New York Times opinion piece: New blood-donor policy, same gay stigma

Posted May 21, 2015 by administrator
Categories: Features, Commentary, Stigma


The Food and Drug Administration released highly anticipated draft recommendations that would allow gay men to donate blood after one year of celibacy. While an improvement from the current, highly criticized lifetime ban, the new policy, which was announced in December, still caters to fear and stigma rather than science. It should be reconsidered.

In 1983, early in the AIDS crisis, the F.D.A. categorically prohibited any man who had had sex with a man since 1977 — even once — from ever donating blood. (The ban was one year for men who had had heterosexual sex with someone known to be H.I.V.-positive.) As we argued in The Journal of the American Medical Association last year, this policy was deeply misguided. It lacked solid public health evidence to support it, and was at variance with the policies of other countries — including Britain, Canada and South Africa — that had rescinded such lifetime bans without seeing an increase in infected blood in their supply. The ban meant that the F.D.A. was forgoing an estimated 615,000 pints of blood annually that would be donated to save lives. And it deeply stigmatized gay men.

Continue reading on the New York Times.

CDC dedicates $185M to prevent HIV among trans and MSM

Posted May 15, 2015 by administrator
Categories: Features


The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recently announced $185 million in funding for three new programs to prevent HIV infection among transgender people and gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men (MSM), with a particular focus on MSM of color.

The programs are part of a multi-pronged strategy to address the disproportionally heavy burden of HIV infection on MSM and transgender men and women. These programs will help health departments and local HIV prevention partners deliver and apply the most effective HIV prevention tools.

In particular, CDC plans to award up to $125 million over a three-year period to state and local health departments to expand the use of: 1) pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) for uninfected MSM and transgender people who are considered at substantial risk for HIV infection; and 2) ongoing medical care and antiretroviral treatment for people already living with HIV. Health departments will be funded to provide PrEP information and referrals and to conduct outreach and training to increase the number of healthcare providers who are knowledgeable about PrEP and offer it to their patients.

People who don’t tell anyone else their HIV status have as good health outcomes as other people living with HIV

Posted May 5, 2015 by administrator
Categories: Features, HIV care, Research


[D]oes non-disclosure matter? Is it associated with poorer health outcomes? While a quantitative survey, completed on a single occasion by respondents, has some limitations in terms of the insight it can give into the quality of people’s lives and relationships, these data are reassuring.

Mental health difficulties and adherence problems were quite common among survey respondents. But they weren’t more frequently reported by people who hadn’t disclosed to anyone. After statistical adjustment for other factors that could skew the results, rates of the following were very similar in people who disclosed and people who did not:

  • Low social support.
  • Symptoms of depression.
  • Symptoms of anxiety.
  • Problems with adherence to HIV treatment.
  • A detectable viral load.

In fact, some of the data suggested that having disclosed to most or all friends and family was actually associated with poorer outcomes in gay men. A more selective disclosure strategy was associated with better outcomes.

Read the full article on

Intervention improves HIV med adherence among Blacks and Latinos

Posted April 21, 2015 by administrator
Categories: HIV care, Research

Tags: , , ,


A counseling-based intervention has succeeded in improving adherence to antiretrovirals (ARVs) among HIV-positive blacks and Latinos who are reluctant to start treatment. Publishing their findings in AIDS and Behavior, researchers recruited 95 HIV-positive, treatment-naive African-American and Latino adults whose CD4 counts were below 500 and randomized them into either an intervention or a control arm.

The intervention included three individual counseling sessions, up to five support groups with other study participants, and personalized patient navigation for 12 to 24 weeks, depending on their needs. This “pre-adherence” intervention was designed for people who have refused to start ARVs or who believe they are not ready to take them. The control group was assigned to receive HIV treatment under standard protocol.

Eight months into the study, 60 percent of the intervention participants were adhering to ARVs seven days a week, according to drug concentrations in hair samples, compared with just 26.7 percent of the control participants. Additionally, the intervention participants had, on average, a nearly 10-fold lower viral load than the controls.

The researchers concluded that future study of this intervention is warranted.

To read the press release, click here.

To read the study abstract, click here.

An era of new possibilities: HIV prevention for gay and bi men

Posted April 7, 2015 by administrator
Categories: Commentary, Features


By Eugene McCray, M.D., Director, Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention, CDC

CDC McCray_Eugene_2007_301_hiresWe have achieved some hard-won victories against HIV in recent years. New infections among women and injection drug users are declining, people with HIV are living longer, and more people than ever know their HIV status.  But one population — gay and bisexual men –is seeing infections rise, driven by increases among young gay men.

As I wrote last year, reducing new infections among gay and bisexual men, who bear the brunt of the new infections, is CDC’s top HIV prevention priority.  If we are to bring down new HIV infections from 50,000 per year, we must focus on the tools with the greatest potential to slow the spread of the HIV – including powerful new prevention approaches that weren’t on our radar just a few years ago.

To help meet this challenge, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has announced new prevention initiatives up to $125 million to expand use of two potent but underutilized tools to slow the spread of HIV among gay and bisexual men, particularly men of color.  One is pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP.  The other, called Data to Care, is a new way of using surveillance data to help people living with HIV stay in care, protect their health, and reduce the risk of transmission to others.  These two approaches reflect how CDC is reshaping its HIV prevention strategies in an era of new possibilities.

Continue reading on

Can HIV accelerate age-related conditions?

Posted April 6, 2015 by administrator
Categories: Features, Research


To answer that question, researchers at the UCLA AIDS Institute and Center for AIDS Research and the Multicenter AIDS Cohort Study investigated whether the virus induces age-associatedepigenetic changes—that is, changes to the DNA that in turn lead to changes in expression of gene levels without changing the inherited genetic code. These changes affect biological processes and can be brought on by environmental factors or by the aging process itself.

In a study published online in the peer-reviewed journal PLOS ONE, the researchers suggest that HIV itself accelerates these aging related changes by more than 14 years.

“While we were surprised by the number of epigenetic changes that were significantly associated with both aging and HIV-infection, we were most surprised that the data suggests HIV-infection can accelerate aging-related epigenetic changes by 13.7 to 14.7 years,” said Beth Jamieson, professor of medicine in the division of hematology/oncology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and one of the study’s senior authors. “This number is in line with both anecdotal and published data suggesting that treated HIV-infected adults can develop the diseases of aging mentioned above, approximately a decade earlier than their uninfected peers.”

Read the full article.

Dr. Charles Rinaldo and Alan Jones of PATF talk about the beginning of the AIDS epidemic

Posted April 3, 2015 by administrator
Categories: Features, Media, PMS Matters


Charles Rinaldo, PhD – Chairman and Professor, Dept. of Infectious Diseases and Microbiology at the University of Pittsburgh

Pitt Men’s Study’s Dr. Rinaldo talks with NPR’s Essential Pittsburgh

Dr. Charles Rinaldo was part of a team of researchers investigating the rise of AIDS in Pittsburgh, research that at that time was called a “natural history study.” Through his subjects, Rinaldo developed an understanding of the severity of the spread of HIV , and became an early advocate for AIDS education and prevention. He joins Alan Jones of the Pittsburgh AIDS Taskforce to discuss what the social and medical landscape was like when AIDS was first appearing among the gay communities of Pittsburgh.

Listen to the interview here.


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