Monthly Archives: May 2016

People with HIV are less likely to get needed cancer treatment

From NPR

We’ve made great progress treating people who are infected with HIV, but if they get cancer they’re less likely to get the care they need, a recent study found.

Cancer treatment and HIVResearchers examined treatment for a variety of cancers, including upper gastrointestinal tract, colorectal, prostate, lung, head and neck, cervix, breast, anal and two blood cancers. With the exception of anal cancer, treatment rates differed significantly between HIV-infected people and those who weren’t infected, according to the study published online Tuesday by the journal Cancer.

For example, a third of patients with HIV and lung cancer failed to receive any treatment for the cancer, compared with 14 percent of those who were HIV-negative. Similarly, 44 percent of people who were HIV-positive didn’t receive treatment for upper GI cancer versus 18 percent of those who weren’t infected with HIV. Twenty-four percent of men with prostate cancer who were HIV-positive didn’t get treatment, compared with 7 percent of men uninfected with HIV.

Cancer treatment was defined as radiation, chemotherapy and/or surgery.

“To have made such great strides with treating HIV only to have them succumb to cancer is devastating,” said Dr. Gita Suneja, a radiation oncologist at the University of Utah’s Huntsman Cancer Institute in Salt Lake City and the lead author of the study.

Read the full article.

H.I.V. rates among gay men are higher in South, study finds

From the New York Times

More than a quarter of gay and bisexual men in some cities and states in the South are living with H.I.V., according to a new study — a far higher rate than in the country as a whole.

HIV infections high in the South

Click on the image to see an expanded map

The study shows how much more common H.I.V., the virus that causes AIDS, is among gay black men, especially in the South, as well as how little is being done to prevent its spread in a group whose members face discrimination and are less likely to have medical insurance.

Gay men with insurance are more likely to be in treatment if they are infected or to be using pre-exposure prophylaxis if they are not, both of which significantly cut the chances that an infection will be passed on.

“There are just not enough services,” said Dr. Ronald O. Valdiserri, an AIDS expert at the Bloomberg School of Public Health of Johns Hopkins University, who wrote an editorial accompanying the study.

“It’s not just medical care — it’s housing, employment, vocational rehabilitation and transportation,” Dr. Valdiserri said. “These individuals are fairly vulnerable, and there aren’t enough assets to cope with their illness.”

Read the full article.

Pennsylvania still experiencing alarming increase in new syphilis infections

As of May 2016, Pennsylvania is still experiencing an alarming increase in syphilis cases, primarily among men who have sex with men (MSM). Over the last 5 years, Pennsylvania has experienced a 90% increase in syphilis infections. Most were men under the age of 30.

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.

Syphilis can be transmitted through oral sex and although condoms can help prevent infection, they’re not an absolute guarantee against it.  

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:

To find out more about Syphilis, go to

You can also email medical help at the University of Pittsburgh’s Graduate School of Public Health by sending a message to

High prevalence of geriatric conditions in HIV-positive patients


Older HIV-positive patients have a high prevalence of multiple age-related problems, investigators from the United States report in the online edition of the Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes. The research involved patients aged 50 years and older receiving outpatient care in San Francisco. Overall, 40% reported difficulties with daily activities, most reported loneliness, many had mild cognitive impairment and 30% had only poor to fair quality of life.

“This is one of the first studies to have evaluated a wide range of geriatric assessments among HIV-infected individuals in an outpatient clinical setting and provides a comprehensive overview of the health needs faced by the aging HIV-positive population,” write the authors. “We observed a high burden of clinically-concerning deficits in older HIV-infected adults across multiple domains, including functional impairment, falls, depression and social isolation.” The investigators believe their findings have implications for patient care, commenting “our results highlight the importance of systematically providing functional, social and mental health support for the aging HIV-infected population.”

Improvements in treatment and care mean that many patients with HIV are now living well into old age. Over half of HIV-positive adults in the United States are now aged 50 years and over. Previous research has shown that these patients frequently have multiple health problems and develop conditions associated with old age earlier than the traditional cut-off for old age – 65 years.

Read the full article.

Scientists at Pitt’s Center for LGBT Health Research respond to landmark study concerning higher mortality rates in the LGBT community

In response to a landmark study concerning LGBT health, scientists at the Center for LGBT Health Research at the University of Pittsburgh published an editorial in the American Journal of Public Health. The study in question, entitled Sexual Orientation and All-Cause Mortality Among US Adults Aged 18 to 59 Years, 2001–2011, demonstrated that sexual minority populations in the United States have higher mortality rates than do heterosexuals.

“While the study presented data that move the field forward in many important ways,” says Dr. Ron Stall, the Center’s director, “it also raised as many questions as it answers.”

The Center scientists are hoping their editorial can promote a research agenda that could be used to address health disparities in LGBT populations in the United States. Their agenda starts with careful documentation of which disparities exist in sexual minority populations, addresses the causes of those disparities, and then tests the efficacy of interventions designed to address those disparities.

“The editorial points out that this work will probably take generations of scientific investigation to achieve,” Stall went on to say. “Which means that training programs in LGBT health research and the support of new generations of scholars are essential to our ability to address ongoing health problems in LGBT populations.”

You can find the Center’s editorial The Continuing Development of Health Disparities Research on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Individuals on the American Journal of Public Health Website.