February 7th marks the 15th annual observance of National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NBHAAD). Led by the Strategic Leadership Council, this initiative is designed to increase HIV education, testing, community involvement, and treatment among black communities across the nation.
Compared to other racial/ethnic groups in the United States, blacks/African Americans* account for a disproportionate burden of HIV and AIDS. While blacks represent approximately 12% of the U.S. population, they account for more new HIV infections (44%), people living with HIV (43%), and deaths of persons with diagnosed HIV (48%) than any other racial/ethnic group in the nation. Among blacks, gay and bisexual men, especially young men, are the most affected population—accounting for the majority of new infections.
From HIV Equal …
CytoDyn Inc. announced in a news release last week that its ongoing extension study of PRO 140 monotherapy has shown “complete viral-load suppression” for well over a year, with some patients approaching 17 months. The phase I trial included 23 patients.
“The company believes that complete virologic suppression through treatment with a single agent, PRO 140, a safe and efficacious antibody, rather than through the widely used HAART combination therapy, could present a significant opportunity to treat HIV patients. Based on these monotherapy results, the company plans to file a second Phase 3 protocol for PRO 140 monotherapy with the FDA. CytoDyn is currently conducting a pivotal phase 3 trial for PRO 140 as an adjunct therapy with expected commercialization in 2017.”
On Jan 22, the company filed a request for Breakthrough Therapy Designation with the FDA for PRO 140 as a treatment for HIV-1 infection in treatment experienced patients with virologic failure, meaning other medications alone no longer work for them.
PRO140 works by blocking the HIV co-receptor CCR5 on T-cells, preventing entry of the virus. So far, CytoDyn claims that PRO 140 does not negatively impact the normal immune functions mediated by CCR5.
“A recent Phase 2b clinical trial demonstrated that PRO 140 can prevent viral escape in patients during several weeks of interruption from conventional drug therapy,” according to a news release.”
Read the article on HIV Equal online.
The report, which was published in the journal Pediatrics, looked at young people aged 18 to 24. On average, 22 percent of high school students and 33 percent of young adults who had ever had sex reported getting tested for HIV.
The findings were concerning, as in 2006 the CDC recommended everyone between the ages of 13 and 64 be tested for HIV, Reuters reported. The CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend HIV testing to be offered as routine care for teenagers and young adults, and at least annual visits for people at high-risk of infection, such as gay or bisexual males and intravenous drug users, according to an AP report.
Researchers looked at data from high school students from 2005 to 2013 and young adults from 2011 to 2013. There was no increase in testing among high school or young adult males from this time period, regardless of gender or race. For young women, screening decreased from about 42 percent to 40 percent. For white women, HIV testing declined from about 37 percent to 34 percent, and from 69 percent to 60 percent for black women.
Testing men who have sex with men for HIV and immediately treating those who are HIV positive could greatly reduce new infections among the MSM population as a whole, at least in the Netherlands, Medscape reports. Publishing their findings in Science Translational Medicine, researchers analyzed medical records data as well as genetic information about the virus in 617 recently diagnosed Dutch MSM, in order to make estimates about the likely source of their infections.
An estimated 71 percent of the new HIV cases transmitted from undiagnosed men, 22 percent from men who were diagnosed but not on antiretrovirals (ARVs), 6 percent from men who had started treatment, and 1 percent of diagnosed men who had not been linked to medical care within 18 months. About 43 percent of the transmissions derived from men infected for less than a year.
The researchers estimated that 19 percent of the new HIV cases could have been averted if MSM tested annually for HIV and if those who tested positive were immediately provided treatment. (Half of the at-risk men tested at least annually.) Two-thirds of cases could have been averted if all men testing positive received ARVs and if Truvada (tenofovir/emtricitabine) as pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) was provided to half of all men testing negative.
The researchers concluded that their findings support making PrEP available worldwide.
To read the study abstract, click here.
If you’re looking for LGBTQ-friendly health care in Western PA, you can now download the Western PA GLBTQ Health Directory for 2016. The listing was compiled by the Pitt Men’s Study at the University of Pittsburgh, the Gay and Lesbian Community Center, Persad Center and the Pittsburgh AIDS Task Force. The list includes mental health professionals, HIV testing and medical care, primary care doctors and dentists. The 2016 list is an expansion on past lists and includes care providers in southwestern PA.
From the New York Times…
Following up on a preliminary recommendation it made a year ago, the Food and Drug Administration said on Monday that the agency would scrap a decades-old lifetime prohibition on blood donation by gay and bisexual men.
The agency continued to bar men who have had sex with men in the past year, however, saying the measure was needed to keep the blood supply safe.
Gay rights groups considered the lifting of the lifetime ban a major stride toward ending a discriminatory national policy, but had wanted blanket bans for gay men to be removed entirely. Donations should be considered on an individual basis, critics said, as some gay men — like some heterosexual men and women — are at far higher risk of H.I.V. infection than others.
GMHC, the advocacy group formerly known as Gay Men’s Health Crisis, harshly criticized the 12-month delay. Kelsey Louie, the group’s chief executive officer, said it “ignores the modern science of H.I.V.-testing technology while perpetuating the stereotype that all gay and bisexual men are inherently dangerous.”
The Food and Drug Administration enacted the lifetime ban in 1983, early in the AIDS epidemic. The virus that would become known as H.I.V. was discovered that year, and no way to test for it in donations existed.
Now, however, tests can tell whether donated blood contains the virus in as little as nine days after the donor has been infected. The “window period” — during which a unit of donated blood might test negative but still infect the recipient — is the reason for continuing time-based bans on people who engage in various kinds of high-risk behavior.
Read the full on the New York Times.