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February 27, 2006
In This Hot Topics:
  • Mixed-Status Couples
  • Just Diagnosed
  • Living With HIV
  • Starting HIV Treatment
  • Issues for HIV Treatment Veterans
  • HIV & Body Shape Changes
  • Hepatitis
  • Children & HIV
  • Strange but True
  •   MIXED-STATUS COUPLES

    Using Female Condoms for Anal Sex; Using No Condoms for Oral Sex
    I've been dating this great guy for the past two months. I'm HIV negative, and he's positive -- he's very open about his status. I'm ready for us to have sex, but have a couple of questions about safe sex: One, is it safe to use a female condom during anal sex? Two, is it really necessary for us to use a condom when we have oral sex?

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     JUST DIAGNOSED

    Newly Diagnosed and Resistant to NNRTIs
    I became HIV positive in November; my doctors say that the virus I was infected with is resistant to NNRTIs. In January, my CD4 count was 424 and my viral load was 650,000; just one month later, my CD4 count had plummeted to 221 and my viral load was up to 750,000. Does this mean it's time to start meds? Given that my virus is resistant to NNRTIs, what regimens should I consider taking?


    Viral Load Drop After Diagnosis, Without Starting Treatment
    I'm a 24-year-old guy who was diagnosed with HIV in October. Since then, my CD4 count has more or less hovered around the 400 mark, but even though I'm not taking any HIV meds, my viral load has been dropping steadily, from 480,000 in November to 33,000 in January. What does this mean?


    HIV Treatment Access in a U.S. Prison
    I'm an inmate in Texas who's been newly diagnosed with HIV. My prison says it can't afford to treat me. How can I get access to medications?
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     LIVING WITH HIV

    Why Worry So Much About HIV? Life Is Just as Dangerous
    I've read posts from people who are terrified of HIV even though they're not even HIV positive, and felt the need to write in with a little perspective. I've been positive since 2001 and am not on meds, but I don't think of death all the time. Yesterday, I almost had a car accident on the highway. I also work as a flight attendant and travel between Europe and America all the time. My point is that being alive means that you're at constant risk of dying. We will all die sometime. It's just a matter of delaying death as much as we can. I am so confident in new treatments for HIV that I don't feel myself at a great disadvantage with non-infected people. Of course I wish I was HIV negative, but I can't understand people who consider HIV to be their only possible cause of death. Being HIV negative does not mean being immortal.


    Must I Disclose to My Dentist?
    A dentist discriminated against me because of my HIV status, and I don't want to go through that again. I'm so terrified of the potential embarrassment that I've avoided getting my teeth cleaned ever since. Am I legally obligated to disclose to my dentist, or can I keep quiet and protect my privacy?
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     STARTING HIV TREATMENT

    What Protease Inhibitor Should I Take First?
    Is there some kind of order in which a person should try protease inhibitors? I've never taken a protease inhibitor before, but I want to give myself the greatest number of options in case my virus becomes resistant to the first one I take.


    Diagnosed With AIDS and Refusing Treatment
    My brother just recently found out he has AIDS. He didn't even know he had HIV until he went to donate blood. He has now decided, without talking to his doctor, that he doesn't want treatment or any medications, because he doesn't want to suffer from side effects. I stand by his decision, but what will happen to him if he doesn't take medications?
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     ISSUES FOR HIV TREATMENT VETERANS

    CD4 Count and Viral Load Both Rising After an HIV Med Switch
    I recently switched one of the meds in my HIV treatment regimen, even though my viral load was undetectable and my CD4 count was 400. In the months since I switched, my CD4 count nearly doubled, but my viral load also jumped to 5,000. What's going on here -- why the sudden, divergent change?


    A Drug Holiday, a Viral Load Rebound and a Good CD4 Count
    For years, I had a CD4 count over 400 and an undetectable viral load, so my doctor and I decided I could safely take a drug holiday. Two months later, my CD4 count was still over 400, but my viral load shot all the way up to nearly 250,000. I've restarted HIV treatment, but can you tell me what my viral load rebound means, and whether my relatively high CD4 count can protect me against developing resistance to my HIV meds?


