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December 28, 2005

In This Update:
  • Breaking Research From ICAAC 2005
  • Living With HIV
  • African Americans & HIV
  • HIV Prevention
  • HIV Medications
  • HIV/Hepatitis-Related Health Problems
  • HIV Outside the U.S.

    More coverage continues to roll in from the 45th Interscience Conference on Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy (ICAAC 2005), which ended on Dec. 19 in Washington, D.C. Check out The Body's expert analyses of these intriguing studies!

    Can Artificial Intelligence Help Pick the Perfect Regimen?
    For people who have already been exposed to many HIV meds, resistance tests can help doctors figure out which meds are still likely to work. One problem with resistance tests is that although they can help doctors choose specific meds, they can't predict the success of a combination of HIV meds. However, modern computing technology may be able to fill this gap, some researchers say. A study presented at ICAAC 2005 focused on the use of artificial neural networks to achieve this goal. The Body's Dr. Timothy Wilkin reports.

    Switching Due to Lipoatrophy: Tenofovir Bests Abacavir in Tolerability, Lipid Profile
    Abacavir (Ziagen) or tenofovir (Viread): Which is a better bet when attempting to alleviate the fat loss that some people get while taking the HIV meds d4T (stavudine, Zerit) or AZT (zidovudine, Retrovir)? New study results show that, although abacavir and tenofovir can both modestly improve lipoatrophy after a switch, tenofovir is better tolerated than abacavir, and also has a more favorable impact on cholesterol and triglycerides -- particularly when people switch to it from d4T. The Body's Dr. Brian Conway reports.

    Using Short-Term Treatment Results to Predict Long-Term Outcomes: Not Always as Simple as It Seems
    Can a doctor predict an HIVer's long-term health based on how well the person's new treatment regimen suppresses HIV during the first six to 18 months? Danish researchers sought the answer to this question -- but as The Body's Dr. Brian Conway reports, the answer they found may not have been the one they were looking for.

    Rare Case of Protease Inhibitor Resistance After Failure of First-Line Boosted Fosamprenavir
    Among HIV meds, boosted protease inhibitors are some of the hardest to develop resistance to. This is one reason why doctors like to prescribe boosted protease inhibitors as part of someone's first treatment regimen. However, protease inhibitor resistance does happen, though rarely. The Body's Dr. Ben Young analyzes a case report in which a person developed resistance after a first-line regimen containing a boosted protease inhibitor stopped working.

    There's plenty more where these came from! Click here to browse all of The Body's ICAAC 2005 coverage.



    Ten Things You Can Do to Survive and Thrive With HIV Financially
    The busiest shopping season of the year is just about over -- which means the post-holiday debt hangover is about to begin! Most of us are worried about money, but for many people living with HIV, maintaining the ability to pay bills and cover health costs can be even more critical. Is there anything you can do to help make sure that your bank account stays in the black? Financial adviser Per Larson offers these 10 tips.

    Depression and HIV: From Diagnosis to Treatment
    When we talk about HIV, we usually talk about the impact it has on a person's physical health: CD4 count, viral load, side effects, infections and so on. But what about the effect HIV can have on a person's mental health? Studies have found that many HIV-positive people are dealing with severe depression, and that depression may actually make a person's HIV disease worse. Psychiatrist Stephen J. Ferrando recently gave a talk about the diagnosis and treatment of depression in people with HIV; in this article, Tim Horn summarizes the highlights. (Web highlight from The PRN Notebook)

    Recent Research on HIV and Quality of Life
    Not all HIV research is about medications. Plenty of studies focus on other essential issues for people with HIV, such as mental health, family planning and problems like heart disease or osteoporosis. At a major U.S. government-organized conference in September in Atlanta, Ga., experts gathered to discuss the latest research on these and other key topics. Dr. Sharon Dian Lee and public health worker Marjorie Williams review the highlights in this conference recap. (Web highlight from The PRN Notebook)



    African-American Activist Reveals What Drives Him
    Too many people fear getting tested for HIV, even though they may be infected and need to seek out medical care and counseling. Steven L. Walker knows this first-hand: He recalls the moment when he realized that a close friend was most likely living with the virus, but was clearly in denial. "By not identifying the disease as something that could happen to him, he was convinced that he was not 'one of those kinds of people,'" Walker says. But rather than allowing his friend, and others like him in the African-American community, to live in denial, Walker decided to make a difference. He's chosen to speak out about HIV, to educate others and to explain how important it is that everyone knows his or her status.

    A Turning Point: Confronting HIV in African-American Communities
    HIV may not discriminate, but the virus has still impacted African Americans at a drastically higher rate than it has impacted other ethnic groups. Experts have wrung their hands for years trying to figure out how best to battle the devastating effects of HIV in many African-American communities. This detailed report from the National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors includes specific calls to action that explain how policymakers, advocates, researchers and community leaders can help stop the spread of HIV among African Americans.

    Black Americans With HIV: Is Nature or Nurture to Blame for Worse Health Outcomes?
    African Americans with HIV are more likely to get sick, and more likely to die, than their white counterparts. But why? Is it part of the inequality so many African Americans face, or does genetics play a more important role? In this report, Dr. David Malebranche takes a close look at both sides of the debate.



