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November 1, 2005
In This Hot Topics:
  • Living/Working With HIV
  • Controversies in HIV
  • HIV Treatment
  • HIV-Related Health Issues
  • Live Chat on Lipoatrophy Tonight, Nov. 1
  • HIV Transmission & Disclosure
  • Strange but True

    HIV-Positive Mom Struggling With Depression
    I am a 29-year-old single mom who's had HIV for 18 months. I often have days when I just wish I could go to sleep and not wake up, but my little girl keeps me going. I am scared to ask for help; I lie to my doctors and tell them all is fine when in fact I am dead on the inside. I feel like I would look like a "bad mom" if anyone knew what was going on with me. I want to talk to someone; I just don't know how to bring myself to do it. Can you help?

    Concerns From a Newly Diagnosed Married Couple
    As the great Hank Williams said, "I'm so lonesome I could cry." My wife of two years had an HIV test that came back positive. She's also infected me, but I have decided to stick by her. Can you give us some advice on how to get through this? We are both 29; how long can we be expected to live?

    Didn't Start HIV Treatment Until AIDS Diagnosis; Where to From Here?
    I was recently diagnosed with HIV when I was hospitalized with PCP (pneumonia). My first CD4 count was just 52. My doctor immediately put me on medications, and within three weeks my CD4 count was up to 299. What are the chances I can get my CD4 up even higher? Even though I have full-blown AIDS, do you think I have a chance of seeing my children grow into adults?

    Pre-Employment HIV Testing
    Can an employer require HIV testing as a condition of employment? Are there any laws to protect a person with HIV from being tested in this manner?

    Could You Comment on the Death of Christine Maggiore's Daughter?
    Dear Dr. Bob: I'm sure you are aware of the recent death of AIDS dissident Christine Maggiore's young daughter, most likely from AIDS-related pneumonia. There has been a lot of talk among my friends about the death and many have concluded that it was within Mrs. Maggiore's rights to refuse HIV testing (and, consequently, HIV treatment) for her young daughter, even if this refusal ultimately resulted in the child's death. They also support the physicians who apparently allowed this to happen. What do you think?


    What Can I Do if I'm Resistant to Everything?
    I've been HIV positive since 1992; I have never been undetectable and my CD4 count has never been over 329. My last resistance tests showed that I'm resistant to all available drugs. I'm on atazanavir (Reyataz) + Truvada (tenofovir/FTC), but my CD4 count is now down to 141. My doctor says there isn't anything else he can put me on. Is he doing everything that he should? Are there any other meds I can try?

    T-20 Site Reactions Getting Worse, Despite Biojector
    I have been taking T-20 (enfuvirtide, Fuzeon) with three other meds for about a month now. Instead of using syringes to administer the T-20, I'm using the Biojector 2000 needle-free device. However, I have been noticing that my site reactions are getting worse. What can I do?

    The End of Fortovase: What Should I Do?
    I've been taking saquinavir soft-gel capsules (Fortovase) since 1997 as part of a four-drug HIV treatment regimen. The regimen has worked well, but I know that the manufacturer is discontinuing Fortovase in March 2006. When this happens, what should I do? Should I switch to Invirase, the other version of saquinavir, or should I just stop the Fortovase and keep taking the other three drugs in my regimen?

    Is Fresca as Dangerous as Grapefruit Itself?
    I know that grapefruit can interact with HIV medications, but I have a question about the soft drink Fresca. I've been drinking it for the past month -- sometimes at the same time I take my HIV medications -- and only now realized that it has some grapefruit concentrate. I've read that about 1 percent of the drink is from grapefruit. Could this be a problem?



    Telling a Friend He May Be Having Confusion/Memory Problems
    One of my closest friends was diagnosed with HIV in 1986 and almost died before starting combination drug therapy in 1994. Lately, he has become forgetful, and he mixes his words up -- for instance, if he wants a book on the table, he might say, "Get me the sandwich on the table." If it wasn't happening on a regular basis, I'd brush it off, but it happens all the time. Should I tell him he might want to see a psychiatrist -- and if so, how can I say this tactfully so I don't hurt his feelings?

