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February 22, 2006

In This Update:
  • HIV Treatment & Side Effects
  • African Americans & HIV
  • Living With HIV
  • HIV News & Views
  • HIV Prevention
  • HIV Outside the United States

    Exclusive From Top 10 HIV Research Reports of 2005
    Every year, HIV researchers conduct a mind-boggling number of studies. Most of these studies have little impact, but sometimes what the researchers find can fundamentally change the way doctors think about HIV and HIV treatment. How can you know which studies are the most important? Hitch a ride with The Body Pro's Dr. David Wohl, one of the most insightful HIV researchers and healthcare providers in the United States today. In this outstanding summary, Dr. Wohl plows through the massive trove of HIV research published in medical journals in 2005 and brings you the gems. Whether you're a healthcare professional or someone who's just looking to learn more about HIV, this article is a must-read. U.S. doctors and nurses can earn CME/CE credit! (Web highlight from The Body Pro, The Body's sister site for HIV healthcare professionals)

    Ten Years of Combination HIV Treatment: Looking Back, and Looking Ahead
    Today, nearly all HIV treatment regimens are a combination of at least three medications, some of which attack HIV in subtly different ways so as to keep the virus off-guard. But this hasn't always been the way HIV treatment has worked; in fact, this "modern" era of HIV therapy has barely been around for a decade. Before that, few HIV meds existed, and those that did worked in only one way, making it harder to keep HIV at bay. At the 10-year anniversary of what doctors know as the HAART (short for Highly Active Antiretroviral Therapy) era, AIDS Treatment Initiatives' Guy Pujol takes a look back at how far we've come, and on what the next 10 years may hold in store.

    Experimental Treatments for Body Fat Problems Investigated at CROI
    For many HIVers and their doctors, there's been a maddening amount of confusion surrounding metabolic complications -- particularly when it comes to reversing body fat changes. Unfortunately, there remain far more questions than answers on this issue, and no successful treatments exist for body fat problems related to HIV or HIV meds. On the plus side, however, new research presented at the 13th Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI) paints a more focused picture of potential roles for several experimental approaches to dealing with body fat: the use of glitazones, metformin and testosterone. Dr. David Wohl summarizes these studies as part of The Body's coverage of this pivotal annual meeting of HIV researchers.

    CROI 2006 has generated plenty of buzz this year, with intriguing studies on everything from new HIV meds to HIV screening methods. For full recaps and analyses of the conference's major developments, browse The Body's CROI 2006 coverage!

    HIV Meds May Provide Added Protection From Some Illnesses, Even at High CD4 Counts, Research Suggests
    If you have a high CD4 count (above 350), your odds of developing an AIDS-related illness are very slim. As we know, however, these illnesses can still happen, although rarely. Recent research confirms this, and suggests that HIV treatment can further reduce the already-low risk of opportunistic infections in people with a high CD4 count. A large European study has found that HIV-positive people taking HIV meds were about 50 percent less likely to develop an "unexpected" opportunistic infection than people who were not on meds. An infection was "unexpected" if it occurred above a CD4 count at which doctors would normally expect the illness to appear. (Web highlight from



    Black AIDS Advocate Exhorts Black, Gay Community to Stand Together
    "After countless hours of thought and conversation with many who are concerned about the plight of black gay men in this country, I have come to a conclusion that is sometimes hard to accept," writes AIDS advocate and journalist Keith Green. Despite all of the reasons why black gay men are beaten down, beaten up, discriminated against and blamed for the spread of HIV among African Americans, Green says, "the main perpetrator is, in fact, black gay men ourselves. If we do not care enough about ourselves to take ownership of the epidemic that is devastating our community, why on Earth should anyone else?" It's time for the black gay community to stop blaming everyone else for its plight, he says, and to start standing up for itself.

    African-American Gay Leaders Launch HIV Awareness Campaign in Chicago
    This month, a group of black, gay community leaders, businessmen and activists publicly launched the Chicago Black Gay Men's Caucus, one of a small but slowly growing series of efforts among black, gay men in the United States to mobilize in the fight against HIV. The group's official launch included an unveiling of its first HIV prevention effort, a music video and public service announcement encouraging men to learn their HIV status. The hip-hop-flavored video features men flirting, dancing and interacting under the tag line, "I know. Do you know?"

    HIV From an African-American Perspective: Visit The Body's Resource Center
    From one-on-one perspectives to captivating podcasts, from the thoughts of black political leaders to those of African-American HIVers, The Body's new African-American HIV/AIDS Resource Center provides one of the Web's most comprehensive, in-depth looks at how HIV impacts black people in the United States. If you've already browsed our African-American HIV/AIDS Resource Center this month, give it another look! We've added several new profiles and interviews over the past several weeks, and additional, insightful articles will arrive in the weeks to come.



    After an HIV Diagnosis, a Latina From Mexico Discovers Her Power
    Like many women raised in Mexico, Juana D. lived a life dominated by men: "I was taught that a women's purpose in life was to serve her husband and her family," she explains. By the time she was 27, she had seven children -- and may have had many more if it weren't for miscarriages that were likely caused by the sexually transmitted diseases her husband gave her. She got very little education or support from her health providers, even after she moved to the United States. It wasn't until after her HIV diagnosis, when she started to seek out support on her own, that Juana began to gain confidence in -- and power over -- herself and her sexuality. Today, "My role is no longer to serve a man in all his needs; women have needs, too," she says. "Sex may not be the most important thing in life, but it's important enough that if done irresponsibly it can cause diseases or meaningless relationships."



