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Sunday, November 6, 2011

HIV Medication Fact Sheets. Easy to Use Fact Sheets

HIV Medication Fact Sheets
Easy to Use Fact Sheets

This area of our site is provided as a quick reference only. We strongly urge you to discuss medication concerns with your physician.

Important Fact! - Remember to always take medications exactly as prescribed and not to change or stop your medications without first speaking with your physician.

Integrase Inhibitors
Integrase is an enzyme that does what the name implies; it integrates HIV genetic material into the DNA of human CD4 cells making it possible for the infected cell to make new copies of HIV. By interfering with integrase during the HIV life cycle, the integrase inhibitors prevent HIV genetic material from integrating into the CD4 cell, thus stopping viral replication.

Entry Inhibitors
Entry Inhibitors work by interfering with HIV's entry into the CD4 cell. By interfering during the entry phase of the HIV life cycle, entry inhibitors block HIV replication.

Non-Nucleosides Reverse Transcriptase Inhibitors (NNRTI's)
Non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NNRTIs) work by binding tightly to the enzyme reverse transcriptase which prevents viral RNA from converting to the viral DNA that infects healthy cells.

Nucleotide Analogs
Like the nucleoside analogues such as Retrovir (AZT) and Videx EC (didanosine), nucleotide analogues inhibit reverse transcriptase. However, they are active in their native form, unlike nucleosides that only work in cells that have the machinery to activate the drug by a process called phosphorylation. This means that the nucleotide analogues may be active against HIV in a wider variety of infected cells.

Protease Inhibitors (PI's)
Protease Inhibitors stop HIV replication by preventing the enzyme protease from cutting the virus into the shorter pieces that it needs to make copies of itself. Incomplete, defective copies are formed which can't infect cells.

Nucleoside Reverse Transcriptase Inhibitors (NRTI's)
Nucleoside Reverse Transcriptase Inhibitors (NRTIs) work by being incorporated into the viral DNA, making it ineffective. These compounds suppress replication of retroviruses by interfering with the reverse transcriptase enzyme. The nucleoside analogs cause premature termination of the proviral (viral precursor) DNA chain.

Combination Medications
In an effort to improve medication adherence and to make it easier to take your medications each day, many medications are combined into one pill or capsule. Fewer pills each day has been shown to improve adherence which we know improves the effectiveness of HIV regimens.

HIV Medications. How Much Do They Cost?

HIV Medications
How Much Do They Cost?

It's no secret, HIV medicines are very expensive. For most, insurances, drug assistance programs, or community resources pay most of the cost. But what about those who are not so fortunate. While we all know HIV medications are very costly, not taking them can be even more costly. Have you ever wondered what those HIV medications you are taking cost each month? The following table will give you an idea just how pricey HIV medications can be.

Important Fact! - Prices will vary depending where they are purchased and how they are paid for. Mail-order pharmacies may be cheaper than your neighborhood pharmacy for instance. The Linkprices given here are for estimates and comparisons only. Check with your local pharmacy and your drug insurance to find out just how much your HIV medications will cost you.

COST PER MONTH (estimates) - Medication Fact Sheets
Agenerase $772
Aptivus $1117.50
Combivir $752.64
Crixivan $570.96
Emtriva $347.11
Epivir 300mg $347.11
Epzicom $813.55
Fortovase $263.35
Fuzeon $2315.40
Hivid $273.00
Invirase $748.50
Kaletra $796.26
Lexiva $658.99
Norvir $321.46
Rescriptor $316.35
Retrovir $405.59
Reyataz $892.91
Sustiva 600mg $499.43
Trizivir $1164.35
Truvada $867.99
Videx EC 400mg $346.04
Viramune $442.45
Zerit $385.88
Ziagen $466.44

Source: Test Positive Aware Network; "Annual HIV Drug Guide"; 2006.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Are HIV Positive People Disabled People?

Are HIV Positive People Disabled People?
Those Living with HIV are Considered Disabled People

A common question I get each day is from HIV positive people asking how to access disability benefits. That made me think; is HIV a disability? If so, what are your rights in the workplace? There are people who would say absolutely not. There are people living with HIV that would say yes, HIV is a disability. Thanks to an occurrence in 1994, we know the legal answer to the question; is HIV a disability?

It All Started With A Trip To The Dentist
In September of 1994, Sidney Abbott visited the office of dentist Randon Bragdon. This routine visit would spark a controversy that would eventually involve the United States Supreme Court. On that day, Dr. Bragdon refused to fill Ms. Abbott's simple cavity because she admitted to being HIV positive. Ms. Abbott felt she was being discriminated against because of her HIV.

