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Welcome to the POZ/AIDSmeds Community Forums, a round-the-clock discussion area for people with HIV/AIDS, their friends/family/caregivers, and others concerned about HIV/AIDS.  Click on the links below to browse our various forums; scroll down for a glance at the most recent posts; or join in the conversation yourself by registering on the left side of this page.

Privacy Warning:  Please realize that these forums are open to all, and are fully searchable via Google and other search engines. If you are HIV positive and disclose this in our forums, then it is almost the same thing as telling the whole world (or at least the World Wide Web). If this concerns you, then do not use a username or avatar that are self-identifying in any way. We do not allow the deletion of anything you post in these forums, so think before you post.

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Recent Posts

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Research News & Studies / Re: Gene Surgery at Temple U
« Last post by Cosmicdancer on Today at 12:24:34 AM »
This gives a little more detail on how CRISPR works.

"To make sure CRISPR-Cas9 hits its HIV target, the team coupled it with an appropriately named escort: guide RNA (gRNA). The gRNA attaches to a very specific section of DNA, which is found only in HIV, ensuring that CRISPR-Cas9 can’t miss. The team screened for accidental, “off-target” editing and found virtually none. At least in the laboratory, the drug homes to and inactivates viral genes while leaving host DNA unchanged. Perhaps best of all, healthy cells containing the Cas9/gRNA complex were also immune to HIV infection in the experiment."

Revolutionary Biotech May Offer HIV Cure

By David Shultz

Earlier this month, an HIV infection reemerged in a 4-year-old Mississippi girl believed to have been cured of the virus. Researchers thought that by administering antiviral drugs quickly after she was born, they could destroy the virus before it could insert itself into her DNA.

For four years, it seemed the treatment had worked, but on July 10th officials announced that they had detected levels of the virus in her blood. Her story is representative of one of the tragic difficulties in curing HIV: The virus can hide in host DNA for long periods of time, evading drugs and the immune system alike. But a powerful new protein, known as CRISPR-Cas9, now has HIV’s clandestine genes in its sights.

HIV is often depicted as a spherical, free-floating virus coated with spiky protein receptors. This is accurate, but it only represents part of the virus’ life cycle. Like only imagining frogs as tadpoles, our depictions of HIV often fail to tell the whole story. Much of HIV’s life is spent inside our cells, lying dormant amidst our DNA. The reason we so rarely see an image of this latent version of the virus is because, at this point in its life, it’s made of nothing more than DNA itself. There is no viral shell, or membrane, or spiky protein receptors—just the genetic instructions for making them, sort of like a sleeper terrorist cell waiting to be activated.

It’s estimated that, even when no HIV particles are detectable in the body, around ten million cells carry genetic copies of the virus. As a result, the symptoms can be treated, but the infection can’t be cured.

That all stands to change if Kamel Khalili has his way. He and his team at Temple University have directed a protein called CRISPR-Cas9 to sniff out and remove latent HIV genes. The experiment took place in myeloid cells growing in culture -- an apt model, as these nervous system cells have proven to be a particularly good reservoir for HIV. When applied, Cas9 acts like a pair of molecular scissors that cut both ends of the HIV DNA, slicing it out of our chromosomes and preventing it from being used to make more viruses.

“It’s extremely specific, very efficient, and surprisingly, it does what you anticipate it should do,” said Khalili with a laugh. “We’ve actually converted the cell lines which carried the virus to be virus-free cells.”   

One of the hardest parts of removing viral genes is finding them. The HIV-1 genome is 9,181 base pairs; our own contains around 3 billion. Finding those viral genes is tantamount to finding a fire ant on a mile-long stretch of highway. The cost of missing the mark can be dangerous too. Accidentally altering important, healthy genes can result in cancer or other harmful side effects.

