Vitamin D sufficiency may speed up immune recovery during HAART


vitimin D aids HARRTThere are an estimated 33 million people infected with HIV worldwide – 1.2 million of them in the US. The advent in 1996 of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) – a combination of different classes of medications taken daily – means that for many patients who have access to the medication, what was once a fatal diagnosis can now be managed as a chronic disease.

For their study, Prof. Ezeamama and colleagues examined 18 months of data for 398 HIV-positive adults on HAART.

The data included a measure of participants’ vitamin D levels at the start of the trial (baseline) and their CD4 cell counts at months 0, 3, 6, 12 and 18.

In their analysis, the researchers looked at how the changes in CD4 cell counts related to the baseline levels of vitamin D over the study period.

They found that participants with sufficient levels of vitamin D at baseline recovered more of their immune function than participants with vitamin D deficiency.

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Chemsex rise prompts public health warning


The growth in use of illegal psychoactive substances during sex could pose an increasing risk to public health, experts say. The popularity of “chemsex” – mostly but not exclusively among gay men – is leading some sexual health services to set up special clinics to treat the consequences of drugs such as GHB, GBL and crystal meth.

chemsex and gay healthUsers are turning to such sources to lower inhibitions and increase pleasure, according to an editorial in the BMJ by experts in sexual health and drug misuse. Its authors warn of a “small but important” increase in the use of mental health services by chemsex drug users. Psychological and physiological dependence on the drugs can become permanent, they say.

“Chemsex drug users often describe losing days – not sleeping or eating for up to 72 hours – and this may harm their general health. Users may present too late to be eligible for post-exposure prophylaxis for HIV transmission.” say the authors. “An increased number of sexual partners may also increase the risk of acquiring other sexually transmitted infections. Data from service users suggest an average of five sexual partners per session and that unprotected sex is the norm.”

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Gonorrhea rising among gay and bi men


gonorrhea on the rise according to the CDCDiagnoses of gonorrhea among men who have sex with men are apparently rising in the United States. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) researchers, in order to determine demographic information, interviewed a random sample of individuals diagnosed with the sexually transmitted infection (STI) in 12 areas across the country between 2010 and 2013. The researchers then used census and Gallup opinion polling data to estimate the respective sizes of the U.S. MSM, heterosexual male, and female populations by age group at the state, county and city levels.

In 2010, there were an estimated 1,169.7 diagnoses of gonorrhea per 100,000 MSM. In other words, about 1.17 percent of MSM contracted the STI that year. This rate rose 26 percent in three years, hitting 1,474.4 diagnoses per 100,000 MSM, or 1.47 percent, in 2013. Looking at MSM according to age bracket, those between 25 and 29 years of age  had the highest diagnosis rate: 3,400 per 100,000, or 3.4 percent.

During the study period, gonorrhea diagnosis rate among MSM was between 10.7 and 13.9 times higher than that of women or heterosexual men. While the researchers speculate that the rising gonorrhea rates may be indicative of a national trend, they caution that the data in this study is not nationally representative.

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Exactly zero men on PrEP contract HIV in 2.5-year study



Zero men on PrEP get HIV new study findsAfter two and a half years of trials, a new study has found no new HIV infections among a group of people on pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP). For 32 months, researchers at the Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in San Francisco tracked the health of over 600 people as they used Truvada daily to prevent the virus in a real-world setting.

The average age of the study participants was 37, and 99 percent were men who have sex with men. The average length of individual usage was 7.2 months. Members of this group also reported a higher likelihood of having multiple sex partners than those not using PrEP. No one in the study contracted HIV.

Lead author Jonathan Volk, a physician at Kaiser Permanente San Francisco, emphasized that this is the first time such a study has been done in a clinical practice setting at this size. The findings were published Wednesday in Clinical Infectious Diseases, a leading journal of studies on infection disease.

Continue reading.

The medical staff at the Pitt Men’s Study emphasize that PrEP is not a substitute for condoms. It should be used in addition to condoms, to further reduce your risk. It is also important to note that PrEP doesn’t protect against other STDs like syphilis, chlamydia, and gonorrhea. To learn more about PrEP, check out the CDC’s Website. If you have questions about PrEP, you can speak to your doctor. You can also call the PrEP clinic at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center: (412) 647-0996.

Health Alert for men who have sex with men

syphilis rising among gay and bi menPennsylvania (and the Pittsburgh area in particular) is still experiencing an alarming increase in syphilis cases, primarily among men who have sex with men (MSM). Over the last 5 years, Pennsylvania’s MSM community has experienced an 85% increase in syphilis infections. MSM represented approximately 65% of all new syphilis cases reported in the state.

Syphilis is a sexually transmitted infection. If it goes untreated, it can lead to serious health problems including paralysis, blindness, and dementia.   In the late stages, the disease can damage internal organs and can result in death.  In its early stages, syphilis is 100% curable with simple antibiotics.

You can get syphilis and not have any symptoms, so the only way to know you’re infected is to get a simple blood test.

As a result of the increase in syphilis cases, the Pennsylvania Department of Health recommends that all sexually active MSM get a routine syphilis test every 6 months. Several locations around the state have free syphilis testing, click on this link to find testing near you:

To find out more about Syphilis, go to the CDC’s Website.

H.I.V. treatment should start at diagnosis, U.S. health officials say

From the New York Times

People with H.I.V. should be put on antiretroviral drugs as soon as they learn they are infected, federal health officials said Wednesday as they announced that they were halting the largest ever clinical trial of early treatment because its benefits were already so clear.

The study was stopped more than a year early because preliminary data already showed that those who got treatment immediately were 53 percent less likely to die during the trial or develop AIDS or a serious illness than those who waited.

The study is strong evidence that early treatment saves more lives, the officials said. Fewer than 14 million of the estimated 35 million people infected with H.I.V. around the world are on treatment now, according to U.N.AIDS, the United Nations AIDS-fighting agency. In the United States, only about 450,000 of the estimated 1.2 million with H.I.V. are on treatment, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“This is another incentive to seek out testing and start therapy early, because you will benefit,” said Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Disease, which sponsored the trial. “The sooner, the better.”

Continue reading on the New York Times. 11 bad habits killing LGBT people

From the

ThinkstockPhotos-466033241X633We’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.