Who we are…

The Pitt Men’s Study (PMS) is a confidential research study of the natural history of HIV/AIDS, funded by the National Institutes of Health that has been ongoing in Pittsburgh since 1984. The Study is part of the Department of Infectious Diseases and Microbiology in the Graduate School of Public Health, University of Pittsburgh. The study followed a cohort of approximately 3000 men to gather information on the epidemiology, virology, immunology, and pathology of HIV and is part of the Multicenter AIDS Cohort Study (MACS) with sites in Los Angeles, Chicago, Baltimore as well as Pittsburgh.

Scroll down for the latest news and information about the study and HIV research.

HIV-infected people are living for years, but age-related diseases set in early

From the Washington Post

David Hardy has been treating HIV-infected patients since the early 1980s, when the epidemic began. In those days, people newly diagnosed with AIDS lived for only about six months. Hardy, an infectious-disease specialist and internist, was ecstatic when powerful new drug combinations came into widespread use in 1996, enabling HIV-infected people to measure their lives in decades rather than months. But in recent years, his euphoria has turned bittersweet.

“Most people assume that the medicines have worked and that everything has gone back to normal, and that’s not really true,” says Hardy, who directs research for Whitman-Walker Health in Washington and who still sees patients weekly. “While we have suppressed HIV very well, we’ve now discovered that the medicines only treat part of the problem.”

Many HIV-infected people, now in their 50s and 60s, who have lived for years with HIV under control, are developing aging-related conditions — heart, liver and kidney disease, certain cancers and frailty, for example — at a rate significantly higher than uninfected people of the same age. “These are things that people develop all the time as they get old, but they are occurring at an earlier age in HIV-positive people,” Hardy says.

Read the full article.

Lower prevalence of HIV testing among sexually active older adults

From MD Magazine online

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), older adults are increasingly affected by HIV infections, as they constitute 17% of new diagnoses, 45% of adult persons living with HIV (PLWH) in the US, and 39% of HIV-related deaths in the US.

Although the prevalence of HIV infection among old adults is increasing worldwide, a recent study in the US suggests that only about a quarter of older adults have been tested for HIV. As a result of less aggressive testing in this patient population, older adults tend to be diagnosed with HIV at a later stage in the disease.

Emeka Oraka, MPH, a senior health research analyst at ICF International in Atlanta, GA, recently led an investigation into the prevalence of HIV testing among older adults and the characteristics of patients being tested. For this study, Oraka and colleagues utilized the General Social Survey (GSS), a biennial survey conducted among the civilian, noninstitutionalized population in the US that collects data on demographics, sexual behaviors and HIV-related behaviors.

Read the full article.

Diabetes rates are rising fast among people with HIV

From Poz Magazine

People with HIV are increasingly developing prediabetes and diabetes, Infectious Disease Advisor reports. While living longer thanks to antiretroviral (ARV) treatment may play a role in this population’s development of such aging-related conditions, the toxicities of ARVs may also raise their risk.

Publishing their findings in Epidemiology, researchers conducted a meta-analysis of 44 studies published between 2000 and 2017 that included estimates of the annual rate of diagnosis, or incidence, of prediabetes and diabetes among individuals who had been exposed to ARV treatment.

Overall, the annual diagnosis rate was 125 cases of prediabetes and 13.7 cases of diabetes per cumulative 1,000 years of follow-up. These two estimates were based on 396,496 and 1,532 cumulative years of follow-up, respectively.

The researchers found that, over time, the annual diagnosis rate for these conditions increased quickly.

Major risk factors for developing either condition included aging, having family history of diabetes, being Black or Latino, being overweight or obese, having central obesity (weight around the abdomen, or a “beer gut”), having lipodystrophy or lipoatrophy (abnormal distribution of fat on the body and face, which is associated with some of the earliest ARVs), having metabolic syndrome (a collection of symptoms, including abnormal cholesterol, triglycerides and blood sugar, central obesity, and high blood pressure), having a higher initial fasting glucose test result and taking certain ARV regimens.