    HIV and HIV Meds: What's Myth, And What's Reality?
    Whenever there's a problem without an obvious answer, it's only a matter of time before people start inventing their own notions about the truth. A quarter century into the epidemic, HIV remains an enigmatic little virus, and its treatment has become such a complicated topic that many people long to find an easy solution to what is far from an easy problem. As a result, myths about HIV have popped up like mushrooms: There's a cure for HIV that nobody wants us to know about. You can get HIV by sharing a drink with someone who's positive. None of these myths are true -- and neither are most of the others you might have heard. AIDS InfoNet dispels a few more in this fact sheet.

    For much more on separating HIV myths from reality, read through The Body's collection of articles.

    Harvard Becomes World's Largest Archive of HIV-Related Film Footage
    More than 500 hours of HIV documentaries, personal interviews and other footage have been donated to Harvard University by a Sweden-based AIDS organization, giving Harvard the largest collection of HIV-related footage in the world -- and potentially turning the university into a base for the study of AIDS history. The collection of footage is "simply incredible to see," said Allen S. Counter, who directs the Harvard foundation that helped arrange the donation. Some of the materials have already been shown at Harvard; more than 140 students, faculty members and others attended a recent screening. (Web highlight from the Harvard Crimson)

    State by State, U.S. Group Fights for Right to Physician-Assisted Death
    Oregon is the only U.S. state that legally permits terminally ill people to end their lives with the help of a physician. But efforts are progressing in several other states to enact similar laws: California and Vermont may be among the closest to actually doing so. The advocacy organization Compassion & Choices is behind many efforts nationwide to make such laws a reality; in this article, a group official talks about its recent progress.



    No Turning Back: HIV and Gay Male Sexuality
    How has the HIV epidemic changed gay male sexuality? How much of a role has HIV played in the evolution of gay America, and how much has been caused by other factors? These aren't just academic questions: For HIV educators and activists, the answers can have a major impact on the way they approach HIV prevention. In this report, researcher Dr. Nicola Di Pietro takes a closer look at this complicated issue.

    Enrolling Women Into HIV Vaccine Trials: An Ethical Imperative but a Logistical Challenge
    In the long, star-crossed search for an HIV vaccine, we often overlook a very important issue: How do we encourage HIV-negative people to help test a vaccine once it's been created? The question holds special weight among the people who most desperately need it: Women in developing countries, who are highly vulnerable to HIV due to many social and economic factors. As a team of researchers explains in this report, although the benefits of an HIV vaccine are obviously massive, there are still many barriers that prevent women from enrolling in vaccine trials -- especially in the developing world, where such a vaccine is urgently needed. (Web highlight from PLoS Medicine)



    Abandoned Children Become More Common as Russia's HIV Epidemic Grows
    As Russia's HIV epidemic continues virtually unchecked, the number of babies born to HIV-positive women is rapidly climbing. Because HIV stigma remains devastatingly strong in Russia, many women don't get tested for HIV, and mother-to-child HIV prevention is not widely available. Even worse, women who are HIV positive are often too ashamed, or simply unable, to care for their newborn babies, resulting in an equally tragic trend in Russia: A growing number of abandoned babies and orphans, some of whom will be lucky to get access to HIV testing and treatment -- and an even fewer number of whom will be fortunate enough to find a family willing to give them a home. (Web highlight from BBC News)

    British Man Accuses Government of Hiding Post-Exposure Prophylaxis
    A British man is going to court to try to force his country to advertise a practice that is relatively well-known in the United States: HIV post-exposure prophylaxis. Sometimes called the "morning-after pill" for HIV (although it actually involves taking several HIV meds a day for weeks), official guidelines recommended it be used for people who have definitely had a high-risk exposure to the virus within the past day or so. However, the anonymous British man, along with other activists, have accused the government of failing to promote the fact that post-exposure prophylaxis is available, leading to "hundreds, if not thousands" of unnecessary infections. (Web highlight from BBC News)

    Also Worth Noting

    Profiles in Courage
    Inspiring Stories From HIV-Positive African Americans

    Raven Lopez
    Raven Lopez is the same as any other 15-year-old; it just so happens that she also has HIV. Born with the virus, Raven's mom told her about her status when she was six -- a disclosure that triggered a long and difficult adjustment for someone too young to fully understand what it meant to be HIV positive.

    With the steadfast support of her family, though, Raven's HIV status has become such an accepted part of her life that Raven sees it as little more than a footnote. Sure, she has to take pills every day, but "I feel like a human being," she says, "and there is nothing else that is different about me."

    The Body is honored to present this one-on-one interview with Raven, along with 10 other profiles in courage, in our new African-American HIV/AIDS Resource Center. Stop in and browse through interviews, personal perspectives, podcasts, resource listings and more!

    Connect With Others
    t The Body's Bulletin Boards

    Looking for a City With More HIVers
    (A recent post from the
    "Gay Men With HIV" board)

    "I'm 43 and living in Portland, Oregon. Poz since 1989 (that I know of, since I tested poz [the first time I was tested]). Doing pretty well on meds. ... [But I'm] unable to find a partner in this town, so I would really like to move to a larger city where I might find more poz folks to interact with and/or date. I'm thinking Dallas, Texas. I dunno."

    -- citywoof

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

    Pregnant, Scared and Seeking Support
    (A recent post from the
    "Women With HIV" board)

    "I just found out I'm pregnant, and while I'm so happy to be able to have the child I thought would never happen due to my HIV status, I'm also scared of the unknown. I would love to talk to others who have experienced the same things."

    -- Bronzelady

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

    Visual AIDS
    Art From HIV-Positive Artists

    Image from the February 2006 Visual AIDS Web Gallery
    "Mike Gillian Fireman on the Beach,"
    2002; Raynes Birkbeck
    Visit the February 2006 Visual AIDS Web Gallery to view this month's collection of art by HIV-positive artists! The February 2006 Web Gallery is entitled "Nineteen Penises"; it's curated by David Humphrey.