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December 11, 2006
In This Hot Topics:
  • Living With HIV
  • HIV Treatment
  • You and Your Labs
  • Complications of HIV & HIV Meds
  • Women, Pregnancy & Children
  • HIV News & Views
  • Hepatitis
  • Strange but True
  •  LIVING WITH HIV

    An HIV Diagnosis Isn't the End of Your Life -- It's a New Beginning
    I've been HIV positive since 1988 and on HAART since 1997. There was a time when I thought I'd never see my children graduate from school, meet my grandchildren or be in love again. But it's been 18 years, and I'm healthy and fit -- I'm enjoying a life I didn't think was possible when I got diagnosed. I'm proof that there's life with HIV; just keep hope and stay informed!


    What Should I Do When My Life Doesn't Seem Worth Living?
    I've been living with HIV for 10 years, and I'm tired and depressed. My 20-year relationship is a disaster -- it's not even really a relationship anymore. I've thought about leaving, but I just don't have the energy for all the drama. Could "suicide by AIDS" -- avoiding meds and letting illness eventually get me -- be my way out? I don't feel comfortable talking to my doctor about this, but I don't feel that life is worth living anymore. What should I do?
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     HIV TREATMENT

    How Do I Choose My First HIV Treatment Regimen?
    I know that the once-a-day HIV combo pill is becoming popular, but what's the best drug combo for an HIVer who is going on meds for the first time? What options and variables should be considered?


    Combination Pill Confusion: Did My Doc Switch Me to Two Meds or Three?
    My doctor recently switched my Atripla (efavirenz/tenofovir/FTC) to Kaletra (lopinavir/ritonavir) + tenofovir (Viread). Does my new regimen include three meds or just two? I know some pills combine more than one drug, but I get confused about which ones and how they work together. Will this new regimen work? Or should I keep taking the Atripla until my next doctor's appointment?
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     YOU AND YOUR LABS

    CD4 Count, CD4 Percentage and Viral Load: How Do They All Relate?
    I've been HIV positive for almost a year, and until recently my CD4 count and percentage have both been stable: CD4 count 820 to 860, CD4 percentage 22%. However, my last CD4 count was 680, even though my percentage stayed about the same. What exactly is the difference between these two measurements? And does my recent drop in viral load tie in to all of this?
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     TAKE A SURVEY ON ANEMIA

    Although HIV-positive people may experience anemia, many HIVers know very little about it. How much do you know about anemia and HIV? Share your thoughts in this quick survey brought to you by Ortho Biotech. Your responses will be kept completely anonymous.

     COMPLICATIONS OF HIV & HIV MEDS

    Are There Any Treatments for Abdominal Fat Gain?
    I'm 68 years old and was diagnosed with HIV last year. I'm now on HIV meds, have my viral load under control, feel well and look healthy. The problem is that I've always been a well-developed, athletic person, but now I'm gaining weight around my stomach. Are there any drugs I could take to stop this fat gain?


    Can I Switch From Kaletra to Atazanavir to Lower My Triglycerides?
    Two weeks after starting Kaletra (lopinavir/ritonavir), my triglycerides jumped from 250 to 600. Four months later, they've climbed as high as 900. My doctor has suggested taking a type of drug called a fibrate to cut my triglycerides, but I don't want to add another drug to my regimen. Could I switch from Kaletra to a more fat-friendly protease inhibitor like atazanavir (Reyataz) instead?


    Could My New Regimen Be Causing Fatigue and Depression?
    I recently switched meds from d4T (stavudine, Zerit) + 3TC (lamivudine, Epivir) to fosamprenavir (Lexiva, Telzir) + Truvada (tenofovir/FTC). Since the switch, I've gained some weight in my gut and back, and I've been combating fatigue and depression. I guess that non-HIV factors could be contributing to these changes, but I wonder if they might all be from my new meds. What do you think?


    Worried About an Unusually Dark Bowel Movement
    I've been HIV positive for three years and am on ritonavir (Norvir) + Truvada (tenofovir/FTC) + atazanavir (Reyataz). Ever since I began meds I've been having a lot of gut problems. My last bowel movement was black, and I know that's not a good sign! What should I do?
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     WOMEN, PREGNANCY & CHILDREN

    Can Doctors Tell Whether the Baby I'm Adopting Is HIV Positive By Looking at Photos of Him?
    I am adopting an infant who has tested positive for antibodies to HIV. I know that a positive antibody test in an infant doesn't mean the child is infected, but my baby is in a developing nation where no other testing is available. The only clues I have besides the antibody test are videos and photos of my boy. Would it be possible for an HIV expert to look at the images and figure out whether he is HIV positive?


    Are Vaginal Deliveries Safe for HIV-Positive Women Who Have Had C-Sections?
    If you're an HIV-positive woman with a very low viral load, and you gave birth by cesarean section more than two years ago, would it be safe to deliver your next child vaginally?


    I'm Pregnant and the Father is HIV Positive; What Do I Need to Do to Protect My Baby?
    I'm HIV negative and engaged to an HIV-positive man with an undetectable viral load. I just learned that I'm six weeks pregnant. The last time I was tested, three months ago, I was still negative. What steps do I need to take to make sure my baby is safe? Should I keep seeing my regular obstetrician or switch to someone with experience in high-risk births?
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     HIV NEWS & VIEWS

    Are the Media Doing Enough to Educate the Public About HIV?
    It seems that many people are deathly afraid of becoming HIV positive, and I think it's because of a lack of proper education. Most of their fears are completely irrational. Do you think the media are doing everything they can to educate the public about HIV? Or are they more concerned with ratings and drama than the truth?
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     HEPATITIS

    How Many HIV-Positive Gay Men Also Have Hepatitis C?
    What is the current estimate of how many HIV-positive gay men also have hepatitis C? I've tried to find resources that deal with HIV and hepatitis C coinfection, but they seem to be few and far between.


    My Husband Is a Hepatitis B Carrier -- Is It Safe For Us to Have a Baby?
    My husband is a hepatitis B carrier, and we want to have a baby. I received my hepatitis B vaccination in high school, and I'm now 25 years old. My husband's liver function is normal. Is it safe for us to have a baby? Or would we be putting the child at risk for hepatitis?
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     STRANGE BUT TRUE

    Can I Get HIV By Sharing a Nasal Irrigator?
    I clear out my sinuses by pouring fluid into my nostrils with a special type of pot. I let one of my housemates, who may or may not have HIV, borrow the pot, and then used it again myself a few days later (after giving it a good washing). Now I'm a little worried. I know that snot doesn't transmit HIV, but could I still be at risk?


    Can HIV Get Into My Semen and Infect Me After I Masturbate?
    In health class I learned that HIV can be found anywhere. Can HIV find its way from my surroundings into the semen I ejaculate while masturbating, and then infect me?
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    Visual AIDS
    Art From HIV-Positive Artists

    Image from the November 2006 Visual AIDS Web Gallery
    "Dorian," 1998; Richard Morin
    Visit the December 2006 Visual AIDS Web Gallery to view our latest collection of art by HIV-positive artists! This month's gallery is entitled "The Male Portrait"; it's curated by Richard Renaldi, a photographer living in New York whose works have been exhibited widely.