POZlife

POZLife: Life from the Infected and Effected point of veiw.

Archive for February, 2009

Hot Topics at The Body’s "Ask the Experts" Forums

Posted by pozlife on February 23, 2009

LIVING WITH HIV

Once You’ve Been Diagnosed With AIDS, Will You Always Have AIDS?
In one of your recent answers, you said that an AIDS diagnosis is irreversible. Are you saying that if a healthy HIV-positive person had an opportunistic infection or a CD4 count under 200 at some point, then that person still has AIDS, even if he or she currently has an undetectable viral load and a CD4 count of 1,500? Please explain!
Anabolic Steroids and HIV/Hepatitis B Coinfection
I am a 30-year-old professional model and athlete. I was diagnosed with HIV five years ago and hepatitis B (hep B) a little less than two years ago. I am taking Atripla (efavirenz/tenofovir/FTC) and my HIV viral load is 125 copies while my hep B viral load is 10,000 copies. I would like to regain a few pounds as well as some muscle mass that I’ve lost since starting on Atripla. I did a cycle of Equipoise and Winstrol before I was diagnosed with hep B, and it worked great. Would doing another eight-week cycle of steroids — either Deca-Durabolin (nandrolone decanoate) or Equipoise, along with Winstrol — affect my liver now that I have hep B?

Also Worth Noting: Breaking Research: In-Depth Coverage of CROI 2009

CROI 2009: Montréal, February 8-11

Articles and podcasts continue to flood in from TheBody.com’s coverage of CROI 2009, the 16th Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections. Visit our CROI 2009 home page throughout the month as we add more highlights!

MIXED-STATUS COUPLES

Any Tips for a Mixed-Status Couple?
I was diagnosed in March of 2008. I am taking Atripla (efavirenz/tenofovir/FTC) and am proud to say that thus far I have been 100 percent compliant. My viral load recently dropped to undetectable levels, I feel great and my fiancée has been wonderful. We have a fairly active sex life consisting of protected vaginal and anal intercourse, as well as unprotected oral sex. My fiancée has been tested every three to four months since my diagnosis, and all her tests have come back negative. Is this enough? As a doctor who is also a member of a magnetic couple (one partner positive, the other negative), do you have any recommendations for us?

HIV TREATMENT

Should I Switch From Sustiva to Reyataz?
I have been on Sustiva (efavirenz, Stocrin) and Truvada (tenofovir/FTC) for the past four years with great results: My viral load is undetectable and my CD4 count is 900. Lately, however, I have had chronic, persistent fatigue in the mornings and dizziness at night. I’m considering changing my Sustiva to Reyataz (atazanavir) boosted with Norvir (ritonavir), or possibly lowering my dose of Sustiva to reduce these unpleasant side effects. Would either of these make sense, or is it risky to change a regimen that is otherwise working great for me?
What Do You Think of a Regimen of Isentress + Intelence?
I’ve been positive for seven years and since starting treatment, my viral load has remained undetectable on several regimens. However, I have severe fat loss in my cheeks and body, and switching regimens has not helped me regain fat. I’m currently on Isentress (raltegravir), Sustiva (efavirenz, Stocrin) and Viread (tenofovir) but I’m thinking of dropping Viread and Sustiva and just taking Intelence (etravirine) with the Isentress. Is a two-drug regimen unusual? Do you think this is too risky a move to make just to recover some fat?
Do I Have to Take Atripla on an Empty Stomach?
It’s recommended that Atripla (efavirenz/tenofovir/FTC) be taken on an empty stomach, but I like to eat at night. Will taking Atripla with food affect the way the drug works?

Also Worth Noting: Visual AIDS

Image from the January 2009 Visual AIDS Web Gallery
"Gay Pride Parade, NY," Luis Carle

Visit the February 2009 Visual AIDS Web Gallery to view our latest collection of art by HIV-positive artists! This month’s gallery, entitled "In the Flesh," is curated by Jo-ey Tang.

