Danish scientists say they’re “months” away from HIV Cure

Could scientists be close to a cure for a disease that has killed more than 25 million people since 1981? We realize now it is not a death sentence like it was before but a cure is what we ultimately seek. According to the Daily Telegraph, researchers at Denmark’s Aarhus University Hospital believe they are “within months” of a breakthrough that could lead to an affordable cure for the millions of people living with the disease.

There are even some investments to possibly get in on a cure payout. Sangamo BioSciences, Inc. (SGMO: NASDAQ) is a clinical stage biopharmaceutical company is engaged in the research, development and commercialization of zinc finger deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA)-binding proteins (ZFPs), a naturally occurring class of proteins. Its lead ZFP Therapeutic, SB-728-T, a ZFN-modified autologous T-cell product for the treatment of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)/acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS), is the first therapeutic application of its ZFN technology and is being evaluated in an ongoing Phase 11 and two Phase I/II clinical trials.

But more about the Danish Scientists technique which involves flushing the HIV from “reservoirs” in human DNA to the surface of cells. With the help of a separate vaccine, the human body would then be able to kill the virus with its own immune system. “I am almost certain that we will be successful in releasing the reservoirs of HIV,” said Aarhus University research team member Dr Ole Søgaard, who remained optimistic but cautious about the potential results.
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HIV Stigma could kill you if you do not get treated

This is from a Facebook post that is a lifesaver if you ask me. HIV Stigma is such a huge thing and most people blow off HIV and think they will not come down with complications from it or die from it. With so many ways to get tested now you do not have to worry about going into a clinic and seeing piers to do it. Just go into a Walgreens or CVS or pick up an oral test online. Getting tested though is not the concern it is getting treated and you MUST get treated if you know that you have the virus. Let’s come together and fight this stigma not only on World Aids Day, December 1st, but everyday.

Recently I had a friend (who shall remain nameless, of course) confide to me that he is HIV-positive. He had concealed this from most people, including me, for far longer than I would have guessed. In fact, when I asked him how long it had been since he found out, I expected an answer in terms of weeks or months at the most. In actuality he had been HIV-positive for at least two years, if not more, and by this time he was noticeably experiencing more and more symptoms of an immune system under duress. The reason he disclosed his status to me is because he wanted advice on how to go about seeking medical treatment due to his lack of insurance. Understandably, many uninsured individuals are wholly ignorant of the options available to them, especially when it concerns diagnoses as serious as HIV. The fact that he went two or more years without treatment, though disturbing since treatment should begin as soon as possible after discovery per emergent recommendations, is not what disturbed me most. What disturbed me most was the fact that he was not wholly ignorant of the options available to him but was afraid to utilize them because of perceived stigma. When I mentioned a facility in his city that provides linkage to services like prescription medications and further medical testing for the viral load and T-cell count, he told me he was aware it is there but he was afraid to make an appointment because he did not want to risk being seen by others he may know. This tells me that there truly is a disconnect between what is perceived by the general population and what the reality is.
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Oraquick Oral HIV Test Kit to use discreetly at home

There is now in home HIV test. The FDA has approved the test it is called the OraQuick In- Home HIV Test available at Walmart, RiteAid, Walgreens, and CVS. For only $40. This is great news for those who do not want to have to go in to a doctor and worry for a week to wait for blood results.

If you have slept with multiple sexual partners it doesn’t make you a bad person, it just means that you should be careful and get tested regularly. It’s understandable that submitting to an HIV test can be embarrassing, but it falls under the category of better safe than sorry. Today we now have the option of taking an HIV test and sending it in by mail to avoid the embarrassment of going in to the clinic or doctor’s office to be tested. The problem with this option is that it takes days to receive the test results. This is time that you spend at home scared and worried about what those results might be. What if you could take all the anxiety out of HIV testing, and do it from the privacy of your own home without the waiting? That question has finally been answered by the newly FDA approved OraQuick HIV home test kit.

