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September 21, 2005

In This Update:
  • HIV Treatment
  • Living With HIV
  • Katrina and the AIDS Community
  • Complications of HIV
  • HIV Transmission
  • HIV Outside the U.S.
  •   HIV TREATMENT

    Generic AZT Approved for Use in United States
    Eighteen years ago, AZT (zidovudine, Retrovir) officially became the first medication used to treat people with HIV. Until yesterday, AZT had only been available in the United States as a brand-name drug -- Retrovir -- and at a brand-name price. But AZT's patent finally expired on Sept. 17, and now the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has formally approved the first generic versions of AZT, which will be sold under the name zidovudine.


    Combivir and Trizivir Prices Won't Be Affected by AZT's Patent Expiration
    When AZT was first made available in 1987, it cost up to $10,000 per person annually, but by 1989 the price was lowered to about $2,200 for an annual supply. Now that it's available as a generic medication, prices in the United States will likely drop. However, the two fixed-dose combination drugs that include AZT -- Combivir (AZT/3TC) and Trizivir (AZT/3TC/abacavir) -- won't be affected at all, since they're protected by other patents.


    Study of Entry Inhibitor Aplaviroc Is Partially Suspended Due to Liver Problems
    Development of an experimental entry inhibitor, aplaviroc (also known as GSK-873,140), has been dealt a setback after two treatment-naive volunteers in a late-stage clinical trial developed severe liver problems. Although the two people recovered, trials of aplaviroc have been stopped for all treatment-naive volunteers so researchers can learn more about the drug's connection to liver problems. A trial of aplaviroc in people with limited treatment options will continue, although these volunteers' liver health will be closely monitored, and new enrollment has been suspended.


    Online Resource on Drug Interactions
    The University of Liverpool maintains this Web site, which is geared toward HIV medical professionals and researchers. It features a set of interactive charts in which a person can select all of the protease inhibitors or NNRTIs in a potential regimen, and then see what the risks of interaction between those and other drugs are. (Web highlight from www.hiv-druginteractions.org)

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     SPONSORED SUPPLEMENT: THE HIV DRUG RESISTANCE RESOURCE CENTER

    Want to learn about HIV drug resistance? Check out the HIV Drug Resistance Resource Center, which has been provided by Monogram Biosciences, Inc. (formerly ViroLogic, Inc.), one of the companies that makes resistance tests. The resource center includes several clever tools you can use to better understand resistance and resistance testing, and to find a nearby clinic where you can go for HIV care.

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      LIVING WITH HIV

    Dealing With the Crisis of an HIV Diagnosis
    Kozby Kritzer, who has been living with HIV since 1998, provides advice and perspective on how to cope after being newly diagnosed with HIV. When he was diagnosed, he says, "I had no idea what to do next and no concept of what I should be doing for myself to survive in the short or long term." He made it through that time of crisis, and has written a book to help others do the same. He writes: "I am telling you, right now, without a doubt, that you have the strength in you to make this adjustment and live in peace with HIV. Believe it."


    Living With(out) Crystal Meth: How One Gay Man Overcame an Addictive Life
    Looking back on the days after his AIDS diagnosis, Eddie Young realized why it wasn't enough to stop his drug addiction: "I felt lonely, I wanted to escape, and I desperately needed to feel that I belonged -- somewhere, anywhere," he writes. "Add to that the drive of my inner addict -- the obsession to use, and the compulsion to use more. ... The nature of addiction is that one is too many and a thousand never enough." In this powerful essay, Eddie describes how he finally came to terms with his relentless drug addiction, his HIV status and his life of reckless risk-taking.


    Why Don't We Just Follow the Rules?
    Jim Pickett has been living with HIV since 1995 and is a realist when it comes to our ability to prevent HIV, be 100% adherent to medications and do all of the other things that we're "supposed" to do. "My, we're a messy lot," he writes. "We don't pay attention. We are very hard to train. We make the same mistake over and over and over again, and even then we don't always learn our lesson." If only we always did what was expected of us, he muses, what a different world it would be: a safer, healthier world -- and an incredibly passionless one.


    Let's Talk About Sex -- With Your Doctor
    Few of us have open, honest relationships with our doctors, particularly when it comes to discussing safe sex. For people with HIV, good communication -- especially about topics like sex and other sexually transmitted diseases -- is even more important than usual, since some doctors can help discuss prevention methods and other issues that affect your sex life. So, how do you get the ball rolling? This tip sheet from University of California-San Francisco (UCSF) healthcare professionals gives you the lowdown.

    In addition to these tips, UCSF has made up two worksheets to help you work through your feelings and concerns about safer sex. One worksheet is on thinking about safer sex; the other is on practicing safer sex. The worksheets may seem a little hokey, but they can put you in better touch with your own emotions, and may make it easier for you to talk with your doctor.

