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May 31, 2006

In This Update:
  • HIV Treatment
  • United Nations Special Session on HIV/AIDS
  • Complications of HIV & HIV Meds
  • Party Drugs
  • AIDS at 25
  • Living With HIV
  • HIV Testing
  • HIV Policy in the U.S.

    How to Stick to Your HIV Treatment Regimen
    One of the hardest things about adjusting to HIV treatment is the knowledge that your life relies on you taking your meds on time, every day, regardless of the obstacles that might be thrown in your way. Adhering to your HIV treatment regimen can be difficult, which is why it's important to make sure that you're ready before you make the commitment. In this article, HIV medication adherence experts provide some important advice on how to ensure that you take all your meds when you need to take them.

    Don't Let TMC114 Cost More Than Kaletra, Advocates Urge

    We may be only days away from an announcement that the U.S. has approved a new HIV medication: TMC114 (darunavir), a protease inhibitor that may be especially helpful for people with resistance to many existing protease inhibitors. But although they eagerly await TMC114's approval, many HIV treatment advocates are also worried: Given how expensive HIV treatment has become in recent years, they are concerned that TMC114 may continue a trend toward drug prices that fewer and fewer people can afford -- or that prescription drug plans, like AIDS Drug Assistance Programs or the new Medicare Part D, may be unwilling or unable to pay for. As a result, advocates have signed on to this letter (which you can sign as well) urging Tibotec, the maker of TMC114, and its parent companies to keep the price of the drug below that of Kaletra (lopinavir/ritonavir), which is currently the best-selling protease inhibitor on the market. (Web highlight from Community HIV/AIDS Mobilization Project)

    Entry Inhibitors: The Ups and Downs of Drug Development
    Developing a new drug to treat HIV isn't easy: For every drug that makes it to a person's medicine cabinet, many more fail to make it out of development. A new class of HIV meds known as entry inhibitors has followed an especially rocky path: Despite 10 years of study, many entry inhibitors once touted as great hopes have crashed and burned on the path to approval. In this overview, AIDS activist Lynda Dee suggests that these repeated failures should force researchers to reconsider to role that entry inhibitors can, and should, play in the future of HIV treatment.

    "Virtual Monotherapy": A Risk for Treatment-Experienced People in New Drug Trials
    If you have multidrug resistance, joining a clinical trial for a drug in development may carry risks as well as benefits. One of these risks is what some call the "virtual monotherapy" problem: Many HIV researchers warn that adding a single new drug to a failing regimen might only have short-term benefits, and could actually hurt a person over the long run. But how else can a new drug be tested in people with multidrug resistance? Long-time AIDS activist Bob Munk takes a closer look at this question.



    World Leaders Gather for Major Meeting on HIV/AIDS
    If you've been watching the news this week, you probably already know about the huge gathering taking place at the United Nations (UN). On May 31 in New York City, the UN General Assembly began a three-day special session to discuss the world's accomplishments and failures in the fight against HIV over the past five years, and to agree on the steps that need to be taken over the years to come.

    For more information on this special session -- including information on how you can get involved -- visit the meeting's official Web site. Also, on Friday, June 2, at 4 p.m. Eastern Time, you can join a live chat with U.S. Deputy Global AIDS Coordinator Dr. Mark Dybul to discuss the special UN session and the United States' efforts to fight HIV at home and abroad. Click here to learn more about the chat, or to submit a question to Dr. Dybul in advance!

    AIDS Activists Protest, March and Rally as UN Meeting Begins
    The UN meeting doesn't just provide world leaders with a chance to get together and talk about HIV. It also gives the world's AIDS activists a major opportunity to join forces and call attention to how pivotal it is that those leaders take action, rather than simply attend another meeting. On May 31, at the start of the UN meeting, international AIDS activists planned a huge rally to demand better HIV treatment access, prevention efforts, health coverage and AIDS funding within the United States and throughout the world. (Web highlight from UNGASS Action)

    HIV Epidemic Continues to Outpace Response, Despite Gains, UNAIDS Report Says
    Although HIV infection rates continue to rise worldwide, the increase at least appears to be slowing, according to the latest annual report from UNAIDS on the state of the global epidemic. The report highlighted plenty of good news: for instance, global AIDS funding has quintupled since 2001, half a dozen African countries have reported drops in HIV rates, and 1.3 million people in developing countries are receiving HIV meds, up from 240,000 in 2001. But the report was clear that these steps are far from enough: Too many countries are still facing worsening epidemics, funding remains short of what is needed, and the lack of a unified, worldwide strategy for fighting HIV is hampering efforts to ramp up prevention and treatment.

