• HIV TREATMENT & COMPLICATIONS
Starting Next Week: The Body Covers CROI 2007
The most important HIV research conference of the year, the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI), begins on Feb. 25 in Los Angeles. As always, The Body will be there
to provide thorough coverage! Our team of HIV specialists and journalists will bring you the latest reports on everything from HIV-related health issues (such as body-shape changes), treatment
strategies (such as structured treatment interruptions and the "when to start" debate) and new HIV medications. Our coverage will include news, summaries of key studies and podcast
interviews with top researchers. Check our CROI 2007 home page beginning next week!
Traditional Risk Factors, Not HIV Meds, Are Behind Metabolic Problems, Study Suggests
It’s been the subject of debate for years: Why do HIV-positive people develop heart disease and metabolic problems (such as obesity, high blood pressure and high blood sugar)? Is it because
of HIV meds? HIV itself? Or something else entirely? Well, according to U.S. study results published in medical journal Clinical Infectious Diseases, it looks like HIV meds are not the
main culprit. The study found that traditional risk factors, such as older age and higher body mass index, play a much stronger role than HIV meds in determining an HIVer's risk of developing
metabolic problems or heart disease. The study also dropped another bomb: Turns out metabolic problems are no more likely among HIV-positive people than they are among HIV-negative people,
the researchers say. Intriguing findings, although this is unlikely to be the final word on this controversial subject. (Web highlight from aidsmap.com)
An HIV Treatment Primer
In the beginning, there was Retrovir (zidovudine, AZT) -- and only Retrovir. But since the early 1990s -- and especially in the new century -- the number of HIV medications has skyrocketed,
and so has the range of treatment issues that HIVers need to understand. This article from the AIDS Community Research Initiative of America covers it all, from the days of monotherapy, when
Retrovir was the first and only option for someone with HIV, to the plethora of choices and questions HIV-positive people are faced with today. Let this treatment primer walk you through
what you need to know about deciding when to start treatment, choosing meds, managing side effects, reading your lab reports and avoiding resistance.
How to Find the Perfect Health Care Provider
Finding a good HIV health care provider, especially one you trust and feel comfortable with, can be a difficult and complicated process. Not only do you want to find a health care provider
that keeps up to date on the latest medical knowledge, but they also need to be someone with whom you can discuss personal, and sometimes intimate, concerns. But how do you find that kind
of health care provider? In this article from AIDS Community Research Initiative of America, some of the most important factors to consider in choosing a health care provider are discussed.
It even includes topics you may not be considering yet because you're in good health, such as hospitalization and emergency access.
Disclosing Status Can Improve Your Health, Researchers Suggest
Can disclosing your HIV status and your sexual orientation help your immune system and raise your CD4 count? The answer, according to one Seattle, Wash., study, is yes -- at least among one
group of low-income HIVers at a mental health clinic. The reason: By relieving potential causes of psychological distress, the researchers believe that people in the study were able to strengthen
their body's natural immune response. (Web highlight from aidsmap.com)
No Dangerous Interactions Between Two Major HIV Meds in Development
Are you a treatment-experienced HIVer who's hoping for new treatment options from some of the HIV meds currently in development? You might be encouraged by the results of a recently completed
drug-drug interaction study between the integrase inhibitor MK-0518 and the NNRTI etravirine (TMC-125). The study found no significant interaction between the two drugs, which means that
they could be safely taken together in the hopes of creating a potent drug combination. Both meds are currently available through expanded access programs, which allow HIVers who have few
other treatment options to access almost-approved HIV medications.
ADAP State-by-State: Drug Assistance Across the United States
More than 134,000 HIV-positive people in the United States receive help from the AIDS Drug Assistance Programs (ADAPs) because they're not poor enough to qualify for Medicaid but still can't
afford HIV treatment. Though ADAP is a federal program, it is managed by the states, so benefits and eligibility requirements vary widely. While people enrolled in New York can get 480 different
medications and supplements for free, Idaho and Iowa only offer 35. In California and Massachusetts, people can qualify for ADAP even if they make as much as $50,000 a year; in North Carolina,
however, people making more than $12,250 aren’t eligible. Read this article to see how ADAPs differ across the United States.
• AFRICAN AMERICANS & HIV
Body Presents: An African American's Guide to Living With HIV
Within the African-American community, there's still an enormous amount of fear, ignorance and prejudice about HIV and HIV-positive people. If you're black and you've just been diagnosed
with HIV, this stigma may cause you to feel guilty, depressed or angry in ways that can be hazardous to your health. That's why it's vital to know the facts. The Body's newest informational
booklet, "HIV & Me: An African American's Guide to Living With HIV," can provide you with basic guidance, key details and inspiring stories that can help you live a full --
and fulfilling -- life with HIV.
Do you work for an HIV service organization or health care provider? Free print copies of "HIV & Me" are available to professionals ordering from within the United States! Click
here to download an order form.
