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November 29, 2004
In This Hot Topics:
  • Life With HIV/HAART
  • HIV Medications
  • HIV Treatment Issues
  • HIV & Pregnancy
  • Complications of HIV/HAART
  • HIV Transmission
  • Strange but True

    This Wednesday, Dec. 1, marks World AIDS Day, and this year's important event will focus on the female side of the global pandemic. Women now account for nearly half of all HIV cases worldwide, with even higher rates among Africans and youths -- and those numbers are bound to only grow higher unless we all work harder to empower women everywhere to protect themselves from infection.

    To learn more about the state of the HIV pandemic among women, and to find out more about how you can get involved in World AIDS Day events in your community, visit The Body's home page for World AIDS Day 2004. Help us spread awareness and understanding throughout your town -- and throughout the world!

    - Bonnie Goldman, Editorial Director


    Traveling With Meds: Expert Advice
    I'll be going to Kenya next year with about 15 other HIVers. What steps can we take to prevent running into problems with customs officials?

    Depression and HAART Adherence
    I stopped taking HIV meds due to my depression, but never told my HIV doctor. When he saw my viral load rise rapidly, he switched me to a new regimen, even though a resistance test showed no resistance to my current meds. I'm on treatment for my depression, but it doesn't seem to have any effect. Have I ruined my chances for survival? What can I do to stop myself from letting my depression keep me off of HAART?

    Disclosing to Children
    When should I tell my children I have HIV?


    Why Does Nobody Take Delavirdine?
    I have recently switched to delavirdine (Rescriptor) after having really bad reactions to efavirenz (Sustiva, Stocrin) and nevirapine (Viramune), the two other non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors. I live in Los Angeles, yet my HIV specialist and my pharmacy have told me that I'm the only patient they have who is on delavirdine. Why is nobody else taking this drug?

    How Far Off Are New Entry Inhibitors?
    In a recent interview, two major AIDS researchers seemed optimistic about new HIV fusion and integrase inhibitors that will be available within the next few years. Are these new drugs really that close, and will they be easier to take than T-20 (enfuvirtide, Fuzeon)?



    Transmitting Drug Resistance to a Spouse
    My wife was diagnosed with HIV during pregnancy, and took two-drug therapy until our son was born. Afterward, since her CD4 count was high and her viral load was low, she stopped treatment completely on the advice of her doctor. I was diagnosed with HIV not long afterward. Because my wife stopped treatment, is there a chance she may have developed some drug resistance -- and that I was later infected with the resistant strain, or that our strains may have somehow mixed to become even more dangerous?

    Is a Drug Holiday Safe for Me?
    I'd like to give my body a break from meds. I've had an undetectable viral load for the past two years while on Trizivir (AZT/3TC/abacavir)-only therapy, and my CD4 count is between 700 and 800. I've been HIV positive since 1997, but my CD4 count has never been below 600. Do you think it'd be OK to stop treatment for a year or two?

    Should I Switch Off This Once-a-Day Regimen?
    I'm taking a once-a-day regimen of ddI EC (didanosine, Videx EC), efavirenz (Sustiva, Stocrin) and tenofovir (Viread), but I read a recent report warning against the use of this regimen. My viral load is hovering between 10,000 and 30,000, and my CD4 has recently dropped from 380 to 320. Should I be concerned?


    The Risks of Having an HIV-Positive Baby
    I've been HIV positive for the past 10 years, but my husband is negative. I desperately want to have a baby, but I don't want to start taking HIV medications. How high are the odds our baby would become infected if I avoid treatment during pregnancy?


    Questions on Flu Vaccination, Vanishing Resistance
    I have questions on two different topics: First, my uncle's doctor has recommended that he not get a flu vaccine this year. He said it might lower my uncle's CD4 count, which is now 250. My uncle's viral load is 31,000; he's been on a treatment interruption since March 2003. Is it really wise for him not to get a flu shot? Second, my uncle was resistant to many HIV medications before he began his drug holiday. But his latest resistance test showed he's not resistant to ANY medications. Is this possible?

    What's Causing My High Cholesterol?
    I joined a clinical trial for Epzicom (abacavir/3TC), fosamprenavir (908, Lexiva, Telzir) and ritonavir (Norvir) in June, and have done great -- my CD4 count is way up and my viral load is undetectable. However, my cholesterol has also shot up to 221. I exercise often, eat right and don't smoke or do drugs. What steps can I take to find out what's causing my high cholesterol, and how I can lower it without taking more drugs?


    How Could My Husband Not Have Infected Me?
    My husband of 13 years was diagnosed with HIV this year; his CD4 count at diagnosis was 13, so he must have been positive for a long time before that. We'd always had unprotected sex before his diagnosis, sometimes even when I was menstruating. How could I not have been infected? Does this mean it's safe for us to still have unprotected sex?

    Persistent Symptoms Despite Negative HIV, STD Tests
    I had unprotected, receptive oral sex, and caught a sexually transmitted disease (STD) in my throat. It was treated, but months later I'm still feeling a lot of symptoms. My HIV and STD tests have repeatedly come out negative, but I just found out I'm pregnant, and I'm petrified that I might have a disease that normal tests can't find. What should I do?

    Semen in Hair (and You Thought It Only Happened in the Movies)
    If you accidentally get a few drops of fresh ejaculate on your hands because you discover it in your hair after a sexual encounter (don't even ask!), or if later that evening you try to brush your hair and your fingers get stuck in dried semen, is this a risk for HIV infection?



    The Body's HIV Leadership Awards logo

    Inspired by an HIV healthcare professional or a person living with HIV? Nominate them now for one of The Body's HIV Leadership Awards! The deadline for nominations is November 30!

    Pregunte a Dr. Bagur Acerca:

    Dr. Jorge L. Santana Bagur

    Need to talk to a Spanish-
    speaking HIV doctor about HIV treatment?
    Post your question for Dr. Jorge L. Santana Bagur, one of two talented physicians answering questions in our "Tratamientos del VIH/SIDA" Ask the Experts forum.

    Image from the November 2004 Visual AIDS Web Gallery
    Portraits: Untitled, 1998;
    Tara Popick
    Visit the November 2004 Visual AIDS Web Gallery to view this month's new collection of art by HIV-positive artists.