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Elsa Pataky

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80 MIAMI LIVING HIV Report: Points of Action Give thought to these points … and then act Words by Marla E. Schwartz HEALTH Florida is fresh off a successful 2009 Florida AIDS Walk, where actor and activist Blair Underwood joined thousands of people to help raise money to support the expansion of HIV/AIDS medical and support services. This includes free HIV testing and prevention education in Broward and Miami-Dade counties, as well serving to raise awareness about the 125,000 Floridians who live with HIV/AIDS. Officials with AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), which sponsored this event, report they raised $351,500, thanks to the more than 2,000 walkers, 175 teams, 400 volunteers, numerous virtual walkers, team captains, fundraisers, donors, and sponsors of this 6.2-mile, 2-hour walk. But there's still more work to be done in the trenches. Ban against foreigners For instance, this outdated and discriminatory law still exists. Oh, you thought this out-dated concept was finally overturned? Read on…. "Last summer President Bush removed HIV from the limitations to enter the USA, but it hasn't actually been removed from the system," according to ML's resident HIV/AIDS specialist/activist, Filippo von Schloesser. "According to the Electronic System Travel Authorization (ESTA) procedure that one must file in order to obtain permission to travel to the USA, it's still a requirement for one to make a declaration stating that the traveler has no communicable disease, and among them a special mention is made of HIV." We must pressure the ESTA to remove this illegal requirement. After all, people who have HIV/AIDS are not criminals, and it's time they stop being treated as such. Erectile dysfunction in HIV This past November in London, the 10th International Workshop on Adverse Drug Reactions and Lipodystrophy in HIV and Side Effects brought together delegates from across the globe to explore recent advances on the metabolic complications associated with HIV treatment. During this workshop, a group of Italian researchers presented a study showing erectile dysfunction (ED) was present in 469 sexually active patients in Italy. What did they discover? In a nutshell, "ED has not been linked to antiretroviral therapy, but personal aesthetic satisfaction of the body." This might explain, but not justify, the use of drugs that decrease the personal and social discomfort in some people who show evidence of lipodystrophy. It's important so speak to your doctor for a proper evaluation. Meth use in presence of HIV is linked to cancer A recent US study monitored 2,249 HIV positive men and found 171 diagnosed cases of non-Hodgkin lymphomas (NHLs). This led researchers to discover that individuals who used methamphetamine (crystal meth) five times a week were more exposed than others. Antiretroviral treatment allows the immune system to recover, sustain, and protect the body from other infections. It's a way for helping to improve the quality and length of life for people with HIV. However, many times this recovery is only partial and people with HIV are more likely to develop tumors, cervical cancer, lymphoma, and Kaposi sarcoma. "If you use recreational drugs in an attempt to feel better, the short- term benefits of such a choice will only pose further risk toward debilitating your immune system." Filippo pointed out. If you find yourself suffering from such an addiction, call Miami's 24-Hour Crisis Intervention center: (800) 626-1980. More data on the risk of HIV transmission A recent study published by Professor Brian Gazzard (Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, London) confirms that the use of antiretroviral therapy decreases the risk of transmission, especially when the viral load has been undetectable for at least six months. The incidence of transmission in the presence of antiretroviral therapy brings the risk down to 5%, as reported in large cohort studies. "The risk goes to zero if both the condom and the antiretroviral therapy are in use. Both protection strategies, when used in combination by the person with HIV, prevent the spread of all other sexually transmitted diseases," Filippo explained. According to the most recent statistics, 36.4% of every 100,000 Floridians aged 13 and up are newly infected with HIV. This is more than 60% higher than the national rate of 22.8% out of 100,000 people. Therefore, it's important that everyone understand the hazards they face in all of the above- mentioned categories. "As HIV infection continues to affect a wide variety of populations in Florida, AHF is dedicated to providing effective prevention, including free HIV testing, and high-quality medical care to those living with HIV/AIDS in the state," said Michael Kahane, AHF's Bureau Chief, Southern Region. ML

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