Category Archives: HIV care

FDA approves new HIV treatment for patients with limited treatment options

From the FDA

the FDA logo[On July 2, 2020], the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Rukobia (fostemsavir), a new type of antiretroviral medication for adults living with HIV who have tried multiple HIV medications and whose HIV infection cannot be successfully treated with other therapies because of resistance, intolerance or safety considerations.

“This approval marks a new class of antiretroviral medications that may benefit patients who have run out of HIV treatment options,” said Jeff Murray, M.D., deputy director of the Division of Antivirals in the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. “The availability of new classes of antiretroviral drugs is critical for heavily treatment-experienced patients living with multidrug resistant HIV infection—helping people living with hard-to-treat HIV who are at greater risk for HIV-related complications, to potentially live longer, healthier lives.”

Read the full article on HIV.gov.

PA Commission on LGBT Affairs submits recommendations to the state regarding LGBTQ senior care

In a letter to Robert Torres, Secretary of Aging Pennsylvania Department of Aging, representatives of the PA Commission on LGBT Affairs wrote:

decorative imageIn 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.

AIDS Free Pittsburgh wants to hear YOUR ideas about ending the HIV epidemic in Allegheny County

aids free Pittsburgh logoAIDS Free Pittsburgh wants to hear YOUR ideas about how we can work together to end the HIV epidemic in Allegheny County, whether or not you know someone affected by HIV. This is an ambitious goal, and we are hard at work developing an updated plan to dramatically reduce HIV in our community.

Your input is important to make sure that this project is successful. This survey will take about 15 minutes to complete, is completely anonymous and voluntary. Your responses will not be shared with others and you may stop at any point.

You can take the survey here.

What is AIDS Free Pittsburgh? It is a community public health project that began in 2015 to decrease new HIV cases by 75% and eliminate new AIDS cases in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania by the year 2020. AIDS Free Pittsburgh partners have committed to a three-pronged strategy with the goal of creating a community where new HIV infections are rare:

  1. TEST: Identify people with HIV who remain undiagnosed and connect them to care.
  2. PREVENT: Increase education about and access to Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) and Post-Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP) for people who are at higher risk for HIV.
  3. TREAT: Support immediate linkage to care for people diagnosed with HIV to maximize viral suppression so they can remain healthy and prevent further HIV transmission.

As of 2018, new HIV cases have decreased by 39% and new AIDS cases have decreased by 43% in Allegheny County. It is exciting that we are about halfway to meeting these goals, but we still need your help to cross the finish line. We are currently planning a second phase of the project (2021-2025) and are looking for your input!

Questions or concerns?
Contact AIDS Free Pittsburgh by email at aidsfreepittsburgh@gmail.com.

New Interim NIH Guidelines for people living with HIV regarding the COVID-19 pandemic

From the National Institutes of Health and Human Services

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.

Follow this link to read the new guidelines (https://aidsinfo.nih.gov/guidelines/html/8/covid-19-and-persons-with-hiv–interim-guidance-/0).

This interim guidance was prepared by the following working groups of the Office of AIDS Research Advisory Council:

  • HHS Panel on Antiretroviral Guidelines for Adults and Adolescents
  • HHS Panel on Antiretroviral Therapy and Medical Management of Children Living with HIV
  • HHS Panel on Treatment of Pregnant Women with HIV Infection and Prevention of Perinatal Transmission
  • HHS Panel on Guidelines for the Prevention and Treatment of Opportunistic Infections in Adults and Adolescents with HIV
  • HHS Panel on Opportunistic Infections in HIV-Exposed and HIV-Infected Children

Does HIV raise risk of coronavirus? Experts weigh in

From Yahoo News

Matthew, 30, keeps an emergency stockpile of his life-saving HIV medication at his home in Sacramento, California. He started building his stash shortly after he was diagnosed six years ago, on the recommendation of people he met through a forum for those living with HIV. Without his once-a-day pill, his viral load would increase and his general health would decline.

doctors working around a tableNow, over a month after the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus a global pandemic, Matthew hasn’t broken into his stash. But, like many of the 1.1 million HIV-positive people in the United States, he has questions about how the ongoing crisis could affect his access to medication and his chances of contracting the coronavirus, and whether his chronic immune condition could put him at a higher risk of complications due to COVID-19, the disease caused by coronavirus.

“Being positive, it puts it at the forefront of your mind,” Matthew, who requested that his last name not be used to protect his medical privacy, told NBC News. “You have to be present and aware.”

Read the article on Yahoo News.

Depressive disorders are ‘under recognized and under treated’ in people with HIV/AIDS

From Eurekalert.com

People living with HIV/AIDS are at increased risk of depressive disorders. But all too often, these conditions go unrecognized or untreated, suggests a literature review in the May/June issue of Harvard Review of Psychiatry. The journal is published in the Lippincott portfolio by Wolters Kluwer.

Proper diagnosis and management are essential to reduce negative health effects of depression in patients with HIV/AIDS, according to the report by Gustavo C. Medeiros, MD, of University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, and colleagues. Based on an analysis of 125 research publications, “We provide evidence-based recommendations to improve assessment and management of depressive disorders in seropositive persons,” the researchers write.

Read the full article.

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

A more convenient, monthly treatment for HIV cleared a key hurdle

From Science News

People living with HIV are one step closer to having a once-a-month treatment alternative to downing two or more pills a day.

Once-a-month injection of antiretrovirals works just as well as a daily pill regimen, trials show

Once-a-month injection of antiretrovirals works just as well as a daily pill regimen, trials show

There is no cure for HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. But combination antiretroviral therapy, or ART, can effectively halt the replication of the virus, nearly eliminating it from the bloodstream and prolonging life expectancy (SN: 11/15/19). For the therapy to work, though, people must stick to a daily regimen of two or more pills, which experts say can be a challenge for many.

Now, the results of two phase III clinical trials suggest that a monthly shot of antiretroviral drugs works just as well as daily pills, researchers report March 4 in two studies in the New England Journal of Medicine. If approved by regulators, the therapy could be a more convenient treatment for the estimated 1.1 million people living with HIV in the United States.

“From a patient perspective, these results are very positive,” says Elizabeth Tolley, an epidemiologist at FHI 360, a public health nonprofit based in Durham, N.C. Stigma can make people reluctant to keep HIV drugs around the house or to take them each day in front of a loved one, she says. A monthly alternative could be a better option for many.

Read the full article.

Despite ART, Immune System Ages Faster Among People Living With HIV, Study Finds

From thebodypro.com

Today’s powerful antiretroviral therapy (ART) helps fight back HIV infection and restore normal immune function. However, clinical evidence suggests that people with HIV who are virologically suppressed still have higher rates of comorbid viral infections than the general population.

Now, a new study in the Journal of Infectious Diseases suggests that ART does not restore the immune system completely back to normal. Instead, people with HIV may experience “immune amnesia,” in which the immune system slowly loses its capacity to recognize and fight off viral infections introduced during childhood or through a vaccine.

“Even with therapy, there’s something not quite fixed about the immune system,” said lead author Michael Augenbraun, M.D., FACP, FIDSA, who is vice chair of the Department of Medicine and director of the Division of Infectious Diseases at SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University and Kings County Hospital Center.

In the study, Augenbraun and his colleagues compared immune response among a group of 50 HIV-negative women and a group of 50 HIV-positive women on ART with low viral load. Each of these women had been vaccinated against smallpox during childhood, so they should all theoretically have similar levels of lingering protection against the smallpox virus.

Read the full article.