Among MSM, Blacks Are Least Likely to Have Risky Sex -- But Most Likely
to Have HIV
In San Francisco, black men who have sex with men (MSM) are less likely than any other MSM racial group to have risky sex, such as unprotected anal sex with a partner of unknown or different
HIV status, according to an official report. However, despite having less risky sex, black MSM are more likely to have HIV than any other MSM racial group, the report says. San Francisco
estimates that 14,205 of the city's 63,577 gay men have HIV -- and that more than 30 percent of MSM with HIV are African American. No one is sure why black MSM continue to be disproportionately
affected by HIV; however, the most popular theories center on their lack of access to, or trust in, the health care system.
U.S. Media Weigh in on HIV in the Black Community
Feb. 7 marked the seventh annual National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day in the United States, and for one day at least, newspapers throughout the country took the time to acknowledge the African-American
HIV crisis. The U.S. media showed varying rates of awareness: For instance, in Florida, the Palm Beach Post decided take "a rare chance to celebrate" the fact that federal
data suggests HIV infection rates among blacks in Florida dropped 8 percent per year between 1999 and 2004 -- despite the fact that blacks are still 8.4 times more likely than whites to be
diagnosed with HIV. By contrast, a Dallas Morning News columnist took a more sober tack, reminding readers that HIV "continues to take a toll on the black community," which
can "no longer afford to be silent." For a closer look at editorials and opinion pieces concerning the impact of HIV on African Americans, read this round-up from the Kaiser Family
• TELL US WHAT YOU THINK!
Take The Body's New Visitor Survey
Don't you sometimes wish you could give us a piece of your mind? We wish you could, too! That's why The Body has launched its new online visitor survey: We're eager to hear what you have
to say about what makes our site great (or not-so-great), and what we can do in the future to make it better. Please click
here to spend just a few minutes anonymously sharing your thoughts. Our site will be better for it!
• HIV OUTSIDE THE UNITED STATES
Three Patients at Italian Hospital Given Organs From HIV-Positive Donor
Standard precautions in wealthy countries have virtually eliminated the spread of HIV through transfusions, organ donations and other medical procedures. In Italy, however, an apparent breakdown
in the system resulted in three people receiving organs from an HIV-positive woman who had died of a brain hemorrhage. The 41-year-old woman's kidneys and liver tested positive for HIV, but
the expert in charge of testing them mistakenly wrote down that they tested negative. Only time will tell if any of the three Italians actually become HIV positive, but for now, they seem
to be keeping everything in perspective. "They asked immediately if the transplanted organ was working, and it was working perfectly," said hospital director Mauro Marabini. "They
reacted quite calmly." (Web highlight from Associated Press)
A Peace Corps to Fight AIDS?
What is the best way for the United States to fight the global HIV pandemic? A new Institute of Medicine report suggests the United States create a “Global Health Service,” a Peace Corps-style
program to send U.S. health care professionals to the countries hardest hit by HIV. An editorial this week in the prestigious Journal of the American Medical Association praises the
idea. The program is a natural fit, writes Dr. Fitzhugh Mullan: The countries most affected by HIV are in dire need of health care professionals, and doctors in the United States are eager
to help. The initiative would also be cheap, relatively speaking: The Institute of Medicine report estimated the cost of starting the program would be about $150 million a year -- roughly
4 percent of the $3.9 billion proposed 2007 budget for the President's Global AIDS initiative, and equal to the cost of 18 hours of the war in Iraq. (Web highlight from the Journal of
the American Medical Association; a paid subscription is required to read the full article)
To read the Institute of Medicine Report, click here.
At The Body's Bulletin Boards
| "One Year in,
and Still at a Loss"
(A recent post from the
"Gay Men With HIV" board)
"I'm a poz guy living in Philadelphia. It's been one year and change since I found out I was positive and ... [I'm still] completely
out of direction as to how to lead my life now that I have this condition, and still not able to be rid of this nasty 'death wish.' ... Don't get me wrong, I love life and the
possibilities it brings, but I always somehow manage to f*** myself over. ... I've never been good at meeting people, but now, with this poz thing, I find it even scarier to meet
men. Either they freak out or they are interested in me for completely strange reasons.
"Anyway, what I want to say is F@#$!!!!! I'm stuck away from home (where everything I knew is pretty much destroyed), in an environment that fosters solitude, a city that unless
I stick to my very straight (and close) friends has nothing to offer me but a life of unsafe sex and drugs, or condemmnation for being poz. I want to live and fight, but I see so
little ahead I don't know if it's worth it. I'm alone, feel discarded, and sad, very sad. I have no strength left in me. ... Someone help me see the way out. ... I dare not pray
to a God that apparently has already condemmed my very existence. Godless, loveless and healthless. ... How can I break through?"
Click here to join this discussion thread, or to start your own!