Posted by administrator on May 6, 2013
May 1 marks the start of the month-long observance of Hepatitis Awareness Month. The observance is an important element of government-wide efforts to raise awareness about viral hepatitis and decrease health disparities by educating communities about the benefits of viral hepatitis prevention, testing, care, and treatment.
Throughout the month of May, HHS and our partners who support the Action Plan for the Prevention, Care and Treatment of Viral Hepatitis will be engaged in a variety of activities to increase awareness—among the public and healthcare providers—about viral hepatitis, including the importance of testing, the availability of care and treatment, and associated adverse health effects resulting from undiagnosed and untreated viral hepatitis. In the coming weeks, we’ll be sharing several blog posts about implementation of the Action Plan. On May 19, we will observe the second annual Hepatitis Testing Day. Viral hepatitis is the leading cause of liver cancer and the most common reason for liver transplantation in the United States. An estimated 4.4 million Americans are living with chronic hepatitis; most do not know they are infected. This places them at greater risk for severe, even fatal, complications from the disease and increases the likelihood that they will spread the virus to others.
Hepatitis Testing Day was established in the Action Plan as a means to raise awareness and educate health care providers and the public about who should be tested for chronic viral hepatitis. Unfortunately, many communities and populations remain uninformed about various facets of viral hepatitis, including associated adverse health effects, the need for testing and care, and the availability of vaccines (for hepatitis A and hepatitis B) and treatment – especially priority populations at high risk for viral hepatitis, such as injection drug users; people living with HIV; gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men; baby boomers (people born between 1945-1965); African Americans; and Asians and Pacific Islanders.
Please join us in promoting both of these important observances—Hepatitis Awareness Month and Hepatitis Testing Day—to enhance public awareness of viral hepatitis prevention, testing, care and treatment across the United States. Here are a few things you can do:
- Learn more about awareness activities, including testing events, taking place in communities around the country to mark Hepatitis Testing Day. This page from CDC allows people to search for Hepatitis Testing Day events taking place near them in May. Event organizers can also list their events.
- Review the web badges, digital tools, fact sheets, posters and other resources available from CDC on this page and find one you can use this month.
- Take this 5-minute online hepatitis risk assessment developed by the CDC and get a personalized report on hepatitis testing and vaccination recommendations.
- Read more about the Viral Hepatitis Action Plan on our recently updated page.
Won’t you please commit to learning more yourself and/or sharing information about viral hepatitis with at least two other people this month? Working together, we can raise greater awareness about the epidemic of viral hepatitis in the United States and, in so doing, make great strides in improving the health of persons who are at risk for or living with viral hepatitis.
Posted in Education, Health Alerts, In the News | Leave a Comment »
Posted by administrator on April 3, 2013
On March 25, 2013, the New York State Department of Health (DOH) expanded a recommendation issued earlier in March by the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (NYCDOHMH) regarding meningococcal vaccinations for men who have sex with men (MSM). These meningococcal vaccine recommendations have been issued in response to an outbreak of invasive meningococcal disease (IMD) in New York City.
Meningococcal disease is a severe bacterial infection of the bloodstream. Common symptoms include high fever, headache, vomiting, stiff neck, and a rash. Symptoms may occur two to 10 days after exposure, but usually within five days. Since 2010, 22 men residing in NYC and one man who resides outside the City, but spent significant time there, have become ill in this outbreak, seven have died.
The recommendation by DOH has been expanded to include MSM residing outside NYC who have traveled to the city and engaged in the risk behaviors described below since September 1, 2012.
The following groups were identified by NYCDOHMH as being at highest risk of IMD and are being advised to obtain a quadravalent meningococcal vaccination:
• All HIV-infected MSM
• MSM, regardless of HIV status, who regularly have close or intimate sexual contact with men met through an online website, digital application (“app”) or at a bar or party. (Previously, meningococcal vaccination was recommended only for those with contact in certain high risk areas in New York City.)
More information about the meningococcal disease outbreak among at-risk men is available here. Contact your health care provider or local department of health if you need to be vaccinated.
Posted in Consumer Information, Health Alerts | Leave a Comment »
Posted by administrator on February 13, 2013
From Huffington Post Gay Voices:
A new survey focused on gay and bisexual men who use apps such as Grindr, Scruff and Manhunt to meet sexual partners found that nearly half had engaged in unprotected sex.
