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Are you having pain from HIV-associated neuropathy? If so, you may be able to participate in a research study. Click here to find out more!

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October 18, 2006

In This Update:
  • HIV Treatment
  • Making a Difference
  • HIV Transmission & Awareness
  • STD Transmission
  • HIV Outside the U.S.

    Acute HIV Infection: Is It the Right Time to Start Treatment?
    Researchers have been studying HIV for 25 years, but there's still a great deal we don't know about how the virus works. Take acute infection, for instance: What actually happens to a person's immune system during the first several weeks after HIV takes up residence? How much damage can HIV do to the body in this early stage of infection, and can HIV treatment help prevent that damage from happening? Three experts within this field presented some of the latest data at a symposium at ICAAC 2006. The Body's Eric Daar, M.D., reports on what they discussed.

    HIV-Experienced Physicians May Reduce Length of HIVers' Hospital Stays
    We all know that getting the most experienced HIV specialist you can is the key to optimal HIV care. Now new research shows just how much having an experienced HIV doc can matter if you're ever hospitalized. The study of 1,191 HIV-positive people throughout the United States found that hospitalized HIVers who were cared for by providers who had a high level of experience taking care of HIV-positive people tended to stay in the hospital for shorter periods of time. That's great for the HIVer, and good for the hospital as well, because it saves cash and resources that can be used to help other patients. (Web highlight from

    Recombinant Human Growth Hormone May Treat Central Fat Gain
    A condition known as lipohypertrophy -- fat gain -- sometimes occurs in HIV-positive people on treatment, although the exact causes are still unclear. What is becoming more clear, however, is the role that a drug called recombinant human growth hormone may play in treating visceral (or abdominal) fat gain. Researchers have found that using recombinant human growth hormone for six months can significantly reduce central fat accumulation, and new data show that these reductions persist for months after hormone treatment is stopped. The Body's Eric Daar, M.D., reports from ICAAC 2006.



    Join a Clinical Trial on Neuropathy
    Are you suffering from HIV-related pain such as tingling, "pins and needles" or burning sensations in both feet? Do you live in the United States? If so, you may be eligible to participate in a clinical trial. Click here to find out more.


    Apple's iPod Nano Goes RED
    The iPod Nano is the latest addition to the rapidly expanding Product RED line -- a range of items that have been created specifically to funnel cash to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. Apple Computer has announced that $10 from every sale of its $199 red-colored Nano will go straight to the Global Fund, which pays for HIV-fighting efforts in developing countries. Apple is only the latest company to join the Product RED parade; American Express, Converse, Giorgio Armani and Gap are already pitching specially branded products, which have already raised more than US$10 million for the Global Fund in the United Kingdom alone.

    How Recycled HIV Medications Save Lives
    Five million people in developing countries are in desperate need of HIV medications, and you may be able to help them. If you're switching regimens or taking a doctor-supervised break from treatment, you can donate your unused meds to organizations in the United States that redistribute them to HIVers all over the world, from Nigeria to Cuba to Thailand. This article from AIDS Community Research Initiative of America introduces some of these organizations and explains how you can get involved.

    "Zapping" for Drugs: How Activists Put Global Drug Access on the National Agenda
    Sometimes a few people with whistles wearing "Gore's Greed Kills" t-shirts are all it takes to change the world. Mark Milano, Editor of ACRIA Update, recalls his response when the U.S. government tried to prevent South Africa from accessing generic HIV drugs at the end of Bill Clinton's presidency. Milano and other activists from ACT UP/NY and Fed Up Queers did a series of "zaps" (surprise protests) along Al Gore's campaign trail leading up to the 2000 U.S. presidential election. With the cameras off Gore and on the protestors, global drug access became a national issue, paving the way for the United States to begin delivering generic HIV drugs to people in developing countries.



    San Francisco to Study Whether Meds Can Reduce Meth Use -- And Risky Sex -- Among Gay Men
    While some people continue to debate how widespread crystal meth use is in the gay community, the San Francisco Department of Public Health decided to take action before a final verdict is reached. The department recently announced three separate studies to see if certain medications can effectively reduce (or stop) meth use, and in the process reduce high-risk behaviors among men who have sex with men (MSM). The medications -- all currently approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for other uses -- act as mood stabilizers and correct chemical imbalances in the brain that increase cravings and withdrawal symptoms. "[The health department] is really taking the lead in trying to find ways to treat meth dependence both in terms of drug addiction but also possibly as an HIV prevention strategy," said Dr. Grant Colfax, who is supervising the studies. (Web highlight from Bay Area Reporter)

    Ads Urge Youths to Help End AIDS by Volunteering for Vaccine Studies
    Right now, only one quarter of Americans know that the HIV vaccines currently being tested cannot cause HIV infection. Health officials in the United States are worried that this ignorance and misinformation about HIV and clinical research will delay the development of an HIV vaccine. In an effort to turn the tide, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases is launching a nationwide awareness campaign targeting young people to "Be the Generation" that ends AIDS by taking part in vaccine research. Television commercials comparing the vaccine-development effort to other struggles for social progress (such as the Civil Rights movement) will air in cities where trials are being conducted, including Atlanta, Chicago, New York and Philadelphia.

    A Web site designed for the campaign,, also offers information targeted to members of HIV-affected communities such as women, African Americans and Latinos, explains how vaccine research works and tells people how to volunteer.

