Study finds H.I.V. drugs priced out of reach

Posted January 30, 2015 by administrator
Categories: Features, HIV care

From the New York Times

Drugs to treat H.I.V. and AIDS are being priced out of reach for many patients enrolled in insurance plans through the new health care exchanges, despite warnings that such practices are illegal under the Obama administration’s health care law, according to a new analysis by Harvard researchers.

The study, to be published on Wednesday in an article in The New England Journal of Medicine, looked at 48 health plans in 12 states and found that a quarter of the plans showed evidence of what researchers called “adverse tiering,” or placing all of the drugs used to treat H.I.V. in a specialty tier where consumers are required to pay at least 30 percent of the cost of the drug.

The financial impact can be drastic, the researchers found: A patient taking a common H.I.V. treatment, Atripla, would pay about $3,000 more a year in a restrictive plan compared with someone enrolled in a more generous plan, even after accounting for the fact that the more restrictive plans tended to charge lower monthly premiums.

“That’s really a large cost difference, and really is a very significant financial constraint for those with chronic conditions, particularly H.I.V.,” said Douglas B. Jacobs, the lead author of the study, who is pursuing degrees in public health at the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health and medicine at the University of California, San Francisco.

Continue reading on The New York Times.

#standOUTpgh

Posted January 22, 2015 by administrator
Categories: Community, Events, Features, Stigma

From the Pittsburgh AIDS Task Force

10933879_658281264281364_9173789996442469325_nThe #standOUTpgh campaign is a new media driven initiative to help prevent substance abuse and HIV and STDs as well as fight minority stigma among gay and bisexual youth of color and all that self identify as trans no matter their race or age.

#standOUTpgh seeks to change the conversation around subculture and different expressions by giving young minority gay and bisexual men and trans individuals a digital platform to share their stories of uniqueness and responsibility for the world to see!

We hope to engage all community organizations that care about and serve these individuals to participate in support by spreading the word to those who may wish to participate. By defeating stigma and promoting self worth, we can break down one of the largest barriers to getting tested for HIV and STDs, getting prevention messages, and living healthier and happier lives.

How can you help? Learn about the campaign and its corresponding awareness events at www.standout.hiv and follow our social media pages 

and share as the pageant unfolds. That’s it! Find us at:

The #standOUTpgh campaign will culminate in 6 events held in celebration of uniqueness and responsibility built around relevant national awareness days. These events will feature HIV/STD testing and prevention counseling. Information on these events will be broadcast via social media and standout.hiv. They are as follows:

World AIDS Day: Dec 1, 2014.
National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day: Feb 7, 2015.
National Youth Violence Prevention Week: March 18-22.
National Youth HIV Awareness Day: April 10, 2015.
National Prevention Week: May 12-18, 2015.
National HIV Testing Day: June 15.

We hope you will join us in building a positive movement behind these communities and shining a spotlight on what makes them stand out!

“What does the Affordable Care Act (ACA) mean for 1.2 million Americans living with HIV or AIDS?”

Posted January 12, 2015 by administrator
Categories: Commentary, HIV care



LGBT people with incomes between 139% and 200% of the Federal Poverty Level made particularly significant gains: Between 2013 and 2014, uninsurance in this income range dropped by 22 percentage points, from 48% to 26%.

Of all respondents who explored their coverage options during the first open enrollment period,

  • 35% found out they were eligible for Medicaid coverage — of whom 78% enrolled.
  • Among those who were not Medicaid-eligible, 20% purchased a plan through a Health Insurance Marketplace.
  • Almost half of those who purchased coverage were able to select a plan that costs less than $100 per month.

But much work remains to be done to ensure that the ACA effectively addresses uninsurance in LGBT communities. We found that 26% of LGBT people who could potentially get financial help to get covered were uninsured in 2014 — compared to an estimated 20% among the general population in the same income range.

Reasons given for uninsurance included employment discrimination, which traps many LGBT people in poverty and lower-wage jobs that don’t offer benefits, and insurance exclusions targeting transgender individuals and others considered to have pre-existing conditions. Respondents in same-sex relationships also reported persistent barriers to coverage: In both 2013 and 2014, approximately 50% of those who had tried to access coverage for a same-sex spouse or partner reported encountering trouble, and nearly three in four reported feeling discriminated against in the process.

Read the full article here.

US guidelines on “prevention with positives” now emphasize engagement with care, HIV treatment and social factors

Posted January 5, 2015 by administrator
Categories: Features, HIV care

From aidsmap.com

The American public health agency, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has published new recommendations on the HIV prevention interventions and advice that should be offered to people who are HIV positive.

The CDC last issued guidelines on what is sometimes called ‘prevention with positives’ in 2003. Those guidelines ran to 24 pages and emphasised screening for behavioural risk factors and sexually transmitted infections, one-to-one prevention counselling and advice delivered by clinicians, other behavioural interventions, and partner notification.

