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September 27, 2006

In This Update:
  • Live Chat Tonight! Dr. Bob Frascino
        Discusses Fatigue/Anemia
  • HIV Treatment
  • HIV News & Views
  • HIV Testing
  • Living With HIV
  • HIV Outside the U.S.

    The Date: Wednesday, September 27, 2006

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

    The Chat: Fatigue is one of the most common health problems that people with HIV experience. It can have any number of causes, including HIV medications, depression, anemia and HIV itself. The good news is that, whatever the cause, there are several different ways to prevent, diagnose and treat fatigue in HIV-positive people. Dr. Bob Frascino, one of The Body's most popular online experts and an HIV-positive person himself, will answer questions from HIVers who are dealing with, or worried about, fatigue, anemia and related health issues.

    To join us for this chat, click here anytime after 5:50 p.m. Eastern Time and log into our anonymous chat room! The chat will last for about one hour. If you miss it, don't worry; we'll have a full transcript available next week.


    U.S. Expanded Access Program Launched for TMC125, an NNRTI in Development
    Are you resistant to most HIV meds, particularly non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NNRTIs)? If so, you may be interested in a newly launched expanded access program for an NNRTI in development known as TMC125 (etravirine). Expanded access programs give certain HIVers access to a medication before it's approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Studies over the past year have shown that TMC125 appears to work well in treatment-experienced HIVers with NNRTI resistance. Tibotec Pharmaceuticals, the company that's developing TMC125, expects expanded access programs to open soon in Canada and Europe. (Web highlight from

    Click here to visit the main Web page of the TMC125 expanded access program, where you can learn more about how to join.

    TMC125 is actually one of two HIV medications that
    are now available through expanded access programs. The other is MK-0518, which is part of a new class of meds called integrase inhibitors. Both TMC125 and MK-0518 are being offered to HIVers with limited or no treatment options due to drug resistance.

    How to Make Sure a Hospital Stay Doesn't Screw Up Your HIV Treatment
    If you're on HIV meds and you need to be admitted to a hospital, you'd figure the one thing you don't have to worry about is that the hospital will mess up your medications, right? Think again: A recent study found that hospital staff make HIV medication errors all the time. Unfortunately, that means it's up to you to be the resident expert on your meds. In this article, pharmacist Jim Schniepp talks about how people on HIV treatment should always keep the details of their regimens in mind -- and always keep a supply of their meds on hand, just in case.



    Although HIV drug resistance is one of the greatest threats to successful HIV treatment, many HIV-positive people don't understand it. How much do you know about HIV drug resistance? Take this survey and help and Monogram Biosciences learn what people with HIV still need to know about this critical subject.


    ICAAC 2006 Begins; Visit for Full Coverage!
    The 46th Annual Interscience Conference on Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy (ICAAC 2006) is now underway in San Francisco, Calif., and The Body's team of experts is there to bring you the highlights. Beginning late this week, stop in at our ICAAC 2006 home page for news and research summaries, as well as podcasts interviews with top doctors!



    New U.S. Guidelines Call for Routine HIV Testing for All Teens and Adults
    In an effort to greatly increase the number of Americans who get tested for HIV, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has released new recommendations calling for health care workers in clinics, hospitals and doctor's offices to provide HIV testing to everybody between the age of 13 and 64 -- regardless of their HIV risk. "People with HIV have a right to know that they are infected so they can seek treatment and take steps to protect themselves and their partners," said CDC director Dr. Julie Gerberding. According to the recommendations, HIV testing would still be voluntary, and people could opt out if they wanted. The new CDC guidelines also urge that health care providers stop requiring pre-test HIV counseling and written consent before testing.

    The full recommendations are available in the Sept. 22 online edition of the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report; click here to read them. You can also read a stripped-down fact sheet on the recommendations by clicking here.

    AAHIVM Endorses New CDC Testing Guidelines, but Notes Concerns
    The American Academy of HIV Medicine (AAHIVM) has cautiously endorsed the revised HIV testing recommendations from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). AAHIVM expressed concerns on many issues, including the privacy of people receiving an HIV test and a lack of available funds to help pay for all the increased testing, not to mention the services that will be needed for people who test positive. However, AAHIVM still said that the expansion of HIV testing was basically a good unto itself. "It is crucial that we expand the 'who' and 'how' and 'where' of HIV testing, and we support the CDC's lead on finally putting that in motion," said Dr. Jeff Schouten, AAHIVM Board Chair.

    ACLU Worried That Privacy Might Pay the Price
    One group that has come down strongly against the new HIV testing recommendations from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). The ACLU believes the recommendations could compromise people's privacy, particularly because most U.S. states now use a names-based system when reporting new HIV diagnoses -- and that those reports may "require doctors to report private information, such as drug use and sexual history," according to an ACLU attorney. The CDC recommendations also suggest doing away with written HIV test consent forms and pre- and post-test counseling; the ACLU counters that "eliminating the only safeguards that guarantee that testing is voluntary and informed does little to ensure that people will receive the care they need."

