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University of Pittsburgh Research Assistant and Technical Writer

Canada Is the First to Approve Long-Acting HIV Regimen Cabenuva

From POZ online

HIV treatment has entered an exciting new era as Canada has become the first nation in the world to approve ViiV Healthcare’s monthly long-acting injectable antiretroviral (ARV) regimen Cabenuva (cabotegravir/rilpivirine)—the first complete regimen for treating the virus that does not require daily pills.

In late December, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) held up approval of the regimen, citing concerns over its manufacturing process. In turn, ViiV indicated it was working closely with the FDA to address those concerns and ultimately bring Cabenuva to market in the United States.

ViiV first applied for FDA approval of Cabenuva in April 2019.

Read the full article.

FAQs about HIV and COVID-19

An open letter from Eugene McCray, MD at the Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention, CDC…

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about HIV and coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). The new resource addresses concerns related to COVID-19 and HIV and highlights how people with HIV can protect their health.

COVID-19 is a respiratory infection that can spread from person to person. Symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, cough, and shortness of breath. While most people have mild symptoms, some people are at higher risk of getting very sick from COVID-19. People at higher risk include older adults and people with serious underlying medical conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and lung disease.

In the United States, nearly half of people with diagnosed HIV are aged 50 and older. People with HIV also have higher rates of chronic heart and lung disease. Like other respiratory infections among people with HIV, the risk of getting very sick is greatest in people with a low CD4 cell count and people not on HIV treatment. Encouraging people with HIV to stay on treatment and take preventative actions will play an essential role in protecting the health and well-being of those who are at higher risk of serious illness from COVID-19.

People who are taking medicine to treat (ART) or prevent (PrEP) HIV should stick to their treatment plan, continue taking their medicine consistently, and follow the advice of their health care provider. Some types of HIV medications are being evaluated in clinical trials to treat COVID-19, but there are no data available yet showing that these drugs treat COVID-19. People who develop symptoms that could be consistent with COVID-19 should talk to their health care provider about how to get evaluated. Please visit the COVID-19 website to learn more about how to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Furthermore, some of CDC’s recommendations to help people with HIV protect themselves from COVID-19 include:

  • Having at least a 30-day supply of HIV medicine available.
  • Avoiding close contact with people who are sick.
  • Practicing good hand washing.
  • Avoiding large crowds and gatherings.
  • Avoiding non-essential travel.
  • Following recommendations made by local public health officials.
  • Establishing a clinical care plan to communicate with health care providers online or by phone.

We encourage you to review the FAQs and share these resources with your colleagues, friends, and family.

While we remain committed to ending the HIV epidemic in the United States, the response to COVID-19 has been a top priority for many people across the world. Thank you for your unwavering commitment to supporting this vital response. Together, we can make sure our families, friends, and communities have the information and resources they need to stay healthy and protect themselves from COVID-19.

Sincerely,

/Eugene McCray/

Eugene McCray, MD
Director
Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention
National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
www.cdc.gov/hiv

HIV research pioneer involved in creation of COVID-19 test for UPMC

Press release from UPMC

UPMC has developed a test for the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 — the virus that causes COVID-19 — UPMC will use this test to diagnose select, symptomatic cases. The health system plans to rapidly increase capacity at its central laboratory and, if there is a need, could test hundreds of patients per week in the near future, filling a critical gap before other commercial tests come online.

“Developing this test for a never-before-seen virus in the midst of a pandemic was a tremendous challenge, even for our academic medical center with its long history of such developments,” said Alan Wells, M.D., D.M.Sc., medical director of the UPMC Clinical Laboratories and Thomas Gill III Professor of Pathology at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. “But testing capabilities are absolutely essential to managing a pandemic. If the communities we serve see a surge in severe illnesses, we must be able to diagnose people quickly to give them the appropriate care while protecting our staff and the broader community.”

Additionally, UPMC will begin directing patients with symptoms consistent with COVID-19 to a specimen collection site in Pittsburgh’s South Side neighborhood. The site is not open to the general public. Patients must have a physician referral approved by UPMC’s infection prevention team and an appointment to have their specimen collected for testing by either UPMC or public health authorities.

