Get to know the HIV doctors behind #AskTheHIVDoc – Dr. Demetre Daskalakis and Dr. David Malebranche. In a frank, no-nonsense style, they answer common questions from gay men about HIV and sexual health. For more info, visit: http://greaterthan.org/speakout.
The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene’s recent fear-based HIV prevention campaign may have led to unintended consequences by stigmatizing young black and Latino men who have sex with men (MSM). Publishing their findings in Health Affairs, researchers analyzed the 2010 “It’s Never Just HIV” campaign, which used fearful, horror-movie-like imagery and messaging to highlight health problems tied to HIV or its treatment, such as osteoporosis, dementia and anal cancer.
“Relying on fear is risky business,” the authors write in the paper. The health department came to appreciate that its analysis of the campaign’s success could not be governed simply by HIV rates among the target population. Rather, the department needed to consider the campaign’s social and political impact. Not only was there a huge amount of controversy among people in the HIV community, but according to certain criticisms, people at risk of HIV and those living with the virus may have suffered stigma as a result of the campaign.
New York City has since moved away from fear-based HIV prevention campaigns. For example, “Be HIV Sure,” which launched on World AIDS Day 2014, encourages HIV testing as part of sexual intimacy.
To read a press release on the study, click here.
[D]oes non-disclosure matter? Is it associated with poorer health outcomes? While a quantitative survey, completed on a single occasion by respondents, has some limitations in terms of the insight it can give into the quality of people’s lives and relationships, these data are reassuring.
Mental health difficulties and adherence problems were quite common among survey respondents. But they weren’t more frequently reported by people who hadn’t disclosed to anyone. After statistical adjustment for other factors that could skew the results, rates of the following were very similar in people who disclosed and people who did not:
- Low social support.
- Symptoms of depression.
- Symptoms of anxiety.
- Problems with adherence to HIV treatment.
- A detectable viral load.
In fact, some of the data suggested that having disclosed to most or all friends and family was actually associated with poorer outcomes in gay men. A more selective disclosure strategy was associated with better outcomes.
From the Latin Post…
When ingested daily, PrEP becomes present in the bloodstream and wards off the spread of HIV. The CDC reiterates the importance of taking the pill EVERY day. For those who take the medicines as directed, the risk of getting HIV infection plummets, up to 92 percent lower. However, failing to ingest the pill daily could mean an insufficient amount medicine in the body, and PrEP isn’t guaranteed to block the virus.
“I feel that it’s a great breakthrough in the fight against HIV. I know that we have public health strategy if we don’t drop the ball, as we have in many instances in the past,” Gustavo Morales, Director of Access to Care Services at the Latino Commission on AIDS, said to Latin Post. “Specifically what I mean by this is PrEP cannot be seen as the sole strategy, and it requires a counseling process, such as biomedical intervention that does require peer, hand-to-hand social support. Because, PrEP without adherence, without understanding the facts behind it, without risk awareness, without a conversation, is not effective.”
To answer that question, researchers at the UCLA AIDS Institute and Center for AIDS Research and the Multicenter AIDS Cohort Study investigated whether the virus induces age-associatedepigenetic changes—that is, changes to the DNA that in turn lead to changes in expression of gene levels without changing the inherited genetic code. These changes affect biological processes and can be brought on by environmental factors or by the aging process itself.
In a study published online in the peer-reviewed journal PLOS ONE, the researchers suggest that HIV itself accelerates these aging related changes by more than 14 years.
“While we were surprised by the number of epigenetic changes that were significantly associated with both aging and HIV-infection, we were most surprised that the data suggests HIV-infection can accelerate aging-related epigenetic changes by 13.7 to 14.7 years,” said Beth Jamieson, professor of medicine in the division of hematology/oncology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and one of the study’s senior authors. “This number is in line with both anecdotal and published data suggesting that treated HIV-infected adults can develop the diseases of aging mentioned above, approximately a decade earlier than their uninfected peers.”
From the Advocate.com…
We’re in the midst of LGBT Health Month, a time to take stock of the many health issues specific to our community. While we have plenty of people trying to do harm to us because of our sexual orientation or gender identity, we often don’t do ourselves any favors when it comes to self care. Here are the bad habits we should have given up last century.