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November 29, 2006

In This Update:
  • World AIDS Day 2006
  • HIV Treatment & Side Effects
  • HIV Policy in the U.S.
  • HIV Basics
  • Making a Difference
  • HIV Transmission
  • HIV Outside the U.S.
  •   WORLD AIDS DAY 2006

    Things to Do, Know and See on Friday, Dec. 1
    What are you doing to mark World AIDS Day? Dec. 1 gives HIV-negative and HIV-positive people alike a special opportunity to call attention to the massive amount of work we still must do -- in the United States and everywhere -- to win the fight against HIV. Whether it's sending an e-card, encouraging people to get tested, educating people to reduce HIV stigma, or pushing for greater funding at home and abroad, there's plenty that each of us can do to make a difference. Visit The Body's World AIDS Day 2006 home page for ideas, events, information and more!



    Waist Size No Different in HIV-Positive Men on Meds Than in HIV-Negative Men
    Could lipodystrophy sometimes be an illusion? The more we learn about body fat changes in HIVers, the more complicated the picture gets. New results from a large, ongoing U.S. study suggest that when it comes to waist fat, what some HIV-positive men may think is fat gain actually is not. Researchers used tape measurements to keep track of men's hip and waist size over a four-year period. They found that HIV-positive men on treatment were no more likely to have large waists than HIV-negative men. However, the researchers did find that HIV-positive men on treatment seemed to gain hip fat more slowly than HIV-negative men, making it appear as though their waists were larger. (Web highlight from

    The 411 on MK-0518
    Feel like you're in the dark about the experimental integrase inhibitor MK-0518? This easy-to-read guide from AIDS Survival Project will shed some light on this HIV drug in development. It covers basic information, such as how integrase inhibitors work, and offers findings from the latest clinical trials. There's also a detailed section on the Expanded Access Program by Merck & Co., which opened on Sept. 11 in the United States. To qualify for a free supply of MK-0518, you must be at least 16 years of age and have resistance to each of the three major classes of HIV medications.



    U.S. AIDS Policy May Shift Now That Democrats Control Congress
    Beginning next year, Democrats will control both chambers of the U.S. Congress for the first time since 1994. What will that mean for U.S. AIDS policy? Only time will tell, but the power shift could have an impact on some key policy areas. For instance, the reauthorization of the Ryan White CARE Act, which funds U.S. HIV programs, has already been stalled for more than a year by Democratic leaders, who oppose Republican-proposed revisions that would shift funding from urban states to rural areas. Meanwhile, the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, which allotted $15 billion to helping fight HIV overseas, needs to be renewed in 2007. Democrats favor increased funding and oppose requiring countries to devote one-third of U.S. funding to abstinence-only programs. Convincing conservatives to change the abstinence-only requirement may be tough, but come January, Democrats will have a real chance to assert themselves.

    Philadelphia Settles With HIVer in Ambulance Discrimination Lawsuit
    In 2001, Philadelphian John Gill Smith began to suffer from chest pain and called 911. When two Philadelphia paramedics arrived and Smith's partner explained that Smith had AIDS, one of the paramedics walked out of the house, and the other demanded that Smith cover his face. Smith's partner and a friend had to carry him into the ambulance. Smith sued, and this week the city agreed to pay Smith $50,000 in damages and to provide regular training to city paramedics and emergency medical personnel. The city still denies violating any laws, but the settlement feels like a victory to Smith. "This was never about money," says Ronda Goldfein, executive director of the AIDS Law Project. "That was about a very scary thing that happened to [Smith] that [Smith] didn't want to happen to anybody else."



    The Monkey Business of HIV
    For years, scientists have believed that the first HIVers were infected through exposure to an HIV-like virus in chimpanzees. However, according to new research, gorillas, not chimps, could be the missing link through which HIV made the transition to humans. A virus has been found among wild gorillas in Cameroon that is more similar to HIV than any virus previously discovered in apes. The researchers still aren't sure how HIV "jumped" species from primate to human, but they plan to conduct further studies in hopes of finding out.



