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

Posted March 14, 2018 by administrator
Categories: Community, Health Alerts


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

Posted March 5, 2018 by administrator
Categories: HIV care, Research

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.

Free continuing education for clinicians caring for people with HIV

Posted January 29, 2018 by administrator
Categories: Education, HIV care

CDC’s MMWR and Medscape are proud to introduce a new FREE continuing education (CE) activity that describes diagnosis delay among persons infected with HIV: Vital Signs: Human Immunodeficiency Virus Testing and Diagnosis Delays — United States.

This activity is intended for infectious disease clinicians, family medicine specialists, internists, nurses, pharmacists, public health officials, and other clinicians caring for patients with or at risk for HIV infection.

Upon completion of this activity, participants will be able to:

  1. Describe diagnosis delay among persons infected with HIV, based on an analysis of data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National HIV Surveillance System, and missed opportunities for HIV testing, based on CDC’s National HIV Behavioral Surveillance.
  2. Identify the proportions of persons in various high-risk populations who tested for HIV in the past 12 months.
  3. Determine the clinical and public health implications of these findings regarding HIV testing, missed opportunities for testing, and diagnosis delay among persons infected with HIV.

To access this FREE MMWR / Medscape CE activity visit If you are not a registered user on Medscape, please register for free or login without a password and get unlimited access to all continuing education activities and other Medscape features.

HIV care continuum: Effects of depression, alcohol use on early retention in ART

Posted January 25, 2018 by administrator
Categories: Features, HIV care, Research


Both alcohol use and depression are associated with increased disengagement from antiretroviral therapy for patients with HIV in South Africa, according to the results of a recent study published in PLoS ONE.

In this prospective cohort study, 136 people living with HIV in South Africa who were initiating antiretroviral therapy were enrolled. Anxiety and depression were measured with the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale, and alcohol use disorder was evaluated with the CAGE questionnaire. Researchers also measured internalized stigma and quality of life in participants. The associations between mental health variables and 6-month retention in care and viral suppression were evaluated.

Read the full article here.

Many at-risk men still don’t take HIV prevention pill

Posted January 10, 2018 by administrator
Categories: PrEP, Prevention

From The Associated Press…

From gritty neighborhoods in New York and Los Angeles to clinics in Kenya and Brazil, health workers are trying to popularize a pill that has proven highly effective in preventing HIV but which — in their view — remains woefully underused.

Marketed in the United States as Truvada, and sometimes available abroad in generic versions, the pill has been shown to reduce the risk of getting HIV from sex by more than 90 percent if taken daily. Yet worldwide, only about a dozen countries have aggressive, government-backed programs to promote the pill. In the U.S., there are problems related to Truvada’s high cost, lingering skepticism among some doctors and low usage rates among black gays and bisexuals who have the highest rates of HIV infection.

“Truvada works,” said James Krellenstein, a New York-based activist. “We have to start thinking of it not as a luxury but as an essential public health component of this nation’s response to HIV.”

A few large U.S. cities are promoting Truvada, often with sexually charged ads. In New York, “Bare It All” was among the slogans urging gay men to consult their doctors. The Los Angeles LGBT Center — using what it called “raw, real language” — launched a campaign to increase use among young Latino and black gay men and transgender women.

“We’ve got the tools to not only end the fear of HIV, but to end it as an epidemic,” said the center’s chief of staff, Darrel Cummings. “Those at risk have to know about the tools, though, and they need honest information about them.”

In New York, roughly 30 percent of gay and bisexual men are using Truvada now, up dramatically from a few years ago, according to Dr. Demetre Daskalakis, a deputy commissioner of the city’s health department.

However, Daskalakis said use among young black and Hispanic men — who account for a majority of new HIV diagnoses — lags behind. To address that, the city is making Truvada readily available in some clinics in or near heavily black and Hispanic neighborhoods.

Read the full article on

HIV and your brain (HIV-Associated Neurocognitive Disorder)

Posted November 6, 2017 by administrator
Categories: HIV care

From Poz Magazine online

HIV-associated dementia (known as HAD or AIDS dementia complex, ADC) is rarely diagnosed. However, recent evidence suggests that HIV is still affecting people’s brains—even when HIV levels are undetectable in the blood.

This is certainly no reason to panic. So far, it appears that HIV-associated neurocognitive disorder (HAND) is so mild that people don’t notice it. Often, it can only be picked up with extensive neurological and psychological testing. What’s more, some evidence suggests that people who take ARVs that pass into the brain might be less prone to develop neurocognitive problems.

There is still much we need to understand about how HIV affects the brain in people with well-controlled disease: How common it is, which people are most vulnerable to HIV-related brain damage, and whether and how quickly it can progress from a mild disorder to one that is more serious. Researchers are hard at work to answer these questions and to determine whether there are medications that can slow or minimize HIV-related neurocognitive problems.

In the meantime, there are things that you can do—such as minimizing heavy alcohol and substance use, treating depression and anxiety, and getting physical exercise—to help keep the brain healthy and functioning well. This lesson will help you understand HAND and the latest thinking on how common it is and how it might be prevented or treated.

Read the full article on

Sexually active men in Pennsylvania need to get tested for Syphilis

Posted October 30, 2017 by administrator
Categories: Health Alerts

Pennsylvania is experiencing an alarming increase in Syphilis cases, primarily among men who have sex with men (MSM). The State Department of Health reports that new Syphilis infections are primarily among minority MSM under the age of 25. Furthermore, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently reported that cases of new STDs are at record highs nationwide, including an 18 percent increase in Syphilis infections.

Syphilis is a sexually transmitted infection. If it goes untreated, it can lead to serious health problems including paralysis, blindness, and dementia. However, Syphilis is 100% curable with simple antibiotics.

Syphilis is spread through direct contact with a Syphilis sore during vaginal, anal, or oral sex. You can get Syphilis and not have any symptoms so the only way to know for sure you’re not infected is to get tested.

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