The Body: The Complete HIV/AIDS Resource

LIVE CHAT AT THE BODY, April 26, 6 p.m. EDT: Worried about facial wasting? Got thinning arms or legs? Talk live with HIV specialist Dr. Cal Cohen!

Jump to What's New

April 26, 2006

In This Update:
  • HIV Treatment
  • HIV-Related Policy & Activism
  • HIV Prevention & Transmission
  • HIV & the Church
  • HIV Outside the U.S.

    Expert Summaries of the Latest HIV Research: HIV JournalView at The Body PRO
    Every week, dozens of new studies about HIV are published in medical journals. Only a few, however, have the ability to change the way doctors think about HIV treatment. At The Body PRO, The Body's sister site for health professionals, we regularly recap these important studies in an exclusive publication called HIV JournalView. In the new February/March 2006 issue of JournalView, The Body PRO's Dr. David Wohl takes a closer look at studies that seek to answer these questions:

    Resistance Testing in Treatment-Experienced HIVers

    It is a terrifying moment when you realize that your HIV treatment regimen is no longer working -- especially if you've already tried several regimens in the past. How can you know which combination of HIV meds still has a chance to work? That's where resistance testing comes in: This overview by Dr. Andrew Zolopa explains how an experienced doctor can use resistance tests to put together a person's next regimen.



    The Date: Wednesday, April 26, 2006

    The Time: 6 p.m. Eastern Standard Time/3 p.m. Pacific Standard Time

    The Chat: Lipoatrophy -- the loss of fat in certain parts of the body -- may be one of the most difficult issues for people with HIV. Join us for this chat on lipoatrophy with one of the most experienced HIV specialists in the United States! Dr. Cal Cohen, research director of the Community Research Initiative of New England, will answer questions from HIV-positive people who are dealing with, or worried about, this potentially disfiguring health problem. He'll talk about ways to avoid or alleviate symptoms, and will discuss the latest research.

    To take part in the chat, click here or visit shortly before the chat is scheduled to start. You'll be able to log in anonymously and immediately join the online discussion.

    This live chat is sponsored by Gilead Sciences.



    FDA Says It Does Not Support Use of Medical Marijuana
    In a decision that advocates and some medical experts immediately denounced as politically motivated, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has released a statement saying it does not support the medical use of marijuana. The statement contradicts a government report seven years ago that found valid medical uses for marijuana, including the relief of nausea and pain from health problems such as AIDS-related wasting and neuropathy. "There is clearly no scientific logic to their decision," said Dr. Greg Carter, a rehabilitation-medicine specialist at the University of Washington. Although the FDA says in its statement that there are no data to support medical marijuana use, the federal government has never approved funding for a large clinical trial to conclusively assess marijuana's effectiveness as a medical treatment. (Web highlight from the Associated Press)

    To read the official FDA statement on medical marijuana, click here. A more detailed analysis of the FDA's decision is also available at The New York Times (registration required).

    AIDS Advocacy Basics: Meeting With Members of Congress
    Are you an AIDS activist hoping to set up a meeting with your congressman, congresswoman or senator? By following some simple guidelines, you can greatly boost your chances of having a successful meeting. Use these tips from AIDS Action Council to help arrange, prepare for and conduct meetings with your senator or representative.



    Fighting HIV, and HIV Stigma, in Minority Communities: It's Up to Each of Us
    Chicago AIDS activist Carlos Perez has some advice on how to stem the HIV epidemic in communities of color: "Let's forget about who is having sex with who, and if it is an abomination or a deviation or a denial," he writes. "Take responsibility for yourself and the person you are going to have sex with. ... Let's just focus on the facts and the fact that having unprotected sex or sharing needles can lead to ill health at the very least and death at worst.

    Want to read more about Carlos Perez? This interview with Perez took place shortly after he won an HIV Leadership Award from The Body in 2005. In the interview, he talks about his own struggles and triumphs as an HIV-positive Latino, and the steps he took to overcome recklessness and addiction after his diagnosis.

    Effective Microbicide Could Be Available by 2010, Researchers Say
    Researchers are still striving to develop an effective microbicide, a chemical that can be used to prevent HIV from entering a person's body. Although an approved microbicide is still years away -- by 2010 at the earliest, researchers say -- clinical trials are underway for many experimental microbicides, and calls for greater funding are growing louder. More than 1,000 researchers, political leaders and advocates were in South Africa this week to attend Microbicides 2006, a biannual conference specifically devoted to discussing this HIV prevention method.

    Microbicides: They Ain't All About the Vagina, Advocacy Group Says
    Most of the research on HIV microbicides has focused on their vaginal use -- some sort of gel, sponge or ring that can prevent HIV from entering a woman during vaginal intercourse. But many AIDS advocates are quick to point out that there's another opening in need of protection: Anal microbicides desperately need attention and funding, too. In a recent report, the International Rectal Microbicide Working Group points out that anal microbicides can benefit men and women alike. After all, the report states, in some parts of the world up to 30 percent of heterosexuals are having anal sex. (Web highlight from AIDS Foundation of Chicago)

    Most HIV-Positive Male Inmates Don't Get Infected in Prison, Report Finds
    Although many people have long believed that HIV transmission is extremely common in prison, a new report has found that about 91 percent of HIV-positive men incarcerated in Georgia's prisons last fall were living with the virus before they were imprisoned. The report says that just 88 men who had tested negative when they entered prison later tested positive while still in prison. These HIV-positive men were about 13 times as likely as HIV-negative inmates to have been tattoed, and about 10 times as likely to have had sex with another man in prison -- often with a prison staff member. Although federal health officials have recommended distributing condoms and needle-cleaning bleach to inmates, a Georgia correctional official said the state is not considering the proposal.

    To read the full Georgia prison report, click here.