    If you'd like to read some of the report's major findings, you can browse this summary of global HIV facts and figures, or check out this fact sheet outlining the progress that has been made and the challenges that still face the world's countries in the fight against HIV. The UNAIDS report is also available in its entirety online; you can download it as a 24MB ZIP file here (warning: if you have a dial-up connection, this file could take more than an hour to download).



    Efavirenz No More Likely to Cause Depression Than Protease Inhibitors, Study Says
    People who take efavirenz (Sustiva, Stocrin) are at no greater risk for becoming depressed than people who take a protease inhibitor instead, according to the results of a relatively small study by French researchers. Some experts have expressed concern in the past that efavirenz may cause psychological side effects, but this 365-person study (which was not funded by the manufacturer of efavirenz) suggested good news for people considering treatment with efavirenz. After three years, people in the study who went on an efavirenz-based regimen were no more likely to be depressed than people on a protease inhibitor-based regimen. (Web highlight from

    U.S. Doctors Develop Tool to Help Diagnose Immune Reconstitution Syndrome
    University of Cincinnati physicians have developed a questionnaire that they say can correctly diagnose cases of immune reconstitution syndrome (IRS), a disorder that may affect HIVers who start treatment, especially if their CD4 count is very low. IRS has traditionally been hard to diagnose, since it can have a huge range of symptoms. But the results of this study may make it easier for HIV health workers to spot IRS when it happens, and (ideally) to act more quickly to treat it. (Web highlight from



    The U.S. Meth Epidemic, Up Close and Personal
    How bad an effect can crystal methamphetamine (better known as meth) have on a person's health? As gory photos have demonstrated, it can cost you your teeth or destroy your face -- and, as HIV experts know all too well, the drug's sexual effects can make it easier for a person to get or transmit HIV. The television news magazine Frontline recently produced an in-depth documentary on the U.S. meth epidemic; at this Web site, you can watch the complete documentary, read up on frequently asked questions about meth, learn more about the devastating effects meth can have on a person's body, and see what kind of impact meth has had in your home state. (Web highlight from the Public Broadcasting Service)


      AIDS AT 25

    Art Activism and the AIDS Epidemic
    (NOTE: In order to access this article for free, please read the special instructions at the end of this blurb before you click on the headline.)

    Ever wonder how the famous SILENCE = DEATH slogan and logo came about in the early days of AIDS? In this fascinating review, which appears in a special AIDS-themed issue of the American Journal of Public Health, the authors recount how the AIDS activist group ACT UP adopted the now-famous logo in 1987 in response to the silence and biased coverage of AIDS in the mainstream press. ACT UP's use of the pink triangle linked AIDS activism to the gay rights movement and implied that a failure to act against the epidemic was a form of genocide. (You'll need to complete several steps to gain free access to this article: first, click on this link or on the headline above; when a new Web page opens up, click on the "Silence=Death" link; then scroll down in the table of contents to the article by Robert Sember and David Gere, "'Let the Record Show ...': Art Activism and the AIDS Epidemic," and click on the "[Full Text]" link next to it.)

    Lives Remembered in Patchwork: The AIDS Memorial Quilt
    Its been more than 20 years since the AIDS Memorial Quilt was originally conceived and assembled by San Francisco gay rights activists. The quilt celebrates the lives and commemorates the deaths of the 25 million people who have lost their lives to AIDS, and continues to inspire and sustain those who are living with or affected by HIV. Its also the world's largest community art project, with more than 46,000 panels created by volunteers in 35 countries. Panels have been displayed throughout the world, and the quilt itself was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989. Visit the quilt's Web site to find out where it's currently being displayed, how you can have a panel displayed in your town or school, or how you can add your own panel to the quilt! (Web highlight from the NAMES Project Foundation)



    Being HIV Positive Doesn't Have to Kill Your Sex Life
    A relatively small, but significant, number of HIV-positive people choose to be abstinent, often because they say they're afraid of transmitting HIV. But there are plenty of ways to have a satisfying sex life and not transmit HIV -- it's just a matter of understanding the rules of safer sex. This interesting guide includes a bunch of helpful tips. (Web highlight from HIV InSite)

    There's plenty more advice where this came from: Check out The Body's "safer sex" page for more info!



