CDC report recommends greater effort to boost HIV testing and retain patients in care

Posted September 30, 2014 by administrator
Categories: Features, HIV care, Research, Stigma

Even though gay and bisexual men make up the majority of Americans infected with HIV, half aren’t receiving ongoing care or getting the virus-suppressing drugs they need to stay healthy, a new report finds.The study, from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), looked at 2010 data on more than 400,000 male gay and bisexual Americans who were infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

The research shows that while 77.5 percent did initially get HIV medical care within three months of their diagnosis, only about 51 percent continued getting care on an ongoing basis. Experts note that HIV infection can be manageable if powerful antiviral drugs are taken on a regular basis. But the CDC report finds that less than half of HIV-positive gay or bisexual men were prescribed such drugs, and only 42 percent achieved healthy “viral suppression.”

Why are so many infected men not getting proper treatment? The CDC researchers said many factors could be at play. “Lack of health insurance, stigma and discrimination might influence whether [gay and bisexual men] access medical care,” they wrote. Gaining access to care soon after diagnosis is crucial to whether or not a patient continues to get virus-suppressing medications, the team added.

Continue reading on MedlinePlus.

Kaiser Family Foundation releases new alarming report reflecting gay and bisexual men’s attitudes, knowledge, and experiences with HIV/AIDS

Posted September 29, 2014 by administrator
Categories: Community, Features, Health Alerts, HIV care

From Gay Men’s Health Crisis

On Thursday, September 25, 2014, the Kaiser Family Foundation released a new alarming report reflecting gay and bisexual men’s attitudes, knowledge, and experiences with HIV/AIDS and new HIV therapies in the United States. Their survey on HIV/AIDS in the lives of gay and bisexual men in the United States reports that 56% of gay and bisexual men are not personally concerned about HIV or AIDS affecting them and 30% have never been tested for HIV.

“HIV/AIDS might not be a death sentence anymore, but there are still 50,000 new infections in the United States every year-and gay and bisexual men are still among those most at risk,” said GMHC CEO Kelsey Louie. ” The Kaiser Family Foundation study is a needed wake-up call that communicating the correct information about HIV and AIDS to the public has never been more critical. We must do more to educate our gay and bisexual men about how HIV and AIDS can affect them, and how life-saving medications like PrEP and PEP can help them prevent HIV infections and stay healthy.”

Additional Background:
Eight out ten gay and bisexual men surveyed also said that they have heard a little or nothing about PrEP, a life-saving medication that can prevent HIV-infections. Additional findings from the survey can be found here. The Foundation’s survey comes on the heels of a new CDC report showing that 58% of gay and bisexual men diagnosed with HIV are not virally suppressed.

Greater Than AIDS and HRC partner to “Bring HIV Out of the Closet”

Posted September 25, 2014 by administrator
Categories: Features, Stigma

From the Human Rights Campaign Blog

hrc.org

hrc.org

When the first case of what would become known as HIV/AIDS was diagnosed more than 30 years ago, it was branded a “gay disease.” Homophobia and fear were rampant. Although gay and bisexual men were not the only community affected by HIV, they were among those who felt the greatest burden of the disease.  Then, as today, gay and bisexual men, along with transgender women, have the highest rates of HIV infection in the United States.

HIV brought together the gay community in another, more affirming, way as well. LGBT leaders took to the frontlines to advocate for HIV education, prevention and treatment. And that mobilization contributed to the dramatic decreases in new infections—and deaths—in those early years and spurred a new level of political and social activism in the community.

The introduction of antiretroviral (ARV) treatments in the mid-1990s gave hope to those who were infected, improving health and extending life. It also resulted in HIV being less visibly prominent, and thus perceived by some as less serious.  Yet, gay and bisexual men, while only about 2 percent of the U.S. population, still account for two thirds of new infections. Transgender women are at high risk for HIV, though there is more limited data regarding representation in the national overview.

One study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that one in five gay and bisexual men in 20 major cities today is HIV positive—with one in three not knowing they are infected. Nationally, the projection is that more than one in 10 gay men is HIV positive. These are rates that compare with some of the hardest hit parts of the world. Especially worrying is that new infections are increasing among gay men in this country – 12 percent between 2008-2010 – and they are the only group for which this is the case.

In focus groups conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation with gay and bisexual men, many of the same men who proclaimed there was “no stigma” in the gay community today told of having rejected partners who disclosed they were positive.  Men who revealed their own positive status in the groups confirmed these as all too common experiences. Many opened up about their fears of what they envisioned a life with HIV to be like if they were to find out they were positive, in particular, the rejection they anticipated.

It doesn’t have to be this way. Recent research now shows that ARV treatment, which already is helping to improve the health and extend the life for so many people with HIV, also has the potential to play a powerful role the prevention of HIV. People who are on ongoing ARV treatment are now known to increase the chances of reducing transmission of infection to others by as much as 96 percent. And, for those who are HIV negative, new pre-exposure prophylaxis (referred to as PrEP) offer another tool, along with condoms, to maintain that status.  PrEP is a once a day, prescription medication that reduces the risk of contracting HIV.

Greater Than AIDS is proud to join with HRC to confront the silence and stigma that is fueling this epidemic. Leveraging the support of HRC’s visibility  and network of volunteers, we are working together to distribute tens of thousands of informational brochures and other giveaways at  LGBT Prides across the country this summer and fall to help bring HIV out to the fore, including producing a new HIV/AIDS guide designed just for this purpose.

Read the full article on the Human Rights Campaign Blog.

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.


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