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October 5, 2005

In This Update:
  • Living With HIV
  • HIV Treatment
  • HIV-Related Complications
  • Research on HIV
  • HIV Prevention & Transmission
  • HIV Outside the U.S.

    "POZ Parties": Good, Bad and Ugly
    In New York, one way some sexually active, HIV-positive gay men have dealt with the difficulty of disclosure is by attending something called a "POZ party." To find out a little more about these events, Michael Clatts and his team from the Institute for International Research on Youth at Risk waited at the entrance to a POZ party and took a brief survey. They found that although this kind of party reduces new HIV infections, unprotected anal intercourse between HIVers was common, which increases the men's risk not only of contracting other sexually transmitted diseases, but also of becoming reinfected with another strain of HIV -- a strain that may be more aggressive or resistant to certain meds.

    Too Much of a Good Thing: The Hidden Danger of Dietary Supplements
    Although vitamins and other dietary supplements seem -- and often are -- harmless enough, they can potentially cause a surprising amount of harm in a person with HIV, especially when a person takes more than they're supposed to. Some supplements are known to lower doses of HIV medications, making them less effective. And in this latest report, an HIV-positive man developed liver damage because he was taking a host of different supplements at higher-than-recommended doses. (Web highlight from

    A Wisconsin Couple With HIV Battles to Raise Awareness, Funding
    Many U.S. states are home to well-known, outspoken people with HIV. Although most of us may never have heard of them, these people are incredibly important in the country's fight against HIV: They're the ones who courageously disclose their status and represent the face of HIV to anyone willing to see it. Mike Johnson and his wife, Sherie, are two of these people. The Wisconsin couple was diagnosed in 1991, and has worked tirelessly since then to spread HIV education and improve the lives of HIV-positive Wisconsinites. Thanks to Mike's hard work, Wisconsin lawmakers recently boosted funding for a program to provide health care and case management to people with AIDS. They also renamed the program itself in Mike's honor. (Web highlight from the Wisconsin State Journal)

    Katrina Impact Update: How Many HIVers Lived in the Areas Hit by the Hurricane? (PDF)
    The answer: about 21,000. And all of them may now have a difficult time getting access to the medical care they need. This fact sheet includes data on the number of HIVers who were living with HIV in hurricane-affected counties in Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi, and provides information on the number of people who were served by each state's AIDS Drug Assistance Program. (Web highlight from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation)

    More than a month after Katrina struck the Gulf Coast, we still know relatively little about the scope of the difficulties that HIV-positive evacuees may be facing. What we do know, though, we've compiled in this collection of articles -- which includes a valuable list of resources outlining what you can do if you're in need of HIV-related assistance, or how to provide help to those who need it.



    Wyoming Proposal Could Let Pharmacists Deny Prescriptions Based on Personal Beliefs; AIDS Advocates Concerned
    Wyoming AIDS Project Director Pamela Reamer Williams said she fears that pharmacists might turn away HIV-positive people if a proposal is approved that would let pharmacists refuse to fill prescriptions based on personal beliefs. "It is no secret to any of us that there are people in this state who have religious and moral objections to homosexuality," she said. "[The proposal] is so broad that any pharmacist with any personal belief that is contrary to any particular drug is allowed to refuse to fill a prescription."

    Whatever Happened to Immune-Based HIV Therapy?
    Although we have more than 20 antiretrovirals used to treat HIV, and a whole mess more in the development pipeline, we still don't have a single immune-based therapy -- a treatment that could boost the body's ability to fight off HIV on its own. What gives? In this research update, Treatment Action Group offers an answer, and reviews the relatively small number of immune-based HIV therapies that researchers are currently investigating.



    Early Studies Suggest Common Antibiotic Could Protect Against HIV-Related Neurological Complications
    An inexpensive antibiotic has some HIV researchers wondering if they may have found a new way to prevent some of the brain-related illnesses that people with HIV can develop. An early study of the common antibiotic, known as minocycline, suggests that the drug may protect against brain swelling in monkeys infected with SIV, the simian equivalent of HIV. Test-tube studies also showed that the antibiotic may actually suppress HIV replication within the brain.

    The Hepatitis C Treatment Pipeline
    Hepatitis C treatment has advanced tremendously in recent years, especially with the introduction of pegylated interferon, the current generation of hep C medications. But this new family of drugs still has its problems: It only works in about half of the people who try it, and it carries a risk of many different side effects. Thankfully, more hep C treatments are now being researched. In this article, Tracy Swan from Treatment Action Group walks us through the latest developments.



    Small Study Says HIV Now Replicating at a Slower Rate
    The rate at which HIV replicates might be slowing, suggesting that the virus might have become weaker since the 1980s, according to a small study published in the journal AIDS. However, some AIDS experts warned that the findings don't mean that HIV is any less contagious or deadly than it used to be. "The bottom line is that HIV is still dangerous," said Carl Dieffenbach, head of the basic science program in the Division of AIDS at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. He added, "If it is attenuating [weakening], it is not doing it enough to make a difference in outcomes."