HEALTH ISSUES & SIDE EFFECTS

Which Side Effect Do I Want?
I started on Truvada (tenofovir/FTC) and Viramune (nevirapine) 18 months ago. One year into treatment, a bone density scan showed that I had moderate osteopenia (bone loss). Since the tenofovir in Truvada has been linked to bone problems, I planned to switch from Truvada to Ziagen (abacavir) — until I saw recent studies regarding Ziagen and cardiovascular problems. Do I have to choose between dealing with bone problems and risking a heart attack? What would you do?
What Will Help My Extreme Fatigue?
I am 34 years old and have been HIV positive for 18 years. My viral load is 759 and my CD4 count is 387. I am currently taking Isentress (raltegravir), Epzicom (abacavir/3TC, Kivexa) and Viread (tenofovir). The problem is that I have absolutely no energy. I sleep between 13 and 17 hours a day — energy-wise, I feel no better now than I did with a CD4 count of 6 and a viral load of 750,000. I have read that taking Provigil (modafinil) may help my fatigue. What do you think I should do?
Can Tamoxifen Affect My Lipoatrophy Treatments?
I began taking tamoxifen (Nolvadex) four months ago to reduce male breast enlargement (gynecomastia), most likely caused by taking Sustiva (efavirenz, Stocrin) for my HIV along with Propecia (finasteride) for hair loss. The tamoxifen seems to be doing its job, but my dermatologist thinks it is causing my Sculptra (poly-L-lactic acid, New-Fill) facial wasting treatments to wear off more quickly than usual. Have you ever heard of such a thing?
Allergic to Sulfa Meds: Can I Still Take Prezista?
I am severely allergic to Bactrim (sulfamethoxazole and trimethoprim) and other sulfa-based meds. Is it safe for me to start taking Prezista (darunavir)?

Also Worth Noting: Connect With Others

Homophobic U.S. Preachers Denied Entry to the United Kingdom
(A recent post from the "Gay Men" board)
Hot off the presses: The UK government has just announced that Kansas-based preachers Rev. Fred Phelps and Shirley Phelps-Roper, whose slogan is "God Hates Fags," will be denied entry to the UK if they arrive tomorrow, as promised, to picket a play about the brutal 1998 homophobic murder of Matthew Shepard, a gay student at the University of Wyoming. Rev. Phelps and his followers picketed Matthew’s funeral with banners proclaiming such things as "Matt Shepard Rots in Hell," "AIDS Kills Fags Dead" and "God Hates Fags."
— Ruairi

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HIV gene therapy trial promising

Posted by pozlife on February 17, 2009

 

The therapy aims to stop HIV re-producing

One of the first attempts to use gene therapy to treat HIV has produced promising results in clinical trials.

When the therapy was tested on 74 patients, it was shown to be safe and appeared to reduce the effect of the virus on the immune system.

In theory, one treatment should be enough to replace the need for a lifetime of antiretroviral therapy.

The study, by the University of California, Los Angeles, appears in the journal Nature Medicine.

http://newsimg.bbc.co.uk/shared/img/o.gif

http://newsimg.bbc.co.uk/nol/shared/img/v3/start_quote_rb.gifThe researchers have shown enough of an effect for us to be hopeful that a gene therapy approach to HIV treatment might eventually deliver effective treatments for the disease http://newsimg.bbc.co.uk/nol/shared/img/v3/end_quote_rb.gif

Keith Alcorn
HIV information service NAM

Highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) has greatly improved the prognosis for people infected with HIV.

However, it must be taken on a daily basis, there is a risk of adverse reactions and the virus – which has an astonishing capacity to evolve rapidly – is starting to develop resistance to the drugs.

Therefore, new ways to combat the virus are badly needed.

Stem cells

The latest therapy involves giving patients blood stem cells modified to carry a molecule called OZ1, which is designed to stop HIV reproducing itself by targeting two key proteins.

The patients in the trial either received the therapy, or a dummy treatment.

After 48 weeks the researchers found there was no statistically significant difference in the amount of HIV circulating in the blood of the two groups of patients.

However, after 100 weeks the patients who received the gene therapy had higher levels of CD4+ cells – the key cells of the immune system which are specifically destroyed by HIV.

Lead researcher, Professor Ronald Mitsuyasu, said the research was the first to come through tightly controlled trials in which patients did not know whether they were getting the therapy or the placebo.

He said: "Gene therapy has the potential of needing only a one-time or infrequent administration of product and would allow the patients to control their own HIV internally without the need for continuous drug therapy.

"While this treatment is far from being perfected, it is not yet as effective or as complete as current antiretroviral therapy in controlling HIV, the study did show proof of concept that inserting and administering a single anti-HIV gene in the patients’ own blood stem cells and giving it back to them could reduce viral replication to some degree when anti-HIV medications are stopped."

However, Professor Mitsuyasu said long-term follow up was needed to ensure the therapy was safe.

‘Exciting’ area

Jo Robinson, of the HIV charity Terrence Higgins Trust, said: "Gene therapy is an exciting area which aims to create a one off treatment for HIV, avoiding the need for people to take daily medication.

"However, it’s a very complex area and early days in research terms so we’re a long way from something like this being on the market.

