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September 21, 2004
In This Hot Topics:
  • Mixed-Status Relationships
  • Workplace & Insurance Issues
  • Mental Health
  • HIV Treatment
  • HIV/HAART-Related Health Problems
  • Life With HIV
  • Safe Sex & HIV Transmission
  • Strange but True
  •   MIXED-STATUS RELATIONSHIPS

    Why Am I Negative, When All His Other Partners Are Pos?
    My son's father passed away from AIDS last month; he never even told me he was HIV positive. He had infected many women and never took any of his meds. His previous partners have come forward stating that they are now HIV positive, but I have been testing negative. My question is: Why do all of his other partners have HIV, but I don't?


    Afraid to Commit to a Partner With HIV
    My partner found out he had HIV a month into our relationship. We have now been together eight months and I am still negative. I have no concerns about myself anymore, but I'm afraid that he won't take care of himself and I'll lose him. I really do love him and could see myself staying with him, but I'm afraid to commit to someone I may lose. If he takes care of himself, how much longer can he live and thrive?


    Sex, Risk and a Devastating Brain Disorder
    For the past seven years, I've been in a wonderful relationship with an HIV-negative woman, but in 2000 she was diagnosed with Huntington's disease, a devastating degenerative brain disorder. We love each other very much, but she's grown afraid that she'll contract HIV from me, and our sex life has come to a complete stop. What can I do to make her feel comfortable with us having sex?
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      WORKPLACE & INSURANCE ISSUES

    I'm an American in Japan, With Expiring U.S. Health Insurance
    I'm an HIV-positive U.S. citizen currently living and working in Japan. I had both Japanese health insurance and U.S. medical insurance until yesterday, when I turned 23 and the medical insurance I'd been receiving from my parents' employer expired -- meaning that I would have no insurance if I returned to the United States. In exactly one year, my contract here in Japan will end and I will move back home. I have the option of continuing my old U.S. benefits under my parents' group coverage, but I don't want to pay 12 months of expensive American medical insurance that I can't even use while I'm in Japan. Is there any way I can get temporary coverage or continuation coverage when I move back to the United States, instead of having to pay for two health insurance programs at once?


    Can I Stop My Life Insurance Company's Yearly Review?
    I've been receiving a monthly payment from MetLife for the past three years. Every year I am subjected to a review that my doctor has to fill out and send to them. I think it is unnecessary for me to have to do this every year since I have AIDS and the condition will not improve unless there is a cure for HIV. Even Social Security disability doesn't require a yearly review, and I receive three times the amount of money from them as from MetLife. Is there any way to have the review waived?


    Applying for "No Health Questions" Life Insurance
    I tried to apply for life insurance online, but when I tried to do so with Physcians Life Insurance Company, I was told I needed to talk with a representative. How do I handle that? If I insist on a policy "with no health questions," that would be a big red flag. But to come out and say I'm doing this because I'm HIV positive is the biggest red flag of all.

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     MENTAL HEALTH

    Concerns About Lithium and ECT for Depression
    I have been on HIV meds for four years with very good results, but I have a significant problem with depression. I saw a psychiatrist this week who suggested a change from my current antidepressant (an SSRI) to venlafaxine (Effexor) boosted by lithium. He also suggested electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) as an option if things got worse. I'm worried by the thought of lithium and ECT -- particularly the risk of memory loss from the latter. Should I be concerned?


    What Does Mild Diffused Atrophy Mean?
    I was diagnosed in 1996 with mild diffused atrophy of the frontal lobe. How common is this in people with AIDS? Does it mean that my brain is impaired and that I will never be able to function normally?


    Six Antidepressants, No Luck. What Next?
    I've had no luck with six different antidepressants, from sertraline (Zoloft) to citalopram (Celexa) to venlafaxine (Effexor). I am a type-A personality who's been pos for more than 20 years without any illness, but for the last three years I've had no motivation to do much of anything. It is ruining my life. What direction should I take next?
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     HIV TREATMENT

    If HAART Works Like a Charm, Should It Be Put on Hold?
    A 21-year-old friend of mine was treated for HIV using the "hit hard, hit early" theory. He's doing extremely well: undetectable viral load, CD4 count of 1,000, with no side effects. My question is: Does it make any sense for him to stop treatment, or should he continue as long as the meds are working?