    Vatican May Be Considering Shift on Use of Condoms to Prevent HIV
    After years of steadfast opposition to the use of condoms for any reason -- even to prevent HIV transmission among married couples -- the Roman Catholic Church may finally be on the verge of changing its tune. Pope Benedict XVI has asked a council of clergymen, as well as other scientists and theologians, to study the value of condom use as a means of HIV prevention, and the Vatican reportedly plans to release a document on the subject soon. Although some Catholic clergy have suggested that the use of condoms to curb HIV transmission would be the "lesser of two evils," the pope has publicly stated that contraception is one of many trends contributing to a "breakdown of sexual morality," and said that abstinence and fidelity were the only "fail-safe" ways to prevent HIV.

    In Africa, HIV-Positive Religious Leaders Speak Out Against Stigma
    Throughout much of the world, one of the strongest barriers to educating people about HIV is the reluctance of many members of the clergy to take part. This is no less true in Africa, the epicenter of the global HIV pandemic. But things may be changing: A few brave clergy living with HIV are speaking out. Forty-seven-year old Gideon Byamugisha, a canon with the Anglican Church of Uganda, became Africas first openly HIV-positive religious figure nearly 10 years ago. Since then, he has been joined by others, including Rev. Gibson Mwadime, 53, an Anglican vicar in southern Kenya. The road these religious leaders travel is strewn with discrimination and ignorance, but they are bravely speaking out and trying to change the world in which they live. (Web highlight from the Los Angeles Times; free registration required)



    Thembi Ngubane: A Young, HIV-Positive Woman From South Africa Speaks Out
    The scope of the HIV pandemic in Africa can be mind-numbing: In South Africa alone, more than five million people are living with HIV. But one young woman from a township outside Cape Town is putting a face -- and a voice -- on the epidemic. Thembi Ngubane spent a year recording an audio diary for National Public Radio (NPR) in which she chronicles her struggle with HIV. "I wanted to reach other young people who are also infected with HIV, who are hiding, who are afraid to come out and disclose their status," she explains. This spring, Thembi is traveling across the United States to tell her story. In this interview with NPR, Thembi discusses being a new mom, the challenges of disclosure and how the audio diary taught her to trust herself.

    To listen to Thembi's audio diary, click here.

    U.S. HIV Doctor Helps Female Survivors of Rwandan Genocide
    During the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, hundreds of thousands of women were raped. "An estimated 67 percent of survivors now have HIV, some deliberately exposed to the virus via rape as a 'slow poison' by the genocide perpetrators -- the first historic use of HIV as a weapon of war," says Dr. Mardge Cohen, a prominent U.S. HIV physician. Dr. Cohen is part of a U.S.-based organization that has set up clinics in Rwanda to provide HIV testing, treatment and support to women and children. Helping these people is "a matter of justice," Dr. Cohen says in this interview. She notes that in 2003, many of the rapists were receiving free HIV medications in jail, while their victims had no access to treatment.

    New HIV Infections in India Almost Triple in 2005: Report
    In 2005, 72,000 people became HIV positive in India -- almost three times as many as just a year earlier, according to India's National AIDS Control Organization. The announcement seems to counter a major study published last month in the medical journal The Lancet, which suggested a sharp downturn in new HIV infections in some of India's hardest-hit states. India is now estimated to be home to about 5.2 million people living with HIV, a little bit less than 1 percent of its population.

    Single and Over 40? Don't Forget That STDs Can Strike You Too, Doctor Warns
    As middle-aged Canadians get divorced and head back out on the dating scene, some are unwittingly triggering a "second wave" of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), physicians warn. "Adults appear to have forgotten what they preached to their children, which is to practice love like porcupines, very, very carefully," writes Toronto physician Ken Walker. "It's been said that life begins at 40. But divorced or separated people who become sexually involved may get more than they bargained for. They would be well advised to remember that STD sets no limitations on sex, race or age."

    Latin America: Let's (Not) Talk About Sex
    Sex education is spotty or absent in many Latin American countries, according to an informal survey by journalists. Although many countries in the region have laws requiring sex education for children in public schools, the journalists found that schools from Argentina to Mexico to Venezuela frequently offer little to no sex ed. The one exception? Cuba, where sex ed is mandatory from preschool to university.

    Also Worth Noting

    Visual AIDS
    Art From HIV-Positive Artists

    Image from the April 2006 Visual AIDS Web Gallery
    "Stubby Stegosaurus," 2001;
    Raynes Birkbeck
    Visit the April 2006 Visual AIDS Web Gallery to view this month's collection of art by HIV-positive artists! The April gallery is entitled "Diving Into the Archive"; it's curated by painter David Spiher, a gallery reviewer for Gay City News.

    Connect With Others
    t The Body's Bulletin Boards

    Long-Time Reader Comes "Out of the Shadows"
    (A recent post from the
    "Living With HIV" board)

    "I've been hiding behind the scenes, reading everyone's posts and replies here at The Body since I found out I was poz in 2004. ... Everyone's positive attitude and honesty has helped me keep my own rollercoaster of emotions in check. I just want to thank all of you regulars for the continued support/advice/thoughts/insights and just great commentaries you provide for all of us in the shadows who haven't quite come to terms with 'coming out' of the HIV closet."

    -- nwdoug

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

    When You Disclosed Your Status, How Did People React?
    (A recent post from the
    "I Just Tested Positive" board)

    "I found out I was positive on the 29th of January. ... I've not told anybody about my status yet. I told my dentist, as I know him personally, and I'd like to think it would be of benefit to me. Apart from him, I've told no one, and I'm not ready to just yet. I just feel like once you've told somebody you can't untell them. So my question is this: How long was it for you before you told people, and ... how [were] their reactions?"

    -- spud101

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