A Disturbing Trend
At the time, Ms. Abbott's experience was just another in a growing number of such discrimination by doctors and dentists refusing to treat HIV positive people. AIDS activists and medical professionals feared that if this mentality were left to spread among a growing number healthcare professionals, the quality and availability of HIV care would decline, placing HIV infected people at a definite disadvantage and frankly in grave danger.

The Debate - Was Ms. Abbott's HIV a Disability?
How did Dr. Bragdon justify his decision not to treat Ms. Abbott? The dentist argued that since Ms. Abbott showed no physical signs or symptoms of HIV or AIDS, she was not disabled and therefore was not protected by Federal law. The law Dr. Bragdon was referring to was The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), a law that forbids discrimination against people who are disabled.

Ms. Abbott countered that her HIV impacted her ability to reproduced, rendering her disabled. She felt that because she was disabled, Dr. Bragdon's refusal to treat her was in direct violation of the ADA. The Supreme Court agreed. In June of 1998, the High Court stated that people infected with HIV were entitled to protection under the Americans with Disabilities Act, regardless of their symptoms or lack of symptoms. Ironically, if that same arguement was made today, Ms. Abbott may have a hard time proving her case since we know that HIV does not prevent an HIV positive women from pregnancy and having children. This would mean that Ms. Abbott's contention that HIV prevented her from reproducing and therefore she was disabled, had no medical basis.

How Does This Help You?
The ADA says the HIV positive person has rights and protections from discrimination based on HIV disease. That person is also entitled to workplace accomodations that allow them to perform their jobs efficiently, while protecting the health of the employee. For instance, if an HIV positive person has peripheral neuropathy in the feet, the ADA says the employer must provide the employee with a chair that will allow him or her to sit down while working to ease the discomfort of the neuropathy. If their job can't be performed while sitting, the employer must make every effort to place that employee in a job they can do while sitting.

The rights and provisions provided by the ADA are protected by Federal law and confirmed and backed by The United States Supreme Court. Because people both symptomatic and asymptomatic HIV infected people are protected by the ADA, employers must make reasonable accommodations for the infected person. For instance, under the ADA, employers must allow time away from work to seek medical care such as doctors' visits, trips to the pharmacy to pick up medication, and time to take that medication in a private setting. In addition, employers must make reasonable accommodations regarding schedule modification, reassignment to vacant positions that are better suited to the person's limitations, and must provide equipment that will allow the person to better perform his or her job.

What Should I Do if I Feel I'm Being Discriminated Against?
If you feel you are being discriminated against or you feel that you may need the provisions of the ADA to perform your job, consult your doctor. Take an honest, objective look at your general state of health, stamina, mental health, and ability to perform your job. If you feel accommodations such as those provided by the ADA are needed, take your request with supporting medical information to support your claim to your local ADA office. They can guide you through the process step-by-step and show you how to get the workplace accomodations you are entitled to. If after filing your ADA request in good faith and your employer does not make reasonable efforts to accommodate you, consult legal services to see if you do truly have a case. The key is to be realistic in what you are capable of and what you expect from your company.

Important Information!
Keep in mind that if you file an ADA request it may mean that at some point in the process you will be required to allow your employer access to some parts of your medical record, including those associated withyour HIV care. Simply put, in order to get the accomodations you feel you need in order to work, making your HIV+ status known to your employer may be necessary.

Important Instructions!
Never sign any document permitting your employer access to your medical records without first speaking with your doctor and attorney. If you can't afford an attorney, check with your local HIV/AIDS agency for the names of lawyers in your area that specialize in HIV legal matters (many of which are free of charge to those living with HIV).

The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
How It Can Help The HIV Positive Person

What is the Family Medical Leave Act?
The Family Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA) applies to private sector employers that have 50 or more employees living within 75 miles of the work site. Eligible employees may take leave for serious health conditions or to provide care for an immediate family member with a serious health condition, including HIV/AIDS. Eligible employees are entitled to a total of 12 weeks of job-protected, unpaid leave during any 12-month period.

What Protections Does FLMA Offer
An FMLA leave, allows an eligible employee to continue group health plan coverage just as if he or she was working. Upon return from leave, the law requires that employees be restored to the same or an equivalent position with equivalent pay, benefits, and working conditions.

Diagnosis Disclosure May Be Required
In order for individuals with HIV or AIDS to invoke FMLA protection, the disclosure of medical information to the employer may be required. Employers are not required to provide unpaid medical leave under FMLA if they are not informed that a disability or serious health condition exists. If an employee makes an employer aware of his or her AIDS or HIV infection, laws such as the American with Disabilities Act (ADA) require that information to be held in strict confidence.

