Monthly Archives: June 2013

“Facing AIDS” is theme of National HIV Testing Day


Facing AIDS is a digital photo sharing initiative with the goal of reducing HIV-related stigma and promoting HIV testing. Many blog readers have contributed personal messages to the Facing AIDS photo gallery, most recently in recognition of World AIDS Day (December 1, 2012 – visit the gallery to see the inspiring messages collected over the five years of the initiative). Many of your Facing AIDS messages highlight the importance of confronting stigma and echo the theme of National HIV Testing Day: Take the Test. Take Control. That consistency made it easy for our team to re-purpose the photos into the newest video in our Facing AIDS series. To learn how participate in Facing AIDS, read this blog post. To watch other videos in the Facing AIDS series, please use this playlist Exit Disclaimer. Click here to learn more about locating HIV testing near you. Please watch and share the “Facing AIDS for National HIV Testing Day” video.

Study shows pill helps prevent H.I.V. among drug addicts

From the New York Times online…

Drug-injecting addicts who took a daily antiretroviral pill were half as likely to become infected with H.I.V. as those who did not, a major new study has found, providing the final piece of evidence that such treatments can prevent AIDS in every group at risk. Earlier clinical trials showed that the therapy can sharply reduce the risk of H.I.V. transmission from mother to child, and in gay and bisexual men and heterosexuals.

“This provides the totality of the evidence that the drugs used to treat the infection are also very effective at preventing it,” said Dr. Salim S. Abdool Karim, a prominent South African AIDS researcher who wrote a commentary in The Lancet, which published the new study on Wednesday.

The accumulating evidence from clinical trials means antiretroviral drugs are increasingly seen as another in the arsenal of weapons to prevent AIDS, along with condoms, abstinence and fidelity; early antiretroviral treatment; male circumcision in Africa; microbicide gels; and other options.

Read the full story on the New York Times.

Remembering Kerry Stoner

155This month the Pittsburgh AIDS Task Force (PATF) is memorializing the 20th anniversary of the death of Kerry Stoner, one of the founding members of PATF and longtime ally of the Pitt Men’s Study. From PATF:

June 2nd 2013 marks the 20th anniversary of the death of Kerry Stoner, one of the founding members of the Pittsburgh AIDS Task Force. The oldest son of Dick and Marjorie, Stoner grew up on a dairy farm in Westmoreland County. After graduating from Washington and Jefferson University and coming out to his parents, he decided against his earlier dream of becoming an English teacher. Stoner moved to Pittsburgh and became the manager at the Crossover, a local gay night club.
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Health Alert – meningococcal meningitis

You may have heard about the recent cases of bacterial meningitis among gay men in in New York and LA County.  Meningitis is an inflammation of the membranes surrounding your brain and spinal cord. The swelling associated with meningitis often triggers the “hallmark” signs and symptoms of this condition, including headache, fever and a stiff neck.

Most cases of meningitis in the U.S. are caused by a viral infection, but bacterial and fungal infections can also cause the disease.  The recent cases of meningitis in New York and LA County were caused by a bacteria called meningococcus.  This bacteria can spread through intimate contact such as sharing eating utensils, kissing, and close physical contact (including all forms of sex, of course).

Viral infections usually get better on their own.  However, bacterial infections require immediate medical treatment with antibiotics and can result in serious illness and death. It is also worth noting that persons with immune system deficiencies are particularly susceptible to the disease.

Initially, meningitis symptoms may resemble the flu, with worsening headache, vomiting, and a sudden high fever (over 101.3). People may also often develop neck stiffness and sensitivity to light.  If left untreated, people often progress to confusion, coma, and ultimately death.

There are vaccinations to prevent the deadly forms of meningitis and the Pitt Men’s Study recommends that if you are traveling to New York City or Los Angeles, and plan to be in close quarters with other gay men, you might want to consider getting vaccinated with the meningococcal vaccination.

For more information about meningitis, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Website:

For more information about the recent outbreak of meningitis among gay men in New York and LA County, go to:

Gay men in care identify HIV earlier, suppress the virus within a year

Gay men who maintain a link to primary health care tend to diagnose HIV infections sooner after exposure and are more likely to suppress the virus within a year, aidsmap reports. Investigators at Fenway Health, which is a Boston clinic with about 20,000 patients, a quarter of whom are men who have sex with men (MSM), published the findings of their research in the journal AIDS Patient Care and STDs.

The team analyzed records of 754 new HIV diagnoses among MSM between 2000 and 2010, including 291 cases in which the man had already been under the clinic’s care. The study defined patients as previously engaged in care with Fenway if they had received either an HIV negative test result or a physical exam during the two years before they were diagnosed with HIV.

Engaged patients were more likely to be white and to have private health coverage. Twenty percent of those previously in care were diagnosed with HIV during acute, or early, infection, compared with 8 percent of new patients. Twenty-five percent of established patients tested positive as a result of a routine screen, compared with 11 percent of new patients.

Engaged patients were linked to an HIV specialist within a mere four days, compared with 64 days for those new to the clinic. A year after diagnosis, the engaged patients had an 86 percent rate of viral suppression while 79 percent of the new patients were virally suppressed.

About one in five of the men were diagnosed with AIDS at the time of testing HIV positive, with little difference in the rates between the two subsets of patients.

To read the aidsmap story, click here.

To read the study abstract, click here.