Monthly Archives: March 2013

HIV is still the #1 health concern for gay men


A lot of gay men might talk like they’re not worried about HIV, but it still ranks as our number one health concern, according to a new study out of Hunter College.

“The fear is that gay men are tired of hearing about how to prevent HIV, and because of new treatment options, HIV isn’t seen as a big deal anymore,” says Dr. Christian Grov, a researcher at Hunter’s Center for HIV Educational Studies and Training (CHEST).

With a goal to see if men who sleep with men were experiencing such HIV-prevention fatigue, CHEST interviewed more than 650 gay and bisexual men at clubs, gay bars and bathhouses about their health concerns. Interviewees were asked to rank HIV transmission as compared to  smoking, body-image issues, mental health and drug/alcohol use.

HIV/STDs was ranked as the top concern, with mental health and substance abuse tying for second place. “These findings are promising for HIV prevention providers because they suggest many gay and bisexual men still recognize HIV as a top issue for the gay community,” says Grov.

Full story here:


Save the Date! HIV Educational Forum

(click to enlarge)

(click to enlarge)

On Wednesday April 17th at 7 PM, the Pitt Men’s Study will be hosting an HIV Educational Forum at the University Club (123 University Place, Oakland). The forum will feature speakers and a Q & A session. Dinner will be served at 7:30 PM. 

Those wanting to attend must register before April 5, 2013, by emailing Jessica McGuiness at, or calling 412-383-1674. When registering, specify your meal choice: blackened red snapper, chicken breast asiago, or vegetable napoleon (can be served as vegan).

Hope to see you there!

HIV among MSM examined at CROI


The ongoing disproportionate burden of HIV/AIDS borne by gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men (MSM) in the United States as well as around the world was the topic of a number of sessions and posters at the 20th Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections Exit Disclaimer in Atlanta this week.

In a compelling plenary session, The Global MSM HIV Epidemic: Time to Act Exit Disclaimer, Chris Beyrer Exit Disclaimer, MD, MPH, of the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health noted that MSM around the world have markedly higher HIV prevalence rates than the general population of reproductive-aged adults. This is true in every region of the world, including sub-Saharan Africa and the Caribbean, which has the highest HIV prevalence rate among MSM. (For more on the global epidemiology of HIV in MSM, see this study published by Dr. Beyrer and colleagues in The Lancet, 2012 Exit Disclaimer.)

While HIV incidence data (i.e., the number of new HIV infections) are less available worldwide than are prevalence data (i.e., the number of all persons living with HIV, both new and existing infections), the incidence data in hand suggest that there are stable or rising rates of new infection among MSM around the world, particularly in the last 5 years. As an example, Dr. Beyrer—who is also the President-elect of the International AIDS Society Exit Disclaimer—shared 5-year cumulative incidence data from a Bangkok, Thailand, cohort of MSM in a recently-published study Exit Disclaimer. Over the course of 60 months, 23% of sexually active Thai MSM of all ages who participated in the study became infected with HIV. Even more alarming, 31% of MSM ages 18-21 became infected with HIV over the same time period. Dr. Beyrer noted that these new infections occurred in a country with good ARV access, where homosexuality is not criminalized, and where the heterosexual HIV epidemic is in decline.

Dr. Beyrer discussed how the high background prevalence of HIV in many MSM communities drives new infections and increases the lifetime likelihood of HIV acquisition among its members. Exacerbating this is the fact that young MSM in the U.S. and in many other countries have the highest rates of new HIV infections, but they are also the least likely to be in HIV care and treatment. Further, structural factors such as discrimination based on sexual orientation or HIV status, criminalization of same-sex sexual practices, and barriers to health-care access for MSM also limit the impact of HIV prevention efforts for these communities. Dr. Beyrer pointed out, however, that modest increases in the use of condoms can have very positive impacts on these epidemics.


What is the impact of the baby cured of H.I.V.?

iStock_000015778315XSmallYou may have read in the news recently about the baby who was deemed cured of H.I.V. (if not, read about it here).

We asked the Pitt Men’s Study medical director, Dr. Ken Ho, what these finding might mean for the rest of us, particularly men in the PMS/MACS. Here is what he had to say:

As exciting as the results are, I don’t see this case having much clinical significance for the men in our study. Simply put, this infant was infected, started on very early treatment, and achieved a “functional cure.” I think it is more proof of concept how early treatment in a young infant can lead to eradication of the latent viral reservoir. Infants and adults are very different from an immunologic standpoint and I suspect have different reservoirs. If you start an adult on early treatment, suppress the viral load, and stop treatment, the virus will almost always ultimately rebound.

So while I believe in early initiation of antiretroviral therapy, it is not because I believe there is a potential for “cure.” If it can be determined that early treatment of perinatally infected infants results in the same outcome as seen here then yes, I believe this will change treatment of perinatally infected infants. But for now, I do not think this will impact clinical management of HIV positive men.

HIV awareness on the rise among urban gay men

From MedPage Today

city boys holding handsMore gay and bisexual men infected with HIV are aware they have the virus, at least in 20 major urban areas. On the other hand, the prevalence of the infection has remained “relatively steady” among men who have sex with men (MSM) in those areas, according to Cyprian Wejnert, PhD, of the CDC. But while awareness of the infection rose in most subgroups of the gay and bisexual population, there are still “concerning disparities,” Wejnert told reporters here at the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections. Specifically, blacks were most likely to be HIV-positive and least likely to know about it, he said. The findings are derived from data collected by the National HIV Behavioral Surveillance System in 20 urban areas, ranging from Seattle to San Juan, with a high burden of AIDS, Wejnert said.

In 2011, investigators interviewed participants in dance clubs and bars frequented by MSM and offered them anonymous HIV testing. That year, 8,423 participants had both an interview and a test, compared with 7,847 in 2008. Wejnert told MedPage Today that the research takes place every third year, with similar investigations in other years among heterosexuals and injection drug users, the other two major risk groups for HIV infection.

The researchers found:

  • Of the 8,423 participants in 2011, 18% were HIV-positive compared with 19% in 2008.
  • Of those who tested positive, 66% were already aware of the fact, up from 56% in 2008.
  • Prevalence varied by race and ethnicity, with 30% of blacks testing positive compared with 14% of whites.
  • Awareness also varied by race and ethnicity, with 54% of blacks knowing their status compared with 86% of whites. But in all racial and ethnic groups, awareness has risen since 2008.

Read the full article on MedPage Today.