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September 7, 2004
In This Hot Topics:
  • Questions About HIV Treatment
  • Workplace & Insurance Issues
  • Mental Health
  • HIV/HAART-Related Health Problems
  • Nutrition & Exercise
  • HIV Transmission
  • Strange but True
  •   QUESTIONS ABOUT HIV TREATMENT

    Why Would Somebody Not Want to Start Treatment?
    My doc gave me a choice seven years ago, when my viral load was 100,000 and my CD4 count was 600. He said I could start treatment, which could mean dealing with long-term side effects and having fewer long-term treatment options if my meds fail, or I could hold off treatment and risk not keeping my immune system healthy as long. I chose treatment, and am happy to say it's worked out amazingly well. Now a friend of mine has been newly diagnosed, and wants to know if he should start treatment too. My question is, would you say there's any reason why he wouldn't want to start treatment?



    Slight Adjustment to Dosing Schedule
    I just started a once-a-day HAART regimen -- atazanavir (Reyataz), emtricitabine (Emtriva) and tenofovir (Viread) -- that I take at 6:15 a.m. I'd like to move that to 7:15 a.m., one hour later. How can I do this?

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      WORKPLACE & INSURANCE ISSUES

    Health Insurance Options for Freelance Workers
    I'm thinking of leaving my full-time job to become a freelance artist. If I join COBRA when I leave my current job, and then try to buy individual health insurance for myself, will I run into any problems because I'm HIV positive? Will I have to disclose my status or pay higher premiums?


    What Happens to My Health Insurance/Disability Coverage if I Restart Work?
    I've had AIDS for seven years, but my health is stable and I have a great attitude. I'm considering re-entering the work field, but I have a lot of questions about health insurance that I feel I need to have answers to before I do so. Right now, I'm on social security disability insurance, receive my meds through ADAP and get health coverage through Medicare, so I know I'm not as bad off as others. What happens to all of my coverage if I begin a new career, and will my new health insurance policy cover these expenses?


    Legal Options When a Former Coworker Discloses Your Partner's Status
    I work for an AIDS service organization (ASO) in a small town, and have been dating an HIV-positive man for the past eight years. He's used some of the ASO's services in the past, though he and I never worked together directly. A disgruntled ex-employee at the organization recently disclosed to the governing board that I've been in this relationship. Though the board has continued to support me, I feel that my private life has been invaded. Do I have any legal recourse?

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     MENTAL HEALTH

    Interactions Between HAART and Zoloft?
    I'm a newly diagnosed, 44-year-old man who just started HAART with Combivir (AZT/3TC) and efavirenz (Sustiva, Stocrin). Should I be concerned about interactions between this combo and Zoloft, which I've been taking for more than 10 years in 100-mg doses?


    Electro-Convulsive Therapy When Antidepressants Fail?
    None of the antidepressants that my doc prescribed for me have worked; I've been depressed and fatigued since my HIV diagnosis four years ago. I've been reading about electro-convulsive therapy and, though the idea scares me, I'm interested in finding out more about it. What do you think?


    Countering Zoloft-Related Insomnia
    I am taking Zoloft for premenstrual dysphoric disorder. I already had trouble sleeping, but now with the Zoloft it's even harder. Can I safely take anything that will help me sleep?
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     HIV/HAART-RELATED HEALTH PROBLEMS

    Will Lipodystrophy and Neuropathy Ever Go Away?
    I developed severe lipodystrophy from two years of taking d4T (stavudine, Zerit), ddI (didanosine, Videx) and efavirenz (Sustiva, Stocrin), so I switched to Combivir (AZT/3TC) and efavirenz. Although it's been two years since the switch, my lipodystrophy has barely improved, and I have this horrible, burning pain in my calves and feet. Will these symptoms ever go away?


    Treating Fatigue From Kaposi's Sarcoma Treatment
    I recently started my second round of Doxil to treat Kaposi's sarcoma. The first time I had the chemotherapy, it actually gave me terrible insomnia. This time, I'm exhausted -- I sleep, on average, 12 or more hours a day. I haven't made any changes to my lifestyle or diet, and I'm taking the same meds now that I did the first time around. Do you have any ideas on why this is happening, and any suggestions on how to combat it?


    Feeling Great, but Lacking Energy
    I was diagnosed with HIV two years ago, and haven't started treatment. My last CD4 was 590 and my viral load was 112,000. Generally, I feel great, but I have extreme fatigue: Although my job is not physically demanding, my energy is completely depleted by the end of the day. Is there anything I can do to increase my energy levels? Working out seems to help, but it's hard to get myself motivated to do that.

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     NUTRITION & EXERCISE

    Tips for Weight Gain
    I'm desperately trying to put on weight! I've tried protein shakes, supplements, frequent cardio workouts and daily weightlifting with no success. Most nutritional options either have too much sugar (I'm a diabetic) or too much cholesterol.


    Why Aren't There More Once-a-Day Supplements?
    I'm trying to add a few supplements to my daily pill load, but I was wondering about the suggested doses. It seems all the supplements suggest taking one to three capsules two to three times a day. On my limited budget, this seems excessive. Is it a marketing ploy? Couldn't I benefit from just one supplement per day?
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     SAFE SEX & HIV TRANSMISSION

    Why Do Two HIVers With the Same Strain Have to Have Safe Sex?
    I was infected with HIV by my boyfriend; he's on treatment, but my CD4 count is high enough that I don't need it yet. Is it OK for us to have unprotected sex together?


    Does Bipolar Disorder Increase HIV Risk?
    Do undiagnosed cases of bipolar disorder tend to raise a person's chances of becoming HIV positive?
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      STRANGE BUT TRUE

    Gingivitis and HIV
    If I drink from the same glass as an HIV-positive person with gum disease, can I get HIV too?


    Post-Masturbation Zit Popping
    A few minutes after masturbating herself, my girlfriend began popping some zits on my back. Could HIV be transmitted from her fingers to me as a result of her popping the pimples?
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    Ask Dr. Sherer About:
    HIV DRUG RESISTANCE

    Dr. Renslow Sherer

    Drug resistance can be a difficult topic to wrap your brain around, but Dr. Renslow Sherer can help. Dr. Sherer, who has been a primary care physician for HIV-positive people since 1985, is the doctor on call at our "Ask the Experts" forum on questions related to HIV drug resistance and keeping your viral load undetectable.

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