Health Alert for men who have sex with men

Posted October 8, 2015 by administrator
Categories: Community, Features, Health Alerts

Syphilis health alertPennsylvania (and the Pittsburgh area in particular) is stillexperiencing an alarming increase in syphilis cases, primarily among men who have sex with men (MSM). Over the last 5 years, Pennsylvania’s MSM community has experienced an 85% increase in syphilis infections. MSM represented approximately 65% of all new syphilis cases reported in the state.

Syphilis is a sexually transmitted infection. If it goes untreated, it can lead to serious health problems including paralysis, blindness, and dementia.   In the late stages, the disease can damage internal organs and can result in death.  In its early stages, syphilis is 100% curable with simple antibiotics.

You can get syphilis and not have any symptoms, so the only way to know you’re infected is to get a simple blood test.

As a result of the increase in syphilis cases, the Pennsylvania Department of Health recommends that all sexually active MSM get a routine syphilis test every 6 months. Several locations around the state have free syphilis testing, click on this link to find testing near you:

To find out more about Syphilis, go to the CDC’s Website.

‘Undetectable’ a new identity for gay men diagnosed with HIV

Posted October 8, 2015 by administrator
Categories: Features, HIV care, Stigma



Achieving an undetectable viral load is a key milestone in the period after diagnosis with HIV, qualitative interviews with Canadian gay men suggest. Men incorporated knowledge of their own undetectable status into their identities as HIV-positive gay men and their sexual decision making, according to a study published in the August issue of AIDS Education and Prevention. Being undetectable helped many men feel ‘responsible’ and ‘normal’.

The findings come from in-depth, qualitative interviews with 25 gay men diagnosed with HIV in British Columbia, Canada between 2009 and 2012. All had acquired HIV less than a year before their diagnosis and half had been diagnosed with acute (very recent) infection. Up to four interviews were done, in order to see how experiences changed during the year after diagnosis.

Interviewees typically reported a period of sexual abstinence immediately after being diagnosed with HIV. During this period of adjustment, many men had no sex drive. Avoiding HIV transmission was a major concern for many, including this man:

“First of all, I killed my sex life. I was like, you know, I don’t want to infect anyone, I don’t want to take the risk and I don’t want to disclose, so the way of not doing is just not having sex.”

When participants did start to have sex again, they found themselves in an altered sexual landscape, facing new scenarios, challenges and possibilities. Faced with the difficulty of talking about having HIV with new partners, some sought out other HIV-positive men. Others avoided anal sex, even with condoms.

Learning that one’s viral load was undetectable could open up new possibilities:

“I didn’t play around when I was not sure… if I was undetectable or not. I didn’t play. They [sexual partners] would be open to it, but I didn’t want… Personally I didn’t feel comfortable, so I didn’t play until I was undetectable.”

Read the full article.

New study finds zero new HIV infections among PrEP users

Posted September 30, 2015 by administrator
Categories: Health Alerts, Prevention, Research

A new study has found zero new HIV infections among a group of people on pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP). Researchers at the Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in San Francisco tracked the health of over 600 people as they used Truvada daily for 32 months to prevent the virus in a real-world setting.

The average age of the study participants was 37, and 99 percent were men who have sex with men. Members of this group also reported a higher likelihood of having multiple sex partners than those not using PrEP. Again, no one in the study contracted HIV. Lead author Dr. Jonathan Volk emphasized that this is the first time such a study has been done in a clinical practice setting at this size. The findings were published in Clinical Infectious Diseases.

The medical staff at the Pitt Men’s Study emphasize that PrEP is not a substitute for condoms. It should be used in addition to condoms, to further reduce your risk. It is also important to note that PrEP doesn’t protect against other STDs like syphilis, chlamydia, and gonorrhea.

To learn more about PrEP, check out the CDC’s Website. If you have questions about PrEP, you can speak to your doctor. You can also call the PrEP clinic at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center: (412) 647-0996.

Lambda Legal launches “Know Your Rights: HIV”

Posted September 29, 2015 by administrator
Categories: Community


On September 28, 2015, Lambda Legal launched the newest section of its Know Your Rights information hub. “Know Your Rights: HIV” provides information for people living with HIV people on topics such as disclosure and discrimination in housing, healthcare and employment.

Justice“Based on calls to our Legal Help Desk, people living with HIV still face, even in 2015, continued discrimination rooted in ignorance, unfounded fear, misconceptions and outdated science,” said Scott Schoettes, Senior Attorney and HIV Project National Director.

