Thursday, July 19, 2012

Strokes and People with HIV...Realities of HIV Today...And a Home HIV Test for 25 Years the FDA's Been Blocking?


In Time Magazine this week I read something that surprised me. No links; it came from the print mag. There's a home test for HIV that can be purchased over the counter, and it's been around since 1987.

The idea for such a DYI test has been around since 1987, but the FDA hadn't approved one because of concerns raised by experts over how users would handle a positive result.

Seriously?

This is the kind of government involvement I can live without. It also raises questions about whether or not there's an underlying issue here with regard to why these tests weren't available to the public years ago. Because I don't buy the excuse given above, and I'd like to know just who these so-called experts are.

I know more than a few people who would have had different lives had they been able to take a home test for HIV. A lot of people who are HIV live in denial and tend to wait too long to get tested, which can lead to serious results you NEVER hear discussed anywhere. Why is that, you ask? Because there are too many people skimming the surface and don't know enough about HIV/AIDS. Here's one example I'll bet most people don't know: if you are HIV positive and you wait too long to get a diagnosis you run the risk of going into IRIS if you start taking HIV meds. I've seen people with IRIS...you don't want to experience it. And there's no guarantee you'll get through it.

Here's an interesting article in Huff Post, by Al Sharpton, about the realities of HIV today.

More than half of all new HIV cases in the United States are in the South, and Blacks (who represent only 14% of the population) accounted for 44% of all new HIV infections, according to the latest figures. For the first time since 1990, the International AIDS Conference will be held in the U.S. next week in our nation's capital.

I didn't know that either. But I do suspect there are a lot of people with HIV today that still don't know it. We've only touched the surface, mainly because so many are in denial and won't get tested because it's so complicated to get tested. There's also that dreaded stigma that's still attached to being HIV positive. So the good old FDA better get moving and get those home tests out to the public so people can deal with it in privacy. Let's get cracking, FDA, and step it up.

Home pregnancy tests helped changed the world. I think home HIV tests will do the same thing.

And here's an article from AIDS.org about the risk of strokes being higher for those with HIV.

Stroke rates have increased among people with HIV in recent years while declining in the U.S. population at large, new research shows, raising the possibility that treatments for the AIDS-causing virus may put these patients at higher risk for cardiovascular trouble.

There’s no direct proof linking the medications to the higher stroke rate, but previous research has suggested that HIV drugs can boost cholesterol and triglyceride levels, both of which contribute to stroke risk.


There's no direct proof because it's too soon and most of the information they go by comes from individual case studies. In other words, HIV drugs are still so knew it's hard to pinpoint any long term side effects.

So while HIV is now a chronic disease, there are many other factors associated with HIV drugs we're not sure about yet. I've seen the exact results above with friends I know who are HIV. They have all developed cardiovascular issues and all have higher triglyceride levels. So if you have HIV and are taking ARVs, make sure you have a good ID doc. I know people in the burbs who travel to NY or Philly because the ID docs in the burbs aren't as familiar with, or as aggressive, in treating HIV. And a good ID doc is crucial in managing HIV.

And if you aren't HIV positive, try to keep it that way.

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