OraQuick is based on the same HIV tests that doctors use. The test does not require a blood sample, just a simple swab of your gums which is completely painless. You only have to swab both your upper and lower gums one time each and place the swab in the test tube that comes with the kit. The test tube contains a special liquid that reacts with the oral fluid on the swab. When the oral fluid mixes with the liquid in the test tube it travels up the test stick and works much like a pregnancy test. The test stick shows a letter C and a letter T. If a dark line appears at the C, it simply means that the test is working. All you have to do is wait twenty minutes and the test is complete. If another line has appeared at the T that means that your test is positive. The test works by detecting any HIV-1 or HIV-2 antibodies that may be present in your oral fluid.
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How Shingles is Killing me inside and out

This is a gay mans struggle with shingles barely in my 30’s when the first case hit me with what felt of a heart attack or maybe even a stroke sensation the pain was unbearable. I though I could never go through it again and then a few years later it attached again. The first time it was mainly on the backside in a vertical show of blisters or dots on my back which were painful and itchy. You think chickenpox is bad which this virus is in the same family, you will find out this virus is far worse and can pretty much cripple your plans to do things in a normal environment and may keep you out of the public for awhile.

The second part of Shingles came on this summer right after I was re-potting trees outside in my backyard I got some dirt in my face which could have been a factor, My computer at home went out on me causing about as much stress as an animal dying because my computer is a human to me it has all my tax and business info on it and is something I cannot loose. Well It was lost as the motherboard crashed and they are telling me I cannot save my harddisk. The computer is still in repair at Sony and that could take months as slow as they are. Another factor is we had a trip planned to Puerto Vallarta and the humidity was overwhelming and I could feel myself getting sick but at that point I thought it was a sinus infection with my eye running non-stop. I did start feeling a strange tingling sensation when I laid down that I knew was not allergies. Something bad was going on.

When I returned from PVR I asked the Physicians Assistant what it could be and she said Sininutis. So she gave me the steroid and some Amoxyicilyn antibiotics. I took that for a day then discovered when I laid down there was a deeper, more fierce pain in my head when I laid down which could no way be allergies. There was also slight swelling around my eye. I thought I had some kind of cancer and was really freaking out.

I went back into the doctor this time and not the P.A. and he said as soon as he walked in the room I had Shingles. From there on the pain kept going up and up and it still has not ended. I got on Valtrex for one cycle plus added 3 days for my eye that was completely red. The Eye dr was worried about the redness in my eye and the inflammation in which I took a dilating drop every 3 hours and a steriod in my eye for every hour all during July 4th week and weekend. That will keep you off the lake and away from the bright sunshine. Although its also hard to drive in the daylight like this.

The shingles pain was a non-stop pain that really got annoying and made you just want to hang yourself. Just horrible. Then came the post-neuro pain which may even be worse it is SERIOUS and something my body just had to give me. The post pain has lasted now about 2 weeks and about 3 times a day it flares up somewhere on the head or eye area and then gives me this outrageous pain that even a terrorist suspect or someone on the electric chair would not even feel. This is a pain that feels like its going across the side of my head and back to the back and then in one targeted area near my eye with the piercing pain.

The shingles affected me from my right nose to my eye brow area around my eye lid over to the sides and all the way up to the end of the right scalp which is a horrible place to have this because there will be no combing or washing of the hair.

I have started taking Gabapentin which has helped some but yet I still get these 1 or 2 a day hardcore targeted pains that make me want to go into a seizure. Ambien for sleep and still doing the steroid eye drops even though my eye is still very irritated and blurry mostly.

I hope this ends it is killing me, hurting my business, and most of all taking away from my time I spend with others. With this horrible Shingles and Post pain it is really hard to be able to have dinner with friends or simple things like exercising. I am scared to get into the pool in case the water hits my head the wrong way and brings me into a pain measure.

I plan on going to the pain dr to hope something will help with this and pray that it ends soon because I do not think my body can handle much more of it.

Online STD Testing

In today’s world, sex outside of marriage is generally accepted for the straights and well us gays and lesbians can’t even get married in most cases and sometimes get into open relationships. Therefore, a person may have several sexual partners in their life especially before they find the right match. Unfortunately, some people have an STD, or sexually transmitted disease, and either may not know or may not tell their partner. This can lead to several complications, including severe infections, if gone untreated. However, it is embarrassing for most people to go to the doctor and admit they have been careless. Fortunately, there are online STD tests available for these individuals.

