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January 11, 2006

In This Update:
  • Living With HIV
  • HIV News & Views
  • Share Your Story About Lipoatrophy!
  • HIV Treatment & Care
  • Drug Use & Harm Reduction
  • HIV Prevention
  • HIV Outside the U.S.

    Disclosing to the World: Advice for Newly Infected People
    One of the toughest things about adjusting to life with HIV can be the decision of how -- and whether -- to tell the people in your life that you've been diagnosed. Friends, family, coworkers, roommates, dentists: Who do you need to tell, and what's the best way for you to go about doing it? Joe Greenwood of AIDS Survival Project offers detailed, thoughtful advice that everybody struggling with disclosure should read.

    Looking Within: A Gay HIVer's 15-Year Search for Healing
    John Sahm's long life with HIV has been a battle within himself -- between denial and acceptance, belief and doubt. His journey, which has included the loss of his life partner, the failure of many HIV medications and experimentation with a number of alternative therapies, has taught him to pay close attention to his deepest beliefs -- which, he says, is where true healing lies. "After trying many of these alternative healing methods, it became apparent to me that it wasn't so much the treatment itself that was healing but rather my belief in it," he explains. "I also learned ... that what I put my intentions towards will grow and prosper, while what I ignore will wither and die."



    David Salyer's Fifth Annual "Just Shut Up" Awards
    Remember all the hubbub in New York City last year about the "discovery" of a horrible HIV strain that was resistant to all HIV meds and extremely virulent? The man who made that announcement was Thomas Frieden, the head honcho of New York City's health department -- and, as it turns out, he was wrong. At the time, a lot of people wished he and other doctors would've just kept their mouths shut until they knew more, rather than igniting public panic over a threat that didn't really exist. Dr. Frieden is just one of many people honored in David Salyer's annual "Just Shut Up" Awards -- a review of the folks who would've been much better off if, in 2005, they had just kept their lips zipped.



    Do you have a story to tell about your personal experience with HIV-related fat loss? We'd love to hear about it! The Body is putting together an online resource center that will contain advice, information and personal stories having to do with lipoatrophy -- the loss of fat that some people with HIV develop in their face, arms and legs.

    If there's something you'd like to tell us about how you've managed lipoatrophy in your life, let us know -- we may include your story in our resource center! Just send us an e-mail at and say whatever's on your mind. Please be sure to leave us your e-mail address or phone number so we can get in touch with you!



    A Whole Regimen in a Single, Once-a-Day Pill? It May Be on Its Way
    Two HIV drug companies say that they've successfully created a single, once-a-day pill that contains an entire HIV treatment regimen: efavirenz (Sustiva, Stocrin) + Truvada (tenofovir/FTC). The two companies, Bristol-Myers Squibb Company (which makes efavirenz) and Gilead Sciences, Inc. (which makes Truvada), plan to submit the drug for U.S. approval within the next several months, which could put it on track for approval as early as the end of 2006. If approved, it will be the first one-pill, once-a-day HIV treatment regimen ever used in the United States.

    Two NRTIs or Three? Makes No Difference When Taken With Efavirenz
    Can adding more HIV meds to a regimen make it work better? Not necessarily, according to the latest results from a landmark HIV treatment study. Researchers in the historic ACTG 5095 study have found that, when prescribing the potent HIV medication efavirenz (Sustiva, Stocrin) as part of a first-line treatment regimen, there is no noticeable difference between completing the regimen with two NRTIs or three NRTIs. HIV-positive people in the study did very well, regardless of the total number of medications in their regimen. However, both regimens appeared less successful in African-American patients -- and researchers have no idea why.



    Harm Reduction: A Realistic Approach to Keeping Injection Drug Users Safe
    Some people feel that the war on injection drugs can only be won through two strategies: Stop the drugs from getting to drug users, and stop the drug users from using drugs. Unfortunately, both strategies ignore the reality that the distribution and use of illegal drugs can't be stopped quickly or easily. While the "experts" argue over these strategies, a huge number of people are putting themselves at risk for HIV and other diseases because they're injecting drugs unsafely. That's why a third way has been developed: "harm reduction." In this article, social worker Mary Lynn Hemphill explains the basics of how (and why) harm reduction works.