    Can Anemia Cause a Drop in CD4 Count?
    My husband and I live in a small town; he was recently diagnosed with HIV and hepatitis C. At his latest checkup, he was told that his HIV viral load was now undetectable, but that his CD4 count had dropped from 175 to 50 due to severe anemia from taking AZT (zidovudine, Retrovir). He was given a blood transfusion and switched to a new treatment regimen. Would you agree that the cause of this drop in CD4 count was due to the anemia? Although the doctors treating my husband seem to know what they are doing, they are very bad communicators, and since we live in a small town, we have no support groups to turn to for advice.

    Alcohol and Hepatitis C: A Safe Combination?
    If a person received treatment for hepatitis C infection and now has an undetectable hepatitis C viral load, is it OK for him or her to drink a little beer?

    Could My Hair Loss Be My Meds' Fault?
    I'm in my early 30s. I've been HIV positive for four years, and have been on HIV meds for much of that time. I recently noticed that the hair at my temples seems to be receding. Is this a result of the HIV, my meds or just plain age?



    The Date: Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2005

    The Time: 9 p.m. Eastern Standard Time/6 p.m. Pacific Standard Time (the chat will last approximately one hour)

    The Place: When the chat begins, visit this Web page:

    The Chat: Losing fat in certain parts of your body, a condition known as lipoatrophy, may be one of the most difficult issues for people with HIV. Though many questions about lipoatrophy have yet to be answered, our knowledge about it is growing, as is our understanding of how it can be managed. Join The Body for a live chat on lipoatrophy with one of the most knowledgeable HIV specialists in the United States! Dr. Joel Gallant will answer questions from HIV-positive people who are dealing with, or worried about, this potentially disfiguring health problem. He’ll talk about ways to avoid or alleviate symptoms, and will discuss the latest research.

    Remember: The chat begins at 9 p.m. Eastern Standard Time. We hope to see you there!

    This live chat is sponsored by Gilead Sciences.



    Why Didn't We Just Talk About Our Status Before Sex?
    I'm a gay man who had unprotected sex (insertive/receptive and oral) with a guy who didn't disclose his HIV status until after we'd had sex twice. I opted not to go on post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP), figuring it had been too long since my first exposure and that if I already was infected, taking PEP could just make me resistant to HIV meds. I just had an HIV test, and will get the results soon, but I feel the need to tell my story. I'm upset, depressed and angry -- and this situation could have been so easily avoided if either of us had brought up the subject before we had sex.

    Disclosing Because a Condom Breaks
    I've known about my HIV status for about four years now, but I have trouble disclosing to my partners at the right time. Sometimes I feel I disclose too early, and sometimes I feel I disclose too late. This time, I did it too late: My current boyfriend and I were having anal sex when the condom broke. He thought nothing of it, but as the day went on, I became more and more terrified, and eventually brought him to the hospital for post-exposure prophylaxis. On the way there I had to tell him he's been exposed to HIV. What are his chances of contracting the virus, and how can I keep him in my life?

    Overly Concerned Parent of a Woman Dating an HIV-Positive Man
    My daughter is dating a young man who is HIV positive. No matter what I say or point out to her about the risks, it makes little difference to her. My daughter has a young son as well. How can I help her understand the risk she is taking with not only her life, but also the life of her son?


    Is AIDS a Punishment for Same-Sex Kissing?
    Does kissing a person of the same sex mean you will get AIDS? Even if you and the other person don't have HIV, will you get the virus because same-sex saliva is not supposed to mix?
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    Visual AIDS
    Art From HIV-Positive Artists

    Image from the November 2005 Visual AIDS Web Gallery
    "The State Series (Minnesota),"
    2003; David Faulk
    Visit the November 2005 Visual AIDS Web Gallery to view this month's collection of art by HIV-positive artists! This month's gallery is entitled "On the Road -- A Tribute to the Campaign to End AIDS."

    Want to learn more about the Campaign to End AIDS, which is staging a major four-day event in Washington, D.C., beginning Nov. 5? Click here!