UPMC will later open additional specimen collection facilities in Harrisburg, Erie, Williamsport and Altoona at an as-yet undetermined date after gaining experience with the South Side facility and after UPMC’s testing capacity increases. […]

The test was created by a virology team led by Tung Phan, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor of pathology at Pitt and assistant director of clinical microbiology at UPMC; Charles Rinaldo, Jr., Ph.D., chair and professor of the Pitt Graduate School of Public Health’s Department of Infectious Diseases and Microbiology and director of the UPMC Clinical Virology Laboratory; and Stephanie Mitchell, Ph.D., assistant professor of pathology at Pitt and director of clinical microbiology at UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh. Implementation work was done by Arlene Bullotta, Barbara Harris and Kathy Greenawalt of the Section of Virology at UPMC Clinical Laboratories. “This was a tireless effort by a team dedicated to serving the needs of our patients,” said Wells.

Read the full article on UPMC.com.

LGBTQ Agenda: LGBT people may be at higher risk from COVID-19

From the Bay Area Reporter

More than 100 organizations sent an open letter to medical groups and the news media stating that LGBT people are at greater risk from the novel coronavirus due to other social and medical issues that affect the LGBT community.

Scout is the deputy director of the National LGBT Cancer Network.

Scout is the deputy director of the National LGBT Cancer Network.

Scout, who goes by one name, is a bisexual and trans man who is the deputy director of the National LGBT Cancer Network. That organization took the initiative on drafting the letter, which was released March 11, and gathering co-signers.

Local organizations that signed the letter include Equality California, Horizons Foundation, National Center for Lesbian Rights, the San Francisco LGBT Community Center, and the Transgender Law Center.

The letter highlights three issues that may put LGBTs at greater risk during the COVID-19 epidemic: higher tobacco use than among the general population, higher rates of cancer and HIV-infection, and instances of discrimination on account of sexual orientation and gender identity (COVID-19 is the respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus.)

“We’re really concerned because we know that whenever there’s a health issue, the pre-loaded issues in our community create an issue for us,” Scout, a Ph.D., said in a phone interview with the Bay Area Reporter March 16. “We have more social isolation, more smoking. But we know how to offset that. As coronavirus expands so fast, we wanted to let the public health community know we can take steps to avoid another health disparity.”

Read the full article on the Bay Area Reporter Website.

Pitt Men’s Study: Protect yourself and your community against COVID-19.

Covid 19 blood sampleThe Pitt Men’s Study would like to remind our volunteers and the community at large that protecting yourself from getting COVID-19 is not only a way to safeguard your own health but also important in protecting everyone you come in contact with.

The best way to prevent COVID-19 (coronavirus) infection is to follow the guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):

  • Wash your hands with soap and water, for 20 seconds
  • Hand sanitizer must contain at least 60% alcohol
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Put distance between yourself and others.
  • Stay home if you are not feeling well.
  • Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue
  • Throw used tissue in the trash
  • Immediately wash your hands or use hand sanitizer
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily
  • Wear a mask ONLY if you are sick or caring for someone who is sick

Remember, older adults and people with underlying chronic illness are at higher risk for serious complications from COVID-19 illness. Please call your healthcare provider if you have any of the following symptoms: Cough, fever, shortness of breath.

More information can be found on the CDC websites: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/prevention.html   and https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/specific-groups/high-risk-complications.html#Have-supplies-on-hand

For local, Health Department information go to: https://www.alleghenycounty.us/Health-Department/Resources/COVID-19/COVID-19.aspx

Take the 2020 PA LGBTQ+ Needs Assessment

CenterLink is working with a coalition of more than 25 LGBTQ organizations across the state of Pennsylvania to collect data for the 2020 PA LGBTQ Needs Assessment. This information will be used to fuel new and existing community-based programs designed to close gaps in service and address the unique health needs of our population.

centerlink logos

We are asking you to take the time to raise your voice for LGBTQ health, and be entered in a raffle to win a gift card now, by taking the 2020 PA LGBTQ Needs Assessment here. People can also participate through a Spanish version here.

