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April 4, 2007

In This Update:
  • Living With HIV
  • Complications of HIV & HIV Meds
  • Making a Difference
  • HIV/STD Transmission
  • HIV in the News
  • HIV Outside the U.S.

    When Opposites Attract: Stories From Mixed-Status Couples
    Alex and Robin didn't let their different HIV statuses -- he's positive, she's negative -- stop them from pursuing a safe and loving sexual relationship, and they are not alone. How's that possible? It's all about being educated and learning to practice safer sex. While it hasn't always been easy for them, Robin has maintained her negative status. However, as detailed in this article, other mixed-status couples -- gay and straight alike -- aren't always as fortunate, which is why education and caution are so important.

    Coping With HIV: How to Beat Fear, Guilt, Anger and Depression
    Dealing with an HIV diagnosis can be overwhelming, but as millions of people living with HIV can testify, there are steps you can take to make living with HIV feel less daunting. In this chapter from Johns Hopkins University's seminal Guide to Living with HIV Infection, two top HIV health care workers provide tips on coping with many of the emotions involved in living with HIV.

    Burning Away the Sorrow: How an HIVer Found Himself Again
    Imagine all the obstacles in your life that keep you from achieving your dreams. Write them down on a piece of paper. Then burn that paper to ashes, freeing yourself of those burdens. It's called a "Burning Bowl" ceremony -- and HIV advocate Jim Pickett experienced it firsthand a few months ago. "The healing I experienced through this meditative exercise set my course for the year and, I pray, for the rest of my life," he writes.



    No Such Thing as a Free Lunch: Side Effects of HIV Meds
    Today's HIV medications allow HIVers to live longer lives than ever before. Unfortunately, sometimes there's a catch: medication side effects, such as body-fat changes or allergic reactions. Most side effects occur after your first dose and last for a few weeks, while others may emerge slowly over time. This report from Test Positive Aware Network reveals the possible side effects of each HIV medication class and offers advice on how to curb them.

    Omega-3 Fatty Acids Can Cut Triglycerides in HIVers, Study Finds
    A growing number of studies appear to show that fish oil, which is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, can safely help lower high triglyceride levels in people on HIV treatment. A recent French study found that HIVers on meds who began taking two 1,000-mg capsules of fish oil three times a day reduced their unusually high triglyceride levels by an average of nearly 26 percent. (Web highlight from Reuters Health)

    To read the abstract of this study, which was published in the March 1 issue of the medical journal JAIDS, click here.



    ACT UP Celebrates 20th Anniversary by Taking to the Streets
    A lot of the services that HIVers in the United States take for granted these days were fought for and won by organizations like AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT UP) in the late 1980s and early 1990s. On March 29, ACT UP celebrated its 20th anniversary with a march through Manhattan’s Financial District. "It's great to commemorate the 20 years that ACT UP has been around and the goals that we've accomplished, like getting access to health care," said Eric Sawyer, cofounder of ACT UP, wiping tears from his eyes. "But the hardest part is remembering all of the members of ACT UP over the years who didn't make it."



    The Downside of Routine HIV Testing
    "Opt-out" universal HIV testing may seem like a great idea, but there are many challenges to making it work, writes Matt Sharp of Test Positive Aware Network. In this insightful article, Sharp asks: If the United States implements routine testing, how will our country's strained health care system manage all the extra HIV testing, counseling and treatment?

    Hepatitis C Rates Rise Among MSM
    Hepatitis C rates are on the rise among HIV-positive and HIV-negative men who have sex with men (MSM), according to new research. Since hep C can potentially be transmitted sexually (not just through injection-drug use), the researchers recommend that hep C testing become a routine part of sexually transmitted disease screening for MSM, particularly those who they already have HIV. Most people who are newly infected with hep C have no symptoms, which makes routine testing key to getting a head start on treatment. (Web highlight from

    To read the abstract of this study, which was presented at the 14th Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections, click here.



    Ziagen Pills Found in Fake Combivir Packaging
    Counterfeit Combivir (AZT/3TC) bottles containing only Ziagen (abacavir) pills have been found in one California pharmacy, GlaxoSmithKline announced late last month. Although only two mislabeled bottles have been discovered, GlaxoSmithKline urges all people who take Combivir to check their medications. Verifying that your pills are really Combivir is simple: Combivir tablets are white and labeled "GX FC3." Ziagen tablets are yellow and labeled "GX 623."

    Researchers May Be Able to Use Mice for HIV Prevention Research
    It may soon be possible for scientists to regularly use mice instead of monkeys for HIV research. Researchers in Texas recently announced two milestones: They had created mice with human immune systems and then infected them with HIV rectally, the way many humans are. Experimenting with mice instead of monkeys could make research on HIV prevention like vaccines and microbicides quicker and cheaper, scientists note.

    All U.S. States to Report Names of Newly Diagnosed HIVers
    Some AIDS advocates have long resisted U.S. government efforts to report the names of people who test HIV positive, arguing that doing so threatens the privacy of HIVers and may discourage people from getting tested. But so-called "names-based reporting" has won the day: The last three states to use code-based reporting -- Hawaii, Maryland and Vermont -- will switch to names-based reporting by the end of the year.

    Although all U.S. states will soon officially use names-based reporting, most states still allow anonymous testing, and all states promise that your results will remain confidential. Click here to browse's listing of which states allow anonymous HIV testing.



    HIV/AIDS Rates Up 300 Percent in Arab States, Official Says
    HIV is a global pandemic and "the Arab world is not an exception," proclaimed Sayed Aqa, a United Nations official, at a meeting on religion and the HIV pandemic held last week by the United Nations Development Programme. Aqa pointed out that HIV/AIDS cases in Arab countries have increased 300 percent in the last three years. The meeting's coordinator blamed the staggering increase on "ignorance, lack of awareness, denial and misinterpretation of facts."

    Also Worth Noting

    Get Involved

    AIDSWatch: April 23-25, 2007
    Want to give the U.S. government a piece of your mind about issues like HIV prevention, treatment and research? Join hundreds of activists for AIDSWatch, and help lobby federal politicians for increased spending on HIV. AIDSWatch even provides the training and materials. You can volunteer from home, visit your state congressional offices or travel to Washington, D.C., from April 23-25 to make a difference. AIDSWatch also needs activists to do organizing and fundraising work ahead of the April event. Click here to learn more.

    Visual AIDS
    Art From HIV-Positive Artists

    Image from the April 2007 Visual AIDS Web Gallery
    "Attic Clouds Performance," 1973;
    Stephen Varble
    Visit the newly launched April 2007 Visual AIDS Web Gallery to view our latest collection of art by HIV-positive artists! This month's gallery is entitled "On the Stage"; it's curated by Tomoko Ashikawa, the curator/director at AG Gallery in Brooklyn and the Artists File Coordinator at Artists Space in New York.

    Connect With Others
    t The Body's Bulletin Boards

    Atripla Side Effects?
    (A recent post from the
    "HIV Treatment" board)

    "This is my second day on Atripla, and I've noticed some ... bloating, mostly in my legs. They're not so muscular and veiny, but full. ... Any other side affects other than those found on the Internet?"

    -- xltnbear2go

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