    GMHC Opposes New U.S. HIV Testing Guidelines; NAPWA Cautiously Approves
    Even some AIDS organizations are less than thrilled about the new HIV testing guidelines released by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. One of the most prominent AIDS organizations in the country, Gay Men's Health Crisis, released a statement earlier this year saying it opposed routine, opt-out HIV testing. "We are convinced that written consent should continue to be required to ensure that HIV testing remains voluntary in practice and not just in theory, that patients do not simply acquiesce to being tested, are not in any way made to feel coerced and that they fully comprehend the array of ramifications associated with the testing results," the group says.

    By contrast, the National Association of People with AIDS (NAPWA) has come out cautiously in favor of the new testing guidelines. "Asking medical professionals to routinely offer HIV testing will go a long way at helping people with HIV know and take action on their health status," said Frank Oldham, Jr., NAPWA's executive director. NAPWA noted, however, that it was worried that removing requirements for written consent and counseling could lead to "involuntary and uninformed HIV testing." and may hurt efforts to reduce HIV stigma.

    Activists Urge Increased Funding for HIV Treatment and Prevention Within the U.S.
    "Testing without treatment is immoral. What good does it do to tell people they have HIV if we can't treat them?" asks Phill Wilson, executive director of the Black AIDS Institute. This month at the U.S. Conference on AIDS -- a large, annual gathering of AIDS advocates, educators and experts sponsored by the National Minority AIDS Council -- Wilson and other minority AIDS activists praised the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's call for routine testing, noting that African Americans and Latinos are less likely than other ethnic groups to know their HIV status. However, activists said that U.S. President George W. Bush and the U.S. Congress have cut money for HIV prevention campaigns and are not increasing funds to treat the additional HIV cases that widespread testing will likely find. "If we don't spend the money to prevent them from getting HIV, when they test positive, we have failed them," Wilson said.

    Expanded Testing in Washington, D.C., Finds HIV Rate Twice the U.S. Average
    As the debate heats up over the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's new HIV testing recommendations, a Washington, D.C., program shows that universal testing does greatly increase the number of people who find out they have HIV. Initial results from a campaign to test all city residents ages 14 to 84 show that the city's HIV rate is more than twice the U.S. average. Nearly 3 percent of the more than 7,000 D.C. residents who have been tested since June were found to be HIV positive. Early results of the $8 million project support what local officials had feared: that the United States' capital city has one of the highest HIV infection rates in the nation.



    Meditation: Let Me Hear You Say "Om"
    Some people swear by meditation as a means of easing a variety of health problems, including the physical and emotional realities of living with HIV. Experts don't fully understand the plusses and minuses of meditation, but researchers are studying whether the practice truly can provide meaningful health benefits. This article from the U.S. National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine discusses different types of meditation and how they may affect a person's physical and mental well-being.

    For more on meditation and similar types of complementary therapies, click here.



    Smoking Might Increase HIV Risk, Study Says
    As if the world needed another reason why smoking cigarettes is dangerous: According to a study in the United Kingdom, tobacco smokers are between 60 percent and 300 percent more likely to contract HIV than nonsmokers. However, the study did not find a link between smoking and HIV disease progression. The researchers said they weren't sure why smoking would increase a person's HIV risk, but they note that evidence is increasing that cigarette smoking raises the risk of all types of infections, because it might alter the structure of the lungs or weaken the immune system. They also point out that tobacco use tends to be higher among people who are already part of high-risk groups.

    Young Adults With HIV Change the World, One City at a Time
    Pack a bunch of young, HIV-affected people into a bus, add equal parts mission and energy, and serve to college campuses. That was the recipe behind the second annual Road to Hope Tour, a month-long road trip sponsored last spring by Hope's Voice. The tour brought the message of HIV prevention to college students throughout the United States. The people bringing that message? College-aged people affected by HIV. Marvelyn, who was infected by a boyfriend she loved and trusted, offered a simple message to her student audience: "It's not who you are, but what you do, that puts you at risk for HIV."

    "AIDS in Blackface": Black Youths Take HIV Prevention Into Their Own Hands
    Many African-American AIDS advocates are pushing for more involvement from black youths in spreading the HIV prevention message. One of the best ways to do this is by training young African Americans and sending them to college campuses to talk openly about HIV.
    An advocacy group called Leaders in the Fight to Eradicate AIDS (LIFE AIDS) is trying to do just that, with the help of allies such as Black Entertainment Television, the Magic Johnson Foundation and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. LIFE AIDS will host its 3rd Annual Historically Black College and Universities Student Teach-In and Town Hall Meeting -- "AIDS in Blackface: 25 Years of an Epidemic" -- at Tuskegee University in Tuskegee, Ala., from Oct. 6 to 8. "By educating black college students across a broad spectrum on the facts, science and impact of HIV/AIDS, we hope to empower them to make meaningful contributions to the fight against HIV/AIDS in their communities," says Shaunna Cooper, chair of LIFE AIDS.



