People living with HIV are eligible for COIVD 19 vaccination now

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.

covid 19 vaccine

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.

If you’re HIV positive, the University of Pittsburgh would like to study your sleep

The SASH study (Impact of Poor Sleep and Inflammation on the Adenosine Signaling Pathway in HIV Infection) seeks to understand how sleep can affect the health of people living with HIV.

man sleepingStudy participants complete questionnaires before and after getting a watch-like device similar to a Fitbit. Subjects wear the device for two weeks, to track their sleep patterns. Subjects also answer a few questions in a diary each morning about their sleep.

The study involves two visits to Montefiore Hospital. Each visit is about one hour in length. There will be a blood draw at the second visit. Note that participants will receive up to $100. Parking vouchers and/or bus fare will also be provided.

For more information, call the study team at 412-330-1453, or send an email to healthysleep@pitt.edu.

As battle against HIV continues, Pitt Men’s Study volunteer joins coronavirus vaccine study

From the Tribune Review online

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.”

Marc Wagner

Marc Wagner

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.

Use your brain to help people living with HIV

Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh and the University of Nebraska Medical Center are looking for participants living with HIV, and participants not living with HIV, for a non-invasive brain imaging research study.

sculpture of human face and brain

Image courtesy of David Matos

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 mindscan2019@gmail.com. You can also download the study brochure.

AIDS Quilt goes virtual, represents all 50 states

World AIDS Day event honors COVID-19 Victims, Drs. Fauci and Ho

From qnotes.com
By

view of the Quilt on the National Mall

You can see the AIDS Memorial Quilt online.

This year, instead of hitting the road, the AIDS Memorial Quilt — the more than 48,000 handmade panels honoring over 100,000 lives lost to AIDS that brought attention to and spurred action to address the pandemic back in the late 1980s — will have virtual showcases in all 50 states and U.S. territories due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The showcases will begin on the National AIDS Memorial website on Nov. 16, kicking off the activities for the World AIDS Day commemorations on Dec. 1.

“During the darkest days of the AIDS crisis, the Quilt was a source of immense comfort, inspiration and used as a tool for social activism to open the eyes of the nation to injustice,” as well as to help with healing and grieving, according to a statement from John Cunningham, the executive director of the National AIDS Memorial, in a recent press release.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the meaning of the Quilt has shifted.

“The Quilt team came up with this idea to use the power of the Quilt to help our nation heal during this current pandemic,” said Kevin Herglotz, a spokesman for the National AIDS Memorial. “Because as we’ve been in shelter in place, people haven’t been able to grieve. They haven’t been able to honor those who have been lost.”

Read the full article.

See the Quilt online.

Protect Yourself from the Flu: Important Info for People with HIV

From HIV.gov

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.

Read the full article on HIV.gov.

Switching HIV treatment to delstrigo is safe and effective

From Poz.com

People with HIV who switch from a stable antiretroviral (ARV) regimen to Delstrigo (doravirine/tenofovir disoproxil fumarate/lamivudine) had a high rate of full suppression of the virus at the three-year mark in a large Phase III clinical trial.

Princy Kumar, MD, of Georgetown University, presented findings from the open-label, randomized, active-controlled, noninferiority DRIVE-SHIFT trial at the virtual HIV Drug Therapy Glasgow meeting.

Delstrigo contains the relatively new non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor (NNRTI) Pifeltro (doravirine), which, like Delstrigo, was approved in September 2019.

Read the full article.

People with HIV are living longer

From HIV.gov

The HIV population in the United States is aging. This can be seen as a sign of success as people with HIV are living longer because they are engaged in care and benefiting from effective treatments. Consider these data from the HRSA Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program (RWHAP) fact sheet, Older Adult Clients: Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program, 2018

  • 46.1% of individuals getting RWHAP care are over 50 years old, similar to the age demographics of all Americans diagnosed with HIV
  • 91.5% of those aged over 50 are virally suppressed, exceeding the RWHAP average of 87%.

The aging trend has been underway for many years and is projected to continue. In 2018, RWHAP clients aged 55 and older accounted for 31% of all clients, up significantly from 16.6% in 2010. A large proportion of RWHAP clients (45-54 years old) are on the cusp of joining the 55+ age group.

graph showing increase in age of HIV positive people

The trend is likely to continue. By 2030, 64% of RWHAP clients are projected to be 50+. See the CROI 2019 poster Projected Growth and Needs of Aging People Living with HIV in HRSA’s Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program , presented by HRSA staff and summarized in the HIV.gov blog HRSA Analyzes Growing Ryan White Client Population Over 50 Years Old .

Large NIH Clinical Trial Illuminates Long-Term Health Effects of HIV

From HIV.gov

Initial data from a large NIH-supported clinical trial offer a detailed look at the health status of people aging with HIV around the world. With 7,770 participants enrolled in 12 countries across five continents, the Randomized Trial to Prevent Vascular Events in HIV (REPRIEVE ) is evaluating the ability of a statin medication, pitavastatin, to reduce the risk of heart disease among people with HIV. By leveraging data collected from this diverse group of study participants, researchers also are learning more about the long-term health effects of HIV. They report their initial findings in an August supplement for The Journal of Infectious Diseases.
[…]
For women, accelerated reproductive aging—a natural process that eventually leads to menopause—may heighten risk for heart disease and stroke. Among women with HIV in the REPRIEVE study, more advanced reproductive age was associated with two risk factors for cardiovascular disease: high waist circumference and high blood levels of hemoglobin. Women living in sub-Saharan Africa or Latin America and the Caribbean were more likely to experience accelerated reproductive aging than those living in high-income countries.

The initial REPRIEVE findings also provide insight into the relationship between HIV and heart disease among transgender people, about which little is known. Transgender people are disproportionately affected by HIV, and studies have suggested that hormone use as part of gender-affirming therapy may increase cardiovascular disease risk. By collecting data on gender identity and use of gender-affirming therapy, the REPRIEVE investigators aim to address this knowledge gap. Notably, their initial analysis revealed that high waist circumference was more common among transgender women, particularly those who were receiving gender-affirming therapy.

Read the full article on HIV.gov.