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March 28, 2007

In This Update:
  • Complications of HIV & HIV Meds
  • Race/Ethnicity & HIV
  • HIV Treatment
  • HIV/STD Transmission
  • HIV in the News

    Lipids, HIV and HIV Meds: New Twists on an Old Story
    Just when we think we are getting a handle on what causes HIV-associated or HIV-treatment-associated love handles and fat-free limbs, well-designed studies come along to burst our ill-informed bubbles. The Body's David Wohl, M.D., analyzes the major studies on metabolic complications that were presented at the 14th Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections.

    HIV Meds During Pregnancy Do Not Increase Birth Defect Risk, Major Study Finds
    A large, 14-year study by U.S. researchers has found that the use of HIV meds by HIV-positive women during pregnancy does not generally increase their baby's risk of having birth defects. The only exception is Sustiva (efavirenz, Stocrin), which is well known to cause birth defects in animals and which for years has not been recommended for use by pregnant women. The study did find a "possible" risk for genital defects in baby boys, but study researchers said much more research is needed before they would know either way. (Web highlight from

    Vitamin Deficiencies and HIV Therapy: Still an Open Question
    Before the widespread use of antiretroviral therapy in the developed world, vitamin deficiencies were common in people with HIV. However, little is known about vitamin deficiencies among people who are currently taking HIV meds. A recent study published in a reputable HIV medical journal looked at long-term HIV survivors who were stable on treatment; it found that they were unlikely to have a deficiency in vitamin A, vitamin E or selenium, but quite likely to have a zinc deficiency. Hopefully, future research will shed more light on the relationship between vitamin levels and HIV treatment.



    Research Explores Racial/Ethnic Differences Among U.S. HIVers
    HIV is colorblind. But, if that's so, why do certain racial and ethnic minorities seem to be hit harder by the U.S. HIV epidemic -- not only in terms of being diagnosed more often, but also in terms of starting treatment later and developing certain health problems and side effects more frequently? The Body's Benjamin Young, M.D., Ph.D., explores these issues through the lens of several studies presented at the 14th Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections.



    Scientists Solve the Grapefruit Mystery
    Ever wonder about the warning not to eat grapefruits or drink grapefruit juice while taking certain HIV medications? Scientists have finally identified the chemicals found in grapefruits, pomelos and Seville oranges that are a cause of potentially dangerous increased HIV drug levels in the bloodstream. (Web highlight from The Washington Post)

    How to Build a Better Virus Trap
    "They want to wipe them out by luring them to their destruction." This quote isn't talking about the plot of "300" or the war on terror: It's how The New York Times describes researchers' attempts to fight viruses, such as HIV, using strategies that have never been used before. One theory is centered on "trapping" the virus inside a person's red blood cells, where it is unable to replicate and would thus be gradually destroyed.

    As HIV Treatment Evolves, Researchers Ask: What's Next?
    Without a doubt, the success of HIV treatment over the past decade has dramatically altered the way in which we look at HIV. But what have we learned, and where do we go from here? A recent symposium convened by the International Association of Physicians in AIDS Care (IAPAC) brought together HIV treatment experts from around the world to answer these very questions.



    Proposed New Jersey Law Could Require HIV Testing for Pregnant Women and Infants
    New Jersey could become one of just a handful of U.S. states to require opt-out HIV testing for pregnant women and newborns, under a new bill New Jersey Senate President Richard Codey plans to introduce. Currently, health care providers in New Jersey must offer HIV tests to all pregnant women, but the controversial new bill would require testing every newborn and testing all pregnant women in their first trimester and again in their third trimester, unless the mother rejects the tests in writing.

    Advocates of routine HIV testing for pregnant women argue that an earlier HIV diagnosis could stem the spread of HIV and give more HIVers access to treatment. However, many activists worry that without safeguards, routine testing could invade privacy and force women to take HIV tests before they're emotionally ready. In this editorial, Home News Tribune argues that the testing policy proposed in New Jersey would save lives without infringing on women’s rights.

    For a rundown of HIV testing laws regarding pregnant women and newborns in your state, check out this page compiled by the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.

    False-Negative Hepatitis B Test Results Possible in HIVers
    Even though a standard hepatitis B test may come up negative, some HIV-positive people may nonetheless be infected with hepatitis B, according to the results of two newly published studies. The studies suggest that standard screening could miss very low blood levels of hep B in HIVers, especially if they had an HIV viral load above 1,000. If doctors find an unexplained rise in liver enzymes in an HIV-positive person, they should consider a hepatitis B DNA test to spot a potentially "hidden" case of hep B, the researchers said. (Web highlight from



    California May Permit Use of HIV-Positive Sperm in Fertility Treatments
    The California Senate Health Committee will soon debate a bill that would allow HIV-positive men to have their sperm washed and used for fertility treatments, which significantly lowers the risk of HIV transmission. Currently, California is one of only two states that does not allow male HIVers to use their sperm for fertility treatment. Eighty percent of surveyed fertility centers in the state have said that, if the bill were passed into law, they would provide services to couples in which the man is HIV positive.

    HIV-Positive Canadian Woman Charged With Sexual Assault
    A Toronto-area, HIV-positive woman has been charged with sexual assault after allegedly having unprotected intercourse with multiple men without disclosing her HIV status. Local police said she had been "quite sexually active" and sought out men in local bars and on an Internet dating site. Police issued a public alert complete with a photograph to help locate the woman’s partners. Three men have already come forward. (Web highlight from Reuters)

    Also Worth Noting

    Visual AIDS
    Art From HIV-Positive Artists

    Image from the March 2007 Visual AIDS Web Gallery
    "Four Proust Studies: Swann Tells the Duchess Guermantes He is Dying," 1977; 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.

    Upcoming Event
    Treat Yourself to a Cruise for HIVers

    HIV Retreat logo
    Are you looking to connect with other HIVers in a place where you can just relax and be yourself? The Tenth Annual Poz Cruise Retreat blends entertainment and information for gay and straight HIVers alike -- featuring educational workshops, private parties and shore excursions in Belize, Honduras, Mexico and the Cayman Islands. The retreat will kick off Oct. 28, 2007. Prices begin at $399 per person; the proceeds go to Médecins Sans Frontières. Click here for more information on the cruise.

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