    Not Everyone Is Happy With Product RED and "I Am African"
    While many have hailed Product RED and the "I Am African" campaign -- two of the world's largest mainstream efforts to raise money and awareness about HIV -- both have also endured plenty of criticism. The "I Am African" campaign uses celebrities in face paint to help raise awareness and funding to support HIV-affected children in Africa, while Product RED donates a portion of the profits from a range of specially branded products (including iPod Nanos and Gap clothes) to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. But the media, bloggers and even the fashion industry have raised questions about the initiatives. Critics wonder who benefits more from the splashy "I Am African" advertisements: HIVers or celebrities. Some have also asked why Product RED companies aren't donating a full 100 percent of the proceeds from their designated products.



    Are Microbicides the Future of HIV Prevention?
    The HIV prevention world has been buzzing lately with talk of microbicides. If a viable microbicide could be created, millions of women (and, hopefully, gay men) might gain the power to protect themselves from HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases. But how realistic are our expectations? In this letter, Lori Heise, the director of the Global Campaign for Microbicides, gives a down-to-earth analysis. On one hand, she says, the excitement of the media and advocates can be used to keep the spotlight (and money) on the researchers who are trying to develop microbicides. However, Heise stresses, realism is also important: Drug development and approval is complex and time-consuming, and even after a microbicide has been approved, its cost may keep it out of the hands of the people who need it most.

    HIV Testing Is Common Among Men Who Have Sex With Men -- But So Is Risky Behavior
    Although HIV awareness is high among men who have sex with men (MSM) in the United States, so are behaviors that can put them at risk for HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases, according to a new survey released by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The good news is that more than 90 percent of the 10,030 MSM surveyed had been tested for HIV, with 77 percent saying they'd been tested within the last year. The not-so-good news is that risky sex appeared to be very common: 58 percent said they'd had unprotected anal intercourse with their significant other, and 34 percent with a casual sex partner. In addition, almost half of the MSM surveyed said they used non-injection recreational drugs.

    Online Hookups Put Young Black Men at Risk, Counselor Warns
    Maurice Bell, a counselor at the AIDS Survival Project in Atlanta, Ga., wants to know why so many young, African-American men are testing positive at the HIV clinic where he works. Bell decided to take a closer look; what's going on, he concluded, is a lot of risky sex, particularly among black men who have sex with men. Bell places much of the blame on online dating sites: The sites, he says, make it easy for people to lie about their HIV status and set up meetings for anonymous sex. "Online daters, beware," Bell warns.



    Global AIDS Report Provides Grim Numbers, but Reasons for Hope
    UNAIDS has issued its 2006 report on the global AIDS pandemic, and once again the numbers are grim:

    • In the past 12 months, 2.9 million people died from AIDS-related illnesses and 4.3 million were newly infected with HIV.
    • Nearly 40 million people are currently living with HIV worldwide -- and despite efforts to increase global awareness of HIV, the disease hasn't declined in a single region.
    • HIV continues to devastate Sub-Saharan Africa, despite recent gains in a few countries.
    • While HIV has stabilized in Latin America and the Caribbean, it's on the verge of exploding in Eastern Europe and Central Asia.

    Still, in the midst of its pages of depressing statistics, the report offers a few glimmers of hope. For instance, wide-scale access to HIV treatment in low- and middle-income countries has saved thousands of lives. Also, the report points out that behavior change can halt HIV in its tracks: In several African countries, the prevalence of HIV among young pregnant women is falling, at least in part because young people are having sex later, hooking up with fewer partners and using condoms more frequently. The future of the pandemic, the report concludes, depends most on the choices that young people around the world make every day.

    Five Key Years in the Global HIV Pandemic: 1999-2004
    At the turn of the century, the global implications of the HIV pandemic started to hit home. In the fourth of a series of articles on the history of HIV, activist Jeff Graham recounts some of the heartaches and triumphs in the global fight against HIV from 1999 to 2004. He recalls some of the milestones, such as when AIDS activists brought then-Vice President Al Gore's presidential candidacy announcement to a halt by standing up and demanding a more serious U.S. response to the growing international pandemic. Graham also looks back on the creation of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, recalling it as a beacon of hope for international relief efforts -- but one that would quickly become weakened by conflicting political pressures.