To make sure CRISPR-Cas9 hits its HIV target, the team coupled it with an appropriately named escort: guide RNA (gRNA). The gRNA attaches to a very specific section of DNA, which is found only in HIV, ensuring that CRISPR-Cas9 can’t miss. The team screened for accidental, “off-target” editing and found virtually none. At least in the laboratory, the drug homes to and inactivates viral genes while leaving host DNA unchanged. Perhaps best of all, healthy cells containing the Cas9/gRNA complex were also immune to HIV infection in the experiment.

The power of the CRISPR-Cas9 system has been awe-inspiring since its potential as a gene-editing tool was realized in 2012. Now, it seems these proteins may be capable of removing HIV infection at its root.

There are, of course, large differences between curing HIV in the lab, and doing it in the body. “It has the potential, but it’s a tall order to get [CRISPR-Cas9] into every cell of the human body,” says Khalili.  “We should be able to develop a strategy to effectively deliver this technology to infected individuals, and we would hope that it does the same thing.”

If his team is able to do that, then they may very well cure HIV.

Source: Hu W et al. "RNA-directed gene editing specifically eradicates latent and prevents new HIV-1 infection." PNAS. Published online before print. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1405186111


David Shultz is a freelance writer and an editorial intern at Nautilus Magazine. He tweets @dshultz14
@leatherman: i really appreciate your positive attitude. Just today I was feeling a bit down and now read your post.

And you're so right about treatment 'improvement'. A cure might not come in our lifetimes, but if one sees the amazing trajectory of ART improvements in just a short 20 years, it is phenomenal and nothing short of a miracle!

I think its only rational (based on historical trends) to assume that 7 pills a day would give way to 1 pill (oops, that has already happened :)), 1 pill would give way to 1 shot per month, then 1 pill per month or even 1 shot per quarter. Eventually, generics would become common place and we would be able to get the ARVs at $4/pill at any Walmart pharmacy.

The only thing that worries me is that no one knows the long term side effects of the newer medicines like complera or stribild. But I am hopeful that the medical community will figure this out soon and we can be proactive about long term side effects.
Am I Infected? / Re: Unsure
« Last post by Hello12345 on Today at 12:07:23 AM »
So i can be rest assured that I haven't caught it this way?
good read. thanks for the link

I gave up hoping for a cure back in May 1994 when my first partner died. While I have enjoyed (mostly) all my life since I didn't die in Mar 1996, when he passed away I realized there would never be a cure in time to keep us together.

It's been quite liberating though to not care about the cure. I look forward to treatment improvement. I look at research with an open mind. I don't rush to read the news about a "cure". I don't feel deflated when they announce that that "cure" didn't really work after all. I don't long for a sex life where I don't take precautions. I don't waste any time imagining a day when I don't take meds ---

-- especially when there's all that other stuff I could do every day.  ;D Tomorrow is another day I'll be using my Carowinds season pass and thoughts about an HIV cure will never cross my mind as I'm riding the rails of the Intimidator.
Hi initforlife, I just saw your thread. It had me worried but looks like you are now consulting your doctor.

I hope it turns out that it was complera causing your issues and nothing else. They have many other choices available nowadays. However, even if its not due to complera please do not rule out other medications to help you with depression and/or anxiety. Stopping ARVs should NEVER be a consideration.

I might be wrong but I sense that you are wondering if you started the treatment too soon - especially, with your high CD4 count. I think you should get this out of your head. Starting ASAP (if you can afford to) is what the medical community is leaning towards.

Like you, I too was wondering if I should wait for bit longer to see if my CD4 counts would fluctuate. However, I happened to come across this article that pretty much nailed the decision for me, i.e. to start without delay.


Excerpt:Though the study did not explicitly look at the role of ARV therapy on the rates of diagnoses or on the effect on diagnoses at higher CD4s, the authors do state that there was a suggestion that people at higher CD4s who were on ARV therapy had a lower risk of KS diagnoses than people with high CD4s who were not on HIV medication. This would square with many other studies showing that ARVs significantly minimize the risk of KS and that when KS does strike such individuals, they tend to have a much less aggressive form of the disease.

