From the Gay Star News online…
Representatives of seven of the most popular gay dating websites and apps have collaborated with leading US AIDS organizations to discuss strategies to help promote HIV/STI testing and to reduce the stigma associated with HIV infection. The results of a San Francisco summit between representatives of the dating sites and health leaders – including San Francisco AIDS Foundation, and amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research – have been published in a new report.
Across the US, around 20% of gay and bisexual men are estimated to be living with HIV, while some estimates indicate that 3 in 5 men now meet their partners online. The apps and websites that were able to attend the summit – which took place over two days in early September – included BarebackRT, Daddyhunt, Dudesnude, Gay.com, Grindr, PozPersonals, and SCRUFF. Three other apps were unable to attend the summit but have pledged their support.
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As a result of improving prescriptions and people seeking treatment sooner, the face of HIV in America is getting older and grayer. By 2015, 50 percent of Americans living with HIV will be at least 50, according to research estimates. But public-health and other advocates warn that older adults are less likely than their younger counterparts to be routinely tested for HIV, which can worsen their chances of getting the virus under control when it is finally diagnosed.
There’s also little research on the impact of HIV on the aging process and vice versa, experts say, leaving many with unanswered questions about what might lie ahead. “The good news is, HIV has gone from being an epidemic and almost-certain death sentence to a manageable chronic illness with a near-normal life expectancy,” said William J. Hardy, the president and CEO of the AIDS Resource Center Ohio, also known as ARC Ohio.
Although the number of HIV diagnoses has declined over the past decade, older adults are at higher risk of becoming infected than they ever have been. In Ohio, 26 percent of all new HIV diagnoses occur in people 45 or older, according to the Ohio Department of Health.
Read the full article on The Columbus Dispatch.
From the New York Times…
The medical school at the University of California, San Francisco, has opened a free telephone consulting service for doctors who are not H.I.V. specialists and want help prescribing the right AIDS drugs for preventing infection in healthy patients.The service, known as PrEPline for pre-exposure prophylaxis line, was announced last week.
In pre-exposure prophylaxis, patients at high risk for H.I.V., such as gay men who frequently have unprotected sex with strangers, ward off infection by taking Truvada, a pill containing two antiretroviral drugs. Uninfected men, if they have doctors at all, usually see general practitioners, who rarely prescribe antiretrovirals. By contrast, doctors at U.C.S.F. have decades of experience in treating H.I.V. because San Francisco was an early center of the outbreak.
The new hotline is aimed at American doctors, but if PrEP is rolled out around the world, it could be a model for other countries, said Dr. Ronald H. Goldschmidt, the director of the school’s clinical consultation center. Since 1993, he said, the center has fielded phone calls from doctors seeking help. Typically, they are obstetricians treating pregnant women infected with H.I.V.; emergency-room doctors treating nurses who have had a needle injury; or patients who had sex with someone they suspect is infected.
South Africa and Ethiopia have sent doctors for training to offer similar services at home, he said; prophylaxis is still rare in poor countries because they are struggling to pay for medicine even for those with advanced AIDS.
People living with HIV in the United States who receive their care through the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program have good rates of retention and virological suppression, investigators report in the online edition of Clinical Infectious Diseases. Of the patients seen at least once in 2011, some 82% were retained in care and 73% achieved virological suppression.
These outcomes dwarf those seen for most people living with HIV in the US – previous reports have estimated that as few as 40% were retained in care and 19% had achieved virological suppression.
A second new report focuses on gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men, demonstrating that outcomes continue to be unacceptably poor in this group. Of those who have ever been diagnosed with HIV, 51% were retained in care and 42% achieved virological suppression.
However, both new studies found that outcomes were poorer in younger people, African American people and some other ethnic groups.
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Posted on Reuters...
Bustling transport networks, migrant labor and changes to the sex trade in early 20th-century Congo created a “perfect storm” that gave rise to an HIV pandemic that has now infected 75 million people worldwide, researchers said on Thursday. In an analysis of the genetic history of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) that causes AIDS, the scientists said the global pandemic almost certainly began its global spread in the 1920s in Kinshasa in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
Here, a confluence of factors including urban growth, extensive railway links during Belgian colonial rule and changes in sexual behavior combined to see HIV emerge in Congo’s capital and spread across the globe. Oliver Pybus, a professor at Oxford University’s zoology department who co-led the research, said that until now most studies have taken a piecemeal approach to HIV’s genetic history and looked only at certain HIV genomes in particular locations. “For the first time, we have analyzed all the available evidence using the latest phylogeographic techniques, which enable us to statistically estimate where a virus comes from,” he said. “This means we can say with a high degree of certainty where and when the HIV pandemic originated.”
United Nations AIDS agency (UNAIDS) data show that more than 35 million people worldwide are currently infected with HIV, and some 1.5 million people died of AIDS-related illness in 2013. Since the HIV/AIDS pandemic began, it has killed up to 40 million people worldwide. The disease is spread in blood, semen and breast milk. No cure exists, but AIDS can be kept at bay for many years in people with HIV who take cocktails of antiretroviral drugs.Various strains of HIV are known to have been transmitted from primates and apes to humans at least 13 times in history, but only one of those transmissions – of a strain known as HIV-1 Group M – led to the current human pandemic.
Pybus said the key questions centered on how this happened.”Why did most of (the HIV strains) die out, and why did some of them — like HIV-2 — go on to generate local epidemics in Africa, and why did only one go to become a global pandemic?” he said in a telephone interview. “To answer that, we needed to try to reconstruct the spread through space and time of the global pandemic strain.”
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