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March 7, 2007

In This Update:
  • Podcasts & Summaries From CROI 2007
  • This Month in HIV
  • Featured at The Body PRO
  • HIV Treatment
  • HIV-Related Complications
  • HIV Transmission
  • HIV Awareness & Education
  • HIV Outside the U.S.

    The Body's coverage of the 14th Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI 2007) is coming in fast and furious! We've included conference highlights in this mailing, but there are tons more to check out in our CROI 2007 coverage area, including these newly launched podcasts:

    • A gaggle of HIV experts offer their take on the most important highlights from CROI, from drugs in development to metabolic complications to new findings on the safety of breastfeeding for HIV-positive moms.

    • HIV researcher Roy Gulick discusses the latest results on maraviroc, a CCR5 inhibitor in development with good activity against drug-resistant HIV. Dr. Gulick also comments on a link researchers found last year between CCR5 inhibitor use and the severity of illnesses like West Nile Virus.

    • Researchers Patrick Sullivan and Lynn Paxton talk about whether male circumcision in the United States can catch on as an HIV prevention method, and reveal new findings that HIV-negative men who have sex with men in the United States are not routinely popping HIV meds in hopes of avoiding infection as a result of unprotected sex or needle sharing.

    For a complete listing of The Body's CROI 2007 coverage, browse our index of articles, or check out the full list of downloadable podcast interviews and press conferences.



    Stopping HIV in the Black Community: A Talk With Phill Wilson
    Long-term HIV survivor Phill Wilson has a lot to say about living with HIV, as well as the dramatic rates of HIV infection in the African-American community. The founder and director of the Black AIDS Institute has been deeply involved in the battle against HIV for the better part of three decades. We sat down to talk with Phill for our February "This Month in HIV" podcast. Click here to listen now! You can also download the podcast for later listening or read the full transcript.



    Now on The Body PRO: CME/CE on the Top HIV Medical Stories of '06
    It's the single-most popular article on The Body PRO, The Body's sister site for health care professionals: our year-end wrap-up of the most important developments in HIV medicine. The witty and wise David Wohl, M.D., authors the newly launched 2006 year-end edition of this information-packed article. U.S. physicians, pharmacists and nurses can earn free credit for reading this article and completing a brief post-test at The Body PRO!

    The year-end wrap-up on The Body PRO is a clinical version of a "This Month in HIV" podcast we highlighted on The Body in January, in which Dr. Wohl talked us through the top 10 HIV medical stories of the year. Click here to listen to that interview online, download it for later or read a full transcript!



    Integrase Inhibitor Shines Again in People With Multidrug Resistance
    One of the most promising HIV meds in development has a new name -- and new, highly promising study results to boot. Raltegravir is the newly minted generic name (and Isentress is the proposed brand name) for MK-0518; later this year, MK-0518 may become the first HIV integrase inhibitor to receive U.S. approval. In a study presented at CROI 2007, an impressive 77 percent of treatment-experienced HIVers who took MK-0518 as part of a salvage regimen achieved a viral load of less than 400 by week 16 -- and had few side effects. The Body's Edwin DeJesus, M.D., reports.

    Want to hear about MK-0518 straight from the mouths of the researchers studying it? Click here to download an MP3 of a press conference with researchers David Cooper and Roy Steigbigel. The Body also spoke with Dr. Steigbigel about the likelihood that MK-0518 will be covered by drug plans in the United States; click here to download an MP3 of that interview.

    New NNRTI Advances Through Dose-Finding Study
    TMC278 could eventually become the second new NNRTI approved in nearly a decade (after etravirine, which is further along in development). At the moment, though, it's in phase 2 development (drugs need to pass through three phases before they receive U.S. approval). Nonetheless, the latest results from CROI 2007 show that several different test doses of TMC278 had similar anti-HIV activity to another NNRTI, Sustiva (efavirenz, Stocrin), through 48 weeks of treatment. The Body's Graeme Moyle, M.D., reports.

    10% of Newly Infected HIVers Have Drug Resistance, Study Finds
    The latest U.S. HIV treatment guidelines urge all newly diagnosed HIVers to get a resistance test, even if they're not even considering treatment yet. Why such urgency? New research drives the point home: An 11-state study found that more than 10 percent of recently infected people had a strain of HIV that was resistant to at least one HIV medication. Knowing what HIV meds a newly diagnosed person is resistant to is key toward ensuring that the meds they choose for their first regimen work well.