    Product RED Wants Your Green
    Can spending money on high-tech cell phones and clothing help save lives? Thanks to Product RED, the answer may be yes. U2 frontman Bono and philanthropist Bobby Shriver have helped organize a collective of companies, including Gap, Motorola and Emporio Armani, that feature specially-designed RED product lines. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. Over time, Product RED plans to expand the number of companies it works with, and is getting the word out through a special RED edition of London newspaper The Independent. (Web highlight from The Independent; we also link to two of the articles from this special edition below.)

    Ashley Judd Recounts HIV Stigma and Loathing in Madagascar
    Actress Ashley Judd, an ambassador for the global advocacy group YouthAIDS, shares her journal from a recent visit to Madagascar, where she says "layers of cultural beliefs and practices, stigma and religion are huge obstacles to educating and protecting public health." In Madagascar, the HIV rate is still relatively low, but the stigma is so extreme that Judd spent most of her time simply trying to find HIVers who would admit they were positive. Even the woman who Judd says began the first (and only) HIV support group in the country will not speak out in public; the group meets secretly every week. Judd wonders, "If people can't talk about it [HIV], how can they be educated against it?" (Web highlight from The Independent)

    From Dawn to Dusk, the Daily Struggle of Africa's Women
    In this unsettling depiction of the situation of women in Africa, The Independent focuses on Letenk'iel, a native Eritrean, a wife and mother of five. She works 18 hours a day, every day to provide food, clean water, clothing, order and a semblance of comfort to her family. The walk to the nearest health clinic is two hours in each direction, and arriving there doesn't necessarily mean that she or her family will be able to get the treatment she needs. In Africa, women earn only 10 percent of the income and own less than one percent of the property. This aspect of powerlessness carries over into their sex lives: Many women are forced to become sexually active when they're still children, have no power to insist on condom use, and have few rights or resources to fall back on. Because of this, women are also more likely to be HIV positive: A staggering 80 percent of HIVers between the ages of 15 and 19 in Africa are women. (Web highlight from The Independent)

    Also Worth Noting

    Exclusive Images From
    AIDS 2006

    Image from The Body's AIDS 2006 Photojournal
    A Caribbean poster featuring St. Lucia-born musician Melissa "Q-Pid" Moses advocating for the end of HIV discrimination and stigma.
    The Body's exclusive AIDS 2006 Photojournal features dozens of images of the many people, protests and unique sights of the XVI International AIDS Conference. The photojournal is meant to give those who couldn't attend the conference a sense of what it was like to be there. From world leaders to HIVers in the developing world; from press conferences to protests; and from the conference center to downtown Toronto, we give you a glimpse of what it was like to attend the largest gathering on HIV in history.

    Connect With Others
    t The Body's Bulletin Boards

    What's My Life Expectancy?
    (A recent post from the
    "Living With HIV" board)

    "I was recently diagnosed with HIV. ... While I can accept this illness and try not to let it affect my life too much ... [I want] to know if HIV actually has an impact on your life expectancy. I'm 25 and would love to live to a ripe old age, and I'm concerned about this more than anything else. Before I get people replying saying, 'We're not doctors,' I'm aware of that and would just be interested to hear what other people's doctors have said."

    -- SaltyWater

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

    Should I Join an "Early HIV Treatment" Study?
    (A recent post from the
    "I Just Tested Positive" board)

    "I was diagnosed about a month ago and have been reading posts on here since then. It seems there are a lot of good people on here, and I need that right now. About me: 28 year-old male in Columbus, Ohio, otherwise pretty healthy. I just returned from the doctor to get my first set of numbers. Viral load 22,700, CD4 count 343, CD4 percentage 21. I had kind of been hoping for better numbers, but the infection is recent. Anyway, I am considering entry into an early treatment study. The drug group gets drugs for nine months and then stops. Any experience/thoughts?"

    -- cowtownpoz

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

    Visual AIDS
    Art From HIV-Positive Artists

    Image from the September 2006 Visual AIDS Web Gallery
    "11th Avant Garde Festival," 1974;
    John Eric Broaddus
    Visit the September 2006 Visual AIDS Web Gallery to view our latest collection of art by HIV-positive artists! The September gallery is entitled "Do You Remember the First Time?"; it's curated by Jeffrey Walkowiak, co-director of the Sara Meltzer Gallery in New York City.
    Calling All Artists!
    Calling All Artists:
    Submit Your Postcard!
    Postcards From the Edge
    Visual AIDS is now accepting submissions for its ninth annual Postcards From the Edge benefit -- a charity event being held on Dec. 2-3 in New York City, at which the public will be able to purchase original, postcard-size artworks from artists around the country! Painting, drawing, photography, printmaking and mixed media are welcomed; proceeds go to Visual AIDS.

    The postmark deadline for submissions is Nov. 10. For more information on how to be a part of this unique event, click here!