Would You like Steroids with That Cocktail?

Article excerpt

Tom O'Berg, who has AIDS, had forgotten what it was like to wake up with an erection. Although the protease inhibitor regimen he started a year ago gave him hope that he might still live a long life, O'Berg felt weak, skinny, and depressed. "Sex just wasn't important anymore," he said. That's when, under his doctor's guidance, O'Berg started supplementing his protease cocktails with anabolic steroids. Soon after, both his libido and his general health bounced back.

He's not alone. Spurred by positive reports at 1996's International Conference on AIDS and success stories such as O'Berg's, a growing number of doctors are prescribing anabolic steroids as a way to counteract the effects of decreased testosterone levels often caused by HIV. Used in combination with protease inhibitors, the same steroids publicized for their abuse in the sports world are now successfully fighting wasting syndrome (loss of lean body mass), skin problems, depression, diarrhea, thrush, and flagging libido.

"Anabolic hormones are relatively inexpensive and benign drugs that are needed not only to put meat on people's bones but to fight wasting syndrome and give people the motivation to live," said Michael Mooney, a nutrition industry insider and activist. As spokesman for the AIDS treatment and research advocacy group Program for Wellness Restoration, he has gained national recognition for educating HIV-positive people about lean tissue loss. …