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About administrator

University of Pittsburgh Research Assistant and Technical Writer

Health Alert – Cases of Monkeypox Reported in U.S. 

Cases of monkeypox have been identified in travelers from countries where the disease is considered an endemic. As a result, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a Health Advisory in the United States.

As of June 3rd, 21 cases in the U.S. have been confirmed or suspected, including one case in Pennsylvania. As per the State Department of Health, there is a possibility the disease may spread.

illustration of Monkey Pox virus

Monkeypox symptoms involve a characteristic rash, preceded by a fever, swelling of the lymph nodes, and other non-specific symptoms such as malaise, headache, and muscle aches. In the most recent reported cases, symptoms included lesions in the genital and anal regions. Note that the disease may be confused with more commonly seen infections like syphilis, chancroid, and herpes. The average incubation period for symptom to develop is 5 to 21 days. 

Human-to-human transmission occurs through large respiratory droplets and by bodily fluids (like saliva and semen that can be transmission during sex) or coming in direct contact with a lesion. Respiratory droplets generally cannot travel more than a few feet, so prolonged face-to-face contact (like kissing) is more likely to spread the disease.

There is no specific treatment for monkeypox virus infection. However, the CDC reports that antivirals used to treat smallpox may prove beneficial. Monkeypox is generally mild and patients recover in a few weeks. The mortality rate is less than 1 percent in developed countries. There have been no deaths related to the monkeypox cases in the US so far.

There are FDA approved vaccines available to prevent monkeypox but these are not commercially available but are being made available to close contacts of known cases.

If you think you may be infected, contact your doctor’s office or local hospital first, for instructions. Going into your doctor’s office, or an emergency room, risks spreading the disease.

For more information about monkeypox, you can go to the CDC’s Health Advisory page. (https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/notices/alert/monkeypox) 

Dr. Ken Ho recognized as one of Pittsburgh Magazine’s 2022 Top Doctors

Doctor Ken Ho

Dr. Ken Ho, Medical Director of the Pitt Men’s Study

Pitt Men’s Study Medical Director, Dr. Ken Ho, has been recognized as one of Pittsburgh Magazine’s 2022 Top Doctors in the region.

Ken S. Ho, MD, MPH, serves as the Medical Director of the Pitt Men’s Study, part of the MACS WIHS Combined Cohort Study and as Medical Director for Project Silk. He joined the ID Division in 2011 as a Faculty Instructor and was promoted to the rank of Assistant Professor of Medicine in 2013. Dr. Ho is dedicated to the patients and community he serves. He is considered a national expert on HIV prevention. Through his work with the pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) subcommittee with AIDS Free Pittsburgh, Dr. Ho has worked to improve community and health care provider knowledge of HIV biomedical prevention options. He spearheaded the creation of a “PrEP Provider Toolkit”, a resource for providers interested in learning about HIV PrEP. Dr. Ho has been instrumental in increasing community and provider awareness of biomedical HIV prevention strategies such as PrEP and expanding PrEP across Allegheny County.

National CAB Newsletter – Winter 2022

The MWCCS NCAB is the National Community Advisory Board for the MWCCS Study. Each of the MWCCS study sites has a local CAB and study participants are encouraged to participate in order to help build and foster partnerships between researchers and local study communities impacted by HIV/AIDS. To find out more about recent news and events regarding the National CAB, read their newsletter NCAB News – Winter 2022.

National CAB Newsletter

World AIDS Day 2021 message from UNAIDS Executive Director Winnie Byanyima

Dear friends, 

Greetings on this World AIDS Day, and my solidarity with all around the world as we confront the impact of colliding pandemics.

This year, the world agreed on a bold plan that, if leaders fulfil it, will end AIDS by 2030. That’s so exciting.

But today we, as the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS, issue a stark warning. AIDS remains a pandemic, the red light is flashing and only by moving fast to end the inequalities that drive the pandemic can we overcome it.

UNAIDS Executive Director Winnie Byanyima

UNAIDS Executive Director Winnie Byanyima

Where leaders are acting boldly and together, bringing together cutting-edge science, delivering services that meet all people’s needs, protecting human rights and sustaining adequate financing, AIDS-related deaths and new HIV infections are becoming rare.

But this is only the case in some places and for some people.

Without the inequality-fighting approach we need to end AIDS, the world would also struggle to end the COVID-19 pandemic and would remain unprepared for the pandemics of the future. That would be profoundly dangerous for us all.

Progress in AIDS, which was already off track, is now under even greater strain as the COVID-19 crisis continues to rage, disrupting HIV prevention and treatment services, schooling, violence prevention programmes and more.

On our current trajectory, we aren’t bending the curve fast enough and risk an AIDS pandemic lasting decades. We have to move faster on a set of concrete actions agreed by United Nations Member States to address the inequalities that are driving HIV.

Through fighting the AIDS pandemic, we have learned a lot about what we need more of for AIDS and for all pandemics.

We urgently need sufficient community-led and community-based infrastructure as part of a strong public health system, underpinned by robust civil society accountability.

We need policies to ensure fair and affordable access to science.

Every new technology should reach each and everyone who needs it without delay.

We need to protect our health workers and expand their numbers to meet our urgent needs.

We must protect human rights and build trust in health systems.