It is important to be tested and treated for an STD as soon as you suspect you may have one. Most are treatable and do not do much harm if caught within a short time of contracting it, but others do significant damage or are irreversible. The more harmful STDs include HIV, the human immunodeficiency virus, which is not curable and becomes AIDS later in life. Others, such as Hepatitis B and C, can be fatal, but may be curable or controllable. Less destructive STDs include Chlamydia, Syphilis, Gonorrhea, and Herpes. Excluding Herpes, these STDs are curable, and if caught in time do not cause much damage. Herpes is treatable, but is not curable at this time.

One of the most popular online resources is Just Get Tested, which offers comprehensive and confidential testing. After you register with the site, you can pay a fee for a test, and they will direct you to a laboratory to have your blood drawn or a urine specimen taken. The laboratory sends the samples back to the company for analysis, and they will tell you if you have an STD or not.

Another online resource similar to Just Get Tested is provided by Sterling Wellness Solutions, which is based in Louisiana. They also provide STD testing, by allowing you to pay online and visit a local laboratory to have specimens collected. Depending on your insurance’s policies, your testing may be covered by your insurance, costing you little or nothing. This site also offers a “Health Appraisal” questionnaire for members.

While on the subject of health questionnaires, if you would like to know what tests you should have done for your general well-being, it is well worth your time to check out STDWizard. This online service gives you a short survey about your habits and sexual history, and recommends testing based on your answers. The recommendations are provided by the CDC, also known as the Center for Disease Control.

Another reputable STD testing website is LabSafe.com. This website provides the same services as the afore mentioned services, and holds a strict privacy policy for all users. You pay for your testing, visit a laboratory, and receive your results from the company in a few days. The only downfall of this service is the slightly higher price than the other services.

STDs are a serious matter that must be dealt with as soon as you receive confirmation that you have one. You should visit your doctor with the information from the laboratory for proper treatment. Without proper care, an STD can cause more problems, including severe infections, infertility, sores, disruption of the nervous system, and death. If a pregnant woman has an STD, it can cause birth defects or she may even pass it onto the child. These services are on the internet to help you receive early confirmation and treatment, and to help protect yourself and your sexual partners. There are hundreds of services, but these are some of the most reputable services out there.

Think you may need to get tested now? Above is a coupon and a promotional code for $25 Off 8 Test STD Panel. Prefer to call and talk to someone about what all the STD test includes then you can with this toll free number: 877-350-0646.

Cosmetic Surgery for Gay Men

Cosmetic surgery for men is gaining in popularity, particularly for men between the ages of 30 and 60 years of age. Men may opt to have cosmetic surgery for elective reasons, to improve their confidence, or they may decide to have reconstructive surgery to repair congenital or developmental defects, abnormalities caused by tumors or other health problems, or injuries or other structural problems. Elective cosmetic surgery is generally not covered by insurance, while reconstructive surgery usually is.
Men have many options when it comes to cosmetic surgery. Botox and hyaluronic acid are injectable fillers that provide rejuvenation and provide a more youthful appearance immediately, and allow a man to return to his normal activities shortly after the procedure. Both offer only temporary results, however, and will need to be repeated. Costs may start around $300.

Blepharoplasty is an eyelid procedure that is performed under local anesthesia. It can reduce puffiness, hooding, and sagging, and men are left looking well-rested and fresh. Recovery time can take from one to two weeks. Costs begin around $2,000.

Cheek and chin augmentations, along with rhinoplasty (nose-job), offer men ways to sculpt and define their faces. These procedures may be performed individually, but are often performed in conjunction with one another under general anesthesia to maintain harmony of the facial features. Rhinoplasty may be either a reduction or an augmentation, depending upon the man’s desires and facial features. Recovery time ranges from a few days to two weeks. Average costs for a rhinoplasty are about $3,000.

Cosmetic surgery for men also includes such body sculpting options as tummy tucks and cheap liposuction. Men with stubborn fat deposits that do not respond to diet and exercise may appreciate liposuction’s ability to target the fat directly and remove it. Tummy tucks remove excess skin and tighten muscles. Tummy tucks can help men regain their former physique, whether their tone was lost through weight gain or normal aging. Recovery time can take from one to two weeks. Liposuction starts around $2,000.

