December #150

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Most Popular Lessons

The HIV Life Cycle


Herpes Simplex Virus

Syphilis & Neurosyphilis

Treatments for Opportunistic Infections (OIs)

What is AIDS & HIV?

Hepatitis & HIV

December 2008


Gimme Shelter
by James Wortman
The connection between HIV and homelessness is clear: Contracting HIV increases your risk of becoming homeless, and being homeless increases your risk for getting HIV. What happens to this equation, then, when people find themselves with a safe place to lay their heads? Can stable housing address and prevent the AIDS epidemic?

The POZ and AIDSmeds Drug Chart

A Porn Star is Reborn
by Regan Hofmann
When former porn star Darren James tested HIV positive in 2004, it rocked the adult film industry—and brought it to a grinding halt. By industry standard, James took a PCR-DNA test for HIV at least once a month (each test cost about $100; the expense was his to cover). After he was infected while working on set, he infected three other women before his own test came back positive. All of those women worked for a while before learning they were HIV positive. As a result, the adult film industry shut down while other actors got tested to determine their status.

Rest for the Weary
by Tim Murphy
Tired of being tired? You’re not alone in fighting fatigue, an invisible but exhausting side effect of life with HIV.

A Herpes Drug Takes on HIV
by Laura Whitehorn
Researches have long thought that acyclovir (Zovirax), a drug to treat herpes (HSV-2), might have anti-HIV powers. In September, researchers at the National Institutes of Health said they had found a clue to explain the link—and it’s not, as one theory had suggested, because suppressing HSV lowers immune-system inflammation (thus suppressing production of CD4 cells for HIV to attack).

Popping "the Pill"
by Laura Whitehorn
Hormonal birth control has a mixed reputation. Plus side: It’s easy to use and invisible during sex; it helps regulate menstrual cycles. Minus side: It doesn’t protect against HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs), may interact with some HIV meds and often confers unwanted side effects. Two recent announcements provide new insight.

by Lei Chou
Two new sets of guidelines—from the National Institutes of Health and an international panel of experts (published in AIDS in June 2008)—inform treatment choices for people coinfected with HIV and hepatitis B (HBV). 

by David Coop
This hot tip arrives just in time for winter stews: From the lowly white button to the exotic cremini and shitake, mushrooms are loaded with B vitamins (including niacin and riboflavin), selenium, healthful enzymes—even some antiviral compounds. One medium-sized portobello carries more potassium than a banana or a glass of OJ. 

Med Alerts
by Laura Whitehorn
Norvir (ritonavir, a protease inhibitor/PI): People who take 400 mg or more of Norvir twice a day may develop a problem with the electrical charge that governs heartbeats. Caution is advised—especially for people with other heart problems. This warning doesn’t apply to the low booster doses of Norvir (100 or 200 mg) used with many other PIs.

B Sharp
by Staff
Vitamin B-12 enjoyed another shining moment in the spotlight when a small study published in the September issue of Neurology linked low blood levels of the vitamin to quicker loss of brain mass (and function) in older people. Many positive people already take B-12—in pills or shots—for extra energy and other benefits. For best results, get B-12 from meals as well as supplements. Add these foods rich in B-12 to your shopping list:

And We Quote
by Staff
“To confront tuberculosis in Haiti in the ’80s, we trained—and paid—community health care workers to visit people [at their homes]. When AIDS came along, we used the same [approach, including] free diagnosis and care, because this is a public health problem. This meant that people weren’t lost to follow-up. 

Kids Meds
by John Borchardt
Ask any parent of an HIV-positive child: Even the liquid versions of drugs for kids taste awful. “Just watch a child’s face when they’re taking some of these things!” says Julie Mennella, PhD, of the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia. Kids aren’t being stubborn when they resist taking meds. According to Mennella’s gene research, “children have heightened bitter sensitivity compared to adults.”

Positive Thinking
by Laura Whitehorn
The number of people who don’t get tested for HIV, or who test late (when they’re already ill), is alarming. HIV-positive people often have the best sense of how to encourage testing. Here’s one tip, from LaTrischa Miles, diagnosed in 1995 and now a treatment adherence specialist at the Kansas City Free Health Clinic in Missouri:  

Credit Karma
by Kellee Terrell
With the holidays coming, you’ll soon be uttering the phrase “Charge it” as often as “Pass the gravy.” But with the expert help of Michael Smirlock, a financial pro who works with HIV-positive clients at New York City’s Iris House, you can employ strategies to put money in your pocket and improve your credit rating—all year long.

Strike a Pose
by Kellee Terrell
Seeking ways to feel strong and healthy, many HIV-positive people are turning to the healing practice of yoga. They’ve found that performing yoga poses regularly helps lower blood sugar and cholesterol levels and reduce anxiety and depression. This mind-body exercise can also build muscle and help relieve stress, menopausal symptoms and chronic back pain. “Yoga is a great journey toward health,” says Michelle Spencer, an Atlanta-based yoga instructor. Get your Zen on with these four easy moves.

Back to the Future
by Kellee Terrell
Can a new AIDS initiative carve out strategies to topple the epidemic by 2031, its 50th anniversary? The countdown is on.

Knights in Crown Heights
by Jesse Cameron Alick
Jesse Cameron Alick mentors his young, black padawan in the ways of the big bad world.

Reciprocity Is Real
by Kat Noel
If it’s better to give than receive, then it’s best to give the goodies-for-a-cause in this holiday gift guide. These gifts bring joy all around—they benefit those who give them, those who receive them and those who live with HIV/AIDS.    

MSM Unite!
by Kellee Terrell
A cyber group for positive gay men brings them face-to-face 

by Kat Noel
Odd but True Tales of HIV/AIDS

Wolf at the Door
by James Wortman
An HIV-positive author’s biting commentary on a very real monster

You Said It...
by LaToya Johnson
What will you do this World AIDS Day?

Editor's Letter-December 2008
by Regan Hofmann

Your Feedback-December 2008

This past summer, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released data that show the rate of new HIV infections in the United States is much higher than previously thought. Using new technology, the CDC has obtained a more accurate measure of HIV incidence (the number of new infections in a given year) and HIV prevalence (number of people living with the HIV/AIDS overall) in this country. The CDC now estimates that there are 56,300 new infections a year; the previous estimate was 40,000 new infections annually. The long and the short of it is that HIV/AIDS is an even bigger cause for concern in the United States than we thought. 

GMHC Treatment Issues-December 2008


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