"This particular trial proved safe and has shown some promising results which definitely warrant further investigation.

"Some people find their HIV becomes resistant to current treatments over time so it’s essential that we invest in researching potential new approaches like this."

Keith Alcorn, of the HIV information service NAM, said: "The viral load responses in this study were very modest, and for any other sort of product would not justify going forward.

"However, the researchers have shown enough of an effect for us to be hopeful that a gene therapy approach to HIV treatment might eventually deliver effective treatments for the disease."

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Show on the road: Top 10 kitsch destinations

Posted by pozlife on February 8, 2009

by Aefa Mulholland

Highbrow destinations and lofty, cerebral cultural attractions are not for all of us. Sure, long days spent pouring over masterpieces might be all that some people desire to fill vacation days, but if there’s a drive-thru shaped like an oversize hot dog or a quirky museum dedicated to questionable medical devices (St. Paul, Minn.), neon art (Los Angeles) or lunch boxes (Columbus, Ga.) nearby, they will always top my to-do list.

Sadly, some of my favorite attractions, such as Lexington’s biblically themed mini-golf course (complete with elves and gnomes standing in for apostles), and Portland, Ore.’s 24-hour Church of Elvis, are no more, but there are still plenty of kitsch pit stops to be made. Read on for some of my favorite offbeat attractions around the country.

1. Dollywood, Pigeon Forge, Tenn.
http://www.dollywood.com
Dolly Parton’s Tennessee mountain home, a butterfly-adorned family fun park in the Smokies, offers a slew of Dolly-themed diversions, as well as rides including Beaver Creek, Piggy Parade, Rockin’ Roadway and Tennessee Tornado.

2. Las Vegas, Nev.
http://www.visitlasvegas.com
The motherlode of kitsch, Vegas offers a veritable overload of the splashiest, trashiest, campest sights in the country, from the Liberace Museum and Elvis impersonators by the score to the astounding heights of architectural kitsch that the casinos have reached.

3. The Donut Hole
Los Angeles
http://search.cityguide.aol.com/losangeles/restaurants/donut
-hole/v-138202
A donut drive-thru to beat all other drive-thrus, the Donut Hole in La Puente, about 12 miles east of downtown Los Angeles, is actually a tunnel between two chocolate-covered half donuts.

4. Shady Dell RV Park
Bisbee, Ariz.
http://www.theshadydell.com
This cache of vintage aluminum travel trailers in this former copper-mining town in the Mule Mountains is the perfect place to stay during Bisbee’s annual gay Pride celebrations (June; http://www.bisbeepride.com). Check into a 1949 Airstream, 1950 Spartanette or 1951 Royal Mansion, have yourself a little something to eat at Dot’s diner, then go back to your rig and turn up the cassettes of big-band music thoughtfully provided within.

5. Graceland
Memphis, Tenn.
http://www.elvis.com
The King of Kitsch’s home life is preserved in all its glittery, manically patterned shag-carpeted glory at his Memphis mansion. Join the determined flow of middle-aged Middle Americans as you trot through the ground floor and grounds.

6. Velveteria
Portland, Ore.
http://www.velveteria.com
Velvet paintings, from Yoda to Elizabeth Taylor to the Virgin of Guadelupe, as well as changing exhibitions, are on show in this purple shag-carpeted, pink-curtained and tiger-striped treasure trove of tack.

7. The Grand Guitar
Bristol, Tenn.
http://www.talentondisplay.com/grandguitar.html
Home to a guitar store, a museum and a radio station (country, of course), the world’s only three-story guitar-shaped building nestles on the border of Virginia and Tennessee, three miles outside Bristol.

8. The Museum of Bad Art
Dedham, Mass.
http://www.museumofbadart.org
Wonder at the marvels within at this Boston-area museum, the world’s only cultural institution "dedicated to the collection, preservation, exhibition and celebration of bad art in all its forms."

9. Madonna Inn
San Luis Obispo, Calif.
http://www.madonnainn.com
Choose from uniquely quirky quarters at the Madonna Inn, an eclectic 109-room marvel with accommodations including the zebra-saturated Jungle Rock room or Caveman and Rock Bottom rooms, where boulders are big and Flintstones fantasies are plentiful.

10. Bob’s Java Jive
Tacoma, Wash.
http://www.roadsideamerica.com/attract/WATACjavajive.html
Although former residents Java and Jive, a duo of caffeine-fueled drummer chimps, are no longer in residence, Tacoma’s coffee-pot-shaped bar still manages to work up a ruckus, with live bands playing in the venerable venue most nights of the week.

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