Archive for November 2015

Vitamin D sufficiency may speed up immune recovery during HAART

November 20, 2015

From medicalnewstoday.com

vitimin D aids HARRTThere are an estimated 33 million people infected with HIV worldwide – 1.2 million of them in the US. The advent in 1996 of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) – a combination of different classes of medications taken daily – means that for many patients who have access to the medication, what was once a fatal diagnosis can now be managed as a chronic disease.

For their study, Prof. Ezeamama and colleagues examined 18 months of data for 398 HIV-positive adults on HAART.

The data included a measure of participants’ vitamin D levels at the start of the trial (baseline) and their CD4 cell counts at months 0, 3, 6, 12 and 18.

In their analysis, the researchers looked at how the changes in CD4 cell counts related to the baseline levels of vitamin D over the study period.

They found that participants with sufficient levels of vitamin D at baseline recovered more of their immune function than participants with vitamin D deficiency.

Read the full story.

More on the Pitt study: People with HIV leading healthy lives into old age

November 17, 2015

From Pittsburgh’s Tribune Review

Treatments for HIV have evolved through several generations since August “Buzz” Pusateri tested positive for the virus 30 years ago. The latest drugs promise a near-normal life span with few side effects for people newly diagnosed. But side effects of earlier drugs, and damage the drugs couldn’t prevent, linger in Pusateri’s 77-year-old body.

In addition to two pills for HIV, he takes medicine to relieve numbness in his feet likely caused by early treatments. He wears a beard to cover facial scarring that new patients won’t get, and some of his body’s fat has migrated to his midsection, creating a condition known as lipodystrophy. “It’s been an up-and-down battle,” said Pusateri, of Oakland. “Really, with this HIV, you never know what’s going to happen to you.” Pusateri is among the oldest in a group of people observing a milestone many never imagined: 2015 is the first year the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has estimated more than half of people living with HIV may be older than 50.

“No one would have believed this 30 years ago,” said Ron Stall, director of the Center for LGBT Health Research at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health. Stall recently received a $2.1 million National Institutes of Health grant for a three-year study of what he calls “resiliencies” or the social and emotional characteristics of men who stayed healthy while living with HIV or who are at risk of contracting it.

Stall is beginning the study amid increased attention from doctors and medical researchers on how the human immunodeficiency virus and its treatments affect aging. Without treatment, life expectancy for someone with the virus is about 10 years, he said.

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“Why I wiped HIV off my face”

November 2, 2015

By Mark S. King

From TheBody.com

mark2014Some years ago, I told someone that I was HIV positive before I agreed to his invitation for a date. “Yeah, I know,” he casually replied, and then he looked a little embarrassed, as if he shouldn’t have said it. It was too late, of course; I knew exactly what he meant. He could tell my HIV status by my face.

I had The Look. The sunken, wasted cheeks of someone living with HIV. It became a common manifestation in the 1980’s and persisted until the medications that caused the condition, known as facial lipoatrophy, were changed or abandoned for better treatment.

Today, facial lipoatrophy is almost exclusively limited to long-term HIV survivors who used medications like d4t and ddi more than twenty years ago.

I’m one of those long-term survivors. I am proud of my history advocating and living with HIV. But as uncomfortable as it may be to admit, it’s a lot easier to live openly as a person with HIV when you don’t look like it.

When the symptoms began to appear, it meant that the choice to share my status, as an activist or on a personal level, had been taken away. My HIV was written across my face for all to see.

I felt ashamed, and then conflicted. For someone who has been fighting so hard to reduce HIV stigma, what is there to be ashamed of, exactly? Many of the physical signs of HIV treatment — from weight loss to fat redistribution to facial wasting — are worn as battle scars, if not badges of honor, by thousands of people living with HIV. My disease is mirrored in my physicality. What’s wrong with that?

Eventually, I realized that correcting my facial wasting was no different than improving my t-cell counts. I wasn’t making a political statement — I was improving my health and well-being.

And so, I began a journey that would include multiple visits to a specialist and more than $20,000 worth of various “facial filler” products injected into my face…

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