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      KATRINA AND THE AIDS COMMUNITY

    Illinois Extends ADAP to Katrina Evacuees
    Many Gulf states have expanded their healthcare coverage in the wake of Hurricane Katrina to help those who were displaced by the storm. That help now stretches as far away as Illinois, where the state's AIDS resources, including its AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP), have been opened up to Katrina evacuees, even if those evacuees can't provide documentation of their eligibility. As many as 10,000 evacuees may end up in Illinois, officials believe.


    New Signup for Health Workers Volunteering in Katrina's Aftermath
    Although a large number of AIDS healthcare workers and service providers have tried to volunteer at HIV clinics in the stricken Gulf Coast region, government signup lists don't allow them to specifically request HIV-related work, according to the American Academy of HIV Medicine (AAHIVM). In response, AAHIVM has launched an initiative to connect volunteers with clinics that serve HIV-positive people in the Katrina-affected region. The organization is now accepting online applications from volunteers, as well as applications from HIV clinics in need of short- or long-term help.


    Listserv Aims to Link Organizations Providing -- or in Need of -- Katrina Aid
    The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is encouraging healthcare providers and other organizations to sign up for this special listserv (an e-mail distribution list). Through the listserv, groups that are assisting Katrina evacuees can request help from other organizations throughout the United States, and organizations that are able to offer help can respond. The listserv is not specific to HIV, but AIDS service providers are welcome to take part.
    (Web highlight from the CDC National Prevention Information Network)


    For Additional Katrina-Related Information, Visit The Body
    In addition to our own coverage of the hurricane's impact on the AIDS community, our collection of articles and resource listings can be of help to HIV-positive people or AIDS organizations in the region, as well as anybody looking to provide assistance or simply read up on the latest news.

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      COMPLICATIONS OF HIV

    HIVers More Likely to Get Cancers Not Associated With AIDS
    A large U.S. study has found that non-AIDS-defining cancers, such as skin, prostate and anal cancer, occur much more frequently in HIV-positive people than HIV-negative people. The risk of these cancers appeared to increase the longer a person had HIV, but decreased in people who were taking HIV medications. The researchers urged HIV clinics to step up their screening for non-AIDS-defining cancers in hopes of catching and treating them as early as possible. (Web highlight from aidsmap.com)

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      HIV TRANSMISSION

    HIV in the Rural United States: A Different Sort of Epidemic
    Far away from the cities that have traditionally been seen as the epicenter of the U.S. HIV epidemic, the country's rural areas are being hit by the virus nearly as hard, but much more quietly. Stigma and isolation remain dramatically high in many of these areas, but most of the main obstacles to HIV care -- poverty, unemployment, lack of HIV prevention education -- are the same as they are in cities. Read the full story in this research report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (Web highlight from the Journal of Rural Health)


    Bacterial Vaginosis Infection May Double HIV Risk in Women
    An extremely common sexually transmitted disease (STD) in women, bacterial vaginosis, may double the risk of becoming infected with HIV, according to a new South African study. Bacterial vaginosis, which often has no symptoms, affects up to a quarter of women throughout the world; it changes the acidity level in a woman's vagina, which may make her more susceptible to HIV infection. (Web highlight from aidsmap.com)

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      HIV OUTSIDE THE UNITED STATES

    Educate Girls, Fight AIDS (PDF)
    Can getting girls and young women into school slow the spread of HIV throughout the world? Absolutely, many AIDS advocates say, since the more education a woman has, the more she is able to assert herself, make her own sexual decisions and learn about diseases such as HIV. UNAIDS has put together this issue brief examining how increased access to education can reduce HIV rates globally among women. It also takes a close-up look at what several communities in developing countries are doing to educate and empower women.

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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

    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!

    Visual AIDS
    Art From HIV-Positive Artists

    Image from the September 2005 Visual AIDS Web Gallery
    "Eye on a Sparrow -- #3," 1997
    Eric Rhein
    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."

    Connect With Others
    A
    t The Body's Bulletin Boards

    "Unsure About Meds"
    (A recent post from the
    "I Just Tested Positive" board)

    "I just tested pos. My doc says that once they get my viral load test results back, they may want me to start meds. What should I expect from the meds? I have already had night sweats, fatigue, a vaginal infection, swollen lymph nodes, headaches and sores on my throat. Most of these have gone away, except the extreme fatigue. What else can I expect?"
    -- daisey6205

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

    Medicine Recycling
    Your Unused HIV Meds
    Can Save Lives!

    AID FOR AIDS

    AID FOR AIDS is a New York-based nonprofit organization that collects unused, HIV-related medications and redistributes them to people living with AIDS in Africa, the Caribbean and Latin America.

    Have HIV-related medications (including antiretrovirals and meds used to prevent or treat opportunistic infections) you'd like to donate? Click here to find out how.