    Fight Against AIDS Offers Lessons for Global Epidemic, Other Diseases
    What makes the fight against HIV in the United States so different from the struggles against other diseases? How can the lessons learned in the United States be applied to the global epidemic? This essay from Project Inform tackles these tough questions, citing a number of factors that have made the fight against HIV in the United States a relative success -- including unprecedented patient activism and targeted funding for research.

    Report Outlines Difficulties HIVers Have Accessing Sexual Health Care
    A couple wants to have a baby, but their doctor discourages them simply because the would-be mother has HIV. An HIV-positive sex worker stops getting tested for sexually transmitted diseases because the nurses at his clinic say they are afraid of catching HIV from him. These are just a couple of the challenges that people with HIV around the globe face as they seek out sexual health care. This policy brief from the Guttmacher Institute examines the causes of, and solutions for, this difficult problem that can seriously harm the health of HIVers around the world.

    Click here to access the full policy brief.

    Also Worth Noting

    Art Benefit in N.Y.
    Postcards From the Edge:
    Dec. 2-3, 2006

    Postcards From the Edge
    Every fall in New York City, Visual AIDS holds its hugely popular "Postcards From the Edge" benefit, and this year's event is fast approaching! On Saturday, Dec. 2 and Sunday, Dec. 3, people who come to Sikkema Jenkins & Co. in Manhattan can view and purchase any of more than 1,500 original, postcard-sized works donated by many talented artists -- some of whom are widely known! Each postcard costs $75; all benefits go to Visual AIDS.

    To learn more about the 2006 "Postcards From the Edge" benefit, including info on how you can get a sneak preview of this year's postcards, click here!

    Blogs by Young HIVers
    Youth Speaking Tour Ends; Bloggers Tell Their Stories

    Tom Donohue
    What happens when a team of young HIVers fans out across the United States to raise HIV awareness on high school and college campuses? You can find out at by reading blogs from the "Operation: Get Tested" tour speakers. Their seven-week speaking tour, sponsored by Who's Positive, is coming to a close on World AIDS Day, Dec. 1, with a final stop at William Patterson University in New Jersey. Since Oct. 15, these six HIV-positive youth have been promoting HIV awareness, prevention and testing for young people by sharing their own stories.

    Want to learn more about the team's adventures? The speakers have been blogging since the tour kicked off. You can find personal blogs for Who's Positive founder Tom Donohue (pictured above) and two of his group's speakers, Kahlo Benavidez and Richard Powell at (Click on each person's name to read their blog.)

    Breaking Research
    The Latest HIV
    Research From Glasgow

    Glasgow 2006
    The 8th International Congress on Drug Therapy in HIV Infection took place last week in Glasgow, United Kingdom -- and The Body's team of experts was there to bring you coverage of the latest research! Check out our Glasgow 2006 home page for the latest highlights and a complete index of articles!

    Visual AIDS
    Art From HIV-Positive Artists

    Image from the November 2006 Visual AIDS Web Gallery
    "Another Mad Cry for Help II," 1998; Bryan Hoffman
    Visit the November 2006 Visual AIDS Web Gallery to view our latest collection of art by HIV-positive artists! This month's gallery is entitled "Hot Chicks and Others"; it's curated by Rocío Aranda-Alvarado, the curator at Jersey City Museum. Aranda-Alvarado organizes exhibitions of contemporary art featuring work by both established and emerging artists in the New Jersey and New York region.

    Connect With Others
    t The Body's Bulletin Boards

    "Is My HIV-Negative Fiancé Destined to Leave Me?"
    (A recent post from the
    "Living With HIV" board)

    "I am about to marry a negative man who is in love with me. I am concerned that maybe he is just looking at the present time and not the future. I fear he may reject and abandon me in the future when I start getting sick. Right now I am as fit as a fiddle. Though I have had one lady talk to me about her 21-year marriage to her negative husband, I think everyone is not the same. Anyone out there with a serodiscordant relationship? If yes, what are the daily hardships? I may have to call the Christmas wedding off."

    -- Anonymous

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