Dept of Health launches program providing coverage for uninsured with Hep C and HIV

 
Harrisburg, PA – Pennsylvania Secretary of Health Dr. Karen Murphy and Secretary of Aging Teresa Osborne announced today the Special Pharmaceutical Benefits Program (SPBP) is implementing a pilot program offering no cost coverage of hepatitis C antiviral medications for individuals with a dual diagnosis of HIV and hepatitis C. This pilot program will be a collaboration between the Department of Health (DOH) and the Department of Aging (PDA).
 
“Protecting Pennsylvania’s more vulnerable residents is one of the Wolf Administration’s primary objectives,” said Secretary Murphy. “Providing drug coverage for individuals suffering from hepatitis C or HIV who couldn’t otherwise afford the proper medical treatments is a part of our goal to ensure that every resident of the commonwealth has the ability to access needed medication.” 
 
The $13 million, six-month program will be made available to hundreds of low-income Pennsylvanians with both hepatitis C and HIV and is funded through additional pharmaceutical liability recoveries made by the Department of Aging’s Pharmaceutical Assistance Contract for the Elderly program (PACE), which offers low-cost prescription medication to qualified residents, age 65 and older.
 
“The opportunity to partner with the Department of Health on this pilot program  is an exciting opportunity to leverage 30-plus years of experience administering an effective prescription drug program with the Wolf Administration’s steadfast commitment to support the health of and improve the quality of life for all Pennsylvanians,” said Secretary of Aging Teresa Osborne. 
 
The SPBP is Pennsylvania’s AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP), which is funded by a federal grant through the Health Resources and Services Administration Ryan White HIV/AIDS Part B Program. The SPBP plays a vital role in providing access to medications for people living with HIV, including those with hepatitis C co-infection. The program serves low to moderate income individuals who are underinsured or uninsured and have a diagnosis of HIV. In addition to HIV viral load suppression, maintaining optimal overall health is equally vital to the management of HIV disease and increases the quality of life for commonwealth citizens.
 
Individuals eligible for or enrolled in other prescription plans must utilize those benefits prior to SPBP. For a full list of the medications, the approval criteria, request form and additional details, please go to the SPBP website at:www.health.pa.gov/spbpFor more information about the PACE program, call 1-800-225-7223.

February 7th is National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day

5February 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.

Read more.

Injected HIV treatment ready by 2017?

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.

HIV injection treatment “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.

CDC: A majority of teens are not getting tested for HIV

From suntimes.com

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.

teens not testingThe 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.

Read the full article.

Test-and-treat could slash new HIV infections among gay men

From POZ.com

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.

Ring in the New Year by getting the health care you need (and deserve)

Health Care Provider List 2016

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.

Additional health information can be found on our Health and Wellness and HIV Care and Health Resource pages

F.D.A. ends ban, allowing some blood donations by gay men

 

From the New  York Times

gay men can donate bloodFollowing 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.