“Given these trends, determining whether [combination ARV] use at higher CD4 cell counts will reduce the impact of Kaposi’s sarcoma is of clinical importance,” the authors stated. They conclude: “Future studies are needed to determine whether earlier HAART initiation will further decrease the burden of Kaposi’s sarcoma among HIV-infected persons.”
Questions About Treatment & Side Effects / Re: diarrhea and fatigue
« Last post by intaglio on Yesterday at 11:15:37 PM »
Personally, Truvada caused me loose stool issues approximately once a week. Once I moved from it to another regimen, the problem went away.

Talk to your doc. Be ready to quantify the frequency and duration of your episodes. Your doc may have to rule out other causes before switching your regimen.
      Howdy all ,

                             I recently got put on Epzicom  , to replace  Norvir .

    My problem is my P.A.  @ The V.A.    thinks I should be on norvir with
    Prexista & Darunavir  ?

    I am taking :  Epzicom , Prezista & Darunavir .

    Is  anyone else on this regime ?

    I will not be able to go to the V.A.   for a few weeks . 
   Any help would be appreciated  .


      P.S.   I am so confused  :-[ 

So am I. Darunivar and Prezista are the same thing.

I would hope they replaced something else with the Epzicom. Norvir works well with Epzicom.

Hopefully you'll find out you are supposed to be on Norvir, Epzicom and Prezista. This is the combo I am on and it works well for me. Epzicom does come with the warning that, once you start on it, not to retake it if you stop using it for any great length of time.

All three have copay assistance, too. Make sure you sign up for it through all three.
Living With HIV / Re: today, i told the world i am hiv+
« Last post by zach on Yesterday at 10:49:48 PM »
this is just a rambling vent, i need to blow steam. no i'm not under the influence. stream of consciousness and probably won't be very coherent. most of what is bothering me in the immediate isn't here, but its got me so pissed off i can't look at a bottle of truvada without feeling violent. i feel like a fucking prisoner shackled to gilead. even their name offends me. its from the bible, book of jeremiah. the healing balm of gilead. like a mocking reminder of everything i rejected. yet i swallow it down, because the alternative is to lay down and die.

so heres a little bit more of me

look guys, there a million good reasons to never disclose. given the option, i never would have. i didn't get that option. so i did what i did, i stand by that. i took the power away from those that hold it over me like the sword of damocles. i shared it here, not to judge, not to be better than. i shared it to cope with the whirlwind of my own emotion and doubt about my actions.

i rarely speak in person, certainly never on the level i have here in the past year. usually, i regret speaking. words hurt, they come back, they have unintended consequence. they are taken the wrong way. i spend more time backpedaling to save hurt feelings, that most of the time i simply don't give a shit that i've hurt.

in my life i've beat back a couple drug addictions. thought i'd left that in the history books. those transgressions were revisited threefold. i am the stereotype. i never tested for hiv until the day i got sick with aids. i had unprotected sex in that time with nameless faceless and endless partners. i am the aids monster. so call it what you want; aids, hiv, call it fucking peaches for all i care. it doesn't change where i'm at every night at medcall.

as a child my parents were drug addicts. my mother beat me until i bled. it took me 30 years to understand she was a victim too. that didn't take away the memories. i still remember the time she asked if i was bleeding. and then said good, i deserved it. my father, fuck i don't know, the story i was raised on is that he molested me as a toddler. i don't remember. i don't know who to believe. i know i've never hugged him. i know i've never had a healthy relationship with him.

i don't judge any plwa, we're all in the same damn boat. at your worst i can still accept you. even on the best of days, i don't think any of us wanted to be here. if you did, i think there is something seriously wrong with you.

and i don't expect or pin hopes on a cure; functional, cleared, whatever term you want to call it. but that doesn't mean i don't want to see medical progress. i hope my kids never have to deal with it, beyond the burning pain of sitting in a classroom listening to other kids crack jokes about aids. knowing their dad has it. maybe somewhere in the depths of my soul the catholic guilt i'll never let go of really believes this is punishment. god knows i deserve. i've always thought we burn here.

someone that was supposed to have a fiduciary duty to zealously represent me, in so many words say they thought "aids is pretty much cured" and wouldn't file an appeal.

