Archive for October 2015

Pitt launching study to promote health among aging gay and bisexual men with HIV

October 23, 2015

From NewsMedical.net

Dr Ron Stall at the University of Pittsburgh

Dr Ron Stall at the University of Pittsburgh

As the U.S. reaches an important milestone this year in the fight against HIV with more than half the people living with the virus older than age 50, the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health is launching a study to determine ways to promote health among aging gay and bisexual men, who make up about two-thirds of the people aging with HIV.

In an effort to create strategies for use in public health outreach nationwide, the research team will be taking an innovative approach to the study by looking for protective factors – called “resiliencies” – that are helping keep some men with HIV healthy and could be extended to other men, rather than simply fixing health problems as they arise. This research is funded with a three-year, $2.1 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

“We celebrate that medications now exist to enable people with HIV to live well into old age,” said study principal investigator Ron Stall, Ph.D., M.P.H., director of the Center for LGBT Health Research at Pitt Public Health. “But we also need to recognize that the health complications that come with aging – both mental and physical – are compounded when you’re living with HIV. It is critical that we develop research-based programs to support HIV-positive people as they age.”

Read the full article.

People with HIV are at higher risk of several types of cancer, large study finds

October 19, 2015

From aidsmap.com

People living with HIV remain at risk of AIDS-defining cancers in the era of effective antiretroviral therapy, and also have higher rates of several non-AIDS cancers than the general population, including lung, anal and liver cancer, according to findings from a study of more than 86,000 HIV-positive people published in the October 6 Annals of Internal Medicine.

Since the advent of effective combination antiretroviral therapy (ART) in the mid-1990s, rates of the three AIDS-defining cancers – Kaposi sarcoma, non-Hodgkin lymphoma and cervical cancer – have fallen among people with HIV. These cancers are caused by opportunistic viruses that can take hold when the immune system is damaged and CD4 T-cell counts are low, though human papillomavirus (HPV) also causes cervical and anal cancer in otherwise healthy people.

Most studies, however, have found that HIV-positive people have a higher overall risk for other non-AIDS-related cancers compared to HIV-negative populations, although data have been inconsistent about specific cancer types. In fact, cancer rates among people with HIV have risen over time as they live long enough to develop malignancies.

Michael Silverberg of Kaiser Permanente Northern California and fellow investigators evaluated trends in cumulative incidence of common cancer types by HIV status among participants in the large North American AIDS Cohort Collaboration on Research and Design (NA-ACCORD).

Read the full article.

Biomarkers predict HIV return when treatment is stopped

October 14, 2015

From Medicalxpress

Scientists are now better able to predict how quickly the HIV virus will return after individuals stop treatment following a discovery by researchers at UNSW Australia and the University of Oxford.

The significant development, resulting from a decade-long partnership between the two institutions and other international partners, opens up new avenues for understanding why the HIV virus persists in some patients and remains dormant and undetectable in others.

While existing antiretroviral therapy (ART) stops the HIV virus from replicating, it does not completely remove the virus. Destroying the ‘hidden’ reservoirs of the virus remains one of the ‘holy grails’ of HIV research.

Previous research has shown the treatment of HIV with ART in the weeks following transmission produces a state of ‘post-treatment control’ in some patients. However, the mechanisms that induce and maintain this state of remission remain unclear.

This study provides a new window into understanding the processes that maintain viral persistence in the body, which is crucial for eradicating HIV.

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Lack of health care providers of color adds to the continued HIV crisis

October 13, 2015

From the Huffington Post opinion page…

need for health care providers of color…The reasons driving the spread of HIV consist of complex biological and psychosocial factors that include: low perception of risk, testing, and condom use as a result of declining school health programs, sexual activity at a young age with older partners, etc. But there is one factor that people have yet to talk about: The lack of health care providers of color.

In the twenty years that I’ve worked in HIV/AIDS, I’ve seen the number of providers who are black and brown decrease significantly. Perhaps its due to the six figure debt due to medical school, social work, nursing and public health programs that have us go into more lucrative areas of the field instead of community health and primary care. Or maybe it has to do with the number of minority organizations that have had to close their doors due to lack of resources. But one thing is for sure, we will not have an impact on this epidemic if there are not more Black providers to care for the disproportionate number of people with HIV that look like them.

Read the full article on the Huffington Post.

Health Alert for men who have sex with men

October 8, 2015

Syphilis health alertPennsylvania (and the Pittsburgh area in particular) is stillexperiencing an alarming increase in syphilis cases, primarily among men who have sex with men (MSM). Over the last 5 years, Pennsylvania’s MSM community has experienced an 85% increase in syphilis infections. MSM represented approximately 65% of all new syphilis cases reported in the state.

Syphilis is a sexually transmitted infection. If it goes untreated, it can lead to serious health problems including paralysis, blindness, and dementia.   In the late stages, the disease can damage internal organs and can result in death.  In its early stages, syphilis is 100% curable with simple antibiotics.

You can get syphilis and not have any symptoms, so the only way to know you’re infected is to get a simple blood test.

As a result of the increase in syphilis cases, the Pennsylvania Department of Health recommends that all sexually active MSM get a routine syphilis test every 6 months. Several locations around the state have free syphilis testing, click on this link to find testing near you: hivtest.cdc.gov.

To find out more about Syphilis, go to the CDC’s Website.

‘Undetectable’ a new identity for gay men diagnosed with HIV

October 8, 2015

 From aidsmap.com….

status: UNDETECTABLE

Achieving an undetectable viral load is a key milestone in the period after diagnosis with HIV, qualitative interviews with Canadian gay men suggest. Men incorporated knowledge of their own undetectable status into their identities as HIV-positive gay men and their sexual decision making, according to a study published in the August issue of AIDS Education and Prevention. Being undetectable helped many men feel ‘responsible’ and ‘normal’.

The findings come from in-depth, qualitative interviews with 25 gay men diagnosed with HIV in British Columbia, Canada between 2009 and 2012. All had acquired HIV less than a year before their diagnosis and half had been diagnosed with acute (very recent) infection. Up to four interviews were done, in order to see how experiences changed during the year after diagnosis.

Interviewees typically reported a period of sexual abstinence immediately after being diagnosed with HIV. During this period of adjustment, many men had no sex drive. Avoiding HIV transmission was a major concern for many, including this man:

“First of all, I killed my sex life. I was like, you know, I don’t want to infect anyone, I don’t want to take the risk and I don’t want to disclose, so the way of not doing is just not having sex.”

When participants did start to have sex again, they found themselves in an altered sexual landscape, facing new scenarios, challenges and possibilities. Faced with the difficulty of talking about having HIV with new partners, some sought out other HIV-positive men. Others avoided anal sex, even with condoms.

Learning that one’s viral load was undetectable could open up new possibilities:

“I didn’t play around when I was not sure… if I was undetectable or not. I didn’t play. They [sexual partners] would be open to it, but I didn’t want… Personally I didn’t feel comfortable, so I didn’t play until I was undetectable.”

Read the full article.