Many men suffer from pseudo-gynecomastia, a condition in which fat tissue accumulates in their breasts. This can be relatively easily removed via liposuction as long as only fat tissue is present, and men may be able to return to work in less than a week. In men with true gynecomastia, a condition in which the breast has developed with fat as well as breast tissue, an excision may be necessary to remove the excess glandular tissue. Recovery time may be about two weeks. Costs vary according to procedure.

Hair is also a common concern for many men, whether it is a matter of too little or too much. Laser hair removal and hair transplants are both popular cosmetic options for men to look their best. Mini-grafts and micro-grafts are popular hair transplant techniques that produce quite natural results when used by skilled surgeons. Laser hair removal generally works by aiming a high intensity beam of light at the hair follicle. This may require more than one session, and it is important to discuss hair removal options with a dermatologist since not all laser hair removal systems work with all skin tones. Costs vary according to procedure.

Because cosmetic surgery for men is becoming more popular, it is important to know how to find a good surgeon. Any doctor is legally allowed to call themselves a cosmetic surgeon, but not all doctors are truly qualified to perform many of these procedures. It is important to select a board certified plastic surgeon. There are three plastic surgery boards: the American Board of Plastic Surgery, the American Board of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, and the American Board of Otolaryngology. A doctor’s credentials can also be verified by checking with the American Board of Medical Specialties.

In order to get the best possible results from their surgery experience, men should get into their best possible physical shape first. They should stop smoking, limit their alcohol consumption, and eat a healthy, balanced diet. They should be realistic about the results they expect and understand that no surgery – even elective surgery – is without risk.

Coconut Water The Next Big Health Kick?

You might think that some big celebrities throwing their money into certain business start-ups might be insane but the Queen of Pop always gets it right.  Madonna who already has a big investment in Live Nation thanks to her lucrative deal she signed over a year ago is not going Coco.  That is not the same Coco as in the nickname for Conan O’ Brien or Coco the drag queen but the actual juice from a green (young) coconut.

Madonna has invested, along with other celebrities such as her manager Guy Oseary,  and Matthew McConaughey.  She is seen as a brand loyalist of the Vita Coco brand which is the best-selling coconut water in the U.S.  It is also seen as one of the fastest growing beverages in the last few months.  2010 could be a major break out year for Coconut water especially now that Madonna and others are giving it so much free publicity.

You can find Vita Coco at Whole Foods, Safeway, and over 14,000 other retailers as well as online at vitacoco.com.  Vita Coco also plans on a major partnership with GNC stores nationwide.

The difference in Vita Coco and the other brands is that they have their own production facilities or factories as some will say.  This is good because it allows for them to maintain quality control and make sure the employees are treated right.

There are other brands that are competing in this big race for your tastebuds and healthy living.  One of the brands is the O.N.E brand which is a natural drink company who is sponsoring a major gay event known as the “White Party” in Palm Springs.

But Why Coconut Water?

Coconut water contains about 700mg of Potassium in a 11.2 oz serving size.  This is 15 times more than the average sports drink.    Potassium is essential for the muscles, kidney, and digestive system to operate normally.  Doctors such as Dr. Weil do not recommend supplements such as potassium though but then again how many of us get out and eat bananas everyday.  Not me.  Orange Juice has about the same benefits I would think though.

I have not totally been sold on the benefits yet of the just coconut water but there are other flavors such as the Acai berry and Promenade Juice that may offer some benefits.

CNBC reported in their show on Coca-Cola that they will be bringing out a coconut water because its the next new thing.. but then I see Madonna has even invested in this and now today Yahoo has its Buzz marked as one of the most popular search terms.   If Madonna’s is posting a facebook announcement about it and she is looking this good at her age then we should all be drinking it.  One thing is for sure it is much better than drinking Diet Coke or any of those nasty drinks that contain aspartame and much better than the drinks with high fructose corn syrup.