the day i was dx'd, i had aids. thats where i am. thats what i've had to accept. i live with that. i'm glad i've reached a point i can own it. the worst has been done to me. there is nothing else i'm afraid can happen, so that power is gone.

i have an exwife who didn't allow me to see my sons for the most of the past four years. she wouldn't even let them go to my youngests funeral. half brother, but still a brother. that was my bitter pill. i've never spoke to her since. i hope i die before i see her again.

i was outed at work. and humilated. i had a door slammed in my face. "we don't want aids in here." literally. someone cut their hand, bled on the shop floor. i had someone bring me the fucking mop, and tell me "thats how aids is spread, you need to clean the spill." it wasn't my fucking blood, and btw you ignorant ass, thats not how its spread. but who the fuck am i to tell anyone that. i'm the idiot with aids that never got tested.

i didn't handle that properly at the time. that was a huge fuckup on my part. now no airline will touch me with a ten foot pole. and i'm good at what i do. not every redneck monkeywrencher can do it.

i've tried to commit suicide twice in the past four years, one time i'm pretty sure i did permanent damage to my mind. even for a junkie, that was enough to kill a horse. my left arm is there for all to see, i was artistic with the burns and cuts, like some horrific crop circle of sacred geometry circles tracing metatrons cube. not even sure i can tattoo it to hide.

we've all had to cope in different ways. and we don't always know each others shit. and this isn't even all of mine.

tim, the day we met, was the day i ran. i walked downstairs from the shrink, broke down crying in the parking lot. and then left. dropped my keys at the bank, hopped a bus, and lived in the cypress swamps for a couple years trying to get my head back together. i ate fish and mussels i caught most nights. with beans out of the can.

i didn't cope well for a long time. i pretty well fucked my life up, anything i get back, i feel like i steal back. i don't fell like i deserve it. and maybe thats why i get a little too involved when i hear people at the edge of suicide, or harming themselves. or too mind fucked to take a pill to save their health while there's still time. maybe thats why i've tried to show newbs just how many pills they could have to take. i didn't do that to slight the lts'ers who used to take triple what i take. this isn't a god damn pissing contest. it sucked then, and it sucks now. it can always be so much worse.

i do not judge how low someone falls from this. i fell all the way, and dug in deeper.

i'm an asshole, no matter how you paint me. i know that. i rarely apologize for my actions. if i hurt you, hurt me back. no one has ever hurt me as much as i've hurt myself. most of my life i've learned to contain that, to hide it. but its always right there.

i fight back. hurt me, i hurt you back. hurt the people i care for, i hurt you back. hurt an innocent that can't defend themselves, i hurt you back. of course i knew better than to go at that idiot the other day. he was outing people. posting pictures. names, locations. and the fool was an open book. i know his name, i have his picture, i know where he plays video games. i've got his debate profile, he says some terrible things about us. so yeah, i gave back exactly what he does to us. no apologies joe. i am not a nonviolent pacifist. i returned fire.
Off Topic Forum / Re: Africa - here we come!
« Last post by anniebc on Yesterday at 10:01:35 PM »
Jan -- it was an incredible experience.  Remember -- you are NEVER too old to check things off your bucket list.  One of the 9 folks in our group was an 86 year old lady from Long Island.  She flew in and took this trip alone - she had been in Africa many, many times before, but I was very impressed at her taking this trip at her age AND all by herself.

so -- check off the list entry -- go on safari!!


It will happen one day Mike, I did a safari when I was 12, but sadly all the slides taken from that time in Africa and Aden have been lost.  :(

Jan :-*
Am I Infected? / Re: Exposure
« Last post by Jeff G on Yesterday at 09:53:44 PM »
Please talk to your doctor and tell them that you are having irrational fears and ask for some help with your mental health issues . We can do no more than what we have done already and that is give you the facts .

Please do not buy a subscription to continue to ask questions because as much as we would love to we can't help you . You do not have HIV ... Im wishing you the very best .
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