All those elements remain but the scope of the new guidelines is much broader, with the recommendations now running to 240 pages. Whereas previous guidelines were clearly focused on the individual’s knowledge and behaviour, the new recommendations take greater account of social and structural factors as well as the profound impact that antiretrovirals have on HIV transmission. For example, an individual may need support with poverty, mental illness, substance use or unstable housing in order to be able to fully engage with medical care and adhere to HIV treatment.

Continue reading on aidsmap.com.

Easing the HIV burden

Posted January 5, 2015 by administrator
Categories: Commentary, HIV care, Stigma

From The Advocate

By Jeremiah Johnson 

In recent years, two remarkable studies have emerged that provide real solutions for people living with HIV who want to avoid passing the virus on to others. In 2011 the HIV Prevention Trials Network’s 052 study provided evidence that when someone living with HIV takes their medications every day, the risk of transmission was reduced by 96% when the HIV-positive partner had a level of HIV in their blood that was “undetectable,” or so low that it can’t easily be measured.

HPTN 052 focused on heterosexual couples, so it was momentous when earlier this year the PARTNER study in Europe announced similarly optimistic preliminary results for gay men. In that study so far, no new infections occurred in gay couples where the HIV- positive partner had an undetectable viral load.

Having grappled with my own HIV diagnosis over the past seven years, there has been something deeply profound and very personal about the findings of both studies. Ever since the HPTN 052 results were released, I’ve often pondered if my transition into living life with HIV might have been less traumatic had I known that treatment would help me avoid passing HIV on to my sexual partners.

When I tested positive for HIV in 2008, I suddenly saw myself as a vector of disease, and I wondered if HIV would leave me isolated and alone. While I soon found that sex was still possible, the stigma and my uncertainties about the risk of transmission ensured that negotiating sex was always fraught with fear and worry. Although I consistently disclosed my HIV status to men I had sex with, I could never be certain how the person across from me might react. Too many times, disclosure of my HIV status was met with unexpected and deeply painful verbal abuse.

Continue reading on Advocate.com.

“Syphilis is like the canary in the coal mine for HIV”

Posted December 23, 2014 by administrator
Categories: Features, Health Alerts

From Queerty.com

Think twice before hooking up with that out-of-towner this holiday weekend. And, if you do, be safe.

The CDC has just released reports that number of syphilis infections in the United States jumped a whopping 10 percent from 2012 to 2013, with gay and bisexual men accounting for 75 percent of the increase.

According to the report, 17,357 cases of syphilis were reported last year. That’s 5.5 cases per every 100,000 people.

Dr. Jill Rabin, co-chief of the division of ambulatory care in the Women’s Health Programs-PCAP Services at North Shore-LIJ Health System in New Hyde Park, N.Y., called the rise in syphilis cases “very alarming.”

“Syphilis is like the canary in the coal mine for HIV,” she said. “People are going to be positive for syphilis before they are diagnosed with HIV. This means that there is a potential increase in HIV cases.”

According to MedicalXpress, the sores caused by syphilis make HIV transmission easier. In rare cases, syphilis can lead to serious health problems, including death. Though it’s easy to cure with antibiotics if caught early.

“Having an STD doesn’t mean someone is dirty or broken,” said Fred Wyand, spokesperson for the American Sexual Health Association. “Far from it.”

Wyand urged people not to let the stigma of a STD prevent them from being tested and treated.

“One of the great barriers to having sexual health conversations is the sense of embarrassment. People need to have frank, open conversations,” he said. “It’s not about sex. It’s about health.”

Smoking doubles risk of death for patients taking HIV therapy

Posted December 17, 2014 by administrator
Categories: Features, HIV care, Research

From aidsmap.com

Smoking doubles the mortality risk for people with HIV taking antiretroviral therapy, a study published in AIDS shows. Smokers had an increased risk of death from cardiovascular disease (CVD) and non-AIDS-related cancers, and the life expectancy of a 35-year-old man with HIV was reduced by almost eight years due to smoking. “Smoking was associated with a two-fold increase in mortality,” comment the authors. “More than a third of all non-AIDS related malignant deaths were from lung cancer and all deaths from lung cancer were in smokers.”

The benefits of not smoking were clear. HIV-positive non-smokers who were doing well on antiretroviral therapy had a similar life expectancy to non-smokers in the general population.

With the right treatment and care, people living with HIV can have a normal life expectancy. However, mortality rates remain higher among people with HIV compared to the background population. The reasons for this are unclear, but important causes of death among people with HIV now include smoking-related diseases such as heart and lung complaints and non-AIDS-related malignancies.

Investigators therefore wanted to determine the association between smoking and mortality risk among people taking HIV therapy.

Continue reading on aidsmap.com.


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