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December 12, 2005
In This Hot Topics:
  • HIV Treatment
  • HIV Meds: Myth vs. Reality
  • Living With HIV
  • HIV-Related Health Problems
  • Hepatitis C
  • Health Insurance & HIV
  • Having a Baby
  • Safe Sex
  • Strange but True
  •  HIV TREATMENT

    Should I Change My HIV Med Schedule When I Move Between Time Zones?
    Usually, I take my daily dose of HIV meds around 11 or 11:30 p.m., just before I go to bed. However, I'm about to take a trip from New York to Los Angeles, and there's a three-hour time difference between the two cities. When I'm in L.A., can I still take my meds before bed, or do I need to take them three hours earlier?


    Are Protease Inhibitors OK for First-Line Treatment?
    I started the popular first-line regimen of efavirenz (Sustiva, Stocrin) + Truvada (tenofovir/FTC) with a CD4 count of 280 and a viral load around 40,000. Unfortunately, the efavirenz caused a severe rash and psychological problems, so now my doctor wants to switch the efavirenz for the protease inhibitors atazanavir (Reyataz) + ritonavir (Norvir). Is this a wise choice for someone like me, who is basically still on his first regimen? Should I be worried about protease inhibitor-related side effects, like lipodystrophy?


    My Doctor's Accusing Me of Not Taking My Meds!
    After my latest blood test results came back, my doctor flat-out accused me of not taking my HIV medications -- either that, he said, or the pharmacy has been giving me placebos. Well, neither is the case, so what's going on? I don't like being insulted, but I'm stuck with this doctor because he's the only one authorized by my health plan. How do I get to the bottom of this?
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      CHAT TRANSCRIPT: IS IT TIME TO CHANGE HIV MEDS?

    To Change (HIV Treatment Regimens) or Not to Change: Q+A With Dr. Paul Sax
    There are many reasons why someone might want to change HIV medications, including side effects, drug resistance and a rising viral load. The question is: Should you change meds? Last week, HIV specialist Dr. Paul Sax helped dozens of HIVers answer this question during a live chat on The Body! If you missed the chat, don't worry: A transcript of this informative Q+A session is now available!

    This live chat was sponsored by Gilead Sciences, Inc.

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     HIV MEDS: MYTH VS. REALITY

    Will HIV Meds Hurt Me More Than HIV Does?
    I've read that HIV medications can actually kill HIV-positive people faster than the virus itself. Is this true? If I don't take HIV meds, will I survive longer?


    Why Do We All Pray at the Altar of the Drug Companies?
    I suffered immensely from the poisons they gave me for a year when I had breast cancer. It was a voodoo torture, archaic and downright cruel! I will never take any rotten pharmaceutical treatment simply because "it's there." How about suggesting to people with HIV that they might want to look into something natural, something to build their immune system up without ghastly side effects?
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     LIVING WITH HIV

    From HIV Infection to AIDS in Less Than Two Years?
    If most people don't progress from HIV to AIDS for many years, how is it that I went from being newly infected to having full-blown AIDS in less than a year and a half? I'm only 18, and haven't taken any meds yet. Could I have been infected with some sort of "supervirus"?
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     HIV-RELATED HEALTH PROBLEMS

    Can HIV Trigger Nosebleeds?
    My HIV-positive husband has had frequent nosebleeds even before he started taking HIV meds. Could these nosebleeds have something to do with HIV?


    Getting Toxoplasmosis
    How does a person get the opportunistic infection called toxoplasmosis?


    Cytomegalovirus (CMV) and HIV
    I was just diagnosed with HIV, and another test result came back as "CMV IgG positive." What does this mean?
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      HEPATITIS C

    Hepatitis C Tests: Can Immune Problems Interfere With the Results?
    Can the results of a hepatitis C virus test -- like the PCR or TMA test -- vary depending on the strength of my immune system? If HIV has weakened my immune system, could that somehow interfere with my hepatitis C test results?