    One Diagnosis, Two Doctors, Three Initial HAART Combos
    I have two doctors, both of whom think I should start treatment -- but they have different opinions on what regimen I should start with. I was infected last November; my CD4 count has slowly dipped to 357 and my viral load is now at 468,000. One doc says I should take either Kaletra (lopinavir/ritonavir) with two NRTIs or efavirenz (Sustiva, Stocrin) with Trizivir (AZT/3TC/abacavir). The other says I should take efavirenz and Truvada (tenofovir/FTC). Who's right?
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     HIV/HAART-RELATED HEALTH PROBLEMS

    Lipodystrophy Risks, Drug by Drug
    Can you compare the degrees to which each HIV drug causes lipodystrophy and wasting?


    Impact of Lymph Node Removal on HIV Progression
    I'm HIV positive and recently had two swollen lymph nodes removed. Is there evidence that having these nodes removed will affect the progression of HIV disease?


    Too Old for Hepatitis C Treatment?
    I'm a 71-year-old female with hepatitis C. I think I was infected in 1959 when I had several blood transfusions, but I wasn't diagnosed until 1992, when hepatitis C testing became available. In 1990, a liver biopsy showed minimal liver damage. In view of my age, do you think I should start hepatitis C treatment?

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     LIFE WITH HIV

    Sex-Change Operations for People With HIV?
    Is it safe for a healthy HIV-positive person to get a sex-change operation (male to female)?
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     SAFE SEX & HIV TRANSMISSION

    How Do They Test the U.S. Blood Supply?
    If it takes up to six months to detect HIV and hepatitis C in your blood, how is the U.S. blood supply kept safe from both viruses? Do they have a particular test that detects the viruses earlier than standard tests do?


    How Safe Is Oral Sex?
    My wife, who is HIV positive (I'm negative), loves oral sex, but we're both worried about whether it's safe for me. I know studies say the risk of transmission through oral sex is virtually zero, but should we be concerned about the "theoretical" risk even if there are no documented cases of clear-cut infection through a man performing oral sex on a woman?


    Gonorrhea and Increased Risk of HIV Infection
    I'm a gay man in my 20s. Though I'm HIV negative and always use a condom for anal sex, I was diagnosed with quinolone-resistant gonorrhea after a recent hookup. My doc says that, if the guy was also HIV positive, I'm five times more likely to get HIV because of the gonorrhea infection. Is there anything I can still do to prevent myself from becoming HIV positive? And what about the future -- what else can I do to avoid infection. Abstinence? Oral sex with a condom? Priesthood?
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      STRANGE BUT TRUE

    How Do I Know I Have HIV? It's a Long Story
    I'm absolutely convinced I'm HIV positive, and I know I got it through a handjob. Let me tell you why ...


    Groin Shaving and HIV Risk
    I'm a guy, and before sex I always shave my nether region. The last girl I had sex with died a few weeks later of a drug overdose -- and one of her friends told me she'd previously slept with a person who had HIV. Do you think she may have had HIV too, and I got it from her because I used a razor on my pubic area before sex?
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    NOMINATE SOMEONE FOR AN
    HIV LEADERSHIP AWARD!

    The Body's HIV Leadership Awards

    Ask Lynne Gabriel About:
    WORKPLACE & INSURANCE ISSUES

    Lynne Gabriel

    Not sure what your rights are regarding HIV disclosure in the workplace? Does figuring out your health insurance options have you tied up in knots? Lynne Gabriel, co-founder of WorkPositive, Inc., and a provider of workplace education for 11 years, is one of three skilled experts available to answer your questions in The Body's "Ask the Experts" Forum on workplace and insurance issues!

    ART FROM HIV-POSITIVE ARTISTS
    Image from the September 2004 Visual AIDS Web Gallery
    Untitled, 1988-89;
    David Wojnarowicz
    Visit the September 2004 Visual AIDS Web Gallery to view this month's new collection of art by HIV-positive artists.