“When denied access to health care or fired from a job because they have HIV, people living with HIV will be able to turn to the “Know Your Rights: HIV” hub to provide much-needed information to help access and navigate the resources and protections that are available. This resource helps to further educate the public and end the stigma and discrimination that people with HIV encounter. Such stigma and discrimination hinder efforts to combat the epidemic.”

Launched the day after the 2015 National Gay Men’s HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, the “Know Your Rights: HIV” hub provides a wide range of information about the rights of all people living with HIV, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.

“Though Lambda Legal is primarily an LGBT organization, our mission with respect to HIV covers all people living with HIV, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity,” said Kyle Palazzolo, HIV Project Staff Attorney. “We believe everyone living with HIV will find this information useful, and we hope that even more people will call our Legal Help Desk when seeking guidance.”

Read more.

Increasing levels of engagement with care is key to controlling HIV epidemic in US

Posted September 23, 2015 by administrator
Categories: HIV care, Prevention, Research


engagement with care key to controlling HIVTest-and-treat’ is unlikely to be an effective strategy to control the HIV epidemic in the United States without improvements in retention in care, investigators argue in the online edition of Clinical Infectious Diseases. A mathematical model suggested that without interventions to address poor levels of engagement in HIV care, there could be as many as 1.39 million new HIV infections in the US over the next 20 years, at a cost of $256 billion. Targeting testing and linkage would only prevent 21% of these new infections. But a package of interventions comprising testing, linkage and retention in care would prevent over half of the projected new infections, reduce AIDS-related mortality by almost two-thirds and be cost effective.

“To alter the course of the HIV epidemic in the United States, strategies of ‘test and treat’ alone may be insufficient; attention to the full continuum of care will be essential,” comment the authors.

United States guidelines recommend expanded HIV testing and antiretroviral therapy at any CD4 count as strategies to reduce rates of AIDS-related deaths and HIV transmissions. However, this approach may not be as effective as hoped. Recent research has shown that there is significant attrition at each stage of the HIV care continuum in the US. Up to a fifth of HIV-infected individuals are undiagnosed; 20% of recently diagnosed patients are not linked to care within 90 days; 54% of patients are not retained in care; only 30% of diagnosed patients have an undetectable viral load.

Continue reading.

Gonorrhea rising among gay and bi men

Posted September 16, 2015 by administrator
Categories: Community, Health Alerts, Research


gonorrhea on the rise according to the CDCDiagnoses of gonorrhea among men who have sex with men are apparently rising in the United States. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) researchers, in order to determine demographic information, interviewed a random sample of individuals diagnosed with the sexually transmitted infection (STI) in 12 areas across the country between 2010 and 2013. The researchers then used census and Gallup opinion polling data to estimate the respective sizes of the U.S. MSM, heterosexual male, and female populations by age group at the state, county and city levels.

In 2010, there were an estimated 1,169.7 diagnoses of gonorrhea per 100,000 MSM. In other words, about 1.17 percent of MSM contracted the STI that year. This rate rose 26 percent in three years, hitting 1,474.4 diagnoses per 100,000 MSM, or 1.47 percent, in 2013. Looking at MSM according to age bracket, those between 25 and 29 years of age  had the highest diagnosis rate: 3,400 per 100,000, or 3.4 percent.

During the study period, gonorrhea diagnosis rate among MSM was between 10.7 and 13.9 times higher than that of women or heterosexual men. While the researchers speculate that the rising gonorrhea rates may be indicative of a national trend, they caution that the data in this study is not nationally representative.

Bone loss slows, but continues long-term in HIV-positive people on antiretroviral therapy

Posted September 15, 2015 by administrator
Categories: Features, HIV care, Research


33395-x-raymanPeople with HIV experienced a decrease in bone density at the hip and spine during their first two years after starting antiretroviral therapy (ART). While bone loss slowed after 96 weeks, it continued to decline more rapidly among HIV-positive people compared with the usual age-related bone loss seen in HIV-negative people over seven years, researchers reported at the recent 8th International AIDS Society Conference on HIV Pathogenesis, Treatment and Prevention in Vancouver.

Research over the course of the epidemic has found that people living with HIV typically have lower bone density and higher risk of fractures than HIV-negative people, but whether this is attributable to HIV infection itself, associated metabolic or immunological changes, antiretroviral drug toxicity or a combination of factors is not fully understood.

Studies have shown that people on ART – especially regimens containing tenofovir (Viread, also in the Truvada, Atripla, Eviplera, and Stribild combinations) or HIV protease inhibitors – experience bone loss during the first couple of years after starting treatment, but less is known about longer-term effects on bone health.

Continue reading.


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