    How Do Hepatitis C Viral Levels Relate to Immune Response?
    Is a person's hepatitis C viral load affected by his or her level of immune response? If a person's immune system reacts strongly to fight hepatitis C infection, will that cause a spike in hepatitis C viral load, or will it help lower it?

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      HEALTH INSURANCE & HIV

    Finding Long-Term Care Coverage When Living With HIV
    I'm a healthy, HIV-positive man in my 30s who would like to purchase long-term care health insurance. Is this possible? Do you know of any vendors that will issue such insurance?


    A Mixed-Status Couple Considers Switching Health Insurance
    My wife and I are on my company's Blue Cross and Blue Shield health insurance plan. I have HIV; she does not. My job situation has become shaky, so she's planning to enroll both of us in her company's plan -- Aetna -- early next year. Could her plan deny me coverage because I have HIV? If I switch to Aetna and then decide to switch back to Blue Cross/Blue Shield sometime in the future, would I be able to do so without disclosing my HIV status?


    What Health Information Does HIPAA Let Companies Receive?
    Does HIPAA -- the U.S. law that protects the privacy of people's health information -- have an allowance that says a company can receive frequent, detailed health profiles of its employees? Can companies use this information to identify HIV-positive employees?


    Health Insurance Concerns of an American Infected While Living Abroad
    I'm a U.S. citizen, but I've been living in Asia for the past 11 years. Last month, I was diagnosed with HIV, and although HIV treatment here is quite inexpensive, I'm worried about what will happen if I eventually move back to the United States. Do you think it'll be easy for me to find health insurance to cover the costs?

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      HAVING A BABY

    Safe Insemination With Sperm From an HIV-Positive Man
    I'm a 50-year-old, HIV-positive man who would like to have a baby. Can my sperm be used to artificially inseminate an HIV-negative woman? If we do this, how can we be sure that neither she nor the baby will get HIV?

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      SAFE SEX

    My Partner Refuses to Wear a Condom -- And Doesn't Know I Have HIV
    I'm a gay man who, for the past nine months, has been in an incredible sexual relationship with another guy. He's HIV negative, but I'm HIV positive -- and I haven't told him yet. I beg him to use condoms before we have sex (he's always on top), but he refuses, and what he says goes. I've been avoiding him lately, but I just know we'll meet again -- and when we do, no matter how hard I try, I know he won't let me keep that condom on him. What can I do?


    Safe-Sex Options When Allergic to Latex
    Because I'm allergic to latex, I develop skin rashes whenever I use a latex condom. My dermatologist recommends I take allergy pills for two or three days after each sexual encounter, but there's no way I can adopt this as a lifelong strategy. Can you recommend something else?

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      STRANGE BUT TRUE

    Nailed in the Butt (But Not the Way You'd Expect)
    I was sitting down on a chair at a bar three months ago, when something sharp pricked my rear end. The bar employees said it was a nail that was sticking up out of the chair, but was underneath the cushion on top of the seat. I didn't bleed at all, but I'm still concerned. How risky was my incident?
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    Visual AIDS
    Art From HIV-Positive Artists

    Image from the December 2005 Visual AIDS Web Gallery
    "Blood of Man Series," 2001;
    Max Greenberg
    Visit the December 2005 Visual AIDS Web Gallery to view this month's collection of art by HIV-positive artists! This month's gallery is entitled "The Damaged Narcissist"; it's curated by British photographer Richard Sawdon Smith.

    Ryan White CARE Act
    The Reauthorization Fight
    Has Just Begun

    The Ryan White CARE Act is one of the most important laws in the United States for uninsured people living with HIV. For the first time in five years, the Ryan White CARE Act is up for reauthorization -- the entire law is currently being revisited, which could result in major changes in the way the act works and funding is doled out.

    What are some of the biggest issues impacting the reauthorization, and how might they impact you? Visit The Body's main page on the Ryan White CARE Act reauthorization for background info, news, policy statements and more!

    Want to take action now? Click here to send a letter to your U.S. senators and representatives urging them to increase funding for the Ryan White CARE Act.