Category Archives: PMS Matters

It’s National Testing Week…and Pennsylvania is the place to get free testing



AR-306249997Get a load of this: There are 721 people known to be HIV-positive or diagnosed with AIDS in Northeastern Pennsylvania. For Ken Zula, executive director of Wyoming Valley AIDS Council in Wilkes-Barre, the more alarming number is 6.06 percent. That’s the chunk of the population in Luzerne and Lackawanna counties infected with HIV or AIDS, he says.

The naked truth about how close to home the disease is to our area is perhaps more discomforting when adding that reports 1 in 7 people infected with HIV don’t even know they have the illness. Knowing that, it’s basic math to apprehend thousands of people throughout NEPA could be walking around with HIV, unenlightened of their status. They’re clueless that they may be passing HIV to other people. They could pass HIV to you. Since National HIV Testing Week is June 21-27 in the United States, Weekender is encouraging NEPA to get tested and know their status. Getting tested is quick and painless.

Continue reading.

Dr. Charles Rinaldo and Alan Jones of PATF talk about the beginning of the AIDS epidemic


Charles Rinaldo, PhD – Chairman and Professor, Dept. of Infectious Diseases and Microbiology at the University of Pittsburgh

Pitt Men’s Study’s Dr. Rinaldo talks with NPR’s Essential Pittsburgh

Dr. Charles Rinaldo was part of a team of researchers investigating the rise of AIDS in Pittsburgh, research that at that time was called a “natural history study.” Through his subjects, Rinaldo developed an understanding of the severity of the spread of HIV , and became an early advocate for AIDS education and prevention. He joins Alan Jones of the Pittsburgh AIDS Taskforce to discuss what the social and medical landscape was like when AIDS was first appearing among the gay communities of Pittsburgh.

Listen to the interview here.

Pitt Men’s Study’s own Jessica McGuinness featured in Post Gazette series nominated for GLAAD award


Clinic specialist Jess McGuinness

“An Identity to Call Their Own” series nominated for GLADD media award

A series of six Pittsburgh Post-Gazette articles focusing on the lives of transgender individuals was recently nominated for Best Newspaper Article by the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation.

The series of three articles, An Identity to Call Their Own was written by Michael A. Fuoco and focuses on 6 individual stories, including the moving testimonials of activists Jessica McGuinness, Sarah Parlow and Rayden Sorock. You can find the nominated series on the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Website

The GLADD Media Awards honors film, television and print media for their “fair, accurate and inclusive representations of the LGBT community.” The 26th Annual GLAAD Media Awards will be held on March 21st in Los Angeles and also on May 9th in New York.

More information about Trans-related nominations, check out GLAADs Website

Heads Up for PACT Patients

For HIV patients who receive care at Pittsburgh AIDS Center for Treatment (PACT), UPMC, it might be worth noting that impending changes in your healthcare may effect where and how you get treatment. Talking to your HIV clinic social worker might be the best way to prepare. With that said, here are some tips to keep in mind…

If you have health insurance:

  • If Medicare is your primary coverage and you have a Highmark policy, whether a Medicare HMO or Medicare Supplement, you still have access to all UPMC facilities after 1/1/2015. This also includes patients who have medical assistance coverage in addition to Medicare.
  • Currently, the only Highmark plans UPMC does not accept are Community Blue plans.
  • If UPMC refuses Highmark commercial plans beginning 1/1/2015, then patients need to keep this in mind during their employer’s open enrollment period.  Patients who do not have an insurance plan that is accepted by PACT can be referred to AGH Positive Health Clinic.
  • If medical assistance is your primary coverage, UPMC PACT accepts UPMC for You and Gateway Health Plan.   UPMC does not accept the following medical assistance plans:  Coventry Cares, or United Health Care Community Plan for Families.

If you are uninsured:

  • PACT is currently awaiting word from the SPBP program regarding when and how they will begin assisting clients with health insurance premium and/or co-pay assistance. Pennsylvania’s SPBP program is one of only nine states that doesn’t already have a program like this in place.
  • PACT is also awaiting word regarding Governor Corbett’s Healthy PA plan for uninsured individuals with income under $16,105. The Corbet plan is not yet in place so details are unknown for the moment.
  • Open enrollment for health insurance in 2015 through the ACA Marketplace begins November 15, 2014. PACT social workers are available to help and/or answer questions.
  • The Ryan White Program has informed grantees that grant funds cannot be used to pay tax penalties for those who have not signed up for coverage. PACT continues to see patients if they are uninsured.

If you are a PACT patient, and have questions, you can email Pat McGlone at While this information is specific to patients at PACT, all people living with HIV should be speaking with a social worker or case manager about impending health insurance changes.

Obamacare makes health insurance easier to get and more affordable for many people with HIV

Obamacare – officially known as the Affordable Care Act (or ACA) — makes health insurance easier to get and more affordable for many people with HIV. It also removes barriers that may have kept you from being able to get coverage in the past. Starting January 1, 2014, no one can be denied health insurance or charged more because of a pre-existing health condition such as HIV. And insurers can no longer limit how much they’ll spend on your medical care —over a year or your lifetime. These are important changes for someone with HIV. Find out more on 

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Allegheny County health director urges flu vaccinations

From the Pittsburgh Post Gazette:

Now that the flu season has officially begun — the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said so Monday — Allegheny County Health Department Interim Director Ronald E. Voorhees has a message for those still unprotected:

“Get vaccinated. It’s here, and the clock is ticking.”

According to the CDC’s weekly surveillance report published Friday, 48 states and Puerto Rico have reported cases of laboratory-confirmed influenza and, nationally, the percentage of specimens testing positive for influenza is rising fast. Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee and Texas all are reporting above-normal cases of flu. Such an uptick usually doesn’t happen until after Christmas.

Read more: allegheny-county-health-director-urges-vaccinations-amid-flu-uptick