HIV advisory group for the Department of Health Division of HIV DISEASE seeks new members

The HIV Planning Group (HPG) is now seeking interested candidates to apply for membership! The deadline to apply is November 14th.

The HPG is an important advisory body for the Department of Health’s Division of HIV Disease and is organized by the HIV Prevention and Care Project at the University of Pittsburgh. The group seeks to better inform all levels of the HIV Care Continuum in Pennsylvania (excluding Philadelphia, which is funded separately) through Integrated HIV Planning and oversight, statewide assessment, and advisory responsibilities.  The group is particularly seeking HIV positive applicants and folks who represent minority communities, trans communities, and those at-risk under the age of 39. You can find more information on StopHIV.com.

You can also use this convenient online form to apply.

Summer 2019 newsletter highlights study’s 35th anniversary

Clinic coordinator Bill Buchanan: “None of it would have been possible without the volunteers.”

From the Summer 2019 newsletter

The origin of the study can be traced to 1982, when University of Pittsburgh researcher Dr. Charles Rinaldo met with a young gay medical student named David Lyter to discuss the opportunistic infections that were killing gay and bisexual men. From this came the Pilot Study, which formed the basis for a 1983 National Institutes of Health grant application that created the Pitt Men’s Study, part of the national Multicenter AIDS Cohort Study (MACS) with additional sites in Los Angeles, Chicago and Baltimore.

“The study’s longevity is due to the incredible response from the community to one of the major health crises of our time,” says PMS clinic coordinator William Buchanan. “None of it would have been possible without the volunteers.”

Find out more in the Summer 2019 newsletter.

Implementing rapid ART initiation to successfully manage HIV

As countries across the globe continue the fight against HIV, treatments that are quickly initiated and effective are crucial for getting patients with HIV virally suppressed both to improve their clinical outcomes and to stop the transmission of infection.

Addressing both of these issues, Mary Montgomery, MD, associate physician in the Division of Infectious Diseases at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and an instructor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, discussed emerging treatment strategies for managing HIV during a session at the National Association of Managed Care Physicians 2019 Fall Managed Care Forum, held October 10-11 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

More and more, clinicians are understanding the benefit of prescribing antiretroviral therapy (ART) to patients the day they are diagnosed with HIV, otherwise known as rapid ART initiation.

The literature has shown that rapid ART initiation is associated with a more favorable mortality profile, as well as quicker viral suppression. In one study,1 the median time to viral suppression was 56 days for those who initiated treatment at diagnosis, compared with 126 days for those who began treatment consistent with prior recommendations for universal ART and 219 days for those who received CD4-guided ART.

Read the full article 

Be a part of the HIV conversation in PA

Who we are: We are a diverse group of representatives working to enhance HIV prevention and care efforts for Pennsylvania.

What we do: Our work contributes to the development of the HIV Prevention and Care Plan, which implements ongoing objectives and activities to reduce the spread and infections of  HIV.

Who we’re looking for: Individuals who are living with HIV; at high‐risk for HIV infection and are: racial and ethnic minorities, between the ages of 14 and 39, and/or transgender; representatives from Ryan White Part B‐D grantees; employees or clients of HIV prevention/testing/PrEP providers; and County/Municipal Health Departments. Applications from all interested candidates will be considered.

Interested applicants may contact Corrine Bozich at cnb31@pitt.edu.

You can also apply to be a member of the HIV Planning Group at: https://tinyurl.com/HPGApplication2019

The application deadline is November 7th.

FDA approves second PrEP medication

From HIV.gov

PrEP, or pre-exposure prophylaxis, is an HIV prevention method in which people who do not have HIV take medicine on a daily basis to reduce their risk of getting HIV if they are exposed to the virus. Descovy for PrEP should be used as part of a comprehensive strategy, including adherence to daily administration and safer sex practices, including condoms, to reduce the risk of sexually acquired infections.

The safety and efficacy of Descovy for PrEP were evaluated in a randomized, double-blind multinational trial in 5,387 HIV-negative men and transgender women who have sex with men and were at risk of HIV-1 infection. The trial compared once daily Descovy to Truvada (emtricitabine, tenofovir disoproxil fumarate, 200 mg/300 mg), a daily fixed dose combination of two drugs approved in 2012 to prevent the sexual acquisition of HIV; participants were followed for 48 to 96 weeks. The primary endpoint was the rate of HIV-1 infection in each group. The trial showed that Descovy was similar to Truvada in reducing the risk of acquiring HIV-1 infection.

Read the full article on HIV.gov.

Conversation about HIV is changing

By John-Manuel Andriote, author of Stonewall Strong

Let’s talk about drugs—specifically, drugs that keep HIV-positive gay men like me “undetectable,” and the drugs used in PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) that, when taken daily, can prevent HIV-negative gay men (and others) from becoming infected.

John-Manuel Andriote

That’s essentially the theme for this year’s Gay Men’s HIV/AIDS Awareness Day—today, September 27—“The Conversation About HIV Is Changing: Talk Undetectable. Talk PrEP.”

But if we only talk about drugs to prevent and treat HIV, and don’t talk about the trauma behind gay men’s high-risk sexual and drug-use choices, we’ll see that same trauma continue to play out in our disproportionately high rates of crystal meth abuse, alcoholism, and other potentially harmful sexually transmitted infections besides HIV.

There is no question that today’s HIV drugs have dramatically changed the conversation about HIV. From the terrible illness and death that almost inevitably followed a positive HIV test 30 years ago, those of us living with the virus today can expect to live a virtually normal lifespan—so long as we adhere to treatment.

Read the full article.

Post a selfie to help end stigma

From plus online…

The campaign captures 24 hours in the lives of people affected by HIV stigma, which impacts everyone regardless of age, race, or status. The social media-driven campaign, now in its tenth year, is an opportunity for people to share a moment of their day and tell their story, while breaking down the barriers that stigma creates and raising awareness about HIV, as stated in a press release.

“Stigma can isolate and scare people,” said Positively Aware art director Rick Guasco, who created the campaign. “It can also prevent people from accessing care and treatment. A Day with HIV brings people together; it shows that we’re all affected by stigma, and that people living with HIV are just like everyone else.”

We encourage you to take a picture and post it to your social media with the hashtag #ADayWithHIV and include a caption that gives the time, location, and what inspired you to take the photo.

Images can also be uploaded to ADayWithHIV.com, where they will be considered for publication in a special section of the November/December issue of Positively Aware.

Check out some of last year’s photos