    Drug Companies Won't Create an HIV Vaccine, U.S. Official Says; We Will
    A top U.S. government AIDS researcher says that the federal government -- not drug companies -- will create the first working HIV vaccine, because private firms don't see enough of a benefit to developing one. Drug research firms are "dropping out like flies because there's no real incentive for them to do it. We have to do it," said Dr. Edmund Tramont, the head of the AIDS research division of the U.S. National Institutes of Health. The pharmaceutical industry quickly sought to defend itself against Dr. Tramont's comments; one top industry official said that drug research companies were "firmly committed" to HIV vaccine research. (Web highlight from the Chicago Sun-Times)



    TMC114 Is Submitted for Official U.S. Approval
    TMC114, a protease inhibitor in development, moved closer this week to becoming the next HIV medication approved for use in the United States, when the company producing it filed a New Drug Application with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Studies have shown that TMC114 often works well against HIV, even in people who have developed resistance to many other HIV meds. Tibotec Pharmaceuticals Ltd., which is developing TMC114, hopes for a decision on the drug's approval by the middle of 2006. (Web highlight from PR Newswire)

    In the meantime, people who are running low on HIV treatment options and may benefit from TMC114 can receive the drug through an expanded access program. To learn more about this program, click here.



    Milk Thistle Doesn't Have Liver Benefits, Study Suggests
    Contrary to popular belief, the herbal remedy known as milk thistle does not appear to help people who have liver damage from hepatitis or alcohol, a new study has found. The study reviewed records from 13 clinical trials involving a total of 915 people with liver disease; it found that, while milk thistle doesn't appear to do any harm, it almost certainly doesn't do any good, either. (Web highlight from Reuters Health)

    Want to read more about this study? Click here to read the abstract published in the American Journal of Gastroenterology.



    In South Africa, Donated Breast Milk Saves Lives of AIDS Orphans
    The shelter's name, Ithemba Lethu, is Zulu for "I have a destiny." It is a home for abandoned children -- many of them AIDS orphans -- and it's located in Durban, one of the cities at the center of South Africa's devastating HIV epidemic. For the past four years, volunteers have provided their own breast milk to the shelter in hopes of keeping abandoned babies alive and healthy. According to a World Health Organization study, children who receive formula instead of breast milk are six times more likely to die from diarrhea and pneumonia than children who are breastfed. Andrea Muller, a breast milk donor, says: "As a South African, AIDS is very close to everyone's heart and everyone wants to do something to help -- without giving money perhaps. It seemed something that would be easy to do to help babies." (Web highlight from BBC News)

    Local Volunteers Give HIV Care a Personal Touch in African Villages
    When she walks around her African village, Regina Ombita often wears a bright red T-shirt emblazoned with the words, "I Am HIV Positive." The fact that she's HIV negative does not matter; "I am happy to wear it, because then some people come and ask me questions," she explains. Ombita is a local volunteer for the Nobel Prize-winning organization Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), which is deeply involved in the fight against HIV on the African continent. Devoted volunteers like Ombita are an essential piece of the puzzle in Africa's fight against HIV: They spread HIV awareness one person at a time, monitor the health of HIV-positive villagers, ensure that everybody takes their meds, and act as eyes and ears for MSF's medical staff. (Web highlight from The Guardian)

    Also Worth Noting

    Did You Know?
    HIV/AIDS Fact of the Week

    The new Medicare prescription drug plan, also known as "Part D," kicks in on Jan. 1, 2006 -- that's only days away. This date is especially important for people who are eligible for assistance from both Medicare and Medicaid. If you're one of these "dual-eligibles," your Medicaid drug assistance will be replaced with a Medicare prescription drug plan on Jan. 1; if you haven't already picked a plan, you'll be assigned to one automatically.

    Don't let the new year come and go without arming yourself with the facts and ensuring you get the best possible drug coverage! Visit The Body's "Medicare Part D" page for the latest overviews, resources and news.
    HIV/AIDS Quiz
    Will You Pass the Test?
    (100 Bucks Says You Will)

    Looking for a little extra pocket change? Take The Body's monthly HIV/AIDS Knowledge Quiz for a chance to win a $100 cash prize. The December 2005 quiz ends in just a few days!

    How can you get in on the action? Easy: Just take our five-question quiz. Answers to all five questions can be found on The Body. A particularly good place to look for answers is in recent editions of our weekly e-mail updates.

    The Body's HIV/AIDS Knowledge Quiz is sponsored by Gilead Sciences, Inc.

    Connect With Others
    t The Body's Bulletin Boards

    Looking For Friends Who Understand
    (A recent post from the
    "Teens With HIV" board)

    "I've had HIV since I was born; my mom died from it. I have a lot of friends who know I have it, but I don't think they understand what it's like. ... I mean, I have a normal life, kinda, except for the visits to the doctors and the meds. Even my boyfriend knows I have HIV and he still cares for me. But still, I want to have friends who actually understand what I feel and what I have to go through, so if there's anyone out there who wants to be my friend, I would appreciate it."
    -- kitten

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

    My Ex Is Partying Himself to Death!
    (A recent post from the
    "Gay Men With HIV" board)

    "I have an ex who tested HIV positive about 1.5 years ago. What troubles me is that he seems to be treating his body as if he does not have a serious disease. He uses Ecstasy and cocaine, and now has tattooed his body. It almost seems like he has taken the attitude, 'I'm going to party hard till I can't party no more.' If he takes care of himself, he can do just fine with the disease, but if not, the disease will take it's toll. So how do you help someone young and handsome accept the fact that the 'party' as [he] once knew it should be over, and [that he needs] to really start taking care of [himself] and [his] body?"
    -- justin143

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