Syphilis on the rise among gay, bisexual men: CDC

From HealthDay.com
By Steven Reinberg

The number of cases of syphilis in the United States jumped 10 percent from 2012 to 2013, with gay and bisexual men accounting for 75 percent of the increase, U.S health officials reported Tuesday.

Rates of another sexually transmitted disease — chlamydia — fell for the first time in 30 years, with more than 1.4 million reported cases in 2013. This represented a 1.5 percent decrease from 2012, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“There are over 20 million cases of sexually transmitted diseases [STDs] every year in the United States, and they continue to pose a risk of lifelong complications for millions of Americans,” said Dr. Jonathan Mermin, director of CDC’s National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention.

According to the report, 17,357 cases of syphilis were reported in 2013 — a rate of 5.5 per 100,000 people.

There are a variety of reasons that put gay and bisexual men at high risk for syphilis, said Mermin.

“Some are the high number of sexual partners and sexual networks that create a vicious cycle where the prevalence of syphilis is higher. And that leads to higher incidence, which leads to higher prevalence, and that cycle can increase the frequency of infection,” he said.

Continue reading on HealthDay.

Smoking doubles risk of death for patients taking HIV therapy

From aidsmap.com

Smoking doubles the mortality risk for people with HIV taking antiretroviral therapy, a study published in AIDS shows. Smokers had an increased risk of death from cardiovascular disease (CVD) and non-AIDS-related cancers, and the life expectancy of a 35-year-old man with HIV was reduced by almost eight years due to smoking. “Smoking was associated with a two-fold increase in mortality,” comment the authors. “More than a third of all non-AIDS related malignant deaths were from lung cancer and all deaths from lung cancer were in smokers.”

The benefits of not smoking were clear. HIV-positive non-smokers who were doing well on antiretroviral therapy had a similar life expectancy to non-smokers in the general population.

With the right treatment and care, people living with HIV can have a normal life expectancy. However, mortality rates remain higher among people with HIV compared to the background population. The reasons for this are unclear, but important causes of death among people with HIV now include smoking-related diseases such as heart and lung complaints and non-AIDS-related malignancies.

Investigators therefore wanted to determine the association between smoking and mortality risk among people taking HIV therapy.

Continue reading on aidsmap.com.

Health Alert – Syphilis infections among gay and bi men growing at an alarming rate

The Allegheny County Health Department has documented an alarming, ongoing increase in Syphilis infections among men who have sex with men in the greater Pittsburgh area. Syphilis is a sexually transmitted disease that, if untreated, can cause serious health problems. You can get Syphilis and not have any initial symptoms so the only way to know you’re infected is to get a simple blood test. Syphilis is 100% curable.

The Health Department suggests all sexually active gay and bi men get tested for Syphilis. To find free testing near you, go to https://gettested.cdc.gov/.

You can also call the Allegheny Health Department to find out more about getting a free test: (412) 578-8332.

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To find out more about Syphilis go to the CDC Website at http://www.cdc.gov/std/syphilis/

To read the official Allegheny Health Department press release, Syphilis health alert November 17 2014.

The treatment cascade in the United States – good in Ryan White programmes, but overall picture for gay men is poor

From aidsmap.com

People living with HIV in the United States who receive their care through the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program have good rates of retention and virological suppression, investigators report in the online edition of Clinical Infectious Diseases. Of the patients seen at least once in 2011, some 82% were retained in care and 73% achieved virological suppression.

These outcomes dwarf those seen for most people living with HIV in the US – previous reports have estimated that as few as 40% were retained in care and 19% had achieved virological suppression.

A second new report focuses on gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men, demonstrating that outcomes continue to be unacceptably poor in this group. Of those who have ever been diagnosed with HIV, 51% were retained in care and 42% achieved virological suppression.

However, both new studies found that outcomes were poorer in younger people, African American people and some other ethnic groups.

