Archive for May 2011

People living with HIV disproportionately affected by hepatitis

May 23, 2011

From Dr. John Ward, Director, Division of Viral Hepatitis, CDC :

May is Hepatitis Awareness Month, an observance intended to remind us of the high, under-recognized hepatitis-associated disease burden in this country and of the often neglected opportunities for prevention and care. An estimated 3.5 – 5.3 million Americans have chronic viral hepatitis, which is a leading cause of primary liver cancer. People living with HIV are disproportionately affected by viral hepatitis and the related adverse health outcomes. Of those infected with HIV, more than 25% are co-infected with Hepatitis C and an estimated 10% with Hepatitis B.  While highly active antiretroviral therapy has extended the life expectancy of HIV-infected persons, liver disease (much of which is related to Hepatitis C) has become the most common non-AIDS-related cause of death of among this population.

HIV, Hepatitis B, and Hepatitis C share common modes of transmission. People living with HIV who are also living with viral hepatitis are at increased risk for serious, life threatening complications.  As a result, all persons living with HIV should be tested for Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C by their doctors. Co-infection with hepatitis may also complicate the management of HIV infection.

In order to prevent co-infection with Hepatitis B, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommends universal Hepatitis B vaccination of susceptible patients with HIV/AIDS.  Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B vaccines are also recommended for all men who have sex with men, users of illicit drugs, and others at increased risk of infection. There is no vaccine for Hepatitis C.

In 2010, an interagency work group of U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) experts was created to develop a comprehensive strategic action plan to respond to the viral-hepatitis-associated disease burden. The HHS Action Plan for the Prevention, Care and Treatment of Viral Hepatitis describes opportunities to improve coordination of viral hepatitis prevention activities across HHS, and the framework needed to engage other agencies and nongovernmental organizations in prevention and care. Various strategies throughout the plan outline methods of integration of HIV and viral hepatitis in education, prevention and services.  The HHS Action Plan was released on May 12.

This article comes from blog.AIDS.gov.

HIV at “critical levels” in Philadelphia

May 23, 2011

From the Philadelphia Gay Issues Examiner:

HIV has reached critical levels in Philadelphia. The City of Philadelphia has just begun a campaign called Freedom Condom. The goal of this campaign is to reduce the infections of HIV and other STDs among teenagers in Philadelphia. According to the City of Philadelphia Department of Health, men who have sex with men in Philadelphia have more than a 40% chance of getting HIV by having unprotected sex. There are an estimated 16,905 people living with HIV or AIDS in Philadelphia.

These statistics are shocking but true. HIV has become the ultimate threat to the gay community, especially for gay African-Americans and Hispanics. There are many reasons why HIV is spreading so rapidly in Philadelphia but one of the main reasons is that there is an increase use of unprotected sex among gay men and ignorant myths about how the virus is transferred. There are many myths that HIV is transferred by hugging, kissing, or shaking hands with someone who is HIV positive. These myths are completely wrong. Before understanding how HIV is spread, understanding what is HIV is most important. HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus, meaning that the virus can only be transmitted between humans. HIV attacks the body’s immune system by invading and taking over the CD4+ T cells.

Continue reading on Examiner.com

Bullying of LGBT students has long-term negative health effects

May 23, 2011

From the tucsonsentinel.com:

LGBT students who reported high levels of victimization, compared to those who reported low levels of victimization, were 2.6 times more likely to report depression above the clinical cut off, and 5.6 times more likely to report having attempted suicide at least once, and having a suicide attempt that required medical attention, the study showed.

Also, students who reported high levels of victimization were more than twice as likely to having reported a STD diagnosis, and having been at risk for HIV infection.

In comparison, LGBT young adults who reported low levels of victimization reported higher levels of self-esteem, life satisfaction and social integration compared to those who experienced higher levels of victimization.

Go to the tucsonsentinel.com for the full article.

National HIV Testing Day is June 27

May 9, 2011

National HIV Testing Day (NHTD) is an annual campaign coordinated by the National Association of People with AIDS to encourage people of all ages to “Take the Test, Take Control.”

Early HIV diagnosis is critical, so people who are infected can fully benefit from available life-saving treatments. Currently, almost 40 percent of people with HIV are not diagnosed until they already have developed AIDS. That can be up to 10 years after they first became infected with HIV. Finding out whether you are infected with HIV is the first step to improving your health and the health of your partners and your family.

Find out more about National HIV Testing Day and where to get tested.

An interview with leading gay men’s health expert, Ron Stall

May 2, 2011

University of Pittsbrugh Researcher Ron Stall talks about 30 years of HIV and gay men’s health on Web’s Huffington Post… 

While no longer a singularly “gay disease,” gay, bisexual and transgender people remain severely impacted by HIV/AIDS in the U.S. For young gay, bi, and transgender youth of color, alarming rates of HIV rival those of some Sub-Saharan countries. What can we learn from the 30-year history of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in order to forge a better, future response?

These are just some of the questions the AIDS Foundation of Chicago (AFC) is posing this year as it reflects on lessons learned from the past 30 years of HIV/AIDS. Chief among these questions is why, 30 years into the crisis, are rates of HIV highest among young gay men, particularly men of color? According to federal officials, rates of HIV among gay men are 50 times higher than any other group and, while new cases have plateaued for other groups, among gay/bi men and transgender, they continue to climb.

Read the full article.