    Ten Things You Can Do to Practice Harm Reduction if You Use Drugs
    Do you use drugs? There are some deceptively simple steps you can take to make sure that when you use drugs, you do so safely, and keep your body and mind as healthy as possible. Paul Cherashore of the Harm Reduction Coalition has put together this list of tips for people who use drugs or are thinking about cutting down.



    Partner Notification: Preventing HIV, One Difficult Phone Call at a Time
    Luis Hernandez's job is to give total strangers some difficult news. Hernandez is part of the Disclosure Assistance and Partner Services program at the San Francisco Department of Public Health; it's his responsibility to ask the partners of people who have recently tested HIV positive to come in for testing. Hernandez and his team operate with the strictest confidentiality and sensitivity: Newly diagnosed people who choose to participate won't have their identity revealed unless they say it's OK. Some people have expressed gratitude for the service: One newly diagnosed college student said that the program allowed him to be sure that his past partners knew they might have been exposed, without forcing him to call them up himself. One of the man's partners was also grateful; he told Hernandez, "Say 'thank you' to whoever gave you my phone number." (Web highlight from the San Francisco Chronicle)

    FDA Will Accelerate Review of Australian Microbicide
    The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has granted "fast-track" review status for a microbicide gel developed by an Australian drug company. This means that the FDA will take about six months -- half the standard time -- to review the microbicide, called VivaGel. Microbicides are a range of products -- such as gels, films and sponges -- that could help prevent the sexual transmission of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases in women. Despite its fast-track status, several more studies need to be done to determine just how effective VivaGel is. This means that, even if those studies go well, approval is not expected until late 2008.



    Focus on Youths, Abstinence May Be Helping HIV Rates Rise in Uganda
    Uganda was once hailed as an example of how a poor country can keep its HIV rates relatively low with a commitment to comprehensive HIV prevention. Lately, however, things have taken a turn for the worse, as HIV prevention efforts have stagnated and abstinence-only policies have gained strength. HIV rates are now on the rise in Uganda -- and abstinence-only proponents may be surprised to learn that the highest rates are not occurring among young, single people. On the contrary: According to this report, the average HIV-positive person in Uganda is 35 -- and married. (Web highlight from The New Vision)

    Four Men Arrested in India; the Charge: Being Gay
    Four men in India were recently arrested on charges of homosexuality and operating an online gay club in the northern Indian city of Lucknow. Homosexuality is illegal in India, forcing same-sex relationships underground and worrying many AIDS advocates. "Criminalization of people most at risk of HIV infection may increase stigma and discrimination, ultimately fueling the AIDS epidemic," warned a top UNAIDS official in India. (Web highlight from Reuters)

    Also Worth Noting

    Visual AIDS
    Art From HIV-Positive Artists

    Image from the January 2006 Visual AIDS Web Gallery
    "Bondage," 2001
    Max Greenberg
    Visit the January 2006 Visual AIDS Web Gallery to view this month's collection of art by HIV-positive artists! This month's gallery is entitled "Compassion, Responsibility and Independence"; it's curated by a group of 16 teenage photographers who completed a summer program at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts.

    Connect With Others
    t The Body's Bulletin Boards

    "Am I on Death Row?"
    (A recent post from the
    "Living With HIV" board)

    "For months I have been reading [about] the advancement of meds and how people are living longer with HIV, as long as they take their meds and take care of themselves. Does that apply to those of us who have graduated to advanced AIDS? Every time I mention I have AIDS, people look at me so sadly and say, 'Wow, you only have a few years at best.' Tell me your real thoughts, don't just try to make me feel better."
    -- soimnotalone

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

    Join a Study!
    Featured Clinical Trial
    of the Month

    What's Being Studied?
    Fatigue treatment for people with advanced AIDS

    Who's Eligible?
    People who:
    • have full-blown, late-stage AIDS
    • feel very fatigued
    • live in the New York City area

    Who's Sponsoring It?
    The U.S. National Institute of Nursing Research

    How Can I Learn More?
    Click here or contact Marina Godina, RN, at Beth Israel Medical Center, by calling (212) 844-1491