On the bright side, it is possible that given the lower toxicity of today’s preferred ARV regimens, the incidence of prediabetes and diabetes may ultimately decline.

The researchers stressed that more research is necessary to “better capture the interplay” between the two health conditions and ARV treatment.

To read the Infectious Disease Advisor article, click here.

To read the study abstract, click here.

HIV rate among gay and bi men between the age of 25 to 34 rose 45% between 2008 and 2015

During that time, the rate dropped 15 percent nationally and rose 25 percent among Latino men who have sex with men.

From Poz Magazine online

While the national annual HIV infection rate dropped by an estimated 15 percent between 2008 and 2015, a few key subgroups saw a rise in yearly new HIV infections, also known as HIV incidence. During this period, HIV incidence among 25- to 34-year-old men who have sex with men (MSM) increased by an estimated 45 percent while the rate increased 25 percent among Latino MSM.

These figures come from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) new, in-depth analysis of epidemic trends in the United States. Published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, the report is a more precise and granular version of reports on epidemic trends that CDC officials presented at the 2017 Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI) in Seattle a year ago.

At that time, the agency estimated that HIV incidence declined 18 percent between 2008 and 2014. This new estimate, therefore, represents a disappointing reduction in that hopeful figure.

Prior to 2008, HIV incidence was essentially stable in the United States for the two decades since the beginning of the modern era of combination antiretroviral (ARV) treatment.

Read the full article.

Health Alert: Beaver County has “notable increases” in new HIV and gonorrhea diagnoses

From thetimesonline.com

The PA Department of Health is reporting an increase in HIV and gonorrhea diagnoses in Beaver County.

However, a lack of willingness to test — combined with the potential spread of the diseases through illegal drug use — raises more questions than answers.

From 2017 through this year so far, the number of new HIV cases has increased “nearly threefold” in county residents compared to the average number of new diagnoses in previous years, according to a Pennsylvania Department of Health advisory issued earlier this month to local medical offices. The increases in HIV infection were predominantly identified in males with the risk factor of men who have sex with men. According to the state health department, four cases of HIV diagnoses were made in 2013, five in 2014 and three in 2015. Zero cases were reported in 2016, but the count may be incomplete because of reporting delays. The state has not yet shared the exact number of new diagnoses for 2017.

Individuals identified with new HIV infections also had a high rate of co-infection with other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), such as syphilis and gonorrhea.

In nearby Allegheny County, 119 new HIV diagnoses were made in 2013, followed by 128 in 2014, 142 in 2015 and 127 in 2016. In Lawrence County, there were three new cases in 2013, five in 2014, five in 2015 and zero in 2016. The latter also may be incomplete because of reporting delays.

Read the full article.

HIV patients with depression face serious risks

From Reuters Health

The proportion of time patients with HIV spend depressed is directly related to their likelihood of missing doctor appointments, how well their infection is suppressed and their risk of death from any cause, according to a multi-site U. S. study.

In a large analysis of records for nearly 6,000 patients receiving HIV primary care across the country, the researchers found that for patients depressed during the entire study period, the risk of death was double that of patients with no depression.

Even shorter periods of time spent with depression were tied to increases in viral load, missed appointments and increased mortality, researchers report in JAMA Psychiatry.

“If we can shorten an HIV patient’s exposure to depression by picking it up early and treating it well using evidence based protocols, we can make a difference in their outcomes,” said lead author Brian W. Pence, an associate professor of epidemiology at the Gillings School of Global Public Health at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

This is the first time that the impact of cumulative depression has been studied across the whole HIV care continuum, Pence told Reuters Health in a telephone interview.

The results suggest that even short-term, mild depression can have“meaningful negative outcomes on HIV treatment and survival,” Pence and colleagues write.

An estimated 1.1 million people in the U. S. were living with HIV at the end of 2015, according to the latest statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Between 20 percent and 40 percent of people living with HIV also have depression, Pence noted.

“We need to find better ways to integrate mental health care into chronic disease care . . . There’s good evidence that primary care providers and non-specialists can be as effective as psychiatrists using assertive dosing schedules.”

Read the full article.