An increasing number of HIV-positive men are getting silicone injections to combat facial wasting that results from HIV disease, putting them at risk for long-term complications that include bumps and lumps on the face, the Los Angeles Times reports. The facial wasting, called lipoatrophy, can cause a gaunt, hollow facial appearance that is easily identifiable as a complication either of HIV disease itself or its treatment. Because of this, many HIV-positive men are getting silicone injections to help fill in the facial areas affected by the fat loss.
But Marvin Rapaport, a Beverly Hills, Calif., dermatologist, calls these treatments a "time bomb" because of the likelihood of long-term complications, including misshapen facial features where the silicone was injected. The treatments are also expensive--the six to 10 injections needed for a single treatment can cost up to $7,000--and generally are not covered by health insurance plans.
Nevertheless, many HIV-positive people are ignoring the costs and the risks. "If I'm walking down the street, I don't want somebody to look at me and say, 'He's HIV-infected,'" said Peter Anderson, a 54-year-old nurse practitioner in Los Angeles who had the treatment six months ago. "I am more than willing to tell anybody my HIV status. But I don't want them to make that assumption."