How To Tell Someone You Have HIV
What is the Americans With Disabilities Act

Sources: Centers for Disease Control; "Business Responds to HIV/AIDS"; 2006.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Preventing Infections from your Pet. Kepping You and Your Pet Healthy

Preventing Infections from Your Pets
Kepping You and Your Pet Healthy

First and foremost, you DO NOT have to give up your pets. Secondly, HIV CAN NOT be spread by, or to your pets. While the risk of infection from your pets is real, taking a few simple precautions is all you need to do in order to own your pets safely.

Should I keep my pets?
Yes. Most people with HIV can and should keep their pets. Owning a pet can be rewarding can help you feel psychologically and even physically better. For many people, pets are more than just animals; they are like members of the family. However, you should know the health risks of owning a pet or caring for animals. Animals may carry infections that can be harmful to you. Your decision to own or care for pets should be based on knowing what you need to do to protect yourself from these infections.

What kinds of infections could I get from an animal?
Animals can have cryptosporidiosis ("crypto"), toxoplasmosis ("toxo"), Mycobacterium avium complex ("MAC"), and other diseases. These diseases can give you problems like severe diarrhea, brain infections, and skin lesions. You can learn more about many of these diseases and how to prevent them from other brochures in this series. These are listed at the end of this brochure.

What can I do to protect myself from infections spread by animals?

• Always wash your hands well with soap and water after playing with or caring for animals. This is especially important before eating or handling food.
• Be careful about what your pet eats and drinks. Feed your pet only pet food or cook all meat thoroughly before giving it to your pet. Don't give your pet raw or undercooked meat. Don't let your pets drink from toilet bowls or get into garbage. Don't let your pets hunt or eat another animal's stool.
• Don't handle animals that have diarrhea. If the pet's diarrhea lasts for more than 1or 2 days, have a friend or relative who does not have HIV take your pet to your veterinarian. Ask the veterinarian to check the pet for infections that may be the cause of diarrhea.
• Don't bring home an unhealthy pet. Don't get a pet that is younger than 6 months old; especially if it has diarrhea. If you are getting a pet from a pet store, animal breeder, or animal shelter (pound), check the sanitary conditions and license of these sources. If you are not sure about the animal's health, have it checked out by your veterinarian.
• Don't touch stray animals because you could get scratched or bitten. Stray animals can carry many infections.
• Don't ever touch the stool of any animal.
• Ask someone who is not infected with HIV and is not pregnant to change your cat's litter box daily. If you must clean the box yourself, wear vinyl or household cleaning gloves and immediately wash your hands well with soap and water right after changing the litter.
• Have your cat's nails clipped so it can't scratch you. Discuss other ways to prevent scratching with your veterinarian. If you do get scratched or bitten, immediately wash the wounds well with soap and water.
• Don't let your pet lick your mouth or any open cuts or wounds you may have.
• Don't kiss your pet.
• Keep fleas off your pet.
• Avoid reptiles such as snakes, lizards, and turtles. If you touch any reptile, immediately wash your hands well with soap and water.
• Wear vinyl or household cleaning gloves when you clean aquariums or animal cages and wash your hands well right after you finish.
• Avoid exotic pets such as monkeys, and ferrets, or wild animals such as raccoons, lions, bats, and skunks.
• Important note: If you are bitten, you should seek medical advice.

I have a job that involves working with animals. Should I quit?
Jobs working with animals (such as jobs in pet stores, animal clinics, farms, and slaughterhouses) carry a risk for infections. Talk with your doctor about whether you should work with animals. People who work with animals should take these extra precautions:

• Follow your worksite's rules to stay safe and reduce any risk of infection. Use or wear personal protective gear, such as coveralls, boots, and gloves.
• Don't clean chicken coops or dig in areas where birds roost if histoplasmosis [his-to-plaz-MO-sis] is found in the area.
• Don't touch young farm animals, especially if they have diarrhea.

Are there any tests a pet should have before I bring it home?
A pet should be in overall good health. You don't need special tests unless the animal has diarrhea or looks sick. If your pet looks sick, your veterinarian can help you choose the tests it needs.

What should I do when I visit friends or relatives who have animals?
When you visit anyone with pets, take the same precautions you would in your own home. Don't touch animals that may not be healthy. You may want to tell your friends and family about the need for these precautions before you plan any visits.

Source: Adapted from brochures provided by the Centers for Disease Control, 2000.

Proper & Healthy Pet Care. Keeping You and Your Pet Healthy

Proper and Healthy Pet Care
Keeping You and Your Pet Healthy

We have all heard the saying "a dog is a man's best friend". Indeed, pets provide comfort, love and have been shown to help people cope with illnesses and stresses. But in order to have a healthy environment, people living with HIV/AIDS need to know how to care for their pets in a way that is healthy for them as well as their animals. Here are a few simple guidelines to follow.

