Dr. Anthony Silvestre, the long-time co-investigator at Pitt Men’s Study researching HIV/AIDS, passed away peacefully Thursday morning at his home in Vermont where he lived with his husband Michael Sutherland for the past five years. Dr. Silvestre’s research with the Pitt Men’s Study impacted countless in the LGBTQ Community not only in Pittsburgh but around the world.
“We are very saddened by the news of Tony’s passing,” said Pitt Men’s Study Principal Investigator Dr. Charles Rinaldo. “Tony was with us from the beginning in 1984 and was the lifeblood of the Pitt Men’s Study. His calm yet forthright dedication and lifelong commitment to the Pitt Men’s Study is truly admirable. He brought a passion and inclusiveness to his job that helped shape the Study to what it is today. Indeed, the success of our study over its 40 years is largely based on Tony’s outstanding leadership. As my colleague for all these years but most importantly as my friend, he will be missed.”
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.
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.
On 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also download the study flyer pdf for more information.
Please 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.
For those who cannot attend, we invite you to send greetings to Scott through SWC (email@example.com 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!
Shepherd Wellness Community is hosting a 2 part Mental Health First Aid In-Person Training on Fridays, June 11 and 18, 9 am – 1 pm. Registration closes June 9 and is limited to 20 vaccinated participants. Any questions or concerns can be directed to Richard Krug at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The purpose of the first research study is to investigate brain activity, cognitive functioning, and aging in those living with HIV versus those living without HIV. The human brain and cognitive abilities change as people age, and this research study aims to identify those changes.
The purpose of the second research study is to investigate how chronic cannabis use affects brain activity and cognitive functioning differently in people who are living with HIV and those who are not living with HIV. To study the brain, researchers will be using a series of brain imaging tests, both of which are completely non-invasive. There is no cost to you, and you will receive compensation for your time and travel expenses.
You may be eligible if:
You are between the ages of 19 and 72
You have not had a stroke or been diagnosed with any neurological or psychiatric disorder(s)
You are able to complete a series of mental tasks You are not pregnant or planning to become pregnant
You either regularly use cannabis or do not use cannabis
This research study is sponsored by the National Institute of Mental Health. For more information, please call 412-246-5590 or send an email to email@example.com. You can also download the study brochure.
In a letter to Robert Torres, Secretary of Aging Pennsylvania Department of Aging, representatives of the PA Commission on LGBT Affairs wrote:
In February, the Aging Workgroup of the Commission on LGBTQ Affairs developed a survey to hear from aging service providers and LGBTQ consumers across the Commonwealth. The survey was completed by over 400 individuals, representing both service providers and older Pennsylvanians. The Workgroup used this survey data to craft the recommendations […] LGBTQ older adult respondents expressed great concern over being able to access LGBTQ-friendly resources and services. A strong majority indicated they would more readily access these services if they knew providers had completed LGBTQ cultural competence training. Providers also identified the need for greater training within the aging network to develop the knowledge and skills needed to more effectively serve LGBTQ older adults and individuals living with HIV. They reported wanting more resources that they could share with co-workers to improve their agencies, and resources to share with clients to help them connect to LGBTQ-friendly services. Providers and consumers both identified the need for non-discrimination protections, improved data collection, and greater support for LGBTQ people in the long-term care system.
A formal document regarding recommendations to the Department of Aging, at the Pennsylvania Department of Health, include:
Expanding LGBTQ cultural competence within all levels of care providers
Develop training opportunities and resources on the topic of HIV & Aging
Support advocacy efforts for LGBTQ older Pennsylvanians
Establish mechanisms for collecting data on sexual orientation and gender identity
Provide training materials for aging services providers
Identify opportunities to partner and support LGBTQ affordable, inclusive housing initiatives
Develop and share resources related to LGBTQ aging with all levels of care providers
Develop programs that deal with social isolation, including training seniors on the use of social media technologies
You can find out more in the official document, with the full list of recommendations, submitted to the Department of Aging here. For more information about the Department of Aging, go here.
August “Buzz” Pusateri played an integral role in the Pitt Men’s Study, a confidential research study of the natural history of HIV and AIDS. Not only did he believe in the importance of recruiting volunteers to help further research, he was one of the project’s first volunteers. Twice a year, sometimes more, Pusateri visited the clinic to give blood and answer detailed questions about his life. He also participated in special studies.
“Buzz got it across to the community … that this had to be done for them to defeat this epidemic of AIDS,” said Charles Rinaldo, a scientist and investigator of the Pitt Men’s Study. “He was central to it. He was always there. He was a tough guy, too.”
August “Buzz” Pusateri
Pusateri, a long-term HIV survivor, died on Monday, according to a tribute on the Pitt Men’s Study website. He was 81. Pusateri was a well-known community activist, a founding member of the Pitt Men’s Study community advisory board, and a volunteer with Shepherd Wellness Community. He had been involved in the Pitt Men’s Study since recruitment began in 1984.
“It’s just a horrible loss,” Rinaldo said. “He was our go-to person as far as connecting with the community. He was number one in making sure the community understood.”
Pusateri tested positive for HIV more than 30 years ago. He told the Tribune-Review in 2015 “it’s been an up-and-down battle.”
“Really, with this HIV, you never know what’s going to happen to you,” Pusateri said in 2015.
The Pittsburgh resident was the longest serving chair of the community advisory board, the direct link between the researchers and LGBTQ community, Rinaldo said.
Despite having health problems in more recent years, Pusateri would still come to the board meetings, Rinaldo said.
“I called him the ‘Iron Man’ and he was,” Rinaldo said. “He had health issues, but that didn’t stop him.”
