Monthly Archives: September 2014

CDC report recommends greater effort to boost HIV testing and retain patients in care

Even though gay and bisexual men make up the majority of Americans infected with HIV, half aren’t receiving ongoing care or getting the virus-suppressing drugs they need to stay healthy, a new report finds.The study, from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), looked at 2010 data on more than 400,000 male gay and bisexual Americans who were infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

The research shows that while 77.5 percent did initially get HIV medical care within three months of their diagnosis, only about 51 percent continued getting care on an ongoing basis. Experts note that HIV infection can be manageable if powerful antiviral drugs are taken on a regular basis. But the CDC report finds that less than half of HIV-positive gay or bisexual men were prescribed such drugs, and only 42 percent achieved healthy “viral suppression.”

Why are so many infected men not getting proper treatment? The CDC researchers said many factors could be at play. “Lack of health insurance, stigma and discrimination might influence whether [gay and bisexual men] access medical care,” they wrote. Gaining access to care soon after diagnosis is crucial to whether or not a patient continues to get virus-suppressing medications, the team added.

Continue reading on MedlinePlus.

Kaiser Family Foundation releases new alarming report reflecting gay and bisexual men’s attitudes, knowledge, and experiences with HIV/AIDS

From Gay Men’s Health Crisis

On Thursday, September 25, 2014, the Kaiser Family Foundation released a new alarming report reflecting gay and bisexual men’s attitudes, knowledge, and experiences with HIV/AIDS and new HIV therapies in the United States. Their survey on HIV/AIDS in the lives of gay and bisexual men in the United States reports that 56% of gay and bisexual men are not personally concerned about HIV or AIDS affecting them and 30% have never been tested for HIV.

“HIV/AIDS might not be a death sentence anymore, but there are still 50,000 new infections in the United States every year-and gay and bisexual men are still among those most at risk,” said GMHC CEO Kelsey Louie. ” The Kaiser Family Foundation study is a needed wake-up call that communicating the correct information about HIV and AIDS to the public has never been more critical. We must do more to educate our gay and bisexual men about how HIV and AIDS can affect them, and how life-saving medications like PrEP and PEP can help them prevent HIV infections and stay healthy.”

Additional Background:
Eight out ten gay and bisexual men surveyed also said that they have heard a little or nothing about PrEP, a life-saving medication that can prevent HIV-infections. Additional findings from the survey can be found here. The Foundation’s survey comes on the heels of a new CDC report showing that 58% of gay and bisexual men diagnosed with HIV are not virally suppressed.

Greater Than AIDS and HRC partner to “Bring HIV Out of the Closet”

From the Human Rights Campaign Blog

When the first case of what would become known as HIV/AIDS was diagnosed more than 30 years ago, it was branded a “gay disease.” Homophobia and fear were rampant. Although gay and bisexual men were not the only community affected by HIV, they were among those who felt the greatest burden of the disease.  Then, as today, gay and bisexual men, along with transgender women, have the highest rates of HIV infection in the United States.

HIV brought together the gay community in another, more affirming, way as well. LGBT leaders took to the frontlines to advocate for HIV education, prevention and treatment. And that mobilization contributed to the dramatic decreases in new infections—and deaths—in those early years and spurred a new level of political and social activism in the community.

The introduction of antiretroviral (ARV) treatments in the mid-1990s gave hope to those who were infected, improving health and extending life. It also resulted in HIV being less visibly prominent, and thus perceived by some as less serious.  Yet, gay and bisexual men, while only about 2 percent of the U.S. population, still account for two thirds of new infections. Transgender women are at high risk for HIV, though there is more limited data regarding representation in the national overview.

One study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that one in five gay and bisexual men in 20 major cities today is HIV positive—with one in three not knowing they are infected. Nationally, the projection is that more than one in 10 gay men is HIV positive. These are rates that compare with some of the hardest hit parts of the world. Especially worrying is that new infections are increasing among gay men in this country – 12 percent between 2008-2010 – and they are the only group for which this is the case.

In focus groups conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation with gay and bisexual men, many of the same men who proclaimed there was “no stigma” in the gay community today told of having rejected partners who disclosed they were positive.  Men who revealed their own positive status in the groups confirmed these as all too common experiences. Many opened up about their fears of what they envisioned a life with HIV to be like if they were to find out they were positive, in particular, the rejection they anticipated.

It doesn’t have to be this way. Recent research now shows that ARV treatment, which already is helping to improve the health and extend the life for so many people with HIV, also has the potential to play a powerful role the prevention of HIV. People who are on ongoing ARV treatment are now known to increase the chances of reducing transmission of infection to others by as much as 96 percent. And, for those who are HIV negative, new pre-exposure prophylaxis (referred to as PrEP) offer another tool, along with condoms, to maintain that status.  PrEP is a once a day, prescription medication that reduces the risk of contracting HIV.

Greater Than AIDS is proud to join with HRC to confront the silence and stigma that is fueling this epidemic. Leveraging the support of HRC’s visibility  and network of volunteers, we are working together to distribute tens of thousands of informational brochures and other giveaways at  LGBT Prides across the country this summer and fall to help bring HIV out to the fore, including producing a new HIV/AIDS guide designed just for this purpose.

Read the full article on the Human Rights Campaign Blog.

Health Alert for men in Pennsylvania – Syphilis on the rise again

The Pennsylvania Department of Health in conjunction with the Allegheny County Health Department (ACHD) has documented an alarming increase in Syphilis cases, primarily among men who have sex with men (MSM) in Allegheny County. As of September 10, 2014, the ACHD has reported 67 cases of early Syphilis which now exceeds the total of 63 cases reported in all of 2013. Here is a breakdown of the data:
·       54% of the cases have been reported individuals under the age of 30
·       96% of the cases reported were male
·       75% of the male cases reported risk factors (had sex with other men)
·       39% of the male cases were co-infected with HIV
You can get Syphilis and not have any symptoms so the only way to know you’re infected is to get tested with a simple blood test.   And if you do have symptoms, note that Syphilis has any number of symptoms that can look like symptoms from other diseases. One example is a painless sore that you would get after you are first infected can be confused for an ingrown hair, zipper cut, or other seemingly harmless bump.  Another example is a rash over the body that can sometimes (but not always) involve the palms of the hands and the soles of the feet. As a result of the uptick in Syphilis cases, we are recommending that all sexually active MSM get a Syphilis test. The PA Department of Health as well as the Centers for Disease Control recommend that all sexually active MSM receive full STD screening (including HIV) annually.  The Pitt Men’s Study offers testing for syphilis (as well as testing for Gonorrhea and Chlamydia) as part of your routine study visit.  Free testing is also available at the Allegheny County Department of Health.  

To find testing near you, check out the CDC testing database at

To find out more about Syphilis specifically, go to

To subscribe to Pitt Men’s Study Health Alerts, send an email to with the word “subscribe” in the subject line.

To find out more about Health Alerts, go to