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November 16, 2005

In This Update:
  • HIV in the News
  • HIV Treatment & Care
  • Living With HIV
  • Financial Help for U.S. HIVers
  • HIV-Related Health Issues
  • HIV/STD Prevention & Transmission
  • HIV Policy & Activism
  • HIV Outside the U.S.
  •   HIV IN THE NEWS

    Hope or Hoax? British Man's HIV Test Results Change
    Has Andrew Stimpson spontaneously recovered from HIV? He says he tested positive in 2002, but that a 2003 test showed he was HIV negative -- and he reportedly never took HIV meds. Some media outlets have reacted dramatically, heralding his case as a huge step toward finding an AIDS cure. But there are far more questions than answers about Stimpson's HIV status, and Stimpson himself has so far refused further tests to get to the bottom of his unusual case. Stay tuned; this story broke only a few days ago, and new developments are sure to come to light. (Web highlight from BBC News)

    What do The Body's own HIV experts think about the Stimpson case? Find out in our "Ask the Experts" forums, where Dr. Brian Conway and Dr. David Wohl have already chimed in with their thoughts.

    In addition, the British HIV information resource aidsmap.com has published this balanced, thoughtful analysis of what we know so far about Stimpson's case.

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      HIV TREATMENT & CARE

    Decades of Unique LGBT Health Care May Face Challenges as Funding Shifts
    Few people know the history of some of the United States' top LGBT health centers -- nor do they know that some of the services these centers offer may be threatened by funding cuts and policy changes. The health centers were set up in the 1970s to give low-cost or free care to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered (LGBT) people, but quickly evolved into epicenters for HIV care and research. Over the years, their non-judgmental approach to medicine drew large numbers of heterosexual people as well. In this report, The Body describes the evolution of these unique health centers, and reveals some challenges that lie in their future.

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      LIVING WITH HIV

    For an Inmate With HIV, Inhumane Treatment Is Part of Everyday Life
    Rampant stigma and cold, uncaring health workers have made living with HIV extremely difficult for Ismael Gonzalez, a 44-year-old inmate at New York's Marcy Correctional Facility. "The doctors here, to be honest, do not know about HIV/AIDS," he writes in this personal story. "One doctor told me that I should stop taking my medication because it will kill me, and he always throws me out of his office when I ask him questions concerning my CD4 and viral load results. ... Right now, I have to take my medication on the low-down: Every morning and every night I go to the bathroom in one of the stalls to take my meds because I truly do not want nobody in this jail to know that I am HIV positive."


    Antioxidants and Your Health
    "Free radicals" may sound like the name for some kind of liberation movement (or maybe a rock band), but the term actually has to do with a little-understood aspect of your health. Free radicals in your body trigger a process called "oxidation," which can damage some of the cells in your body -- something that seems to happen more often among HIV-positive people than HIV-negative people. As dietician Michele Bahns explains, you can fight this process with "antioxidants," a family of foods and supplements that help keep your body's chemistry in balance.

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      LIVE WITH IT: THE WEB'S FIRST ANIMATED SERIES ABOUT LIVING WITH HIV

    Isaac Mudd is a gay man in his 20s who led a pretty typical life -- until he unexpectedly found himself face-to-face with an HIV diagnosis. His struggle to cope with his status, and to make sense of how his life will change and how it'll stay the same, is the grist for Live With It, a new, online series of animated short films from a company called Reel Health.

    The first episode of Live With It is available now; click here to watch it! More episodes will follow early next year.

    In addition to the Live With It series itself, be sure to check out the series' home page, LiveWithIt.com, to read Mudd's blog, sign up for updates, join an online discussion and much more!

    Live With It is sponsored in part by Gilead Sciences, Inc.

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      FINANCIAL HELP FOR U.S. HIVERS

    Trying to Make Sense of Medicare's New Prescription Drug Plan?
    People on Medicare were given the green light to begin signing up for new prescription drug plans this week. But many people with HIV are going to quickly find a dizzying array of options and rules that may, in some cases, actually make it harder to get all the meds they need, rather than easier. David Munar, Associate Director of the AIDS Foundation of Chicago, breaks down some of the highlights and lowlights of the new Medicare drug program, also known as Part D.

    Want more information on Part D? The Body is the place to turn for overviews, important resources and the latest news on the Medicare prescription drug program. Click here to browse our collection of articles and key links!