Acai Berry: Separating Facts from Fiction

A forbidden fruit takes us to that purple color of the rainbow that some sources say could help out in so many ways.  You should always be on the lookout for the next best thing when it comes to your health and we hope we spotted something that is not just some fad.  The acai berry (pronounced ah-sigh-ee) can be found in juices, energy drinks and supplements. The acai berry grows on a specific type of Amazonian palm tree, the Acai palm. Acai palms also produce some of the hearts of palm harvested in this region. The flavor of the berry is typically described as a combination of red wine and chocolate and the natural sugar levels are quite low.

Is the acai berry really a superfood? Extreme claims about this berry suggest that it has cancer fighting powers, can speed up weight loss and metabolism, slow aging and improve overall health. Even conservative analysis shows high concentrations of antioxidants, vitamins, and essential fatty acids.

Studies have shown that there are highly bioavailable antioxidants in acai berries, in quantities 10 times higher than those of red grapes and 10 to 30 times higher than red wine. The berry contains a balance of amino acids ideal for good muscular health. Specifics on the antioxidant absorption of acai berries can be found at Science Daily online. The essential fatty acids in these berries contain monounsaturated oleic acid, similar to olive oil. High levels of protein and fiber make this an excellent addition to any diet. The theobromine in these berries does cause a mild stimulant effect for some people.

While the acai berry is clearly a nutritionally dense and well balanced food, can it stand up to the miracle superfood and health claims suggested by some? While it has been called the #1 superfood in the world, there is not yet any proof that adding acai berry juice or pulp to your diet will not change your life or health in dramatic or amazing ways. There have been a few promising studies, including a University of Florida study that showed that acai berries triggered a self destruct response in cancer cells; however, this was just a cell culture study.  More information is available at University of Florida site.  Further studies may show additional benefits to these berries, but many of the claims are currently unfounded.

Acai berry is certainly a healthy addition to your diet, whether you opt for pulp or juice. There is, however, no proof that you will lose weight, change your health or live longer because you drink juice containing acai berries or take acai berry supplements. As is true of most foods, it is best to consume the food as opposed to supplements containing the food.

Can you get Swine Flu easier if you have HIV?

One of our readers sent in an interesting article today regarding the Swine Flu and HIV.  The media is hyping up this Swine flu thing bigger than the end of the world and I am sure there are many in the GLBT community panicking right now.  We try and find things on this blog that are real issues with the GLBT community and this is something that may be of concern as the news is breaking with new Swine flu cases and deaths everyday.

The article sent to us is from The Body (thebody.com).  They basically said that there is no need to panic if you have HIV and are worried about contracting the Swine Flu anymore than someone without HIV or AIDS.  You are not a special case and there is no emergent need to take any special precaution.

I’ve been reassuring my patients that they don’t really have to think about this flu differently than anyone else. And that’s in part because most of my patients are on HIV treatment and have undetectable viral loads and have decent CD4 counts. So for them, it really is not a special issue. It’s an issue we all have to be concerned about.

There was also a good question asked if the drugs Tamiflu and Relenza would interact with current HIV meds:

No, the drug can be used with antiretrovirals. There are no significant drug interactions. It can be used with the drugs we commonly use to treat or prevent pneumonia. So that really should not be a concern, but do keep in mind that if you were to develop flu and then develop pneumonia — of course by then, I hope you would be under the care of a doctor — that Bactrim [co-trimoxazole] may not be the right drug. So Bactrim’s a good drug for pneumocystis, but not a great drug for the types of pneumonia that might complicate flu.

I actually read two really good articles on the Swine Flu today one from Bottom line magazine that said to take some immune boosting supplements.  Keeping your immune system strong at a time like this is vital to staying away from this Swine Flu outbreak.  Actually turning down the TV to something other than Swine Flu news might also boost your immune system.  The media hype may not be too good either!

Some natural health fighting ways for ANYONE to stay away from the Swine Flu are to take Selenium, Vitamin C and D, and Lomatium dissectum, a member of the parsley family.   Selenium is the essential trace mineral is a valuable antioxidant that prevents cell damage from free radicals.

Selenium helps the immune system recognize viruses and block them from entering cells, explains Dr. Rubman. He recommends a dose of 400 micrograms (mcg) to 500 mcg a day divided into three parts — that is about four times the usual.

