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August 1, 2012
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Fw: Hot Topics at’s “Ask the Experts” Forums

From: “News at The Body” <>
Date: 07 Aug 2012 16:54:53 -0400
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Subject: Hot Topics at’s “Ask the Experts” Forums

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August 7, 2012 Visit the Forums “Hot Topics” Library Change/Update Subscription

Living With HIV  Where Are the Social Groups That Don’t Involve Substances?
I belong to a support group for HIV-positive men, and most of them are abusing drugs and/or alcohol. Some are using daily. There are no social functions in my city for people living with HIV that don’t include these mind-altering substances. I was diagnosed with HIV 26 years ago; I’ve used drugs and alcohol over the years but every time I did, my numbers got bad. What can I do about the lack of resources for those of us living with HIV who want to hang out together while still taking care of our bodies?

David Fawcett, Ph.D., L.C.S.W., responds in the “Substance Use and HIV” forum
Nutrition, Exercise & HIV/AIDS  How Can I Reduce My Large Belly?
I take Sustiva (efavirenz, Stocrin) and Truvada (tenofovir/FTC). My CD4 count is 545 and my viral load is undetectable. Recently I’ve been troubled by the expansion of my belly, and even my breast area and shoulders to an extent. What could be causing this, and what can I do about it? Can testosterone levels play a role or does it all have to do with diet and exercise, or lack thereof?

Nelson Vergel responds in the “Nutrition and Exercise” forum
Mixed-Status Couples  How Could My Partner Become HIV Positive if We Were Monogamous?
My partner just got diagnosed with HIV. Back in November 2011 we both got tested before we decided to stop using protection, and both our tests came back negative. All this time I assumed our relationship was monogamous, but I’m not so sure now. I’ve tested HIV negative again following his diagnosis, which is a relief, but I’m also pretty confused. How reliable are the tests we’ve taken? Is it possible that his first test was a false negative?

David Wohl, M.D., responds in the “Safe Sex and HIV Prevention” forum
Insurance, Workplace & Legal Concerns  Will We Be Insurable Under the New Health Care Law?
Do we know yet whether the new health care law will keep insurance companies from denying an HIV-positive person insurance coverage? If I understand it correctly, denying coverage on the basis of pre-existing health issues will be against the law. If they can’t deny you coverage, will they just make our premiums sky-high? Also, does Medicare cover HIV drugs?

Jacques Chambers, C.L.U., responds in the “Workplace and Insurance Issues” forum

 What Can I Do if the Hospital Ignores My Advanced Directive?
My CD4 count is now too low to measure. A little while ago I was extremely ill with PCP (pneumocystis pneumonia). While I was unable to communicate, the decision was made to treat my PCP, which goes against my legal advanced directive. What can I do to get this matter resolved?

Christa Douaihy, Esq., responds in the “Legal Issues and HIV” forum
Visual AIDS: Art from HIV-Positive Artists
Image from the August 2012 Visual AIDS gallery Detail from:
“Listening to Each Other,” 2006
Albert J. Winn (with Richard Sawdon Smith)

Visit the August 2012 Visual AIDS Web Gallery to view our latest collection of art by HIV-positive artists! This month’s gallery, "Bloodbrothers," is curated by David Serotte.

HIV/AIDS Treatment  What’s a Modern HIV Med Regimen Without Truvada?
What might a Truvada (tenofovir/FTC)-sparing HIV med regimen look like? What are some viable alternatives to this popular combination pill? What kinds of side effects would I need to look out for with these other meds?

Benjamin Young, M.D., Ph.D., responds in the “Choosing Your Meds” forum

 What if I Can’t Swallow Big Pills?
If a person is unable to swallow whole pills, can HIV meds be crushed and taken as powders? Do any HIV meds come in forms other than pills? Do you know of any tricks for increasing comfort with swallowing large tablets?

Nelson Vergel responds in the “Aging With HIV” forum

 Did My Switch to a Different Form of Viramune Cause Side Effects?
I’ve been taking Epzicom (abacavir/3TC, Kivexa) and Viramune (nevirapine) for years with no major side effects. A few months ago I switched to Viramune XR, the extended-release pill that can be taken just once per day instead of twice. Around the same time, I started experiencing cold symptoms and severe lack of energy, no matter how much sleep I get. I’ve taken two rounds of antibiotics but I keep getting sick. My viral load is still undetectable and my T cells are going up (above 500). Could the switch to the XR pill be behind these symptoms?

Keith Henry, M.D., responds in the “Managing Side Effects of HIV Treatment” forum
Other Health Issues & HIV/AIDS  Can You Help Me Understand This Bone Density Study?
I’m a 25-year-old man; I’ve been HIV positive for around three years, on HIV meds for almost two of those. I’ve been reading a summary of a study of bone density in young men living with HIV, and I’m wondering: Am I still at risk for bone loss if I take supplements, eat well, exercise, and have normal calcium and vitamin D levels? Were there any lifestyle factors that came into play with this study population?

Keith Henry, M.D., responds in the “Managing Side Effects of HIV Treatment” forum

 What More Can I Do to Treat My Hepatitis C?
I’m coinfected with HIV and hepatitis C (hep C), and my liver is at the level of cirrhosis. I have hep C genotype 4, which is uncommon in the West. I only just started treatment; my doctors say my platelets are dangerously low and they may have to stop. They say they have no more treatments to offer me, and it sounds as if they’re preparing me for death. However, I feel OK. Aren’t there any other options available to me?

Barbara McGovern, M.D., responds in the “Hepatitis and HIV Coinfection” forum

More Questions About Other Health Issues & HIV/AIDS:

Connect With Others Stigma at Work: How Can People Be So Cruel? What Should I Do?
(A recent post from the "Living With HIV" board)

I was diagnosed 7 years ago. When I returned to work after 6 weeks, I was very very thin, and rumors swirled around work about why I was out for so long. … I quickly gained weight and life resumed to normal — no more rumors, no more speculation — until now …

I work with two of the most hateful women to ever walk the planet Earth. They’re gossipy, rude and just mean. One of them took it upon herself to start the HIV gossip up again, but this time adding that she doesn’t feel sorry for me and that I deserved HIV. WTF?! … She told a multitude of people and it got back to me. … I was so mortified … I was angry … I was hurt … I went to my manager in tears …

It has taken me years of self doubt, of being scared and fighting with my own inner demons … I’ve finally come to peace with my status, I’ve finally accepted it and I’m in a good place … only to have someone knock me down …

What do you think I should do next? Do I let it go? Or do I take a stand and fight, and say it’s not OK to say things like that, to gossip and be hateful? — hellfire

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Understanding HIV/AIDS Labs  Is My Viral Load Telling Me It’s Time to Take Meds?
I tested HIV positive less than a month ago. My CD4 count is 564 and my viral load is 14,228. Is that considered a high viral load? Is there anything I can do to bring my viral load down, since my CD4 count seems to be fine?

Benjamin Young, M.D., Ph.D., responds in the “Choosing Your Meds” forum
HIV Transmission  Could I Have Come in Contact With HIV at the Dentist?
I read something in a magazine about a case of HIV transmission at a dental care facility. I once went to a dentist for a tooth extraction, and I bled a lot. Do you think I’m at risk for HIV based on that encounter at the dentist?

Erik Glenn, M.A., responds in the “Safe Sex and HIV Prevention” forum

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Nelson Vergel
Nelson Vergel
Chemical engineer, 34+ year HIV and cancer survivor, health author and educator . Founder of , , and

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