Conducted by New York’s Community Healthcare Network (CHN), “Zero Feet Away: Perpective on HIV/AIDS and Unprotected Sex in Men Who Have Sex With Men Utilizing Location-based Mobile Apps” found that although 80 percent of respondents said they were knowledgable in how the HIV virus was transmitted, 46.4 percent admitted to having bareback sex always, often or sometimes.
The most frequently-cited reason for barebacking among the 725 gay and bisexual men who were surveyed was “with condoms, [sex] does not feel the same.” The poll reportedly received responses from men in Australia, South America, Europe, the United Kingdom, Canada and the U.S.
“Clearly, we’ve come a long way in educating people about HIV and AIDS,” Dr. Freddy Molano, Assistant Vice President of HIV Programs and Services at CHN, said in the report. “Yet among certain populations, HIV/AIDS is on the ride, and that’s alarming.”
Added co-author Renato Barucco: “The survey findings show a clear disconnect between the reasons why men engage in unprotected anal intercourse and the way prevention initiatives attempt to address risk behaviors.”
Read the full survey here.
Posted in Consumer Information, Education, Health Alerts, In the News | Leave a Comment »
Posted by administrator on January 14, 2013
From the Huffington Post:
We’re honoring Cervical Health Awareness Month by bringing you the latest information on human papillomavirus, the virus associated with cervical cancer — and with several other types of cancer, including anal, penile and oropharyngeal cancer. HPV is also the virus underlying genital warts. Although much of the conversation about the virus relates to women’s health — cervical cancer is the most common HPV-related cancer by magnitudes — there are many health concerns that uniquely or disproportionately affect men. These include genital warts and anal cancers. And since HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the world, it affects a massive percentage of the male population, as well.
Read more on the Huffington Post.
Posted in Health Alerts, In the News | Leave a Comment »
Posted by administrator on January 7, 2013
A quadruple-dose flu vaccine for the elderly also provides better protection for people with HIV, researchers reported Tuesday in the first of several studies to publish results of high-dose vaccine for people with compromised immune systems.
The team of researchers from Philadelphia institutions will ask a federal advisory committee to recommend high-dose vaccination for HIV-positive people, said Pablo Tebas, an infectious-diseases physician at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and senior author of the paper in Annals of Internal Medicine.
Read the full article on the Philadelphia Enquirer online.
Posted in Health Alerts, In the News | Leave a Comment »
Posted by administrator on December 14, 2012
From the AIDS.gov blog:
Trend data released today in CDC’s 2011 STD Surveillance Report show that primary and secondary syphilis rates are increasing among gay and bisexual men, who now account for more than 70% of all infections.
Annual syphilis surveillance data published in the just released 2011 STD Surveillance Reportcontinue to emphasize the disproportionate burden of disease among gay and bisexual men. While the health problems caused by syphilis in adults are serious in their own right, it has been shown that the genital sores caused by syphilis make it easier to transmit and acquire HIV infection sexually. There is an estimated 2- to 5-fold increased risk of acquiring HIV if exposed to that infection when syphilis is present, and studies have also shown that syphilis will increase the viral load of someone who is already HIV infected. This is especially concerning, as data from several major cities throughout the country indicate that an average of four in 10 MSM with syphilis are also infected with HIV. The stakes are too high to ignore these health disparities. It is critically important that syphilis infections among MSM be promptly diagnosed and treated in order to decrease the rates of subsequent HIV infection.
Read more on AIDS.gov.
Posted in Health Alerts, In the News, Research | Leave a Comment »
Posted by administrator on December 6, 2012
From the Pittsburgh Post Gazette:
Now that the flu season has officially begun — the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said so Monday — Allegheny County Health Department Interim Director Ronald E. Voorhees has a message for those still unprotected:
“Get vaccinated. It’s here, and the clock is ticking.”
According to the CDC’s weekly surveillance report published Friday, 48 states and Puerto Rico have reported cases of laboratory-confirmed influenza and, nationally, the percentage of specimens testing positive for influenza is rising fast. Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee and Texas all are reporting above-normal cases of flu. Such an uptick usually doesn’t happen until after Christmas.
