Monthly Archives: January 2012

Saliva test just as good for HIV testing


A pain-free, non-invasive saliva test is as accurate as a traditional blood test to diagnose infections of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), according to a new meta-analysis published yesterday (January 24) in The Lancet Infectious Diseases. The test could be a solution for countries that wish to adopt self-testing strategies for HIV.

Pooling data from five worldwide databases, an international team of researchers found that Oraquick HIV-1/2, a saliva test sold by Pennsylvania-based OraSure Technologies, is 99 percent accurate for HIV in high-risk populations and about 97 percent accurate in low-risk populations. The test requires a single swab of the gums, which is then inserted into a handheld device that produces results in 20 minutes. The Oraquick has been available to clinicians since 2004 and is being considered for use as an over-the-counter test in the United States and sub-Saharan countries

You can read the full article at

Gay couples encouraged to get tested, hear results together

From the Huffington Post:

Testing Together, now under way in Chicago and Atlanta, takes an unusual approach: It encourages gay male couples to get tested together and hear their results together. After delivering the results, a counselor talks with the couple about what to do next, including agreements they may want to make with each other about sex and health.

Are we agreeing to be monogamous? Is any sexual activity outside the relationship OK? How are we going to protect each other from infection? Couples address these questions and more.

The idea is to bring honesty to sexual relationships, said one of the researchers behind the program, Rob Stephenson of the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University in Atlanta.

Relationships offer only “mythical protection” from HIV, Stephenson said. Some couples may have avoided talking about each other’s HIV status, thinking, “If he were HIV positive he would have told me,” or “If he wanted to know, he would have asked.”

Read the full article on the Huffington Post Gay Voices section.

Health Alert – Shigella

Since mid-2011, the Pennsylvania Department of Health has received a number of reports of shigellosis due to Shigella flexeri, a species of Shigella that is infrequently diagnosed in Pennsylvania. The cases have occurred in the southeastern part of the state among men who have sex with men (MSM) who may or may not be HIV-positive.

What is Shigella?

Shigella is one of the bacterial agents that causes acute diarrhea. Symptoms often include cramping, fever and vomiting. The infection spreads easily from person to person by the fecal-oral route since a very small number of organisms are necessary to produce transmission.

How do you catch Shigella?

The Pennsylvania Health Alert Network reports “Shigella outbreaks have been previously reported in MSMs and are usually correlated with having multiple partners combined with unprotected high-risk sexual behavior. The fact that some of these patients are also HIV infected raises added concerns, not only due to the potential for transmission of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections through the same high risk behaviors, but also because immune-compromised individuals can have extended carriage of Shigella.”

What can you do?

Persons with diarrhea usually recover completely, although it may be several months before their bowel habits are entirely normal. Once someone has had shigellosis, they are not likely to get infected with that specific type again for at least several years. However, they can still get infected with other types of Shigella. Currently, there is no vaccine to prevent shigellosis. However, the spread of Shigella from an infected person to other persons can be stopped by frequent and careful hand-washing with soap.

For more information about Shigella, you can go to the Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention Website

LGBT Cancer Network Expands Resources Directory Beyond NYC

The National LGBT Cancer Network, the first program in the country to address the needs of all lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people with cancer and those at risk, announced this past November that is has expanded its directory of LGBT-friendly cancer screening facilities beyond New York City.

The directory now covers facilities in California, Colorado, Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Vermont.

You can search the directory for screenings in Pennsylvania on the Cancer Network Directory.

H.I.V. cases and AIDS deaths going down in British Columbia

From the New York Times:

New H.I.V. cases and AIDS deaths are both going steadily down in British Columbia, according to data released last week.

“We’re particularly pleased to see that our treatment-as-prevention strategy has taken off big-time,” said Dr. Julio S. G. Montaner, director of the British Columbia Center for Excellence in H.I.V./AIDS. His center was a pioneer in the strategy, which involves searching aggressively for people at risk of H.I.V. infection, talking them into being tested and putting those who are infected on antiretroviral drugs immediately, which lowers by 96 percent the chances that they will infect others.

To read the full article, go to the New York Times Website.