Health Alert for men in Pennsylvania – Syphilis on the rise again

Posted September 16, 2014 by administrator
Categories: Health Alerts

The Pennsylvania Department of Health in conjunction with the Allegheny County Health Department (ACHD) has documented an alarming increase in Syphilis cases, primarily among men who have sex with men (MSM) in Allegheny County. As of September 10, 2014, the ACHD has reported 67 cases of early Syphilis which now exceeds the total of 63 cases reported in all of 2013. Here is a breakdown of the data:
·       54% of the cases have been reported individuals under the age of 30
·       96% of the cases reported were male
·       75% of the male cases reported risk factors (had sex with other men)
·       39% of the male cases were co-infected with HIV
You can get Syphilis and not have any symptoms so the only way to know you’re infected is to get tested with a simple blood test.   And if you do have symptoms, note that Syphilis has any number of symptoms that can look like symptoms from other diseases. One example is a painless sore that you would get after you are first infected can be confused for an ingrown hair, zipper cut, or other seemingly harmless bump.  Another example is a rash over the body that can sometimes (but not always) involve the palms of the hands and the soles of the feet. As a result of the uptick in Syphilis cases, we are recommending that all sexually active MSM get a Syphilis test. The PA Department of Health as well as the Centers for Disease Control recommend that all sexually active MSM receive full STD screening (including HIV) annually.  The Pitt Men’s Study offers testing for syphilis (as well as testing for Gonorrhea and Chlamydia) as part of your routine study visit.  Free testing is also available at the Allegheny County Department of Health.  

To find testing near you, check out the CDC testing database at http://hivtest.cdc.gov/

To find out more about Syphilis specifically, go to http://www.cdc.gov/std/syphilis/stdfact-syphilis.htm

To subscribe to Pitt Men’s Study Health Alerts, send an email to rgy2@pitt.edu with the word “subscribe” in the subject line.

To find out more about Health Alerts, go to http://pittmensstudy.com/health-alerts/

HIV “superinfection” may not affect disease progression

Posted August 28, 2014 by administrator
Categories: Uncategorized

From POZ online

Although HIV superinfection is connected to a more rapid increase in viral load and has somewhat of an impact on CD4 cell loss, it does not apparently lead to faster disease progression, aidsmap reports. Publishing their findings in the journal AIDS, researchers conducted a study of 144 HIV-positive women between 1993 and 2008. Twenty-one of the women became superinfected during the study. Past research of women at high risk for HIV in Mobmasa, Kenya, showed they became superinfected at an annual rate of 3 percent.

The women who contracted a second strain of HIV saw their viral loads rise at a faster rate when compared with the women with just one strain of the virus. The superinfected women also apparently lost CD4 cells more quickly, although this difference was of only borderline statistical significance, meaning there was not much heft to the idea that it definitely didn’t happen by chance. Regardless of these two findings, the superinfected women’s HIV disease did not progress faster.

The women who became superinfected had lower viral loads before contracting the second strain when compared with the women who did not contract a new strain. This led the researchers to figure that there may have been something more unique to the superinfected women, or that there was something about the women’s particular viral strain, that left them more susceptible to superinfection.

To read the study abstract, click here.

HIV antibodies block infection by reservoir-derived virus in laboratory study

Posted August 27, 2014 by administrator
Categories: Features, Research

From the National Institutes of Health

A laboratory study led by scientists from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), lends further weight to the potential effectiveness of passive immunotherapy to suppress HIV in the absence of drug treatment. Passive immunotherapy for HIV is an experimental strategy that involves periodically administering broadly neutralizing HIV-specific antibodies (bNAbs) to control the virus. It would be advantageous to control HIV without antiretroviral drugs because of their cost, the potential for cumulative toxicities from lifelong therapy, and the difficulties some patients have adhering to drug regimens and tolerating certain drugs.

Although bNAbs have proven effective at blocking infection by various strains of HIV in the laboratory, their effect on HIV in humans, and particularly on the virus particles that hide in immune cells (called latent viral reservoirs), has been unknown.