    An Overview of HIV Antibody Tests
    HIV testing has evolved dramatically over the past few years: From the rise of rapid testing to the increased use of special tests that can spot "acute" (or very recent) HIV infection, we continue to develop new and improved methods for helping people learn about their HIV status. In this comprehensive, somewhat technical overview, Dr. Niel Constantine discusses various types of HIV tests in detail: what they do, how they work, and what their limitations are. The overview is part of HIV InSite's online textbook on HIV disease. (Web highlight from HIV InSite)



    U.S. Senate Committee Approves Major Revisions to Ryan White CARE Act
    A U.S. Senate committee voted 19-1 to approve a bill that would change the Ryan White CARE Act by allocating more federal HIV funding to southern and rural states, a move that could result in less funding for many urban areas. The measure proposes several changes to the CARE Act, which sets funding levels for HIV-related services throughout the United States. The proposed changes include: 1) revising formulas for funding calculations to include HIV cases and not just AIDS cases; 2) requiring that 75% of CARE Act funding is spent on primary care; 3) requiring that facilities receiving federal funding conduct mandatory HIV testing; 4) creating a tier system to fund both small and large cities; 5) directing unused funds from states into AIDS Drug Assistance Programs (ADAPs); and 6) mandating a minimum AIDS drug formulary list that all state ADAPs would have to provide to patients. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.), the only senator to vote against the bill, said states with urban centers are most affected by HIV and should not have their funding reduced. Clinton said that New York state could lose $20 million under the proposed revisions. The bill now moves to the full U.S. Senate for debate.

    Also Worth Noting

    Profiles in Courage
    Inspiring Stories From HIV-Positive African Americans

    Larry Bryant
    Larry Bryant could have pursued a career in professional football if he'd wanted to, HIV or no HIV. But he decided to take his life in another direction: A 20-year survivor of HIV, Larry now presses palms for the AIDS advocacy group Housing Works instead of pressing pigskin on the football field.

    As an activist in Washington, D.C., Larry regularly meets with politicians and political staff members to push for better funding and greater support for HIV-positive people throughout the country. Although he may be rubbing shoulders with some of the country's most powerful people, Larry always keeps it real: "I will never be as important as the people I work for," he says.

    The Body is honored to present this one-on-one interview with Larry, along with 12 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!
    Share Your Story!
    Under 25 and Affected by HIV? Tell MTV Your Story
    (Deadline June 15)
    HIV Turns 25: Use Your Voice to Fight HIV

    If you're a young person whose life has been affected by HIV -- and if you're reading this newsletter, it almost certainly has -- MTV wants to hear from you. Grab a video camera and put together a three- to five-minute snapshot showing how HIV has affected your life. Send your video to MTV, and it may be used for a 30-minute special MTV will air this summer to commemorate the 25th anniversary of HIV.

    Interested? Click here for more information on how to produce and submit your entry! The deadline for entries is June 15.

    (In addition to mailing a tape of your movie to MTV, you can also submit it online via ifilm; click here to learn more.)

    Connect With Others
    t The Body's Bulletin Boards

    Any Other Gay Guys Part of a Magnetic Couple?
    (A recent post from the
    "Gay Men With HIV" board)

    "Is there anyone else out there in a serodiscordant relationship? I have been in one for about a year now and really would like someone to talk to about issues that come up."

    -- jmejst

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

    Will Going on Meds Make Me Gain Weight?
    (A recent post from the
    "Women With HIV" board)

    "I just met a woman in her late forties who looked like, pardon me, death. She said her numbers were good, but she looked awful. I imagine maybe AZT did it to her, but I really like looking ten years younger than I am. I have weight maintenance problems already and I just quit drugs and smoking. So I am set up to gain weight. Has anyone experienced body changes due to their meds?"

    -- heatherblue

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