The Center for Health, Identity, Behavior and Prevention Studies (CHIBPS) at the Rutgers School of Public Health is conducting a web-based survey to understand the thoughts and experiences of COVID-19 vaccination among people ages 18+ living with HIV in the United States. This is part of our ongoing effort to shine a light on the challenges faced by those living with HIV in this COVID-19.
We seek to recruit at least 1,000 participants to take part in the research. Participants will be entered for a chance to win $60 electronic gift cards. The survey has been approved by the Institutional Review Board at Rutgers University (#Pro2021000063).
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.
When drug makers solicited volunteers to test a coronavirus vaccines, Marc Wagner jumped.
It was a matter of giving back. “I never thought I would outlive a number of my relatives my age or younger,” said the 58-year-old Swissvale resident. “And here I am, still alive.”
Wagner felt compelled to do his part for science. But just as important, it was an opportunity for him to honor the herculean efforts of scientists and others he has met over the last 35 years in his battle against HIV.
As he made final arrangements for the annual remembrance service the community advisory board of the Pitt Men’s Study hosts every year on Dec. 1, World AIDS Day, Wager got news that the Oxford-AstraZeneca study he is participating in had proven its covid-19 vaccine to be up to 90% effective.
The news was encouraging, but it hasn’t distracted from the event he and other members of the Men’s Study community consider an important duty: honoring those who have given their lives over to the HIV/AIDS study.
Wagner is among some 2,000 men who volunteered for the study in the 1980s and 90s. About 500 surviving volunteers continue to show up faithfully at Pitt twice a year to provide blood and bodily fluids in the quest for a cure for HIV/AIDS. The Pitt Men’s Study is one of the nation’s longest running scientific research studies.
The University of Pittsburgh is among several centers nationwide in the ongoing Multi-Center AIDS Cohort Study. The federally funded study, funded through 2026, has been the foundation for more than 1,700 papers that have advanced the understanding and treatment of illness.
Honoring the Pitt Men’s Study volunteers, many of whom came forward when HIV/AIDS was a death sentence and some of whom have since died, is a sacred honor, said Charles Rinaldo, a Ph.D. scientist who has led the effort at Pitt for nearly 40 years.
“We could not do it without these men,” said Rinaldo, chairman and professor of Infectious Diseases and Microbiology in Pitt’s Graduate School of Public Health. “For over 30 years, they’ve been coming back religiously. These men are dedicated.”
Their participation over decades has allowed the study to focus, among other things, on the impact of HIV/AIDS in aging.
Getting a flu vaccine during 2020-2021 is more important than ever because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. When you get vaccinated, you reduce your risk of getting sick with flu and possibly being hospitalized or dying from flu. This season, getting a flu vaccine has the added benefit of reducing the overall burden on the health care system and saving medical resources for care of COVID-19 patients.
People with HIV—especially those who have a very low CD4 cell count or who are not taking antiretroviral therapy—are at high risk for serious flu-related complications. For this reason, it is especially important that people with HIV get a flu shot annually. (The nasal spray flu vaccine is not recommended for people with HIV.)
In addition to getting a flu shot every year, people with HIV should take the same everyday preventive actions CDC recommends of everyone, including avoiding people who are sick, covering coughs, and washing hands often.
A team of scientists from St. Michael’s Hospital, Sinai Health and Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre have launched a clinical trial to understand whether an existing drug used for HIV treatment and prevention may work to prevent COVID-19 infection.
Dr. Darrell Tan
The trial will examine whether post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP), which is a medication a person takes once they’ve been exposed to a virus to prevent infection, could halt or slow the spread of COVID-19 in groups of people who have been exposed to a confirmed case. The drug in question – Kaletra (lopinavir/ritonavir as PEP)- has long been used in this capacity to prevent HIV in those who have been exposed to the virus.
“Early studies of the use of this medication as post-exposure prophylaxis therapy in other coronaviruses such as SARS and MERS have been promising,” says Dr. Darrell Tan, the study’s lead investigator who is also a scientist at the MAP Centre for Urban Health Solutions and an infectious disease physician at St. Michael’s. “These are so-called ‘cousin’ viruses to COVID-19 and we want to understand whether lopinavir/ritonavir as PEP could impact its spread as well.”
New guidelines have been set by the NIH in regards to persons living with HIV. This interim guidance reviews special considerations for persons with HIV and their health care providers in the United States regarding COVID-19. Information and data on COVID-19 are rapidly evolving. This guidance includes general information to consider. People with HIV who have COVID-19 have an excellent prognosis, and they should be clinically managed the same as persons in the general population with COVID-19, including when making medical care triage determinations.
On April 21, 2020, GLMA, Whitman-Walker Health, the National LGBT Cancer Network, the National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance, the New York Transgender Advocacy Group, and SAGE issued a second open letter to public health officials, healthcare institutions and government leaders on the impact of COVID-19 on LGBTQ communities. The letter, joined by 170 organizations, called for action to protect LGBTQ patients from discrimination and to include sexual orientation and gender identity in data collection efforts related to the pandemic. The letter also called for action to address the economic harm to LGBTQ communities from the pandemic.
The letter released on April 21 is a follow-up to an open letter signed by more than 150 organizations issued by the six coordinating organizations on March 11, 2020. Information on the first letter is available here.