Every person who partakes in the survey will be helping Pennsylvania’s department of health learn more about how to promote the health and well-being of LGBTQ people and helping our coalition to build a stronger network of LGBTQ community supports across the state.
Thank you for your participation.

Sharable Link: https://lgbtactionlink.org/take-action/blog/2020-pa-lgbtq-needs-assessment

Health Alert: An open letter from multiple LGBTQ+ leaders and medical experts regarding COVID-19

An open letter from the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association:

As the spread of the novel coronavirus a.k.a. COVID-19 increases, many LGBTQ+ people are understandably concerned about how this virus may affect us and our communities. The undersigned want to remind all parties handling COVID-19 surveillance, response, treatment, and media coverage that LGBTQ+ communities are among those who are particularly vulnerable to the negative health effects of this virus.

Our increased vulnerability is a direct result of three factors:

  • LGBTQ+ population uses tobacco at rates that are 50% higher than the general population.[1]. COVID-19 is a respiratory illness that has proven particularly harmful to smokers.
  • The LGBTQ+ population has higher rates of HIV and cancer, which means a greater number of us may have compromised immune systems, leaving us more vulnerable to COVID-19 infections.
  • LGBTQ+ people continue to experience discrimination, unwelcoming attitudes, and lack of understanding from providers and staff in many health care settings, and as a result, many are reluctant to seek medical care except in situations that feel urgent – and perhaps not even then. In addition, there are more than 3 million LGBTQ+ older people living in the United States.
  • LGBTQ+ elders are already less likely than their heterosexual and cisgender peers to reach out to health and aging providers, like senior centers, meal programs, and other programs designed to ensure their health and wellness, because they fear discrimination and harassment. The devastating impact of COVID-19 on older people – the current mortality rate is at 15% for this population – makes this a huge issue for the LGBTQ+ communities as well.[2]

LGBTQ+ communities are very familiar with the phenomena of stigma and epidemics. We want to urge people involved with the COVID-19 response to ensure that LGBTQ+ communities are adequately served during this outbreak. Depending on your role, appropriately serving our communities could involve any of the following actions:

  • Ensuring that media coverage notes the particular vulnerabilities of any person with pre-existing respiratory illnesses, compromised immune systems or who uses tobacco products.
  • While populations – like LGBTQ+ communities – can be at increased risk, it is important to note the overall state of health that contributes to any person’s increased vulnerability to contracting COVID-19.
  • Ensuring health messaging includes information tailored to communities at increased risk for COVID-19, including LGBTQ+ populations. An example of such tailored messaging is including imagery of LGBTQ+ persons in any graphic ads.
  • Providing LGBTQ+ individuals resources to find welcoming providers, such as the ones provided here, if they are experiencing symptoms like a cough or fever and need to seek medical attention.
  • Ensuring funding to community health centers is distributed in a fashion that accounts for the additional burden anticipated by LGBTQ-identified health centers.
    Whenever possible ensuring health agencies partner with community-based organizations to get messaging out through channels we trust.
  • Ensuring surveillance efforts capture sexual orientation and gender identity as part of routine demographics.
  • Ensuring health workers are directed to provide equal care to all regardless of their actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity/presentation, ability, age, national origin, immigration status, race, or ethnicity.
  • Ensuring that all COVID-19 responses take into account exceptionally vulnerable members of the LGBTQ+ communities, including our elders, bi people, and black and brown trans and gender nonconforming/nonbinary people.

Since xenophobic responses are heavily impacting the Asian American communities, ensuring all communications and responses related to COVID-19 attempt to counter any such xenophobic responses, avoid racial profiling, and discourage the public from doing so as well.
Ensuring LGBTQ+ health leadership, along with all providers and health care centers, are provided with timely and accurate information to disseminate.