Continue reading on aidsmap.com

Kaiser Family Foundation releases new alarming report reflecting gay and bisexual men’s attitudes, knowledge, and experiences with HIV/AIDS

From Gay Men’s Health Crisis

On Thursday, September 25, 2014, the Kaiser Family Foundation released a new alarming report reflecting gay and bisexual men’s attitudes, knowledge, and experiences with HIV/AIDS and new HIV therapies in the United States. Their survey on HIV/AIDS in the lives of gay and bisexual men in the United States reports that 56% of gay and bisexual men are not personally concerned about HIV or AIDS affecting them and 30% have never been tested for HIV.

“HIV/AIDS might not be a death sentence anymore, but there are still 50,000 new infections in the United States every year-and gay and bisexual men are still among those most at risk,” said GMHC CEO Kelsey Louie. ” The Kaiser Family Foundation study is a needed wake-up call that communicating the correct information about HIV and AIDS to the public has never been more critical. We must do more to educate our gay and bisexual men about how HIV and AIDS can affect them, and how life-saving medications like PrEP and PEP can help them prevent HIV infections and stay healthy.”

Additional Background:
Eight out ten gay and bisexual men surveyed also said that they have heard a little or nothing about PrEP, a life-saving medication that can prevent HIV-infections. Additional findings from the survey can be found here. The Foundation’s survey comes on the heels of a new CDC report showing that 58% of gay and bisexual men diagnosed with HIV are not virally suppressed.

Health Alert for men in Pennsylvania – Syphilis on the rise again

The Pennsylvania Department of Health in conjunction with the Allegheny County Health Department (ACHD) has documented an alarming increase in Syphilis cases, primarily among men who have sex with men (MSM) in Allegheny County. As of September 10, 2014, the ACHD has reported 67 cases of early Syphilis which now exceeds the total of 63 cases reported in all of 2013. Here is a breakdown of the data:
·       54% of the cases have been reported individuals under the age of 30
·       96% of the cases reported were male
·       75% of the male cases reported with MSM risk factors (had sex with other men)
·       39% of the male cases were co-infected with HIV
You can get Syphilis and not have any symptoms so the only way to know you’re infected is to get tested with a simple blood test.   And if you do have symptoms, note that Syphilis has any number of symptoms that can look like symptoms from other diseases. One example is a painless sore that you would get after you are first infected can be confused for an ingrown hair, zipper cut, or other seemingly harmless bump.  Another example is a rash over the body that can sometimes (but not always) involve the palms of the hands and the soles of the feet. As a result of the uptick in Syphilis cases, we are recommending that all sexually active MSM get a Syphilis test. The PA Department of Health as well as the Centers for Disease Control recommend that all sexually active MSM receive full STD screening (including HIV) annually.  The Pitt Men’s Study offers testing for syphilis (as well as testing for Gonorrhea and Chlamydia) as part of your routine study visit.  Free testing is also available at the Allegheny County Department of Health.  

To find testing near you, check out the CDC testing database at http://hivtest.cdc.gov/

To find out more about Syphilis specifically, go to http://www.cdc.gov/std/syphilis/stdfact-syphilis.htm

To subscribe to Pitt Men’s Study Health Alerts, send an email to rgy2@pitt.edu with the word “subscribe” in the subject line.

To find out more about Health Alerts, go to http://pittmensstudy.com/health-alerts/

Smoking and HIV – One man’s story


Smoking is especially dangerous for people who are living with HIV, the virus that can cause AIDS. Brian learned that lesson the hard way, when he had a stroke—a brain attack—at age 43. In this video, Brian talks about surviving HIV-related medical problems—then nearly losing his life because of smoking.  See All Brian’s videos.

And from LOGO online…

Smoking now leads to more deaths in the LGBT community than HIV according to the Centers for Disease Control, which also reports that while 20.5% of heterosexuals smoke, 30.8% of  gay people use tobacco products. “We know that approximately one million LGBT people [in the U.S.] will die early from tobacco-related causes,” says Dr. Scout from the Network for LGBT Health Equity. “We want to save those lives instead.”

I you’re HIV-positive and smoke, the combination can take even more years off your life: According to the Network for LGBT Health Equity, being HIV-positive takes an average of 5.1 years off one’s life, but people who smoke and have HIV die 12.3 years earlier on average. Yet the smoking rate is two to three times higher among adults who are HIV-positive than in the general public.