Read more: allegheny-county-health-director-urges-vaccinations-amid-flu-uptick
Posted in Consumer Information, Health Alerts, In the News | Leave a Comment »
Posted by administrator on December 4, 2012
By Ronald Valdiserri, M.D., M.P.H., Deputy Assistant Secretary for Health, Infectious Diseases, and Director, Office of HIV/AIDS and Infectious Disease Policy, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
As daylight hours get shorter and temperatures are falling, we’re not only approaching winter but also flu season. While we can all find ways to enjoy the change of seasons, no one enjoys the flu — a contagious respiratory illness caused by flu viruses spread between people. Seasonal flu is a special concern if you are a person living with HIV (PLWH) since HIV can make your body too weak to fight off the flu. HIV also increases your risk for serious flu-related complications. Experts agree that getting the flu vaccine is the most effective way to prevent the flu.
CDC has designated this week as National Influenza Vaccination Awareness Week, so we encourage you to learn more about the seasonal flu and take steps to protect yourself. Here are some resources to help you:
Remember, it is not too late to get your yearly flu vaccine to protect against the flu viruses experts predict will spread this season. As long as flu viruses are spreading and causing illness, vaccination can provide protection against the flu.
Posted in Consumer Information, Health Alerts | Leave a Comment »
Posted by administrator on November 28, 2012
From the CDC:
In a recent report published on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Website, researchers concluded that a “disproportionate number of new HIV infections occurs among youths, especially blacks/African Americans, Hispanics/Latinos, and men who have sex with men (MSM).”
The report went on to say that although the number of new HIV infections is highest among men, fewer men have been tested for HIV (as compared to women). Routine HIV testing as part of regular medical care was therefore recommended by the CDC for everyone. In addition, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends testing for all youths by age 16–18. They also recommend testing for all sexually active youths regardless of age.
Better adherence to these guidelines, especially for men, is needed to increase early HIV diagnosis and treatment. Treatment is not only critical for the health of the person infected, it is also critical in reducing the chances of spreading the infection to others.
Other key points from the CDC report:
- Youths aged 13–24 years account for 7% of the estimated 1.1 million persons living with HIV in the United States.
- In 2010, 26% of estimated new HIV infections were among youths: 57% among blacks/African Americans, 20% among Hispanic/Latinos, and 20% among whites.
- Nearly 75% of the 12,200 new HIV infections among youths were attributable to male-to-male sexual contact.
- Only a low percentage of youths have been tested for HIV, and 60% of youths with HIV are unaware of their infection.
- Young males who have sex with males are at increased risk for HIV because of high rates of HIV in potential sex partners, and they are more likely to engage in HIV-related risk behaviors (e.g., unprotected sexual intercourse and injection drug use) than other male or female high school students.
The report concludes:
More effort is needed to provide effective school- and community-based interventions to ensure all youths, particularly MSM, have the knowledge, skills, resources, and support necessary to avoid HIV infection. Health-care providers and public health agencies should ensure that youths are tested for HIV and have access to sexual health services, and that HIV-positive youths receive ongoing health-care and prevention services.
To read the full report, you can go to the CDC’s Website: http://www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns.
Posted in Health Alerts, Research | Leave a Comment »
Posted by administrator on September 24, 2012
One of the most often asked questions regarding sex and HIV is “can I get HIV from oral sex without using a condom?”
The short answer is yes. Although a lot of sexual health experts put oral sex into the “safer sex” category, there is a degree of risk. Using condoms for oral sex is your safest bet. With that said, if you’re not going to use a condom, the following are ways to reduce your risk even more:
- Don’t brush or floss your teeth for at least an hour before giving head. You can use a mouthwash, breath mint, or gum instead. This will keep the number of tears and cuts in our mouth to a minimum.
- Try not to eat abrasive foods (like tortilla chips, French bread, pretzels, etc.) for the same reasons.
- In general, it’s also a good idea to maintain excellent oral hygiene to prevent the possibility of easy tears/cuts in the mouth. If your gums bleed when you brush, you need to step up your oral hygiene—talk to your dentist about what to do.
- Avoid getting semen in your mouth; semen contains active HIV. If you do get semen in your mouth, as the saying goes, “Swallow or spit, just don’t let it sit.” The longer semen in your mouth, the more potential for HIV to find an entry point into your body.
- Avoid deep throating since this can cause abrasions in the throat. Pre-cum/semen can come into contact with these abrasions, creating an effective entry point for HIV infection.
For more information about oral sex and HIV, you can check out the following links: http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/resources/factsheets/pdf/oralsex.pdf and http://www.thebody.com/Forums/AIDS/SafeSex/Q9080.html
Posted in Health Alerts | Leave a Comment »