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Not My Cup of Tea I read the piece on the new technique for facial wasting treatment at New York's Montefiore Medical Center ['Hospital Announces a New Surgery to Aid Facial Wasting,' PlusNews, August]. While any treatment advances are welcome, I find the whole idea of transplanting a graft from the abdomen to the face of patients extreme and unnecessary when other effective techniques exist'if only they were FDA-approved. Two years ago I had treatment with injections of the synthetic filler product Bio-Alcamid (from Polymekon of Italy) at Clinic Estetica in Tijuana, Mexico, by an American woman, Anna Love. She has pioneered the use of this product for Americans based on success with it in Europe. Bio-Alcamid is safer than silicone, sterile, easy to use, and permanent, but it is not yet FDA-approved. This series of injections did not require invasive surgery such as the Montefiore technique and required extremely little 'downtime,' yet the results have lasted more than two years with only minor touch-ups required. This product is used all over Europe and South America with great success. I have now had treatment with it not only for my facial wasting but also for buttock wasting'also with great success. When, oh when, is the United States going to wake up and approve this product for use in this country to save patients from facing the stress of dangerous products (silicone), invasive surgery (Montefiore), or treatments that do not last (fat grafting, New-Fill, etc.)? There is, believe me, a better way! Ken Howard, LCSW Los Angeles [The editors reply:We, of course, cannot endorse the use of any non'FDA-approved treatment. Individuals must realize that the FDA approval process is meant to save lives by helping people avoid possibly unsafe products. For a more detailed overview of Bio-Alcamid and the FDA process, be sure to read the Outlook column in our next issue, in which Derek Jones, MD, a board-certified dermatologist and clinical assistant professor of dermatology at the University of California, Los Angeles, will address these issues.] Livin' Out Loud I was diagnosed HIV-positive in 1995, and I thought I knew a lot about myself when it came to living with HIV, but your July story on mental health issues opened my eyes ['Is Every Day a Rainy Day?']. A case worker who knew that I had been having stress issues suggested that I read the article. After a talk with my doctor about how I was feeling, we both decided that it would be a good idea for me to seek out an HIV support group, since I wanted to see if I could make things better without taking extra meds for now. I've been to three weekly meetings so far, and I already feel like some of the weight of the world is lifting off of my shoulders. I hope that others out there read your article and gained the valuable insight that I did. We may not think about our HIV daily, but it's always with us having its effects. Dawna Josephs Houston Gotta Stick Together To the reader who admires Brandon's Poz Parties so much, let me remind him that the people who hold those parties discriminate against their own by age [PlusLetters, July]. No one over 45 is allowed in the door. As if we haven't been discriminated against enough by the outside world, now our own are doing it. Name Withheld by Request via the Internet We welcome letters to the editor. Mail them to Letters to the Editor, HIV Plus, 6922 Hollywood Blvd., Suite 1000, Los Angeles, CA 90028-6148; fax them to (323) 467-0173, or E-mail them to
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