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September 28, 2005

In This Update:
  • AIDS Denialist News
  • HIV Treatment
  • Living With HIV
  • HIV Transmission
  • AIDS Activism
  • HIV Outside the U.S.

    AIDS Denialist's Daughter Dies of AIDS-Related Causes; Officials Investigate
    Los Angeles officials are investigating the death of AIDS denialist Christine Maggiore's 3-year-old daughter, who passed away in May from AIDS-related pneumonia. Maggiore is the founder of Alive & Well AIDS Alternatives, an organization that claims HIV does not cause AIDS and that HIV tests and medications only cause harm. Maggiore, who is HIV positive, breast-fed her two children and refused to allow her daughter to be tested for HIV. (She says her son was tested repeatedly after her daughter's death, and has been found to be HIV negative.) Los Angeles officials are looking into the possibility of bringing child endangerment charges against Maggiore and her husband.



    All Newly Diagnosed HIVers Should Get a Resistance Test, Study Suggests
    Giving people a resistance test shortly after they've been diagnosed with HIV may help extend people's lives, according to a new study by Boston researchers. "For the approximately 90 percent of patients with no resistance, the testing provides no benefit," said Dr. Paul Sax, who led the study. "However, if certain types of resistance are present [when a patient is first diagnosed with HIV], our study projects a substantial increase in survival" of more than 14 months versus patients who do not receive resistance testing. Dr. Sax recommends that resistance testing be made the standard of care for all newly diagnosed HIVers.

    Certain People May Be Able to Safely Take a Supervised HIV Treatment Break
    If your CD4 count is strong and your viral load is undetectable, is it safe to stop your HIV meds under the supervision of your doctor? In a corroboration of other studies on this issue, Spanish researchers have noted that a treatment holiday may be safe, but only in certain people. The Spanish study followed 141 people who stopped HIV treatment with a CD4 count over 500 and a viral load that had been undetectable for at least six months. The researchers found that, although everybody's CD4 count dropped as soon as they stopped their meds, only about half needed to restart treatment after three years. But here's the catch: CD4 count dropped far more quickly among people with a lowest-ever, pre-treatment CD4 count below 200. Among the people who restarted treatment, barely more than half had returned to their pre-break CD4 count after a year back on meds. The upshot is that a planned treatment interruption may be OK for some HIVers, but that HIV-positive people and their doctors need to carefully weigh the benefits and risks first. (Web highlight from the medical journal AIDS Patient Care and STDs)

    Treatment Holidays May Not Be Good for People Taking Efavirenz, Study Suggests
    As previous studies have noted, the NNRTI efavirenz (Sustiva, Stocrin) takes a longer time than most HIV meds to clear completely out of the bloodstream. This has led many HIV experts to worry that if a person stops taking efavirenz, those persistently low drug levels could help breed NNRTI-resistant HIV. Now, a new study by British researchers has found that, in certain people, efavirenz takes even longer to leave the system than usual -- up to eight weeks, in fact. (Web highlight from



    Ten Tips for Newly Diagnosed HIVers
    Newly diagnosed with HIV, and looking for advice? Kozby Kritzer, an HIV-positive man who has written a book about coping with an HIV diagnosis, has put together this list of 10 key tips to keep in mind as you come to terms with your test results. Obviously, these tips can't provide all the answers, but they may be able to help keep you grounded during a difficult time.

    For more advice and information, stop by The Body's "Just Diagnosed" section. We've got hundreds of articles with advice on coping, disclosing your status, staying healthy and accessing HIV care, as well as dozens of inspiring stories from other HIVers.



    Drug Companies, U.S. Health Officials Discuss Link Between Erectile Dysfunction Drugs and HIV
    It's long been rumored that the abuse of drugs used to treat erectile dysfunction leads to new HIV infections. Now, guidelines drafted by experts would urge doctors, pharmaceutical companies and health officials to make efforts to curb this abuse while researchers attempt to determine conclusively whether the drugs are linked with the spread of HIV, especially among men who have sex with men. The draft guidelines were discussed by drug company and U.S. health officials at a two-day meeting on the link between erectile dysfunction drugs, such as Cialis, Levitra and Viagra, and the spread of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases. More than 20 million men in the United States use erectile dysfunction drugs.

    Reclaiming the Future: The State of AIDS Among Black Youth
    HIV has become inextricably linked with the cultural and political inequalities that face many African Americans -- particularly among black youths. This report, written for the Black AIDS Institute by University of Chicago professor Cathy Cohen and colleagues, explores these issues in detail -- and proposes several ideas for how to confront this growing tragedy. (Web highlight from the Black AIDS Institute)

    HIV Vaccine's CD4-Boosting Properties Lead Merck to Double Enrollment in Study
    Researchers conducting clinical trials of an AIDS vaccine made by Merck will double enrollment in the trials to 3,000 participants after results exceeded their expectations. The trials are aimed at determining whether volunteers' immune responses can prevent or control HIV. Researchers have found that the vaccine, called MRKAd5, dramatically boosts participants' CD4 count. However, the vaccine does not prompt the body to generate antibodies, which are essential to immune protection.