    Non-Opportunistic Infections More Common Than OIs Among HIVers
    Infections and diseases not typically associated with HIV now make up a majority of health problems among HIV-positive people on treatment, according to a major study presented at CROI 2007. These non-opportunistic infections also don't go away as quickly when a person starts HIV treatment, the study found. As The Body's Pablo Tebas, M.D., explains, these findings drive home two important points: One, it's important to be on an HIV treatment regimen that's always working to keep a person's viral load down and raise their CD4 count. Two, doctors and HIVers alike shouldn't assume that starting HIV treatment will eliminate health problems; illnesses among HIV-positive people may require more specific attention.



    Smoking Cigarettes May Increase Risk for Anal Cancer for Men With HPV
    The idea of an anal Pap smear may not seem pleasant, but if you're a man who's having receptive, unprotected anal sex, it may be extremely important. Here's why: Unprotected, receptive anal sex puts men at risk for anal human papillomavirus (HPV), a common sexually transmitted disease that is associated with an increased risk for anal cancer. Now a new study has added a twist: Smoking cigarettes appears to increase HPV viral load in men with anal HPV, which may speed the development of lesions that can eventually become cancerous. Although this study only involved men, the same risks may apply to women as well. (Web highlight from



    Recently Infected HIVers Account for Half of All HIV Transmissions, Study Says
    New evidence points to just how pivotal it is that people get routinely tested for HIV: Canadian researchers have found that one out of every two HIV transmissions occur when the person transmitting HIV has been recently infected -- and thus might not even know he or she has HIV. "We've always known that people who don't know their HIV status are accounting for a significant percentage of transmissions," said Canadian health official Rita Shahin. "This [study] further narrows it down to that group who are in the first six months of infection."

    HIV Testing in Gay Bath Houses Reaches Underserved Men, Study Says
    Many people who are at risk for HIV don't seek out HIV testing and prevention services. So one group of researchers from New York University decided to make it easier for some of those underserved people to get the services they need: To do so, they started offering HIV tests at two gay bath houses in New York City. The researchers found that HIV testing was not only possible there, but provided a unique opportunity to do prevention work with men who don’t access traditional HIV prevention and testing services. The bath house patrons were told that HIV testing was available at the venue once a week, but whether to get tested was left entirely up to them -- the bath house staff did not approach patrons to promote testing. Nonetheless, a total of 350 HIV tests were performed on 292 men. Fifteen men tested positive for HIV during the study; none became overly distressed by the results of their rapid oral test and all returned for their confirmatory blood test results. The researchers concluded that the program was successful, and they plan to offer HIV testing at both venues three times a week. (Web highlight from



    U.S. Marks National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day
    It's incredible to think that, although more than a quarter of all newly diagnosed HIVers in the United States are women, the U.S. government didn't officially recognize the need for better awareness of this fact until last year. The second U.S. National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day will take place on Saturday, March 10. While a national day of awareness can't be expected to reverse the tide, it's still an important step toward fighting ignorance and stigma, and may help bring attention to the need for more research and funding into HIV prevention, treatment and care for women and girls in the United States.

    Of course, as welcome as this awareness day is, if you're a woman who's already living with HIV, a national commemoration can only do so much to help you in your daily life. That's where sites like ours can help: Stop in at The Body's new HIV/AIDS Resource Center for Women to find resources, read first-person stories and expert guidance, and learn about the latest news and research on women and HIV!

    African-American Churches Fight HIV With Solidarity, Prayer
    For 18 years, Balm in Gilead has pushed black churches to commemorate the HIV epidemic during the Black Church Week of Prayer for the Healing of AIDS. This year, its leaders say, there are finally signs that church leaders are beginning to recognize the magnitude of the HIV crisis in black America. Nationwide, an unprecedented number of churches are participating in this week’s events, which are taking place from March 4 through March 10. In south Florida, more than 20 churches are promoting HIV testing, prevention and counseling in black communities. In Fort Worth, Texas, Rev. Valda Combs invited black congregations to take part in the commemoration. Though some churches were reluctant, 10 ultimately agreed to participate. "That’s what God does," Combs said. "He gives you more than you ask for."



