Hot Topics: Slowing CD4 Decline; Pill Care on Road Trips; Assessing Your Brain Health; and More

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June 10, 2014 Visit the Forums Read Past Email Newsletters Change/Update Subscription

Living With HIV

 Can I Slow My CD4 Decline Without Taking Meds?
I’m a woman who’s been living with HIV for four years, but hasn’t started medications. I’m in good health, but my CD4 count is dropping very slowly. Is there anything I can do to delay starting HIV treatment as long as possible?

Nelson Vergel responds in the “Nutrition and Exercise” forum

 How Does Substance Use Affect Our Lives With HIV?
How does the use of recreational drugs — crystal meth, for instance — affect our life expectancy as people with HIV? If I’m diagnosed late while doing drugs, how does drug addiction change my chances for long-term survival?

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

 Is Xanax a Good Way to Reduce Bedtime Anxiety?
I sometimes have panic attacks at bedtime, and they often result in my not sleeping for 24 hours or more. My doctor has prescribed Xanax to help, and it’s calmed me down a bit, but is this the right solution?

David Fawcett, Ph.D., L.C.S.W., responds in the “Mental Health and HIV” forum

 What Are the Best Developing Countries to Live in With HIV?
As I reach retirement age, I’m considering moving outside the U.S. Where would be the best place to find information about retiring overseas (Mexico, Thailand, Costa Rica) for someone who has HIV?

Nelson Vergel responds in the “Aging With HIV” forum

 Lynda Arnold: Living With Memory Loss
thumbnail image for blurb“I don’t remember how long I truly have been battling this,” blogger Lynda Arnold writes, “but I do know that in the past two years it has risen to a crisis in my mind.”

hiv is not a crime

thumbnail image for blurbMore than 30 years into the HIV epidemic, the general public remains remarkably uninformed about the nature of HIV. This misinformation, combined with rampant HIV stigma, has created a landscape in the U.S. and in many other countries where laws regarding HIV transmission are based on HIV myths and stigma rather than cogent scientific fact.’s HIV Criminalization Spotlight Series aims to show the faces of those affected by criminalization, report on the progress of anti-criminalization activists nationwide and abroad and dispel the stigma around HIV. Come read our latest additions!

HIV/AIDS Treatment

 Will My HIV Meds Survive a Road Trip?
I’m a 60-year-old man doing well on Complera. I’ve been planning a two-week motorcycle trip through an area where temperatures can often be over 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Will my Complera be OK?

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

 Pluses and Minuses of Stribild
I had settled on starting Stribild, but I heard other poz folks say they would go with Tivicay plus Truvada over Stribild. Can you help me decide?

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

 Is Atripla OK for Pregnant Women?
My wife and I are planning to have a baby. She is currently on Atripla, has an undetectable viral load and a CD4 count of 520. Should she switch off of the Atripla, or will it be safe for her during pregnancy?

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

 You and Your Meds: The Dance of a Lifetime
thumbnail image for blurbAs the saying goes: It takes two to tango. With good preparation and coordination, you and your meds will dance together beautifully — a partnership that will likely keep you healthy for the rest of your (long) life.

Other Health Issues & HIV/AIDS

 Neurocognitive Problems: How Can I Know for Sure?
Is it possible that, despite maintaining viral control in the blood, my HIV meds are not adequately penetrating into my brain? How can I tell if the neurological symptoms I’ve been experiencing lately are a prelude to HIV-associated neurocognitive disorder (HAND)?

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

 How Do I Get My Butt Back?
I’m having an issue with wasting of buttock area and was wondering what are my options are to treat it. I don’t want implants because I have heard they can be dangerous due to infection and the recovery is long.

Nelson Vergel responds in the “Nutrition and Exercise” forum

 Is My Hair Loss Caused By Stress or Meds?
I was diagnosed in January 2014. I am now on week 10 of treatment. I noticed about five to six weeks ago that hair has been brittle and falling out, noticeably when I run my hands through my hair. How can I figure out what’s causing this and how to fix it?

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

other sides of hiv

thumbnail image for blurbMany types of medications can save or improve lives, but they can also have unintended consequences. Side effects of meds (whether for HIV or some other condition) can be mild or life altering, horrible or even pleasurable; some people living with HIV never experience any at all. Whether you’ve worried about side effects or dealt with them firsthand, it seems like everyone’s got a story about them. We want to know about yours.

To share your “side effects” story, write it out in 1,000 words or fewer, or film a YouTube video, and email it to Many readers’ stories will be posted on!

HIV Transmission

 Can PEP and Pregnancy Mix?
I’m on day 10 of my HIV post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP). My wife has mentioned wanting to try to have a baby in the near future. Can we do this while I’m on PEP — and if she gets pregnant, are there risks of side effects to the baby from me taking this medication?

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

 How Can I Get Over My Fear of HIV Testing?
I am scared to get the HIV test. I need to talk to a friendly doctor who won’t scare me and can reassure me that the symptoms I’m feeling can be fixed. Do you know of any gay-friendly doctors I can turn to?

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

 Long-Term HIV Risk Estimate for Mixed-Status Couples Is Not Zero
thumbnail image for blurbThe risk of transmitting HIV within mixed-status couples may be higher than the “zero” number widely reported in a recent major study, even when the positive partner is on treatment and condoms are being used consistently.

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