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January 24, 2007

In This Update:
  • Living With HIV
  • HIV Treatment
  • HIV in the News
  • HIV Transmission
  • HIV Outside the U.S.

    Disclosing Your HIV Status: Should It Be Law?
    Should men and women who don't tell their partners they are HIV positive go to jail? If you look at U.S. law, you'll find that the answer to this question varies across the country: 34 states make it a crime to transmit HIV, or even to expose someone to HIV. In some states, HIVers can be prosecuted even if they used a condom during sex. But should HIV-positive people be treated roughly the same way as gun-wielding maniacs? Will Doig of investigates. (Web highlight from

    Tips on Keeping Your Mouth (and Your Immune System) Healthy
    The mouth is a vulnerable place: It's wet, warm and teeming with bacteria. For people with HIV, the mouth is a spot that is particularly susceptible to infection. HIV-related illnesses like thrush and hairy leukoplakia often appear in the mouth, and cavities can act as fungal reservoirs in HIVers. To avoid these complications, follow these simple but often-overlooked dental hygiene techniques: Brush thoroughly. See your dentist regularly. Floss! Also, check out this list of additional tips on how to keep your mouth fresh and healthy.



    HIV Drug Guide Gives the Lowdown on Current Meds
    If you're starting or switching therapy, keeping up-to-date on the growing list of HIV medications can be overwhelming. This easy-to-use HIV drug guide lists each drug by class and includes information on dosing, side effects and food restrictions. From the main page, click on the drug names for comprehensive information such as pricing, tips for taking the drug, and brief summaries from activists and doctors.

    To browse The Body's comprehensive library of info on HIV meds and drugs in development, click here.

    Should I Join a Clinical Trial?
    Every medicine you have ever taken -- from Advil to antiretrovirals -- is available because people volunteered to test them in a clinical trial. You may be interested in joining a trial to gain early access to a new drug, or simply because you want to help further medical science. Whatever the reason, choosing whether or not to participate can be intimidating. You may have a lot of questions: Will there be risks? How will I be treated by the researchers? What kinds of trials can I join? In this article, Dolores Holman, Clinical Trials Manager at AIDS Community Research Initiative of America, answers these and other questions in hopes of helping you make an informed choice.

    Click here to learn more about open HIV-related clinical trials near you.

    Selenium May Help Reduce Viral Load, Increase CD4 Count, Study Says
    Could taking selenium -- a simple, inexpensive mineral supplement -- help reduce your viral load and increase your CD4 count? A small study appears to show that taking selenium supplements can have a modest anti-HIV effect. The study found that 50 HIVers who took selenium pills for nine months had a 12 percent drop in viral load and a CD4 increase of 30 cells. That's a negligible benefit for people who are already on a successful regimen of HIV meds, but the findings are still intriguing, and support earlier studies that found HIV progression to be more likely among HIVers with low selenium levels.

    A Guide to Health Coverage in New York State
    In New York, you don't need private health insurance to get expert medical care and access to medications. In fact, there are a number of ways for New Yorkers with HIV to get coverage for their health care. If you don't know where to begin, you can talk to a local AIDS service organization, ask your case manager, or use this handy guide to New York State health coverage. This overview provides information on eligibility requirements, expense, services offered and phone numbers you can use to contact programs directly.



    Federal Agents Raid Medical Marijuana Stores in Los Angeles
    Using medical marijuana is legal in California, but federal agents nonetheless raided 11 medical marijuana outlets in Los Angeles County last week. U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration officers detained more than 20 people for questioning and seized several thousand pounds of processed marijuana, hundreds of marijuana plants, guns and cash. The raids are a symptom of the ongoing tension between California state law, which permits medicinal use of marijuana, and federal law, which considers marijuana possession illegal under any circumstances. (Web highlight from the Los Angeles Times)

    AIDS Healthcare Foundation Sues Maker of Viagra
    AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) has filed a lawsuit against Pfizer, the pharmaceutical company responsible for the erectile dysfunction drug Viagra. The suit claims that advertisements for Viagra have promoted recreational use of the drug, turning it into "a safe, sexy, lifestyle ... drug to be frequently used regardless of the degree, or even existence of," erectile dysfunction. AHF notes that studies have shown that the use of Viagra as a "party drug" might counter the erection-inhibiting effects of alcohol or drugs such as crystal meth and ecstasy, and as a result could increase HIV rates. If AHF wins this fight, Pfizer may have to forfeit profits gained from the targeted ads and repay AHF the costs of treating cases of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases that have been linked to the use of Viagra.



