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January 22, 2007
In This Hot Topics:
  • Living With HIV
  • Mixed-Status Relationships
  • HIV Treatment
  • Complications of HIV & HIV Meds
  • Strange but True
  •  LIVING WITH HIV

    My Son's Secret May Be Killing Him
    I'm the mother of a 35-year-old, HIV-positive man who is a father of a teenager himself. He and his son recently moved in with me. My son doesn't want anyone to know his status, including my grandson. I only found out by accident. We live in a rural town, and this is my main concern: My son is so afraid of people in town finding out he has HIV that he is not getting any health care whatsoever, even though we have an excellent HIV clinic. I respect his wishes to keep his health condition confidential, but he really needs professional care -- psychological as well as medical. There is so much tension; it's like there is a huge elephant in the room. How should I approach him?


    Just Diagnosed: What Does My Future Hold?
    I was recently diagnosed with HIV and started treatment. My CD4 count is 249 and my viral load is 9,885. I live a healthy lifestyle and plan to take all of my HIV meds on time, but honestly, what do you think the future holds for me?


    Do I Really Have Only 10 More Years to Live?
    I recently read an article that claimed an HIVer's life expectancy is about 24 years after infection. I was diagnosed with HIV in 2000, but I think I was infected sometime in 1992. I don't really believe it, but the article implies I'll be dead in 10 years. Is that true?


    Will I Qualify for Long-Term Disability Benefits?
    I've been HIV positive for 19 years, and my doctor recently placed me on total disability for at least the next six months. He told me it was time to file for long-term disability and supplemental security income. Five years ago, my union succeeded in getting long-term disability benefits for its members, but it's my understanding that any disability caused by a pre-existing condition is not covered. Does that mean I won't be eligible for any benefits?
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     MIXED-STATUS RELATIONSHIPS

    Terrified of Telling My Partner I Have HIV
    I tested positive on Jan. 5, and I'm scared to death. I haven't told my partner. We've been having protected sex since I found out. I have no idea how to tell him, but I'm almost at the point where I need to start treatment. I want it all to go away -- I can't even deal with it myself. Is there an easy way to let him know I'm positive?


    My HIV-Positive Boyfriend Wants to Have Unprotected Anal Sex
    I've been in a mixed-status relationship for two months, and now my HIV-positive boyfriend wants to have unprotected anal sex. He says that if I am the insertive (top) partner, I'll have a very low risk of infection. Should I trust him, or should I insist that we use a condom?
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     HIV TREATMENT

    Is It OK to Take One Late Dose?
    I forgot my morning dose of one of my twice-a-day HIV meds. I realized it when I was halfway between doses, so I decided to take my missed dose six hours late. Is this OK, or have I put myself at risk for HIV drug resistance by messing up my schedule?


    Can HIV Pills Get Stuck in My Throat?
    I've noticed that sometimes, after swallowing my HIV meds, I feel like they're stuck in my throat. Can they actually get stuck there? I know that my pills -- Epzicom (abacavir/3TC, Kivexa) and Sustiva (efavirenz, Stocrin) -- are made to break down slowly over time. Is there a chance that they are not reaching my stomach? Could this be counted as non-adherence? I know this sounds like a stupid question, but I want to make sure all my pills are getting into my system.
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     COMPLICATIONS OF HIV & HIV MEDS

    What If I Can't Handle the Side Effects of Many Meds?
    I'm a 50-year-old woman who tested positive in 1985. I've been on many different regimens since starting treatment in 1994, and while some have been effective in fighting my virus, I've never been able to deal with the side effects. After trying several alternatives, I recently (under my doctor's approval) stopped taking all of my meds. How can I find out what other HIV meds I can try?


    Can Side Effects Prevent You From Taking All Meds?
    Have you ever encountered a newly diagnosed person who, because of side effects, is unable to take any HIV meds?


    Atripla or HIV: What's Causing My Hair Loss?
    After falling ill with pneumonia, I was diagnosed with HIV and began taking Atripla (efavirenz/tenofovir/FTC). Since starting, I've noticed major hair loss. Could the Atripla have something to do with it, or could HIV itself be the cause?
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     STRANGE BUT TRUE

    Is It Safe to Ingest My Own Bodily Fluids?
    I'm HIV positive, and I sometimes lick my fingers and suck on my dildo after I've masturbated. Could I be reinfecting myself with HIV?


    A Sweaty Sock in a Frat House
    I used a sweaty sock to cover my penis while my girlfriend was giving me a hand job. I think it might have touched the bottom of my shoe before I put it on, and I had been in a really dirty fraternity house that day. If the shoe had HIV on it from the frat house, could the HIV have jumped to my sock and then infected me when I put the sock on my penis?
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    Visual AIDS
    Art From HIV-Positive Artists

    Image from the January 2007 Visual AIDS Web Gallery
    "Bumper Cars," 1995; Joel Wateres
    Visit the January 2007 Visual AIDS Web Gallery to view our latest collection of art by HIV-positive artists! The first gallery of the new year is entitled "Energy"; it's curated by the Tisch Summer High School Photography Program at New York University.