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The Body Covers: CROI 2005, Feb. 22-25, 2005
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May 9, 2005
In This Hot Topics:
  • HIV, Insurance & Privacy
  • HIV Treatment
  • Mental Health & HIV
  • Women & Pregnancy
  • Liver Problems & Hepatitis
  • Fatigue & Blood Abnormalities
  • Other HIV/HAART-Related Health Problems
  • HIV Prevention & Transmission
  • Strange but True

    Privacy Concerns at U.S. Medical Schools
    I plan to go to medical school in a couple of years. Will I have to disclose that I'm HIV positive when I apply? What happens if I'm in medical school and experience severe side effects from HIV or my medications?

    Transferring Health Insurance When Disability Ends
    I'm on Social Security Disability Insurance, but am thinking of returning to work. If I do, can (and should) I continue to receive insurance through my Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) plan, or would I have to apply for medical benefits through my new employer?

    Finding Life Insurance
    Are there any companies that provide life insurance to people with HIV?

    A "Miracle Drug" to Boost the Immune System?
    I received an e-mail claiming to offer a "new drug" called "The Antidote." The e-mail says it's a nearly miraculous drug made of peptides, and the magic is that it can improve the immune system, even for people with HIV. Do you know anything about this "new drug"?

    Four-Drug, First-Line Treatment Regimen
    What do you think about taking Combivir (AZT/3TC) + efavirenz (Sustiva, Stocrin) + tenofovir (Viread) as first-line HIV treatment? Is this regimen associated with lipodystrophy?


    Special Concerns for Bipolar HIVers
    I'm bipolar with psychosis and was just told that I have HIV. I've had no insurance for over a year and can't seem to get help from anyone. I keep hearing that stress makes the immune system worse; do I need to be even more worried because I'm bipolar?

    Which OCD Meds Are Safe to Take With HAART?
    Which obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) meds are the least likely to interact with my HIV meds? I'm taking 3TC (lamivudine, Epivir) + nevirapine (Viramune) + tenofovir (Viread), but the Celexa (generic name: citalopram) I was prescribed for my OCD six months ago isn't working. My psychiatrist says Celexa is the safest, though. Are there more successful OCD meds I could take?



    When Should a Woman Considering Pregnancy Begin HIV Treatment?
    I'm an HIV-positive woman. My husband (who's negative) and I are thinking of having a baby. I've had HIV since 2000; after responding extremely well to Combivir (AZT/3TC) + efavirenz (Sustiva, Stocrin), I've been on a treatment interruption for the past two years. My CD4 count is now holding steady in the 500s, and my viral load is about 30,000. My HIV doctor is recommending I not start treatment until my 11th week of pregnancy, but nobody else I speak to seems to agree. When's the best time to start treatment for an otherwise-healthy HIV-positive woman who's thinking of becoming pregnant?

    Efavirenz and Pregnancy Don't Mix
    Does my HAART regimen of Combivir (AZT/3TC) + efavirenz (Sustiva, Stocrin) have any risks if I'm planning to become pregnant?

    Amniocentesis Risks
    Is it safe for an HIV-positive expectant mother to have an amniocentesis? I was recently diagnosed with HIV and am in my first trimester; I have no idea yet what my CD4 count or viral load are.



    Better Options Than Interferon?
    I'm weighing whether to start taking interferon. I have had hepatitis C for over 30 years, show no symptoms and have been monitoring my liver enzyme activity for the past 12 years. Just recently, it showed elevated activity. I had a liver biopsy two years ago, at which time I was at level 2 of the disease. I am having another biopsy in two weeks to see if there is any liver damage. I'm worried about the side effects of interferon treatment; are there any newer options that are as effective, but without as many side effects?

    Why Is My Bilirubin Level So High?
    During routine blood work before a scheduled hernia operation, my surgeon found a very high bilirubin level. He's now suggesting I see a liver specialist. What's causing this? I've been HIV positive for eight years, but have an undetectable viral load and a CD4 count of 349. I'm taking 3TC (lamivudine, Epivir) + atazanavir (Reyataz) + ddI (didanosine, Videx) + ritonavir (Norvir) + tenofovir (Viread), along with a steroid gel.



    Communicating With Your Doctor About Fatigue
    I've had HIV for several years and have been on effective HAART for 16 months, but lately I've been feeling run down, tired and generally "blah." My lab tests have consistently shown a low red blood cell count and a high mean cell volume. My HIV doctor, who I have a great, two-way relationship with, doesn't think anything of these lab values, and I'm afraid to question him or request additional tests because I think it might offend him. What should I do?

