Archive for September 2012

Is oral sex safe?

September 24, 2012

One of the most often asked questions regarding sex and HIV is “can I get HIV from oral sex without using a condom?”

The short answer is yes. Although a lot of sexual health experts put oral sex into the “safer sex” category, there is a degree of risk. Using condoms for oral sex is your safest bet.  With that said, if you’re not going to use a condom, the following are ways to reduce your risk even more: 

  • Don’t brush or floss your teeth for at least an hour before giving head. You can use a mouthwash, breath mint, or gum instead. This will keep the number of tears and cuts in our mouth to a minimum.
  • Try not to eat abrasive foods (like tortilla chips, French bread, pretzels, etc.) for the same reasons.
  • In general, it’s also a good idea to maintain excellent oral hygiene to prevent the possibility of easy tears/cuts in the mouth. If your gums bleed when you brush, you need to step up your oral hygiene—talk to your dentist about what to do.  
  • Avoid getting semen in your mouth; semen contains active HIV. If you do get semen in your mouth, as the saying goes, “Swallow or spit, just don’t let it sit.” The longer semen in your mouth, the more potential for HIV to find an entry point into your body.
  • Avoid deep throating since this can cause abrasions in the throat. Pre-cum/semen can come into contact with these abrasions, creating an effective entry point for HIV infection.

For more information about oral sex and HIV, you can check out the following links: http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/resources/factsheets/pdf/oralsex.pdf and http://www.thebody.com/Forums/AIDS/SafeSex/Q9080.html

Single application for HIV patient assistance program expedites process for lifesaving drugs

September 17, 2012

Kathleen Sebelius

From GayToday.com:

The Common Patient Assistance Program Application (CPAPA), announced by Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius at the International AIDS Conference in July, went into effect today. This single common application allows uninsured individuals living with HIV to use one application to apply for multiple assistance programs that together provide an entire course of antiretroviral therapy.

The application is a result of a public private partnership between HHS ‘ Health Resources and Service Administration (HRSA) and seven leading  pharmaceutical companies and foundations, and their HIV patient assistance programs: Abbott Laboratories, Boehringer Ingelheim, Bristol-Myers Squibb , Gilead Sciences Inc., Johnson & Johnson, Merck and ViiV Healthcare. In addition, the National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors assisted in the development and implementation of the application.

“The last thing someone living with HIV wants to think about is filling out another form,” Secretary Sebelius said. “This application streamlines and simplifies the process, reduces barriers to medication access, and speeds access to lifesaving drugs.”

Patient Assistance Programs provide free or discounted medication to qualifying patients who cannot afford it themselves. These programs serve an estimated 30,000 or more patients a year across the country, and this initiative will aim to expand access to these programs.

Read the full article on GayToday.com.

Use of pill to prevent HIV may be limited in U.S

September 13, 2012

From Reuters online:

U.S. health regulators last month approved Gilead Sciences Inc’s Truvada — already used globally to treat the human immunodeficiency virus — for preventing the infection in healthy people at high risk of contracting the virus that causes AIDS.

A number of factors will limit the drug’s use for preventing HIV, including the fact that in the United States many people most at risk of infection, as well as their sexual partners, do not have consistent access to healthcare. Even for those with coverage, insurance reimbursement for a $14,000-a-year drug is expected to be tricky.

In addition, therapy with the drug would require otherwise healthy young people to take a pill each day, plus show up for HIV testing every three months.

“There are a number of rather significant implementation challenges,” said Dr. Stephen Morin, director of the Center for AIDS Prevention Studies at the University of California at San Francisco. “Part of it has to do with the requirement to take a pill a day, which could be addressed by a more long-term administration of the drug.”

Scientists are exploring a variety of tactics for using AIDS drug formulations to prevent HIV infection, including long-acting injections, gels and vaginal rings.

Read the full article on Rueters Website.

Insight: AIDS science leaping ahead, but will the money follow?

September 7, 2012

From gaytoday.com:

Last year, the HIV/AIDS community got some startling news: Lifesaving drugs known as antiretrovirals that have brought millions of AIDS sufferers back from the brink also dramatically cut the risk that they will transmit the virus to their loved ones – by as much as 96 percent.

The landmark study, known as the HIV Prevention Trials Network 052 trial, proved that AIDS treatment was also a powerful form of prevention. Science magazine dubbed it the 2011 Breakthrough of the Year. The findings – along with studies on the preventive benefits of circumcision and treating high-risk individuals before they are exposed to HIV – have been heralded as weapons that could finally break the back of the AIDS epidemic. “What was unthinkable just three years ago is now in sight: an AIDS-free generation and the end of this epidemic,” Ambassador Mark Dybul, former U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator for President George W. Bush, said at the 2012 International AIDS Conference in July.

But fully rolling out treatment as prevention would mean more than doubling current HIV treatment goals, from the current United Nations target of treating 15 million by 2015 to 34 million, a staggering increase.

With some recession-strapped donor countries already struggling to meet their current commitments for treatment and prevention programs, AIDS activists worry that money, and not science, could hold up progress in the war on AIDS.

Read the full article on gaytoday.com.