In this study, NIH scientists obtained HIV from the latent reservoirs of 29 infected people in whom antiretroviral therapy fully inhibited viral replication. In the laboratory, the researchers found that several bNAbs effectively blocked HIV from entering the CD4+ T cells obtained from uninfected healthy donors. In addition, the scientists demonstrated in the laboratory that these antibodies could completely block HIV replication in CD4+ T cells obtained from infected individuals receiving antiretroviral therapy.

The researchers conclude that passive immunotherapy involving bNAbs individually or in combination may control HIV in the absence of antiretroviral therapy. A number of clinical trials are already underway or planned to test this hypothesis.

 

Hornet ap locates nearby HIV testing and services

Posted August 26, 2014 by administrator
Categories: Community, Features, Media

hornetFrom the Washington Blade

The Hornet Gay Social Network has launched a feature that will help users locate HIV testing services and learn more about PrEP and other topics, the San Diego Gay & Lesbian News reports. The app’s creators have partnered with aids.gov to power the feature, which was used about 30,000 times its first day, the article said. Hornet is a gay-owned location-based dating and social network.

The gay community has made progress in reducing HIV infection rates, but new trends among young people show that HIV rates are increasing once again, 132.5 percent from 2001-2011—a much higher increase than older gay men and a significant contrast with the drop among the general population. Studies show that public concern about HIV has decreased, yet the number of people living with HIV in the U.S. exceeds 1.1 million and continues to increase, the San Diego Gay & Lesbian News article said.

In a news release, Hornet said that in order to end the epidemic, help is needed to promote HIV services in ways that are far-reaching and lasting. Traditional advertising does not reach all users in need of health services. Sophisticated geo-specific resources are powerful. Within the Hornet app, social network members can use the tool to find the 10 closest HIV locations. The widget is supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and is available for free, the article said.

Pitt Men’s Study highlighted

Posted August 21, 2014 by Nathaniel
Categories: Media

fightagainstaidsThe Pitt Men’s Study was recently highlighted in an issue ROOTS, a publication by the Jewish Healthcare Foundation, entitled “The Fight Against AIDS 1981-2014: A Pittsburgh Story.” The book contains some early history of the PMS as well as other local organizations. Check out a PDF of it here.

Using medication to prevent HIV can result in stigma

Posted August 11, 2014 by administrator
Categories: Community, Features, Stigma

From GPB News

In order to slow the spread of HIV, certain people who do not have the virus but are at risk should take medicine to prevent becoming infected. That’s the recommendation of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and, just recently, the World Health Organization. The preventive treatment is known as PrEP, for pre-exposure prophylaxis.

Eric McCulley made the decision to start PrEP. He’s 40, gay and HIV-negative. Outside an Atlanta coffee shop, he pulls out a plastic baggy with a few blue pills. “They’re a decent size, actually,” he says. “Some people might call them a horse pill.” The pill is called Truvada, a combination of two drugs used to treat HIV. Despite McCulley’s negative HIV status, he’s taken the pill daily for the past few months.

After hearing about the treatment and doing extensive research on his own, McCulley made an appointment with his primary care doctor earlier this year. “He was very supportive about it. He encouraged me to do it,” he says. “He gave me a lot of stuff to read, gave me a lot of stuff to think about, and told me I was a good candidate for it. So off we went.”

So far, McCulley says, the only change the drug has made in his life is in his attitude. “I have what I was looking for. I have peace of mind. I feel like I’ve taken responsibility for my health,” he says.

But some PrEP users worry that not everybody in the medical community is up to speed. Although Truvada has been on the market for a decade, only recently have prescribing guidelines been available. Dylan West is a 25-year-old Atlanta resident and works in international aid. He is also gay and recently found out firsthand that not every doctor is as familiar with PrEP as McCulley’s is.

Continue reading

Posted August 7, 2014 by administrator
Categories: Community, HIV care

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