    U.S. Congresswoman Seeks Coordination, Promotion of Microbicide Development
    Illinois congresswoman Jan Schakowsky has introduced a bill that would encourage federal research into the development of microbicides that could help prevent the sexual transmission of HIV. Microbicides include a range of products -- such as gels, films and sponges -- that could be used in the vagina or anus to kill HIV before it enters inside a person's body. Rep. Schakowsky's Microbicide Development Act would establish a federal plan under which federal agencies would coordinate their microbicide development plans; it would also create a division within the U.S. National Institutes of Health specifically dedicated to microbicide research.



    Meet the Campaign to End AIDS
    It may be the largest grassroots HIV activism movement ever in the United States: The Campaign to End AIDS, a nationwide effort to force politicians to spend more attention -- and money -- on the fight against HIV at home and abroad. The campaign kicked off with a march on Washington, D.C., in May, where 3,500 people walked toward the White House to deliver 8,500 pairs of shoes, each pair representing one of the people who die from HIV each day worldwide. In October, the campaign plans to send 10 caravans of HIV-positive people on a 100-town tour through the United States, en route to a major weeklong event in Washington, D.C. (Web highlight from Campaign to End AIDS)



    HIV Hurts Military Readiness Across African Continent
    The HIV pandemic is affecting African military troops' ability to defend their countries and operate peacekeeping missions throughout the continent. HIV rates among some African militaries are estimated to be up to twice as high as those among the general population, although few militaries have reliable figures. To address the issue in South Africa, the country's government, in partnership with the United States, in 2003 began a five-year initiative to treat HIV-positive members of the South African National Defence Force. Since it began, the project has established five clinics, tested more than 2,900 troops, and is providing 834 force members and their dependents with care.

    Liver Disease Is Now Leading Cause of Death Among HIV-Positive British Hemophiliacs
    In Britain, more than 75 percent of all hemophiliacs who were infected with HIV 20 years ago have since died -- but liver disease, not HIV, is now the most common reason, according to a new study. Oddly, these findings are good news, in a way: Before the era of modern HIV treatment, almost all deaths in HIV-positive hemophiliacs were attributable to HIV itself. The new findings suggest that HIV treatment has been so successful that other health problems, especially hepatitis C infection, have now become a more pressing concern. (Web highlight from

    How to Have Safe Sex With Clinton and Lewinsky
    It's the kind of exposure an ex-president can only dream of. A condom company in China is now selling condoms under two new brand names: Clinton and Lewinsky. "I believe Bill Clinton cannot be unhappy about this because he's a very generous man," said a spokesman for the company. (Web highlight from USA Today)

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    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!

    Want to take action now? Click here to send a letter to your U.S. senators and representatives urging them to increase funding for the Ryan White CARE Act.
    Visual AIDS
    Visual AIDS Needs You:
    Deadline Sept. 30!
    Postcards From the Edge
    Visual AIDS is still accepting submissions for its eighth annual Postcards From the Edge benefit -- a two-day charity event being held this October in New York City, in which people can purchase original, postcard-size artworks! Painting, drawing, photography, printmaking and mixed media are welcomed; proceeds go to Visual AIDS.

    The postmark deadline for submissions is Friday, Sept. 30, so there's still time to be a part of this incredible event! For more information, click here.

    Connect With Others
    t The Body's Bulletin Boards

    "Just Found Out
    Last Week!

    (A recent post from the
    "Living With HIV" board)

    "I was one of those who took the news [about his diagnosis] really bad! Could barely walk out of the clinic. ... I was sitting in front of my computer last Thursday night, and I started to have an anxiety attack. I saw visions of my death. ... I [called] the 24-hour number for disease control. ... I told her I had no insurance and I had no clue where to go (the clinic left me hanging for info). She gave me a number to call the next morning.

    "The next morning, after waking at my computer, I called the number. A real nice lady answered and I told her my situation, but then I started to break down again -- I could not hold it together. ... I told her I wanted to leave my house and go to a friend's house. She asked, 'Why?' and I said I was scared to be alone. She said, 'No, Thomas, you stay right there.' [But] I hung up, started to sit down -- and the phone rang! ...

    "A man was on the other end. He explained that he was a counselor and he has been HIV positive for 20+ years. He had me come to the clinic and rushed me to the back the second I walked in the door. Today I went back with all the required paperwork and started the process. I even saw a therapist. ... I will be getting my first doctor's appointment in the next few days. ...

    "This bad experience has really been a blessing in disguise, I think. ... I know I have a long road ahead of me and there are going to be some bumps. But as I travel down this road I will not hesitate to look outside my window and see just how beautiful today is."
    -- Sadtom

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