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April 2, 2007
In This Hot Topics:
  • Living With HIV
  • HIV Treatment
  • Complementary Therapy
  • Complications of HIV & HIV Meds
  • HIV/STD Transmission
  • Strange but True
  •  LIVING WITH HIV

    My Husband Just Tested Positive
    My husband and I are both 24 years old; we got married three months ago. He just tested positive for HIV and I tested negative. I'm sad and scared to death. We had unprotected sex several times before the test. Can I trust my test results? Can I still kiss him? How can we still have sex together? We have always dreamed of having a family -- can we still have children?


    Have I Been Discriminated Against?
    Until I tested positive for HIV, I was undergoing laser hair removal. A form I filled out before my next visit included an "HIV positive" box, so I checked it. When they read the form, the
    staff refused to treat me. The reason they gave was that I had a "compromised immune system." Is there any reason why an HIV-positive person should not get laser hair removal? If I've been discriminated against, what should I do?

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     HIV TREATMENT

    Does My Declining CD4 Count Mean I'm Becoming Resistant to My Meds?
    When I started HIV meds a little less than two years ago, my CD4 count was 2. Seventeen months later, it had climbed to 460. I'm now at 23 months, and it has dropped for the first time since starting treatment -- down to 360. My viral load is still undetectable, but I'm worried that the CD4 decrease could mean that I'm becoming resistant to my meds. Should I be concerned?


    Can I Take Nexium While on HIV Meds?
    Is it safe to use Nexium (for heartburn and acid reflux) while I'm taking an HIV treatment regimen of Emtriva (emtricitabine, FTC) + Norvir (ritonavir) + Reyataz (atazanavir) + Videx (didanosine, ddI)?


    Taking HIV Meds Temporarily During Acute Infection
    I have just been diagnosed with acute HIV, meaning I was recently infected. My CD4 count is 648 and my viral load is 55,000. My doctor wants me to start Atripla (efavirenz/tenofovir/FTC) immediately in the hope of raising my CD4 count as high as possible, after which we'd discontinue the meds. I was always under the impression that once you start meds you can't stop. What do you think of my doctor's plan?


    Is It Time for Me to Start Meds?
    For years after I was diagnosed with HIV in October 1999, my CD4 count had been between 400 and 600, and my viral load had been under 500. Lately, however, my CD4 count has been averaging 380, and my viral load is slowly climbing (it's around 16,000 now). Do you think these changes mean that I should start HIV meds?
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     COMPLEMENTARY THERAPY

    K-PAX: CD4 Booster or Overpriced Vitamin?
    I'm looking for some scientific research about the multivitamin sold as K-PAX. Is it true that it can increase CD4 count by 25 percent, as the vitamin's makers claim? I have been experiencing more energy since I began taking it, but who knows if it is actually boosting my immune system? K-PAX is incredibly expensive, compared to other vitamins that are available, so I want to make sure that this isn't a scam.


    Can I Boost My Immune System With an Herbal Treatment?
    I've had HIV for four years and have never been on treatment; my viral load was low and my CD4 count was always above 600. In the past six months, however, my viral load rose sharply and my CD4 count fell below 500. Since it was still too early to start treatment, my doctor suggested I take a pill that contains beta-sitosterol, a plant derivative touted as an immune booster. However, I've been taking the pills for two months, and my latest viral load reading was nearly one million -- although my CD4 count is up slightly. Should I stick with the pills?


    If Your HIV Meds Aren't Working, Why Shouldn't You Try a Coconut?
    Dear Dr. Bob: You recently poked fun at a guy who was potentially exposed to HIV and then drank a large amount of coconut milk because he read on the Internet that HIV was sensitive to coconut milk or coconut oil. However, researchers are actively looking into the benefits of coconut oil, and certainly some alternative therapies might help people. If an HIVer hasn't had success with traditional therapies, why shouldn't they try drinking coconut milk?
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     COMPLICATIONS OF HIV & HIV MEDS

    I've Lost My Mojo!
    I am a 29-year-old, African-American man, and I've been living with HIV for over two years. I love my regimen of Kaletra (lopinavir/ritonavir) + Truvada (tenofovir/FTC), but I've noticed lately that my sex drive isn't what it used to be. Can you suggest anything to help? Could vitamins do the trick?


    What Should I Do About Elevated Liver Function Tests?
    I've had to switch HIV treatment regimens twice because of elevated liver function tests. Is this problem normal in people on HIV meds, and is switching regimens the best way to deal with it?


    Are All of My Problems Related to Being a Long-Term Survivor?
    I was diagnosed with HIV in 1989, and in 1996 was told I had progressed to AIDS. Still, I've been on treatment, and I remained relatively healthy until about two years ago, when everything started to fall apart: fatigue, depression, Fanconi syndrome (a kidney disorder), neuropathy, carpal tunnel syndrome, major balance problems and so on. None of my problems are officially associated with AIDS, but could they be caused by long-term effects of HIV and HIV meds, and doctors don't know about them because there's so little research about us long-term survivors?


    Could HIV Meds Alleviate My Fatigue?
    Since I was diagnosed with HIV in 1999, my CD4 count has been around 400 and my viral load has been around 17,000. I'm not taking HIV meds. Over the past few years, I've become very fatigued and lethargic. It's getting to the point where I can't enjoy life properly or even get a job. Could starting HIV meds alleviate these problems? If I do start meds and they can't help me, could I safely stop taking them with no adverse effects to my health?
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     HIV/STD TRANSMISSION

    Can Genetic Factors Protect People From HIV?
    I've heard that some people have a genetic mutation that provides them some protection from HIV. Are scientists studying these people to figure out why their immune systems are able to fend off HIV so well?


    Melting Condoms?
    Last week I was in China for a business trip. Alongside the traditional latex condoms available at my hotel there was a condom which, I was told, dissolves within one or two minutes, but still offers protection against sexually transmitted diseases. Could that be true?
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     STRANGE BUT TRUE

    Can You Get HIV From a Menstruating HIV-Negative Woman?
    Can I get HIV by having unprotected sex with a woman during her menstrual cycle, even if she is HIV negative?

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    Visual AIDS
    Art From HIV-Positive Artists

    Image from the March 2007 Visual AIDS Web Gallery
    Untitled Drag Performance, 1990-1991; Hunter Reynolds
    Visit the newly launched April 2007 Visual AIDS Web Gallery to view our latest collection of art by HIV-positive artists! This month's gallery is entitled "Camp Tales: The Art of Arnold Fern and Marc Lida"; it's curated by Jonathan Weinberg, Ph.D., a painter, author and art historian.