AND THE WORKPLACE
in Your IRA
Can I cash in some or all of my IRA without penalty? I'm a self-employed
person with AIDS and hepatitis C.
Options When Long-Term Disability, ADAP Aren't Possible
I'm a healthy poz guy who has no plans to go on disability any
time in the near future, though I'm concerned I might have to down
the road. My employer does not cover me for long-term disability,
so if this happens I would be forced to go on SSDI; I would not be
eligible for ADAP because of my financial situation. How do people
pay for expensive drugs if they're on SSDI and don't meet the requirements
for ADAP? Since my state allows my domestic partner to include me
in his coverage, should I take advantage of that instead?
Issues for Entrepreneurs
I am an HIV-positive female in a troubled marriage and trying
to plan my future. I am considering starting a small business -- particularly
because of my age and background, which make finding a job with insurance
difficult -- so I would have something of my own if I got a divorce.
Would health insurance issues make small business ownership unreasonable?
Right now I have good PPO coverage through my husband's company.
if You Have Dementia
I have a growing concern that I suffer from HIV-associated dementia,
based on descriptions I've seen in these forums. What type of healthcare
professional should I seek out to evaluate this?
and the Blood-Brain Barrier
I have had HIV for more than 20 years, since late 1982. I have
heard that the rate of AIDS-related dementia is about 10 percent
for people on today's new treatments, though I assume that's only
if people take drugs that pass the blood-brain barrier, such as
AZT (zidovudine, Retrovir). Can you tell me if I am at risk of developing
dementia with my current regimen: 3TC (lamivudine, Epivir), ddI
(didanosine, Videx) and Kaletra (lopinavir/ritonavir)?
MEDICATIONS AND PREGNANCY
I was on 3TC (lamivudine, Epivir), nevirapine (Viramune) and tenofovir
(Viread) before I knew that I was pregnant. My doctor has changed
my meds now, but I'm very concerned about the meds I was taking during
my first few weeks of pregnancy. Is my baby going to be OK?
Efavirenz Pose a Risk During Early Pregnancy?
For the first 14-20 days of my pregnancy I was taking efavirenz (Sustiva).
I've stopped taking it, but I'm terribly scared that my baby might
still be deformed or have health problems because of the few weeks
I was on it. Could you tell me if my baby might have birth defects?
FATIGUE AND HIV
Exhaustion, "Heavy Head"
Lately, some mornings I can barely lift my head off
of the pillow. My head feels so heavy and hurts so bad, it feels as
if it's going to explode. On weekends, I get up, prepare breakfast
for my kids and then find myself in the bed again until my children
wake me for lunch. I thought perhaps I was depressed, but I'm not
experiencing any kind of mental stress. The doctor drew blood and
found my labs were normal. I've been HIV positive since 1997. I'm
on medications; my viral load is undetectable and my CD4 count is
897. Any guess as to what's going on with me?
Hours of Sleep for HIVers
Does sleeping only six hours instead of nine
or more make any difference for someone living with HIV?
Anemia and AZT Switching
Because I'm on chemotherapy for my Kaposi's sarcoma, I'm severely
anemic, even though I'm being treated with epoetin alfa (Procrit).
I'm currently on my first regimen (Combivir [AZT + 3TC] and efavirenz
[Sustiva]); although I can't be sure the AZT (zidovudine, Retrovir)
is causing my anemia, I know it is known to do so. Do you have any
information about when abacavir (Ziagen) and 3TC (lamivudine, Epivir)
will be available as one pill, so I can discontinue the AZT?
Blood Labs and Shortness of Breath
Many of my blood tests -- hematocrit, hemoglobin, red blood count
-- have been consistently in the lower end of the spectrum. Does that
make me mildly anemic? I have also been experiencing shortness of
breath while exercising. I'm an ex-smoker, so my doctor ordered pulmonary
function tests to see if emphysema may be responsible for the shortness
of breath, but the tests came out normal. What are your thoughts?
Viral Load Remains Detectable
In mid-October I started treatment with Combivir (AZT + 3TC) and
Kaletra (lopinavir/ritonavir). When I started, my CD4/percent/viral
load was 290/19/150,000. About two-and-a-half weeks into treatment
they changed to 400/19/900. My viral load doesn't appear to have changed
much at all since then. Is this bad? How quickly should it become
for Healthy HIVers
Could you suggest a good nutritional supplement for someone
like me? I'm a 36-year-old man who's had HIV for six years, but
is otherwise healthy. My weight is average, I don't smoke and I
do a cardiovascular workout three times a week. I was only on HIV
meds for the first three years after my infection; my CD4 is now
800 and my viral load is 25,000.
Test for HIV Nonprogressors?
I've been told I'm a "long-term nonprogressor," but
are there any tests that can confirm this?
HIV-Negative Tests Despite Unprotected Sex
My husband has been HIV positive since 1999. We got married in
2003 and have been having sex without a condom, but my HIV tests keep
coming out negative. How is that possible?
Bob, How Were You Infected With HIV?
Editor's Note: It is well known that our fatigue/anemia and
safe sex expert, Dr. Bob Frascino, was infected with HIV through a
needlestick accident. Because he's gay, however, some readers of his
forum have doubted this, and have recently expressed their doubts
on a question-and-answer Web site run by Johns Hopkins University.
Dr. Joel Gallant, a prominent HIV physician who was formerly an expert
at The Body and now staffs the Johns Hopkins Q+A site, responds to
Risks of Keeping Your Eyeballs Bare
I work in an office with a gay guy (I know this doesn't mean
he is positive). Two months ago, he had a cold sore on his lip and
it was bleeding. I didn't realize this until he approached my desk
to ask a question. I noticed the blood and tried to avoid eye contact
with him. My fear is that during our conversation a tiny speck of
his blood may have fallen into my eye. How can someone who plays it
so safe be placed in a predicament like this? Would a three-month
test be conclusive? If all goes well, I guess I'll have to start wearing