• Wash your hands often, especially before eating, drinking, smoking, or tending to wounds.
• Keep your pet's sleeping and eating area clean.
• Have your pets groomed often, keeping their skin and fur clean and healthy. Keep your pet's nails well-trimmed.
• Avoid contact with your pet's bodily fluids (urine, feces, vomit, saliva, etc). Wear disposable gloves when cleaning up after your pet.
• Keep your pets off kitchen surfaces such as counter tops. Clean surfaces with a mild disinfectant before using or before preparing food.
• Don't let your pet lick your face or any open wounds.
• Immediately clean and treat animal bites or scratches.
• Wash and rinse with warm water
• Disinfect with betadine, iodine, peroxide, etc.
• Apply over the counter antibiotic cream
• Keep clean and dry
Be alert for any redness, heat, swelling, or fever. If so consult your doctor immediately.
• Schedule regular check-ups for your pet at a veterinarian. Make sure your pet's shots are up to date and complete. Get a complete check-up for your pet before bringing him home for the first time.
• Do not feed your pet raw or undercooked meat.
• Don't let you pets near their own feces or other animal's feces.
• Keep your pet out of the garbage and don't allow him to drink from the toilet.

Keep in mind that even if your pet is healthy, it can expose you to potential infection and illness. Here are some specific guidelines for your pets.

Proper Pet Care Guide. HIV Quick Facts

HIV Quick Facts - Proper Pet Care

These links will provide you with the proper pet care you need to know in order to be a healthy pet owner.

Caring for your Cat
Being Safe While Caring for Your Pet

Proper and safe care of your cat includes:
• Avoid cat scratches. If your cat scratches often, talk to your vet about ways to change your pet's behavior and tools you can use to guard against scratches.
• Never store your cat's litter box in the kitchen or near warm, dry places in your home.
• Change the litter box daily. Wear disposable gloves each time you change the box. Avoid inhaling any litter box particles.
• Disinfect the litter box once a month. For example, each month empty the litter box, fill it with boiling water and leave stand for 10 minutes to kill off any bacteria.
• If your CD4 count is extremely low (e.g.150-200) ask someone else to change the litter box for you.
• Keep your cat indoors. If your cat goes outdoors, don't allow him to hunt birds or rodents.

Caring for your Fish
Being Safe While caring for Your Fish

Caring for your fish properly and safely will keep you and your pet healthy.
• The most important guideline is to prevent contact with bacteria or other infectious agents in aquarium water.
• Always wear gloves when cleaning your fish tank.

Caring for your Bird
Being Safe While Caring for Your Bird

Guidelines for proper and safe bird care include the following:
• Before purchasing a large bird or parrot, have it thoroughly examined by a vet before bringing it home.
• Limit your exposure to bird droppings. Wear a mask to prevent breathing in small airborne particles of droppings.
• Never kiss your bird or let it have contact with your mouth.

Caring for your Reptile
Being Safe While Caring for Your Reptile

Proper and safe care of your pet reptiles include:
• Reptiles can carry Salmonella, often without showing signs of illness. The Salmonella germs can be anywhere on the reptile's body, therefore always use gloves when handling your reptile.
• Wash your hands thoroughly before and after handling your reptile even if gloves are worn.
• Never feed your reptile raw or undercooked meat. If you are feeding it live prey such as rodents, make sure the prey has been raised in a clean environment.

Proper & Healthy Pet Care
Preventing Infections from your Pet

Reduce the Risk of Injecting Drugs | HIV / AIDS |

Reduce the Risk...Tips for Injection Drug Users

The sharing of needles between injection drug users is a main source of HIV and Hepatitis C transmission. There are ways to reduce the risk to injection drug users, The Centers for Disease Control make several recommendations.

• Ideally, people who use injection drugs should be regularly counseled to stop using and injecting drugs.
• Enter and complete substance abuse treatment as well as relapse prevention.

For injection drug users who cannot or will not stop injecting drugs, the following steps may be taken to reduce personal and public health risks:

• Never reuse or "share" syringes, water, or drug preparation equipment.

• Only use syringes obtained from a reliable source (such as pharmacies or needle exchange programs).

• Use a new, sterile syringe each time to prepare and inject drugs.

• If possible, use sterile water to prepare drugs; otherwise, use clean water from a reliable source (such as fresh tap water).

• Use a new or disinfected container ("cooker") and a new filter ("cotton") to prepare drugs.

• Clean the injection site with a new alcohol swab prior to injection.

• Safely dispose of syringes after one use.

If people continue to inject drugs, then they must take other measures to reduce their risk and to stay healthy.

• Injection drug users and their sex partners also should take precautions, such as using condoms consistently and correctly.

• Persons who continue to inject drugs should regularly be tested for HIV.