September #39 : In the Sack - by Scott Hess

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Table of Contents

Talking 'Bout Their Generation

Youth to Youth

Bargaining Power

Growing Up in Public

Liver Worst

Family Tree

Blood Lines


To the Editor

And on the 7th Day...

In the Sack

Vertex Vortex

Pump and Grind

Baby Gap

You Can’t Touch This

Aloe Can You Go?

Death by Bureaucracy

Bubonic Tonic

Say What

Say What

All Apologies

Plenty of Nothing

Rough Cuts

POZ Picks

Spin and Needles

No Miss Manners

HIV Confidential

Making a Scene


Presidential Nemesis

Are the Kids Alright?

Kid Gloves

Prime-Time Lives

Don’t Make Me Over

Confessions of a Jerk

Life Lessons

Quality Time

Valuable Kitchen Tool

Better Safe Than Sushi

The Heart of the Matter

To C or Not to C

The Circle Game

Youth on Drugs


Making the Grade

Finger on the Pulses

Fountain of Youth

Where to find it

Reality Check


Most Popular Lessons

The HIV Life Cycle


Herpes Simplex Virus

Syphilis & Neurosyphilis

Treatments for Opportunistic Infections (OIs)

What is AIDS & HIV?

Hepatitis & HIV

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September 1998

In the Sack

by Scott Hess

HIV gets testy in the testes

Betting on protease-based regimens to stop the spread of HIV? No dice, according to a Harvard Med School report in last April’s AIDS Research and Human Retroviruses. Researchers revealed that low viral load in one’s blood does not equal low levels of HIV in semen. That’s because HIV invades semen-producing organs—testes, prostate and urethra—early on and creates its own subset of virus. “There’s a separate little trailer-park community of HIV in the testes that doesn’t react to drugs like the HIV in the rest of the body,” said the AIDS Treatment Data Network’s Richard Jefferys.

After eight men with HIV supplied semen and blood samples, it was found that viral levels in both differed dramatically (the man with the lowest level of virus in his blood had the highest level in his semen). Harvard researcher Ann Kiessling said one theory is that there might be a lag time between when HIV leaves the blood and when it leaves the semen. Regardless, she said, antiretrovirals must get on the ball. “Any therapy has to be designed to penetrate those organs.”

Since current treatments do not seem to impact the testes, Kiessling said, bear in mind that semen can be very infectious, despite a low viral load. As Jefferys said: “Don’t give up safer sex just because you’re undetectable.”  

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