    If Fatigue Sets in, Should HIV Treatment Start?
    Is fatigue a sign that I need to start HIV treatment? I was diagnosed with HIV a year ago, and have had a CD4 count consistently around 335 and a viral load below 7,000. I take vitamins, eat well, receive monthly testosterone injections and get seven to eight hours of sleep a night. But I still feel tired all the time. What's your recommendation?

    How Can I Raise My White Blood Cell Count?
    Ever since I became HIV positive two years ago, my white blood cell count has been below normal. My CD4 count is in the high 300s, I'm taking HAART and vitamins, I don't smoke or drink, I exercise regularly and eat well. What on earth can I do to raise my white blood cell count?



    Eye Problems With Viagra
    I was recently prescribed Viagra (generic name: sildenafil), but every time I take it, I feel pressure in my eyes and they turn blood red. Is this a normal reaction to Viagra for people with HIV? I'm taking Kaletra (lopinavir/ritonavir) + tenofovir (Viread) + Trizivir (AZT/3TC/abacavir).

    Diet Tips for Lowering Triglycerides
    What foods must I avoid if I want to lower my triglycerides?

    Could Molasses Treat Wasting?
    I've read that uridine can potentially reduce or reverse lipoatrophy (wasting), although this hasn't been proven yet. If it is proven, though, do you think the consumption of molasses -- a high source of uridine -- could help people with lipoatrophy?

    Getting to the Bottom of Severe Diarrhea
    Six months ago, I started showing signs of extreme fat loss and developed severe, uncontrollable diarrhea. Lab tests, a colonoscopy and an endoscopy showed no bacteria or parasites. We've tried switching my HIV meds with no luck; I started taking Ultrase MT20 (generic name: pancrelipase), but it hasn't helped. I can't really go out in public, and forget about trying to date and have a normal life! Do you have any suggestions?



    What to Do After a Needlestick Injury
    I'm a healthcare worker, and I just pricked myself while drawing blood from a person with full-blown AIDS. I washed my finger, squeezed out whatever blood could come out and applied hydrogen peroxide to the wound. What needs to be done next? Should I start post-exposure prophylaxis therapy right away, or wait for the results of an HIV antigen test?

    Is Receptive Oral Sex Safe if Viral Load Is Undetectable?
    If HIV treatment has made my viral load undetectable, does that mean it's safe for me to receive unprotected oral sex from my partner -- provided I make sure to pull out before I ejaculate?


    Can HAART Help HIV-Negative People?
    I'm HIV negative, but my immune system is very weak and I get ill easily. Could HIV medications make my immune system stronger?

    From an "Arabian Camel Lost in the Desert"
    I'm a straight Saudi Arabian man, and I'm extremely careful when it comes to sex: I use a double condom during intercourse, and won't even finger a lady without wearing a latex medical glove. However, I recently had an encounter with a naked Russian prostitute, in which I grinded against her while wearing silk boxer shorts. Could I have contracted HIV if her vaginal fluids soaked through my shorts?
    Meet the Winners of's 2005 HIV Leadership Awards!
    Carlos Perez, winner of a 2005 HIV Leadership Award
    Meet Carlos Perez, one of 10 inspiring HIV-positive people who have won a 2005 HIV Leadership Award from After waking up in a hospital bed in 1994, Carlos decided to end the hardcore clubbing, anonymous sex and heavy drug use that had been his life even before his HIV diagnosis a decade earlier. Carlos transformed himself into a fervent advocate for people with HIV to live safe, healthy, fulfilling lives.

    Want to meet all 73 winners of's 2005 HIV Leadership Awards? Click here!
    Art From HIV-Positive Artists
    Image from the May 2005 Visual AIDS Web Gallery
    "Blue Bathroom Blues," 1999;
    Frederick Weston
    Visit the May 2005 Visual AIDS Web Gallery to view this month's collection of art by HIV-positive artists!

    Your Unused HIV Meds
    Can Save Lives!


    AID FOR AIDS is a New York-based nonprofit organization that collects unused, HIV-related medications and redistributes them to people living with AIDS in Africa, the Caribbean and Latin America.

    Have HIV-related medications (including antiretrovirals and meds used to prevent or treat opportunistic infections) you'd like to donate? AID FOR AIDS will pay the price of postage if you're unable to afford the cost. Click here to learn more.