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November 14, 2005
In This Hot Topics:
  • Living/Working With HIV
  • HIV Treatment
  • Fat Loss & Wasting
  • Mental Health & HIV
  • Other HIV-Related Health Issues
  • Strange but True
  •  LIVING/WORKING WITH HIV

    Whether It's 10 Years or 20, Will AIDS Inevitably Get Me?
    I always hear people who claim to know a lot about HIV saying, "Oh, HIV isn't like it used to be; now you can live 20 years." That to me is quite depressing -- to know that I can expect to live longer, but that ultimately my demise will be an awful and brutally draining one, brought on by the onset of the inevitable. Is that true? Even though I am as healthy as an ox, have a great body, no medication side effects and a CD4 count that's been between 300 and 400 for the past six years, should I expect to die of AIDS in 10 to 15 years?


    Disclosure and Safety for an HIV-Positive Massage Therapist
    I'm a massage therapist who's been newly diagnosed with HIV. How will my status affect my career? Is there anybody I need to disclose my status to?


    Graduate School Health Coverage
    I'm planning to apply to graduate school, but I'm concerned about the insufficient health coverage offered by the programs I'm considering. One program's health plan has extremely low maximum coverage, and the other doesn't cover prescriptions at all! What can I do to ensure access to HIV meds while I'm in grad school?


    Helping a Nephew in Denial, Living in a High-Stigma Country
    My nephew, who is a citizen of a country where access to HIV treatment is very limited, just tested HIV positive. In his country, there's a lot of stigma associated with HIV infection, so his pregnant wife (who is negative) and I are the only family members who know about his test results. I'm very close with them both, but living so far away, it's hard to know how to offer them support. He and his wife are both struggling with this diagnosis, and he seems to be in denial. What can I do?
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      HIV TREATMENT

    In HIV Lingo, When Does "Treatment Naive" Become "Treatment Experienced"?
    I've been taking HIV meds for two years now, but I'm still on the same regimen I started with. Does that make me "treatment naive" or "treatment experienced"? What does it actually mean to become treatment experienced -- if I am, do I need to change my regimen or my medication doses?


    The New Drug Pipeline and Drug Resistance
    I keep hearing that there are many HIV drugs in development, yet only one has been approved this year. What's going on? Will any of these new drugs work against people with drug-resistant HIV?


    When an Old HIV Treatment Regimen Starts to Fail
    I've been taking the same regimen -- 3TC (lamivudine, Epivir) + d4T (stavudine, Zerit) + saquinavir (Invirase) -- since 1997. It worked well until a couple of years ago, when my CD4 count began to drop and my viral load began to rise. Still, other than some facial wasting, I'm doing pretty well. Should I consider changing or stopping treatment?


    Going From Four HIV Meds to Three
    Would it be dangerous for me to change from a four-drug HIV treatment regimen to a three-drug regimen? My health insurance coverage has changed its drug payment plan, and I can no longer afford all four of my meds. My viral load is undetectable and my CD4 count is over 800. If it is safe to cut one of my meds, how do I decide which should go?


    Kaletra + Truvada: A Good Regimen?
    Can Kaletra (lopinavir/ritonavir) + Truvada (tenofovir/FTC) be prescribed as a first-line treatment regimen? I noticed it wasn't a preferred regimen in the U.S. health department's treatment guidelines; does that mean I can't use it?

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      FAT LOSS & WASTING

    Special notice: Want a rundown of the latest advice and research on lipoatrophy (fat loss)? Click here to read all of the questions and answers from The Body's live chat on lipoatrophy with prominent HIV specialist Dr. Joel Gallant, which took place on Nov. 1!


    Recovering Fat After Stopping d4T
    I switched off of d4T (stavudine, Zerit) four months ago, and I've already seen some of my fat loss reverse itself -- particularly in my hands, legs and butt. What are the chances that I could completely return to my pre-d4T appearance?


    One Person's Story: Silicone Injections as an Alternative to Sculptra
    Although my dermatologist offers Sculptra (poly-L-lactic acid, New-Fill) as a facial wasting treatment, I went with a cheaper alternative: micro droplet silicone injections. My experience went extremely well, so I wanted to share it with anyone who might be interested.


    Treatment for Wasting Syndrome: Serostim, Testosterone and T-20
    My doctor has diagnosed me with AIDS-related wasting; I've lost 120 pounds over the past eight months, have a high viral load and a low CD4 count. I'm already taking testosterone, but my doctor wants to add Serostim (somatropin) injections. Is it OK to take both at the same time? Can you tell me what I can expect in terms of side effects? Lastly, I also take T-20 (enfuvirtide, Fuzeon); do I need to be cautious about injecting Serostim and T-20 in the same area?

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      MENTAL HEALTH & HIV

    Can HIV Damage the Brain, Regardless of Treatment?
    I just read about a study that found HIV could attack the brain even if a person is taking HIV meds. How true is this?


    The HIV/Dementia Link
    How does HIV actually cause dementia?

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      OTHER HIV-RELATED HEALTH ISSUES

    Are HIV Meds Worsening My High Blood Pressure?
    I've suffered from high blood pressure since I was a teenager; when I reached my 30s, I started taking medications to lower it. At 37, I was diagnosed with HIV, and 10 years later I began taking HIV medications. Since then, my blood pressure has climbed significantly and has been hard to keep under control. What can I do?


    Treatment for Low Hemoglobin: Which Comes First, an Iron-Rich Diet or Procrit?
    My husband's hemoglobin count has dropped sharply since he started taking hepatitis C treatment half a year ago. He can't do anything involving motion for more than five minutes without running out of breath and having heart palpitations. He has a stressful job that involves a lot of travel, and I'm afraid he's going to collapse anytime now! A nurse has recommended we try to correct this with an iron-rich diet, and then consider starting Procrit (epoetin alfa) if the diet doesn't work. What do you think?

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      STRANGE BUT TRUE

    Can I Get HIV From a Paper Cut?
    Is there any way I could have become infected with HIV through a paper cut I got while opening an envelope that had an x-ray in it? My hospital mailed me the envelope, which was sealed inside a delivery bag. If some HIV-infected blood was on the x-ray, though, could the virus have survived the trip and entered my body when I got the paper cut?


    Butt Licking, Listerine and HIV
    I had a prostitute lick my butt crack. Before she did this, however, she rinsed her mouth out with Listerine and sprayed some on my anus. Do you think that was enough to protect me from HIV?
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    Writing Contest
    Win $500 for Sharing Your
    Story; Deadline Dec. 1!

    Poster for the Positively Negative writing contest
    Are you between 14 and 22 years old and living in the United States? Do you have something to say about how HIV has affected your life? Enter the Positively Negative HIV & AIDS 2005 Story Writing Contest for U.S. youths. The winning writer will receive $500 and have his or her story adapted for an upcoming HIV prevention education film!

    To learn more about the contest or download an entry form, visit the Hear Me Project at www.hearmeproject.org. The deadline for entries is Dec. 1!

    Visual AIDS
    Art From HIV-Positive Artists

    Image from the November 2005 Visual AIDS Web Gallery
    "The Madonna Going to Egypt,"
    2000; Raynes Birkbeck
    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? Click here!