    Discrimination Against MSM Fueling HIV Epidemic in Africa, Report Says
    Governments throughout the world are being urged to break their silence about anti-gay discrimination in Africa, in an effort to help curb the spread of HIV across the continent. A new report released by the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) says that, despite making up a large part of the African HIV epidemic, men who have sex with men (MSM) are overlooked and unprepared for HIV prevention. Even in Kenya, Nigeria and Senegal -- where the governments have moved to fight their HIV epidemics -- laws targeting MSM and lesbians still exist, according to IGLHRC. "If anything is increasing the vulnerability of gay men in Africa with HIV," a representative of the IGLHRC said, "it is sodomy laws that prevent people from speaking honestly about who they are and that push people further away from HIV prevention services."

    Lack of Circumcision and Monogamy Are Fueling the African AIDS Epidemic, Research Suggests
    Europeans and Americans often have more sexual partners over their lifetimes than southern Africans, so why are HIV rates so much higher in sub-Saharan Africa? One explanation, researchers believe, is that people in southern Africa are less likely to be circumcised and more likely to be juggling several sexual relationships at the same time. "That's the lethal cocktail," says Daniel Halperin, a Harvard University epidemiologist. "There's no place in the world where you have very high HIV [rates] and you don't have those two factors." Recent studies showing that circumcision can prevent the transmission of HIV have received immense publicity, but the importance of faithfulness is being overlooked, a Washington Post article suggests. A survey in Botswana found that only one in five knew that remaining faithful to a solitary, HIV-negative partner would prevent the spread of HIV.

    Also Worth Noting

    Did You Know?
    Results Released From Fatigue/Anemia Survey

    Last year on The Body, we promoted a survey brought to you by Ortho Biotech that asked a series of questions about your knowledge of HIV-related fatigue and anemia. Those of you who took part in this survey might be interested in hearing the results -- which, according to an Ortho Biotech press release, indicate that large numbers of HIVers feel tired or weak, and that most think that feeling tired is just a "fact of life" for people with HIV. To read more, check out this press release.

    Visual AIDS
    Art From HIV-Positive Artists

    Image from the March 2007 Visual AIDS Web Gallery
    "Proust Watercolors: Swann Tells the Duchess Guermantes He is Dying," 1989-1990; Marc Lida
    Visit the March 2007 Visual AIDS Web Gallery to view our latest collection of art by HIV-positive artists! This month's gallery is entitled "Camp Tales: The Art of Arnold Fern and Marc Lida"; it's curated by Jonathan Weinberg, Ph.D., a painter, author and art historian.

    Connect With Others
    t The Body's Bulletin Boards

    Falling for Someone With HIV
    (A recent post from the
    "Gay Men With HIV" board)

    "I am 30 years old and HIV negative. ... Remaining negative is a really high priority for me. About one month ago I met this really wonderful guy. He's 42 (but looks really good!) and I love everything about him. Two days ago we were making out and I thought we were, finally, going to have sex. Suddenly, before we started taking our clothes off, he disclosed that he was HIV positive. Needless to say, I lost that loving feeling right then and there. ... He was really good about being open and honest with me. But ... I don't know how to be in a relationship with an HIV-positive person. One, I'm scared of infection. I don't want to deal with the burden of the virus. I know that it isn't a death sentence, but I still don't want to be another statistic. Two, I can see myself spending my life with this person. ... [But] what if he develops full-blown AIDS and dies? ... I really like this guy. I just don't know how to get over my fear of the virus."

    -- Pan

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

    HIV and Supplemental Security Income [SSI]
    (A recent post from the
    "Living With HIV" board)

    "I found out I was HIV positive on Nov. 8, 2006. ... [Before I started HIV meds] I was working 46 hours, 5 days a week, and now I’m down to 16 hours, 4 days a week. ... How can someone with HIV apply for SSI and be approved? There is no way I can make it any longer at work. ... I can’t even stand up for 15 minutes without being dizzy. Also, I’m very tired. ... I know that [getting symptoms after starting HIV medications] is common, but would [I have a chance to] be approved [for SSI]? Is there anyone here on disability?"

    -- Mssimone

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