina. But what about the thousands of HIV-positive people affected by the hurricane -- what can you do to help them? The Body and the American Academy of HIV Medicine have compiled this listing of resources for anybody willing to open their wallet, or even their homes, to Katrina's HIV-positive victims.


    If Only Katrina Had Waited a Few More Days ...
    What difference can a few days make? If you're on government assistance, it could be the difference between life and death. Katrina demolished the Gulf Coast on Aug. 29, but "if only Katrina had held off a few more days and hit on September 2nd, what a different world we might be seeing,"
    writes Terje Anderson, the executive director of the U.S. National Association of People With AIDS (NAPWA). Why? Because Sept. 2 is the day that people in the region were to get their monthly welfare checks, disability checks and food stamps. As August drew to a close, many of these people found themselves flat broke -- with no way to pay for gas or a bus ticket to get them to safer ground, or for supplies to sustain them when the flood waters rushed in.


    Washington Blade Covers Effects of Katrina on Gay Community, Efforts to Help HIVers
    A series of articles from the GLBT-community newspaper Washington Blade focuses on the unique hardships that gay people on the Gulf Coast have faced since Hurricane Katrina struck. The articles include an explanation of some of the problems that gay people -- and gay couples -- have had getting access to relief; a look at how the Houston area has reached out to gay survivors of the hurricane; and a review of the debate among gay advocacy organizations as to whether they should work with relief efforts that aren't especially friendly to the gay community, such as some faith-based initiatives.

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      LIVING WITH HIV: RESEARCH

    Researchers Examine What Makes Some HIVers "Nonprogressors"
    It's estimated that one out of every 100 people with HIV is able to indefinitely maintain a high CD4 count and an extremely low viral load without taking any HIV treatment. These people are called "long-term nonprogressors"; the question is, WHY are they the way they are? What do they have that most HIV-positive people lack? A new French study was unable to provide any hard-and-fast answers, but did shed some new light on the subject. (Web highlight from aidsmap.com)

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      COMPLICATIONS OF HIV & HIV TREATMENT

    The Challenge of Hepatitis C and HIV Coinfection
    Although it was discovered only 16 years ago, researchers have already learned a tremendous amount about hepatitis C, which is now one of the most common coinfections in people with HIV. Oddly, although people with HIV are living longer than they ever have, hepatitis C coinfection is now more of a concern than it's ever been -- making it extremely important to understand how the virus works and how people can be treated for it. To learn all about the history, symptoms, treatments and other facts about hepatitis C and HIV coinfection, read this thorough overview written by experts at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine.


    Overview of HIV-Related Eye Problems
    In the years before combination HIV treatment (HAART), it was common to see HIV-positive people develop serious problems with their eyes; many opportunistic infections, such as cytomegalovirus, Kaposi's sarcoma and even pneumonia, could cause eye irritation, disfigurement or even blindness. Although many of these problems now happen far less often thanks to modern HIV treatment, they are still common among people who diagnose late or don't have treatment options. This comprehensive look at eye problems (known in medical terminology as "ophthalmic manifestations") associated with HIV is a new addition to HIV InSite's Knowledge Base, an online repository of clinical reference information. (Web highlight from HIV InSite)

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      HIV PREVENTION

    Ordinary Strangers: The Faces of Needle Exchange
    Before he took over his organization's needle-exchange program, Derek Worley was scared: "I feared the clientele the department serviced," he admits, adding, "I'm not sure that I morally approved of the service." Several years later, he's singing a very different tune. As he got to know the people who his needle-exchange program was set up to help, Derek came to understand why such programs, which try to make injection drug use safer by distributing clean needles, are so important. "[My clients] made me think and learn, wonder and hope," he says. Which makes it all the more tragic that his program's funding was recently cut.

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      HIV TESTING

    Pennsylvania Physician Calls for HIV Testing Without Patient Permission in Some Cases
    Not including inherited, genetic disorders, HIV is the only medical condition that doctors aren't allowed to test for without receiving explicit consent. In a hospital setting, though, there are plenty of reasons why a patient might not be able to give that consent -- a fact that, Dr. Scott Halpern of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine says, makes it essential that consent not be required in some cases. Otherwise, he says, those people may not be able to receive as high a quality of care as they would if an HIV test were possible.

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      HIV OUTSIDE THE UNITED STATES

    HIV Rate in Corporate South Africa Has Increased to 19.4%, Study Says
    Nearly one out of every five workers in South Africa's corporations is living with HIV, according to a survey of 100 South African companies. The survey, conducted by Old Mutual Healthcare, found that HIV prevalence in the country's corporate sector jumped from 15% in 2003 to 19.4% this year, and noted that most companies had no idea how many HIV-positive people worked for them.


    Social Isolation Drives Mixed-Status Indian Couple to End Lives
    Although there are reportedly five million people with HIV in India, stigma and discrimination are rampant. According to news reports, one young, formerly happy, mixed-status couple in West Bengal was driven over the edge because of mistreatment. Their heartbreaking story points to the work that still must be done to support those who test positive for HIV in one of the world's most populous nations. (Web highlight from HindustanTimes.com)


    HIV Threatens Millennium Development Goals, Vaccine Coalition Says (PDF)
    As the new millennium began, almost 200 of the world's countries agreed to a set of ambitious goals aimed at dramatically reducing poverty, tuberculosis, child death and illiteracy by 2015. The terrible impact of HIV may threaten many of those goals, however. A review of this impact, commissioned by the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative, finds a need for more HIV treatment, care and prevention programs, and points to a key role for the development of new technologies such as an effective HIV vaccine. (Web highlight from the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative)


    Free HIV Meds in Developing World Shouldn't Be Given Only to New Patients, Experts Say
    A little-known fact about HIV treatment programs in the developing world is that some only provide (or prefer to provide) free meds to people who have never taken meds before. There are many practical reasons for this strategy, but plenty of downsides as well: For instance, from a human rights standpoint, how can you deny free meds to a person who used to be able to afford them, but no longer can? In this opinion piece, a group of experts at a Ugandan university use their country's own treatment program as an example for why free meds should be available to more than just "treatment-naive" people. (Web highlight from PLoS Medicine)

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    Also Worth Noting
    Hurricane Katrina AIDS Info
    The Body's Coverage

    If You Need Help

    If You'd Like to Help

    More Info & Articles

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    "When to Begin Treatment?"
    (A recent post from the
    "HIV Treatment" board)

    "I contracted HIV in June 2004. I am also a newly recovering meth addict fresh out of inpatient treatment. My most recent CD4 count was 997, with a viral load of 69,000. In May, my numbers were 580 and 92,000, respectively. Here's my question: Should I begin meds now, while my CD4 count is high, or should I wait until my CD4 count falls to approximately 350? ... I'm a bit scared that allowing my CD4 count to fall, and then trying to rebuild, might be harder on my body than starting meds while my count is high."
    -- NurseEddie

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

    Visual AIDS
    Art From HIV-Positive Artists

    Image from the September 2005 Visual AIDS Web Gallery
    "Album (Time Flies)," 1995;
    Stephen Andrews
    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!