Close friend Richard Vinski said Pusateri was extremely inspirational and motivating.
“Any time something hit him or he ended up in the hospital … he’d say, ‘I’m going to beat this,’” Vinski said. “He just had a great outlook on life and he motivated people because of his strength.”
“If you looked at him he was a frail, small man toward the end of his life, but he was a big guy when it came to getting people moving and giving them the right point of view,” Vinski said.
Pusateri was proud to be a long-term HIV survivor, and shared his experiences publicly to combat stigma and prove that people living with HIV could have full and meaningful lives, officials with Shepherd Wellness Community said.
A pharmacist, Pusateri would often speak to center members about the need for careful adherence to their HIV/AIDS regimens. Shepherd Wellness Community is an AIDS Community center that helps people living with HIV/AIDS.
“Buzz volunteered in our kitchen for five years before joining our staff as chef from 1998-2006,” Shepherd Wellness Community officials said in a statement. “He delighted in planning menus and preparing meals that were high-quality, delicious and nutritious. He always beamed with joy when our community gathered to enjoy his sumptuous dinners.”
Pusateri also hosted movie nights at the center, sharing his love for classic cinema. Vinski said his friend was a collector of old movies.
August “Buzz” Pusateri passed away on Monday, May 4th. Buzz was a well-known community activist who dedicated much of his life to combating AIDS. He was a founding member of the Pitt Men’s Study community advisory board and volunteered for the Shepard Wellness Community. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette wrote a feature about Buzz back in 2001, which you can find here.
Buzz will be missed but his contributions to the LGBTQ community will continue well into the future. Here are just a few tributes from friends and colleagues:
From Dr. Charles Rinaldo, principle investigator of the Pitt Men’s Study…
I am extremely saddened to inform you that long time founding member and chair of the Pitt Men’s Study Community Advisory Board, LGBTQ advocate and dear friend August “Buzz” Pusateri passed away overnight. We in the Pitt Men’s Study have known Buzz for 35+ years. He was always there for us. This is a terrible loss.
From Dr. Larry Kingsley, co-investigator of the Pitt Men’s Study…
Buzz was the best of the rest of us. I remember him since 1984 when he was gracious enough to pilot test the first MACS questionnaire, which I administered. He never flinched. He gave far more to us than we could return. Buzz is on my mensch list, which is short.
From the Shepherd Wellness Community…
Buzz volunteered in our kitchen for five years before joining our staff as chef from 1998-2006. He delighted in planning menus and preparing meals that were high-quality, delicious and nutritious. He always beamed with joy when our community gathered to enjoy his sumptuous dinners.
A longtime advocate for HIV/AIDS, Buzz was proud to be a long-term survivor. He shared this experience publically to combat stigma and proclaim that people living with HIV can have full and meaningful lives. Buzz also had a career as a pharmacist and would often speak to our members about the need for careful adherence to their HIV/AIDS regimens.
A man of many interests, Buzz loved classic cinema and he delighted in hosting movie nights at our center where he presented the background of each film, accompanied by his review. We remember Buzz for being deeply spiritual and a devoted and active member of St. Paul Cathedral.
From the Delta Foundation…
Buzz’s community contributions are long: He was on the board of the Lambda Foundation, was a founding member of Community Advisory Board at the Pitt Men’s Study, founded Dignity Pittsburgh (and was their the longest serving treasurer and secretary), was a long-time supporter of Shepherd Wellness Community, and was a founder of the Pittsburgh Coffeehouse. He was also a proud member of the Board of Directors for the Delta Foundation and was recently named an Emeritus member. Buzz was out and proud at a time when the LGBTQ community was invisible and was always advocating against the stigma that still remains to this day as a person living with AIDS.
From Persad Center…
Buzz was a man that set the bar for dedication and compassion among LGBTQ advocates in the Pittsburgh area for the last few decades. He is fondly remembered by so many for his loyalty and drive to help those living with HIV. He was an inspirational human being, and often helped folks find their place when it came to helping others in the LGBTQ community. He was a joy to work with and be around and helped so many people. He will be missed.
A memorial will be scheduled at a later date. Details to follow.
As they have for more than three decades, the Pitt Men’s Study leaders gathered with about four dozen men and women. They remembered those who have died and gave thanks for the 1,743 men who have participated in the nation’s longest-running HIV/AIDS research project.
Charles Rinaldo, a Ph.D. scientist who has led the effort since the virus surfaced here in 1981, walked solemnly down the center aisle with a group of clergy.
“So here we are again to honor our participants,” the soft-spoken Rinaldo said, welcoming the sparse group. “For 35 years now, you have supported our study for HIV/AIDS. … We can’t thank you enough. Without you, there is no study.”
Every six months, year after year, participants have trekked to Oakland to offer blood and bodily fluids. Their alms have become the foundation of hundreds of research projects.
The Pitt study, conducted in the halls of the university where Jonas Salk developed the world’s first polio vaccine, began before the affliction that has killed an estimated 32 million people worldwide even had a name: human immunodeficiency virus. Or simply, HIV.
Neither the virus nor its final, deadly stage — acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, or AIDS — dominates the news and national fears as they did decades ago. Yet around the world, about 38 million people remain infected. Many are living longer lives thanks to lifesaving, though expensive, medical treatments. But there is no cure — yet.
Worldwide, an estimated 1.7 million people became infected with HIV last year. Another 770,000 died from AIDS-related illnesses.
In the United States, just more than 1 million people are believed to be living with HIV. Although the number of new infections has declined dramatically, nearly 40,000 in the U.S. still contract HIV every year. And about 16,000 people died from AIDS in the United States in 2016.
Because of that, work on the Pitt Men’s Study continues.