    National Latino AIDS Awareness Day Festivities Fight Ignorance
    Though the heavy burden of HIV/AIDS on African Americans has gotten a lot of much-needed attention lately, blacks are not the only ethnic group in the United States that is disproportionately affected by HIV. Hispanics made up 14 percent of the U.S. population in 2004, but between 1981 and 2004 they accounted for 19 percent of all reported AIDS cases. AIDS-related illnesses are the third-leading cause of death among Latino men aged 35 to 44. At the same time, Hispanics are less concerned about HIV than other groups: Only 11 percent of Hispanics in a nationwide survey described AIDS as most urgent health issue right now. Last Sunday, Oct. 15, the fourth annual National Latino AIDS Awareness Day was held to bring attention to the problem. The day’s theme was "Saber es poder," (Knowledge is Power) and featured events at dozens of locations across the country. In addition to offering free rapid HIV tests and counseling in both English and Spanish, many sites lured large crowds with food, music, dancing, games and fashion shows.



    Reinfection With STDs Is Common Within a Year of Treatment, Study Finds
    Many people who have been diagnosed and treated for chlamydia, gonorrhea or vaginal trichomoniasis are reinfected within months -- and most of them might have no idea because they show no symptoms, a new study has found. The study by U.S. researchers showed that, in the first year after a person received treatment for chlamydia, gonorrhea or vaginal trichomoniasis, 26 percent of women and 15 percent of men developed another one of the three infections. The findings highlight how important it is that people diagnosed with a sexually transmitted disease (STD) -- and, just as importantly, their partners -- get tested repeatedly for the disease even after they get treatment, even if they don't notice any symptoms. (Web highlight from Reuters Health)

    Gonorrhea Found Most Frequently in Throats of Gay Men
    If you're a man who has oral sex with men, it may be time to add a throat swab to your annual checkup. A San Francisco study of 603 gay men (all of whom were HIV negative when the study began) found that 6 percent had gonorrhea of the throat, and that most had no symptoms. The 6 percent rate was much higher than the rate of gay men who had gonorrhea in their penis (1 percent) or rectum (2 percent). The researchers recommended that all sexually active gay men have an annual throat swab to check for gonorrhea, and that gay men who have multiple or anonymous partners have swabs every three to six months. Gonorrhea in the throat generally goes away on its own after a few months, but while the infection is present it can act as a "reservoir" for gonorrhea transmission to other men, the researchers note. (Web highlight from



    A First-Hand View of HIV Stigma in Zambia
    When Noel Mukuka of Lusaka, Zambia, tested positive for HIV, he faced discrimination, gossip and ignorance in his community. "After I told the church leaders about [having HIV], the preacher spoke from the pulpit saying, 'Some of you were doing bad things and now you are sick,'" writes Mukuka. He hopes to change this sort of reaction from the clergy. His goal: lessen stigma and educate people by being outspoken about his status and successful treatment. But to do it, he has to combat misinformation about meds and the competing ideas of traditional healers.

    Also Worth Noting

    In Memoriam
    Jeff Getty, AIDS Advocate

    The past week brought another loss in the AIDS advocacy community. Jeff Getty, one of the United States' most prominent voices pushing for early access to HIV medications during the 1990s, passed away on Oct. 9 at the age of 49. He had been living with HIV since the 1980s, and is also known for being the first to receive an experimental (and ultimately unsuccessful) bone marrow transplant using cells taken from a baboon in an effort to see if it would spur a human's immune system to fight off HIV.

    Visual AIDS
    Top Clinicians Discuss HIV Treatment

    Eric Daar, M.D.

    Eric Daar, M.D., is one of several prominent HIV experts who recently sat down to talk with The Body about the latest trends in HIV care, from when to start treatment to why people are so excited about the new crop of HIV medications in development. Click here to read the full transcript of our interview with Dr. Daar or to hear the 24-minute podcast!

    For a full listing of all of our recent podcast interviews, visit Podcast Central at ICAAC 2006!

    Visual AIDS
    Art From HIV-Positive Artists

    Image from the October 2006 Visual AIDS Web Gallery
    Untitled, 1996; Sarawut Chutiwongpeti
    Visit the October 2006 Visual AIDS Web Gallery to view our latest collection of art by HIV-positive artists! This month's gallery is entitled "Stardust: A Two-Part Show"; it's curated by Leah Oates, an artist and independent curator living in New York.

    Connect With Others
    t The Body's Bulletin Boards

    My Neuropathy Is More Than I Can Handle
    (A recent post from the
    "Living With HIV" board)

    "I have developed very bad neuropathy in my left foot that makes it difficult to walk without a cane. Several times recently, I have lost all strength on the left side of my body. My hands are cramped and painful, making shaking hands a wrenching experience if the handshaker decides to give me a firm handshake. ... I am still awaiting an appointment with a neurologist to determine for sure what is causing my pain and weakness. I have never had anything happen to me that has made me more despondent. I take Elavil to ease the pain, but the drug makes me sleepy and stupid, so I avoid taking it unless the pain is too great. I have been able to work through everything else AIDS has thrown at me, but this is more than I can handle. I would like nothing better than to give up and go off my meds and be done with the damned thing."

    -- ScotCharles

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

    My New Gay Boyfriend Has HIV; What Can I Expect?
    (A recent post from the
    "My Partner Has HIV" board)

    "I just started seeing a guy who told me he was HIV positive before our relationship went any further. Him being positive is not an issue for me. I just need some advice on what I can expect in the future, and what the problems with sex can be."

    -- Anonymous

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