    What if I Become Resistant to T-20?
    Can T-20 (enfuvirtide, Fuzeon) be beneficial even if I've become resistant to it? My viral load dropped to 1,800 after a month on T-20, but rose to more than 100,000 three months later.
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     HIV & BODY SHAPE CHANGES

    Do Truvada and Sustiva Cause Fat Problems?
    I started taking efavirenz (Sustiva, Stocrin) + Truvada (tenofovir/FTC) about six months ago, right after my diagnosis. Will I develop lipodystrophy, and if so, how quickly?


    Struggling to Deal With Fat Problems While on HIV Treatment
    I'm having a very hard time dealing with the side effects of my HIV meds: My belly is bloated, I've got fat building up in my crotch, and I've had four plastic surgeries plus facial injections just to keep myself looking like I'm from this planet. It's hard to think of HIV treatment as a "success" when it keeps me alive physically but practically destroys me psychologically. Is there anything you can tell me that will give me a little hope or perspective?


    Options for Reducing Buffalo Hump
    As a 51-year-old man who's had HIV for more than 24 years, I've been on pretty much every HIV medication. My latest regimen, which includes an experimental medication, has improved my health and my quality of life, but my buffalo hump -- a hard lump of fat at the top of my back -- isn't going away, and continues to hurt my neck. I do weight training, but it doesn't seem to help. Is there anything you can suggest that might reduce the hump?
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     HEPATITIS

    Considering Biopsy, Treatment After Hep C Diagnosis
    My brother-in-law in Thailand has just been diagnosed with hepatitis C, and he doesn't want to do a biopsy or start treatment. I agree with him about treatment -- his early lab tests seem OK, and I know that hepatitis C treatment can have nasty side effects and isn't guaranteed to work. But what would you recommend as far as a biopsy, further testsing and the like?


    Can Hepatitis C Treatment Really Cure Me?
    I've been diagnosed with hepatitis C genotype 2. My doctor wants to do a biopsy and start me on treatment, but I'm worried. He says that I could be "cured" of hepatitis C in six months; is he right? Should I go on treatment?


    Prognosis After Hepatitis B Diagnosis
    I have hepatitis B, but I'm confused about what all of my lab test results mean, and I don't know what I'm supposed to do next. Can you help me make sense of them, and give me an idea for what my prognosis is?
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      CHILDREN & HIV

    Telling Children That They're HIV Positive
    How do we break the news to our kids that they're living with HIV?

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      STRANGE BUT TRUE

    Can I Get a Girl Pregnant by Masturbating in Her Underwear?
    There's a college girl who rents a room in our house, and whenever she's not around, I like to masturbate into her panties. I'm a little worried, though: Can I accidentally get her pregnant by doing this?


    Can HIV Be Transmitted Through a T-Shirt?
    I wrapped my penis in a T-shirt to protect myself, and my friend rubbed it on the outside of her vagina. Could I have gotten HIV this way?
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    RANT!
    An African-American AIDS
    Activist Speaks Out

    Mario Cooper
    "Look at where we are in 2006 compared to where we were a decade ago, and it's as if we're in the same place -- and that is heartbreaking," says Mario Cooper. "It's not that we haven't made progress. It's that the virus has made so much more."

    A long-term survivor of HIV and a longtime AIDS and gay-rights activist, Mario Cooper served as an advisor to Bill Clinton's 1992 presidential campaign and as the manager of the 1992 Democratic National Convention in New York City. In 1994, he began organizing the Leading for Life Campaign, a coalition of influential black academics, advocates and other movers and shakers, to raise awareness of the burgeoning HIV epidemic in the African-American community.

    In this riveting essay, Mario calls for a new wave of AIDS activism in the African-American community, while at the same time asking, "Why is it so hard for black people to march against HIV/AIDS?" Mario's article is part of The Body's new African-American HIV/AIDS Resource Center, one of the Web's largest collections of interviews, personal perspectives, podcasts, resource listings and much more on the spread of HIV through black America.

    Visual AIDS
    Art From HIV-Positive Artists

    Image from the February 2006 Visual AIDS Web Gallery
    "Constantine," 1996; Alfredo Santiago
    Visit the February 2006 Visual AIDS Web Gallery to view this month's collection of art by HIV-positive artists! The February 2006 Web Gallery is entitled "Nineteen Penises"; it's curated by David Humphrey.