It is these that will ensure we close the inequality gaps and end AIDS. But they are too often applied unevenly, are underfunded and are underappreciated.

I salute the front-line communities that have pioneered the approaches shown to be most effective, that have driven the momentum for change and that are pushing leaders to be bold. I urge you: keep pushing.

World leaders must work together urgently to tackle these challenges head-on. I urge you: be courageous in matching words with deeds.

There is not a choice to be made between ending the AIDS pandemic that is raging today and preparing for the pandemics of tomorrow. The only successful approach will achieve both. As of now, we are not on track to achieve either.

If we take on the inequalities that hold back progress, we can deliver on the promise to end AIDS by 2030. It is in our hands.

Every minute that passes, we are losing a precious life to AIDS. We don’t have time.

End inequalities. End AIDS. End pandemics.

Thank you.

People who are immunocompromised should get an additional dose of COVID-19 vaccine

From HIV.gov

C D C logoThe Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended that people who are moderately to severely immunocompromised get an additional dose of the Moderna or Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine after the initial two doses. Widespread vaccination is a critical tool to help stop the pandemic.

This includes:

  • Recipients of organ or stem cell transplants
  • People with advanced or untreated HIV infection
  • Active recipients of treatment for cancer
  • People who are taking some medications that weaken the immune system
  • And others

We spoke with Harold J. Phillips, Director of The White House Office of National AIDS Policy, about what people with HIV need know. “There are three key messages we need to share,” he said:

  • Everyone over 12 years of age, regardless of HIV status, get vaccinated
  • Those with advanced HIV disease and/or not on medications, get a third dose of the vaccine
  • Those in HIV care and treatment who are virally suppressed, talk with your health care provider about the need for an additional dose.

“By working together and spreading the word,” he continued, “we can help keep everyone in our HIV community safe and healthy.”

Join a research study to help understand how sleep can affect the health of people living with HIV

The aim of this study is to understand how sleep can affect the health of people living with HIV through effects on the immune system. We hope information from this research will help us find ways to improve sleep or lead to treatments that could reduce the bad effects of poor sleep.

The study involves two (2) visits to Montefiore Hospital. Each visit is about one (1) hour.

man sleeping in bedOn the first visit, subjects would complete questionnaires and get a watch-like device similar to a Fitbit. Subjects would wear the device for two (2) weeks to track their sleep patterns. Subjects would also answer a few questions in a diary each morning about their sleep. At the end of two (2) weeks, subjects would return the watch, complete more questionnaires and provide a urine and blood sample.

Subjects will receive up to $100 for their participation. Parking vouchers or bus fare will also be provided.

Please remember that subjects may choose whether they would like to participate in the study. It is completely voluntary and there are no consequences if subjects decide not to.

To learn more about the study, please call the study team at 412-330-1453 or email them at healthysleep@pitt.edu.  You can also download the study flyer pdf for more information.

Shepherd Wellness Community honors Scott Peterman

From the Shephard Wellness Community

Scott PetermanPlease join us at Shepherd Wellness Community for a Community Open House on Thursday, October 7, 6-8 pm as we honor Scott Peterman, who retired last December (in the midst of the pandemic) after serving 21 years as our Executive Director!

Stop by our center at 4800 Sciota St, Pittsburgh 15224 (one block from West Penn Hospital – use our S. Mathilda St entrance with the awning) to greet Scott, enjoy appetizers and beverages, and see how we have honored him for his two plus decades of faithful service. No RSVP needed, but vaccination and masks required.

Click here for the official invitation letter with more information, and here to see a tribute plaque and donor flyer for Scott which will hang in our center.

For those who cannot attend, we invite you to send greetings to Scott through SWC (office@scwonline.org or by regular mail to our Sciota St. address), with a deadline of August 20 for submissions. All letters will be compiled and presented to Scott.

As we are finally able to honor Scott upon his retirement, we hope you can join us and give him your personal greetings on October 7!

 

People living with HIV are eligible for COIVD 19 vaccination now

A message from Rob Ghormoz, Secretary of Intergovernmental Affairs, Office of the Governor…

The Pennsylvania Department of Health today will announce two additional categories of eligible individuals to receive the COVID-19 vaccination as part of Phase 1A. Beginning today, all individuals 65 and older, and individuals ages 16-64 with certain medical conditions, as defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that increase the risk of severe illness from the virus, are eligible for the COVID-19 vaccination. The Departments’ Updated Interim Vaccine Plan can be found here.

Those conditions are outlined by the CDC here and include: Cancer; Chronic kidney disease; COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease); Down Syndrome; Heart conditions such as heart failure, coronary artery disease, or cardiomyopathies; Immunocompromised state (weakened immune system) from solid organ transplant, blood or bone marrow transplant, immune deficiencies, HIV, use of corticosteroids, or use of other immune weakening medicines; Obesity; Severe Obesity; Pregnancy; Sickle cell disease; Smoking; and Type 2 diabetes mellitus.

If you are part of a group that is eligible for vaccination, you can use the Pennsylvania Vaccine Provider Map to find a place to schedule your vaccine. Contact the vaccine provider of your choice directly to schedule an appointment. This map will be updated as more locations receive vaccine. Although a provider may have received vaccine, there is no guarantee that they have open appointments as supply is still very limited. Check back frequently as the map will be updated multiple times per week.