    Risk of HIV Infection Increases Significantly During Pregnancy, Study Finds
    Sexually active women who are pregnant or lactating are at a higher risk for HIV infection than sexually active women who aren't pregnant or lactating, according to a new study conducted in Uganda. The researchers suggest that hormonal changes -- not changes in sexual behavior -- are the likely cause of the increased risk, making HIV prevention even more important for pregnant women.

    Chicago Study Links Meth Use to Higher HIV, STD Rates Among MSM
    Men who have sex with men (MSM) and who use crystal methamphetamine are much more likely to have HIV than MSM who don't use meth, according to a recent report from the Chicago Department of Public Health. The report, based on a survey of 1,147 Chicago MSM, found that 11% reported using meth at least once in the previous year. Of those, 22% had HIV, compared to 8% of non-users. The report also found that rates of syphilis and gonorrhea among meth users were three times those of non-users.

    In the Streets of Chicago, a New Look at Injection Drug Use
    It's easy to talk (and preach) about concepts like "harm reduction" and "needle exchange," but unless you've actually experienced how these programs work, it's hard to truly judge their value. So reporter Jeff Berry and a photographer decided to spend a day in Chicago's infamous "Blood Alley," sitting in a silver van that acts as a refuge for injection drug users seeking clean needles and other help. Here's what they saw.

    What HIV? What Condoms? Meet a Hollywood in Denial
    For the last 20 years, HIV has ravaged the globe, taken millions of lives and changed sexual habits, turning the concept of "safe sex" into a rule, rather than a recommendation. But in Hollywood, as with most things, this reality has yet to penetrate, according to Sydney University public-health researcher Hasantha Gunasekera and colleagues. They watched 87 of the most popular movies made since the AIDS pandemic began. There was a total of 53 sex scenes in these movies, but only one of them included a condom -- and even then, it was only with a reference to birth control, not disease control.

    A Portrait of Sex Education in U.S. States
    Where does your state stand on abstinence-only programs? Every U.S. state has its own set of rules when it comes to sex education. This in-depth resource provides a state-by-state breakdown of essential info, including: a review of current sex-education law, a list of programs that support (and oppose) comprehensive sex education, and key statistics on the sexual behavior of youths. (Web highlight from the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States)



    A Conversation About HIV With Bill Clinton (PDF)
    Although HIV treatment and care expanded greatly in the United States while Bill Clinton was president, during his terms distressingly little was accomplished in the global fight against HIV. In the past two years, though, Clinton has sought to make up for lost time: He's now one of the world's foremost advocates for HIV treatment access, and runs a foundation that provides meds to more than 100,000 HIVers worldwide. In this interview, Clinton talks about the work that's been done to prevent and treat HIV in Africa, Asia and Latin America -- and about the tremendous amount of work that remains. (Web highlight from the journal AIDS Patient Care & STDs)

    Also Worth Noting
    U.S. Hurricanes: HIV/AIDS Info
    The Body's Coverage

    If You Need Help

    If You'd Like to Help

    More Info & Articles

    "Spread the Know"
    Graffiti Artists Hit the Streets to Plug HIV Prevention

    "Spread the Know" graffiti
    An acclaimed group of New York- and Tokyo-based artists called The Barnstormers have transformed a Philadelphia city block into a mural encouraging young people to learn more about, and get tested for, HIV. It's just one part of an ongoing HIV education campaign called KNOW HIV/AIDS. To learn more about the mural and the artists who created it -- and to download a special screen saver or test your graffiti skills on an online wall -- check out

    Ryan White CARE Act
    The Reauthorization Fight
    Has Only Begun

    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
    Art From HIV-Positive Artists

    Image from the October 2005 Visual AIDS Web Gallery
    "Ascending to Heaven," 1998;
    Milton Garcia Latex
    Visit the October 2005 Visual AIDS Web Gallery to view this month's collection of art by HIV-positive artists! This month's gallery is entitled "Manner of Solitude."

    Visual AIDS
    t The Body's Bulletin Boards

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

    "I am male, in my thirties and have been diagnosed since 1999. Being heterosexual, the contact I have with HIV-positive women is fairly tunnel visioned. ... I wonder if one should wait and stay single, hoping that special someone will come along ... or settle for what seems halfway there? ... Is it better to hang on in hope, knowing that you could end up being one of those lonely guys who [spends his] life alone, or settle for reasonable comfort -- but not your soulmate? [It's a] question everyone faces, I am sure, at one time or another, but HIV does tend to add more pressure to one's thought process. I would be most interested to know what people think."
    -- ThePoet

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

    "Thrush or What?"
    (A recent post from the "I Just Tested Positive" board)

    "My tongue feels like it is being laid on an iron and tortured. I have a small red blister on one side and it is kinda white on top. It hurts. It burns. It is on fire. Anyone know if this might be onset of oral thrush? ... Yes, I am already HIV positive."
    -- daisey6205

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