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December 27, 2006
In This Hot Topics:
  • Living With HIV
  • HIV Treatment
  • Complications of HIV & HIV Meds
  • HIV Transmission
  • Strange but True

    I'm Going to Be a Virgin Till Marriage; Do I Have to Tell Girlfriends That I'm Positive?
    I'm 16 and I've been HIV positive since I was born. Now I'm starting to think about dating. I plan to remain a virgin until I'm married; all I want is a typical high-school relationship. So I'm wondering: When should I disclose my HIV status? I know I won't be putting anyone at risk with a little kissing, and I'm scared of being rejected. Any advice?

    Should I Tell My Doctor I've Started Using Meth Again?
    I've been HIV positive since 1994 and was, until recently, a recovering methamphetamine user. My immune system is in great shape, but fatigue and muscle pain have left me feeling weak, guilty and overwhelmed. So I've started using meth again, after 10 years of sobriety. I only smoke it -- I don't inject. The drug gives me more energy and makes me feel less depressed and hopeless. Should I tell my doctor that I'm taking meth again?

    Can Vitamins and Good Nutrition Strengthen Your Immune System?
    I was diagnosed with HIV in July. My doctor says that because my viral load (35,000) and CD4 count (350) are good, I won't need to take HIV meds for a while. I would like to avoid treatment for as long as possible. Are there any vitamins or extracts I could take to strengthen my immune system? Do you have any other nutritional tips?

    Should I Keep My Own Medical Records?
    I was diagnosed with HIV about a year ago. I've been seeing a doctor for almost the same amount of time, but I have no idea what my lab results mean. Should I be keeping records? If so, what's the best way? Should I ask for copies of my test results or write everything down?

    My Viral Load Is High, But So Is My CD4 Count; Should I Start Treatment?
    I was diagnosed with HIV in April. At the time, my CD4 count was 614 and my viral load was 44,000. Over the next several months, my viral load and CD4 count both fluctuated -- at my last test in November, my CD4 count was 487 (up from 376 the month before) and my viral load was 121,000. Would you recommend starting treatment at this stage?

    Should Treatment-Naive HIVers Enroll in Clinical Trials?
    I'm a 41-year-old, HIV-positive Brazilian. I'm about to start taking HIV meds for the first time, and I've been invited to participate in a study sponsored by the U.S. National Institutes of Health. If I decide to sign up, I'll be randomly assigned to take one of three different first-line regimens. I will know what I'm taking, and I will be allowed to switch drugs or quit the study whenever I want. I think I'll get great care if I participate, but I'd like to hear your opinion. Is there any downside to getting involved?

    Can the Addition of AZT Help a Possibly Failing Regimen?
    My viral load had been undetectable for a year after starting atazanavir (Reyataz) + ritonavir (Norvir) + Truvada (tenofovir/FTC), but my last set of labs showed my viral load had climbed to 218. A resistance test showed many mutations; I'm running out of options, and I'm pretty worried. My doctor wants to add AZT (zidovudine, Retrovir) to my regimen in order to strengthen it. Is this a good idea?

    Lipodystrophy Rates Today
    How likely is it that a person diagnosed with HIV today will develop lipodystrophy? I'm 22 and was wondering how long I might expect to go before experiencing facial wasting or body fat changes.

    Should My Shrinking Sex Drive be Blamed on Age or HIV?
    I'm a 44-year-old man who has been living with HIV for 20 years. I take Androgel, a testosterone replacement, along with the HIV meds 3TC (lamivudine, Epivir) + abacavir (Ziagen) + nevirapine (Viramune). Lately, I haven't had sex as often as I used to, and the amount of semen I produce seems quite small. Do you think these changes are caused by HIV, or are they just a result of normal aging? What can I do about them?

    How Long Do I Have to Stop Taking Nitrates Before It's Safe to Use Viagra?
    I take isosorbide dinitrate (also known by the brand names Isordil and Sorbitrate), a nitrate used to treat chest pain. I'd like to begin using Viagra, but I know those two drugs are a dangerous combination. How long would I have to stop taking isosorbide dinitrate before I could safely use Viagra?

    Our Condom Failed; Have I Put My Husband at Risk?
    I'm HIV positive and my husband is not. Yesterday, a condom failed while we were having sex. We realize the risk is quite low because my viral load is undetectable, but there are some signs of irritation on my husband's penis, i.e., he has a rash that looks like a tiny red pimple. Would that increase the risk of me transmitting HIV to him? If so, should he consider post-exposure prophylaxis?

    My Mom Has AIDS; Can Her Laundry Give Me HIV?
    My 73-year-old mother has end-stage AIDS. I've invited her to live with my family during her last days, but I want to be sure my family and I are safe while we take care of her. She's lost control of her bladder, so her clothes are often soaked in urine. Could I get HIV from coming into close contact with those clothes?

    HIV and Autofellatio
    Can I get HIV from sucking my own penis?

    Visual AIDS
    Art From HIV-Positive Artists

    Image from the December 2006 Visual AIDS Web Gallery
    "Norman Tyler Larson";
    Rob Anderson
    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.