    Southern California Breaks Ground on New Housing Development for HIVers
    Construction crews have begun to lay the groundwork for an 80-unit housing development for low-income, HIV-positive people in the Palm Springs, Calif., area. The Vista Sunrise development, which is spearheaded by the Desert AIDS Project, should be completed by the end of next year; rents will range from $200 to $250 a month. A neighboring medical facility will also begin construction within the next few months.

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      HIV-RELATED HEALTH ISSUES

    Supplement May Help Treat Fat Loss Caused by Some HIV Meds
    Scientists are growing more certain that some HIV medications -- specifically d4T (stavudine, Zerit) and, to a lesser degree, AZT (zidovudine, Retrovir) -- are at least partly to blame for lipoatrophy, the loss of fat that many HIV-positive people see in their face, arms, legs or butt. But there are very few options for people who already have lipoatrophy; facial fillers like Sculptra (poly-L-lactic acid, New-Fill) are expensive and don't actually cure fat loss, while switching HIV meds doesn't appear to make a noticeable short-term difference. Two small pilot studies, however, have proposed a new solution: a supplement called NucleomaxX, which raises levels of a chemical called uridine that helps the body process carbohydrates. Although results from these studies are only preliminary, they seem to show a significant reversal in AZT- or d4T-related lipoatrophy after 16 weeks in people taking NucleomaxX.


    HIV-Positive People Should Avoid Psoriasis Drug Amevive
    Amevive, a drug used to treat moderate to severe psoriasis, may lower the CD4 count of HIV-positive people, and should thus be avoided completely, according to an announcement by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the drug's maker, Biogen Idec. Psoriasis is a disease in which people develop red, scaly patches on their skin. About 5 million people in the United States are known to be living with psoriasis.


    The Tuberculosis Treatment Pipeline (Yes, There Actually Is One)
    In the 25 years since HIV began to grow into a pandemic, about two dozen drugs have been approved to treat it. However, when it comes to tuberculosis -- the single most-common cause of death among HIVers worldwide -- not a single new treatment has been approved in the past 40 years. As HIV and tuberculosis have worked together to tear apart societies in the developing world, a sense of urgency has thankfully returned to tuberculosis drug development. As Javid Syed of Treatment Action Group explains, six treatments in the pipeline offer hope that we'll have potent new weapons against tuberculosis within the next several years.

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      HIV/STD PREVENTION & TRANSMISSION

    New Draft Guidelines for Condom Labels Would Discuss HIV, STD Risks
    When used correctly, latex condoms "greatly reduce, but do not eliminate" a person's risk of contracting HIV or becoming pregnant. At least, that's what new draft guidelines from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) say should be printed on condom warning labels, which previously were not required to say anything about HIV risk at all. The newly released draft guidelines are available for public comment until mid-February, after which the FDA will decide whether to adopt them. The guidelines would also state that condoms provide less protection for some sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) than others -- human papillomavirus and herpes, for instance, have been found to spread through skin-to-skin contact with open wounds, not just through sexual intercourse. The draft guidelines have been met with mixed opinions from liberals and conservatives alike.

    To read a PDF of the draft guidelines, click here; once you're done, you can submit your comments to the FDA by clicking here.


    Magic in Rochester: Former Basketball Star Still Speaking Out About HIV
    "You can be hip and fly and all of that, and still say no [to unsafe sex]," Earvin "Magic" Johnson recently told a mostly African-American audience in Rochester, N.Y. The former basketball superstar, who in 1991 became the first major sports figure to go public about his HIV status, implored young African Americans -- especially girls -- to learn about HIV and say no to unprotected sex. His words had an impact: "It hit the heart; it was strong," said one 14-year-old girl. "It made you think." (Web highlight from the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle)

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      HIV POLICY & ACTIVISM

    Medical Marijuana, the Bush Administration and the Denial of Science
    "Marijuana has never been shown to cause an overdose death, but alcohol poisoning kills more people every year than all illegal drugs combined," points out AIDS advocate David Salyer. But guess which of the two has been banned by the U.S. government? Despite widespread public support, positive medical evidence and the backing of major clinical organizations, medical marijuana remains illegal under federal law. "It's not like the science doesn't exist," Salyer says; "our government has nothing but contempt for it."