This doctor also advises to wash your hands a lot and to make sure you sneeze into a napkin or tissue instead of your own germ filled hands.  Another thing that caught my eye is the concoction he made up with Red Hot Chili peppers:

Another of Dr. Rubman’s flu-fighting favorites is a spicy tea concocted from echinacea, goldenseal, slippery elm bark and just a touch of the red-hot pepper capsicum. Echinacea, goldenseal and capsicum team up to fight off germs, while slippery elm allows the tea to coat the back of the throat, where viruses are most likely to take hold.

Here’s how to make it: At your local health-food store, purchase one-half ounce of powdered goldenseal root… one-half ounce of powdered echinacea root (not the whole plant)… two ounces of slippery elm bark powder… and one teaspoon of capsicum.

At home, put ingredients in a brown paper bag or plastic baggie, close tightly and shake. Transfer the contents to a screw-top jar. Give this jar a shake each time you use it in order to remix the ingredients.

To make the tea, pour one cup of very hot water into a mug over one-half teaspoon of the powder.

Maybe its safer to be prepared for this outbreak or we are all reacting too crazily and panicing.  A part of me thinks this is mostly media ratings hype and they could not have begged for something more dramatic to talk about.  I mean they asked Paris Hilton about it (TMZ) but showed it on the local Fox News.  Closing down schools and quarantining people is way out of hand.  When they are quarantining people they have taken things too far.  One thing we must realize is we have messed with nature so much that things like this will happen and we better get used to big challenges – we have treated animals so badly with hormones and made plants/seeds hybrid (thanks monsanto) and put so many pesticides into the ground among loosing so much of our natural surroundings.  We all might want to think about a stockpile of food and water for any kind of emergency where we are not able to go into public.

What if you catch Swine Flu?  There is a natural remedy that the big pharmaceutical companies do not tell you about:Classical Homeopathy (Medical Guides to Complementary and Alternative Medicine.)

Health Concerns for Gay Women

Our community often finds itself avoiding some important health issues, especially for women. Too often, we assume that since we do not need contraceptive services we can ignore the importance of regular visits to the gynecologist. What should you know about your health? What issues do you need to discuss with your doctor or care provider? How is your overall health and how does your sexuality impact your health?

First, find a queer friendly gynecologist or health care provider. For many women, a family practitioner or even a nurse practitioner at your local Planned Parenthood office may be a better option than a traditional gynecologist. Whoever you choose to provide your health care should be queer friendly and understanding of the special concerns of the lesbian community. Do be prepared to advocate for yourself.

The tests you regularly need will vary depending upon your age, special health concerns and sexual behavior. You should keep in mind that while the risk of STD transmission for lesbians is lower than for heterosexual women, it is not nonexistent. Gay.com/health offers an easy breakdown of possible STD risks. Women in committed relationships or those who religiously practice safer sex with their partners may feel comfortable without STD testing. You should be comfortable discussing your sexual behavior with your health care provider so the two of you can best assess which tests should be a part of your regular care.

Breast and cervical cancer screenings should occur as recommended by your health care provider, ideally annually. Keep in mind that regular screenings are critical for early cancer detection and the best chance of successful treatment. The frequency of pap smears and breast cancer exams will depend on your personal health history, age and other factors. It can be easy to skip regular exams, especially without the need for contraception; however, establishing care with a trusted provider and having screenings as appropriate is critical to overall good health. Both health care providers and patients are guilty of assuming that the lack of male sexual partners eliminates the risk of cervical dysplasia and thus the need for routine pap testing. More information on cancer screening for lesbians and other queer women can be found at temenos.net.

Some information indicates that women who have primarily had female sexual partners may be at higher risk for breast, endometrial, and ovarian cancers. This is an individual issue, related not to sexual behavior but rather to pregnancy and the use of oral contraceptives. Certain behavioral issues in the lesbian community can contribute to health risks. These include higher rates of smoking, excessive alcohol consumption and obesity. Again, your personal risk factors for these issues may be low, but they should be considered when seeking out health care.
drugstore.com, inc.

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