Demand Increases Among HIV-Positive Men for Silicone Injections To Fight Facial Wasting
An increasing number of HIV-positive men are seeking silicone injection treatments to combat the "gaunt, hollow" facial appearance that has come to be known as the "face of AIDS," the Los Angeles Times reports. Some HIV-positive individuals -- even people who have never had any AIDS-related illness -- suffer facial wasting, which carries a social stigma and can make patients look "older and sicker than they actually are," according to the Times. Researchers are not yet sure whether the condition is caused by HIV infection or is a side effect of medications used to treat the disease. Dr. Marvin Rapaport, a Beverly Hills dermatologist, said that silicone treatments are a "time bomb" that can result in severe side effects, such as "unsightly bumps and lumps," decades in the future. Despite these risks, many HIV-positive individuals are demanding silicone injections. "If I'm walking down the street, I don't want somebody to look at me and say, 'He's HIV-infected,'" Peter Anderson, a 54-year-old nurse practitioner in Los Angeles, who had the treatment six months ago, said. He added, "I am more than willing to tell anybody my HIV status ... but I don't want them to make that assumption." A full silicone injection regimen, which includes six to 10 injections, can cost up to $7,000 and is not covered by most insurance plans, according to the Times. If the FDA approves a liquid silicone injection, demand for the procedure could increase even more (Allen, Los Angeles Times, 2/10).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.