    Celebrities Often Jump From Cause to Cause, but for AIDS, Many Stick Around
    Whether it's because of AIDS' tremendous impact on the entertainment, art and fashion industries, or simply because they realize the devastating scope of the pandemic, celebrities have consistently -- and increasingly -- supported AIDS-related causes over the years, The New York Times reports. Ever since the death of actor Rock Hudson in 1985, Hollywood has been among the most open industries to speak out about HIV and push for more support. Today, celebrities from Elton John and Bono to Christina Aguilera and fashion designer Kenneth Cole are intimately involved in HIV awareness and funding campaigns.

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      HIV OUTSIDE THE UNITED STATES

    The Open Epidemic: Haiti Struggles With High HIV Rates, but Little Stigma
    The HIV epidemic in Haiti is a study in contradictions, says HIV specialist Dr. Fritz Lolagne, a physician who formerly practiced on the island nation. Five percent of Haitians are living with HIV, yet HIV education is widely available. Homosexuality is never spoken of, but Haitians have no problem being open about their HIV status. The country is home to Partners in Health, a humanitarian group that runs one of the most successful HIV treatment programs in the world, yet the Haitian government itself seems incapable of providing help to its HIV-positive citizens. In this article, Keith Green talks to Dr. Lolagne about the challenges that face Haiti today.


    Summer of 2005 Saw Largest Number of New HIV Cases in Hong Kong's History
    From July through September, 91 people were diagnosed with HIV in the tiny Chinese territory of Hong Kong, which is home to seven million people. That marked a 23 percent increase over the previous three months -- and set a record for HIV diagnoses within a three-month period. "The statistic is somewhat unexpected ... the observation that we made is the big rise in the cases among the men who had sex with men," said a Hong Kong department of health official. (Web highlight from Agence France-Presse)


    Canada Opens Tattoo Parlors in Prisons to Curb Spread of HIV, Hepatitis
    Canada has opened tattoo parlors in five federal prisons in a bid to curb the spread of blood-borne diseases. The pilot project is the first of its kind in Canada and is believed by some to be the first in the world. In the taxpayer-funded program, federal prisoners can pay $5 Canadian (US$4.18) to get a tattoo administered by trained fellow prisoners. Racist or gang-related designs are prohibited.

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    Also Worth Noting

    Visual AIDS
    Art From HIV-Positive Artists

    Image from the November 2005 Visual AIDS Web Gallery
    "Red Coupe," 1982; Michael Binkley
    Visit the November 2005 Visual AIDS Web Gallery to view this month's collection of art by HIV-positive artists! This month's gallery is entitled "On the Road -- A Tribute to the Campaign to End AIDS."

    Visual AIDS
    A
    t The Body's Bulletin Boards

    Our Sex Life Ended With My HIV Diagnosis
    (A recent post from the
    "Gay Men With HIV" board)

    "What's up to all my positive brothers and sisters out here. I live in Washington, D.C. I was just diagnosed a couple of months ago. When I found out, I was in a relationship and had to break the news to my partner. He is not positive. We are still together and loving each other unconditionally. But ... since [I told him,] our sexual contact has disappeared. What can I do or who can we talk to to keep our relationship healthy?"
    -- Anonymous

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

    "Acceptance
    Is the Key"

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

    "The past couple of days, [I've been] thinking of all the things I have gone through in my short life. I don't think this condition is going to be all that bad. I read and I read and I talk and I talk and I pray and I pray. I make friends on this site. ... They give me hope and give my life a focus on the positives. ... I am going to stay POS and POSITIVE and look at this as a gift given to me to look at the world in a different way. ... Bumps in the road are natural. They are natural to all of us. It's up to us to flip it around. I am going to write my own story with this. It probably won't be a top seller, but it will be mine and it will have a happy ending."
    -- EricinAspen

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

    Writing Contest
    Win $500 for Sharing Your
    Story; Deadline Dec. 1!

    Poster for the Positively Negative writing contest
    Are you between 14 and 22 years old and living in the United States? Do you have something to say about how HIV has affected your life? Enter the Positively Negative HIV & AIDS 2005 Story Writing Contest for U.S. youths. The winning writer will receive $500 and have his or her story adapted for an upcoming HIV prevention education film!

    To learn more about the contest or download an entry form, visit the Hear Me Project at www.hearmeproject.org. The deadline for entries is Dec. 1!

    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.