    Epstein-Barr Virus Is Sexually Transmitted, Study Says
    A new study adds to the list of reasons why HIVers should still use protection when having sex with another HIVer: Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), which can increase an HIV-positive person's risk of developing non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, has now been identified as a sexually transmitted disease. Although doctors have long known that EBV can be transmitted through kissing, a study of more than 2,000 students at the University of Edinburgh in the United Kingdom revealed that students who were sexually active -- especially those who had had multiple partners or didn't use condoms -- were more likely to have the virus. (Web highlight from

    Crystal and Craigslist: A Recipe for HIV?
    Nearly one out of every two people who tested HIV positive at a popular New York City HIV testing center admitted that crystal meth or alcohol played a role in their exposure to HIV. It can be very easy to get access to drugs like crystal meth, as well as to find willing sex partners on the Internet -- and health officials are worried that the combination will spur an increase in the number of new HIV cases. Meth users are four times more likely than non-users to have unsafe sex and at least three times as likely to be HIV positive.

    Washington State Ponders the Right to Safe Sex Behind Bars
    Despite overwhelming evidence that prisoners are having sex while they are incarcerated and are almost five times more likely than the general public to have HIV, the majority of U.S. inmates still have no access to condoms. In Washington state, however, some lawmakers are trying to change that. They're recommending that condoms be freely distributed to inmates -- and they're already facing criticism from the health services director of the state's Department of Corrections, who seems to suggest that saving face is more important than saving lives: "We're trying to send the message that sex in prison is not OK, [and] we're afraid that issuing condoms sends a mixed message," the director said.



    China Unlikely to Launch Male Circumcision Campaign
    Although studies in Africa have indicated that circumcision could reduce a man's HIV infection risk by about 50 percent, health officials in China aren't convinced. Only a few months ago, Chinese health officials were likening their country's HIV epidemic to that of sub-Saharan Africa, but China's reluctance to endorse circumcision could set it on a different path. Worried about encountering resistance from China's non-Muslim majority and the huge costs of a circumcision campaign in a country of 1.3 billion people, Chinese officials say, "We should exercise caution. ... It's much more reasonable to get people to use condoms."

    From U.S. to Developing World, HIV Pediatrician Hopes to Save Young Lives
    In the United States and many other wealthy nations, there are few children born with HIV today, thanks to effective treatments for HIV-positive moms. In developing countries, however, HIV continues to take a devastating toll on children. Dr. Mark Kline, president of the Baylor International Pediatric AIDS Initiative, has seen both of these trends unfold firsthand: After spending years treating HIV-positive kids in the United States, he now works in Africa, Latin America and Romania, where the future for children with HIV is pretty bleak. In this National Public Radio podcast, he's explains how he's trying to do his part to transform these children's futures. (Web highlight from National Public Radio)

    Caribbean Remains Ignorant About HIV Epidemic, Officials Say
    The Caribbean has the second-highest rate of HIV infection in the world, and HIV is the leading cause of death among Caribbeans aged 15 to 44. However, many say that widespread ignorance and discrimination are hurting the region's ability to control the disease. HIV is still viewed as a "gay disease," health officials say, adding that discrimination is so bad that HIVers often delay treatment so they can hide their status. Both problems make transmitting HIV to an unprotected partner that much more likely. The co-chair of the U.S. Congressional Caribbean Caucus says he doesn't even think people understand the seriousness of the situation: "I haven't seen this overall realization, like 'Houston, we have a problem.'"

    Also Worth Noting
    Free CME/CE Credit
    HIV Health Professionals:
    Get the Credit You Deserve!
    The Body PRO logo

    The Body PRO, The Body's sister site for health professionals, offers a large selection of free, informative CME/CE activities for U.S. physicians, nurses and pharmacists. Earn credit now for each of these activities, as well as many more!

    Overcoming Treatment Challenges in the Treatment-Experienced Patient With HIV, by Daniel S. Berger, M.D., Valery Hughes, R.N., M.S., C.-F.N.P., and Kathleen E. Squires, M.D.

    NNRTIs: The Next Generation Approaches, by Brian A. Boyle, M.D., J.D., and Calvin J. Cohen, M.D., M.S.

    Challenging Cases in HIV: Implications of Anemia, by Douglas T. Dieterich, M.D., and David H. Henry, M.D.

    Update on Management of the HIV/Hepatitis B- or HIV/Hepatitis C-Coinfected Patient, by Maurizio Bonacini, M.D.

    Not a member of The Body PRO? Registration is quick, easy and completely free. Sign up now!

    Visual AIDS
    Art From HIV-Positive Artists

    Image from the January 2007 Visual AIDS Web Gallery
    "Sprinkler," 1990; Elliot Linwood
    Visit the January 2007 Visual AIDS Web Gallery to view our latest collection of art by HIV-positive artists! The first gallery of the new year is entitled "Energy"; it's curated by the Tisch Summer High School Photography Program at New York University.

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    Scared of HIV Meds' Side Effects
    (A recent post from the
    "Living With HIV" board)

    "I have been positive for nearly five years, and up to this point, I have not needed to take any meds. I hope that this is the case for many more years, as I know that they are making huge advancements all the time. However, I have thought a lot recently about the time when I will have to take meds. I am scared of the side effects, even though I realize that without [the meds], I am going to die. I was wondering how others have dealt with meds. Have you experienced many side effects?"

    -- Anonymous

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