As LGBTQ+ community and health leadership, the undersigned organizations offer to stand shoulder to shoulder with the mainstream health leadership to make sure we learn from history and do not allow any population to be disproportionately impacted or further stigmatized by a virus.

[Find out what  you can do to protect  yourself, if you are at a higher risk of infection, at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/specific-groups/high-risk-complications.html]

Initial Signers:
National LGBT Cancer Network
GLMA: Health Professionals Advancing LGBTQ Equality
Whitman-Walker Health
SAGE
New York Transgender Advocacy Group
National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance

Additional Signers:
Advocates for Youth
Advocating Opportunity
Alder Health Services
Antioch University MFA Program
Athlete Ally
Atlanta Pride Committee
BiNet USA
Black Lives Matter Houston
Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center
California LGBTQ Health and Human Services Network
Callen-Lorde Community Health Center
CARES
Center on Halsted
CenterLink: The Community of LGBT Centers
Compass LGBTQ Community Center
Corktown Health Center
Counter Narrative Project
CreakyJoints & Global Healthy Living Foundation
CrescentCare
Darker Sister Center
Deaf Queer Resource Center
Desert AIDS Project
Desi Queer Diaspora
Equality California
Equality Federation
Equality North Carolina
Erie Gay News
Family Equality
Fenway Health
GALAEI
Gay City: Seattle’s LGBTQ Center
Gender Equality New York, Inc. (GENY)
Gender Justice League (Washington State)
Georgia Equality
GLAAD
GLBT Alliance of Santa Cruz
Greater Erie Alliance for Equality
Greater Palm Springs Pride
Harvey Milk Foundation
Hetrick-Martin Institute
HIV AIDS Alliance of Michigan
HIV Medicine Association
Horizons Foundation
Howard Brown Health
Human Rights Campaign
Independence Business Alliance
Indiana Youth Group
Infectious Diseases Society of America
Inside Out Youth Services
InterPride
Keystone Business Alliance
Lambda Legal
Lansing Area AIDS Network (LAAN)
Lansing Association for Human Rights
Legacy Community Health
LGBT Center of Greater Reading
LGBT Center of Raleigh
LGBT Elder Initiative
LGBTQ Center OC
MassEquality
Matthew Shepard Foundation
Milwaukee LGBT Community Center
Minority Veterans of America
National Center for Lesbian Rights
National Center for Transgender Equality
National Coalition for LGBT Health
National Equality Action Team
National LGBTQ Task Force
Newburgh LGBTQ+ Center
No Justice No Pride
Oasis Legal Services
Oklahomans for Equality
Our Family Coalition
Out Alliance
Out And Equal
Out Boulder County
OutCenter of Southwest Michigan
OutFront Kalamazoo
OutRight International
Pennsylvania Youth Congress
Persad Center, Inc.
PFund Foundation
Pizza Klatch
Positive Women’s Network
Pride Center of the Capital Region
Pride Center Of Vermont
Princess Janae Place Inc
Rainbow Community Center of Contra Costa County
Rockland County Pride Center
San Francisco AIDS Foundation
SAVE – Safeguarding American Values for Everyone
SERO Project
SF LGBT Community Center
SisTers PGH
St. James Infirmary
Still Bisexual
The LGBTQ Center Long Beach
The LOFT LGBT Community Services Center
The Montrose Center
The Social Impact Center
The Source LGBT+ Center
The Trevor Project
Thomas Judd Care Center
Thundermist Health Center
Transgender Education Network of Texas (TENT)
Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund
Triangle Community Center
Trillium Health
TriVersity Center for Gender and Sexual Diversity
UNIFIED-HIV Health and Beyond
U.S. People Living with HIV Caucus
Wellness AIDS Services
William Way LGBT Community Cente
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[1] Buchting et al. 2017; Creamer et al. 2019
[2] Wu Z, McGoogan JM. Characteristics of and Important Lessons From the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Outbreak in China: Summary of a Report of 72?314 Cases From the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention. JAMA. Published online February 24, 2020. doi:10.1001/jama.2020.2648