Combating HIV by zip code

Minority neighborhoods in the U.S. are hit as hard by HIV as gay enclaves

From Healthline.com

HIV rates in some urban American neighborhoods rival those of Haiti and Ethiopia, according to a researcher at Brown University in Providence, R.I.

And while affected communities include big-city gay enclaves, such as New York’s Chelsea district, minority neighborhoods in the Bronx and Harlem make the list, too. The difference is that those in mostly white neighborhoods are more likely to be tested and treated than those in minority neighborhoods.They are also less likely to die of AIDS.

In an era of Internet targeting, Dr. Amy Nunn’s approach of going door-to-door if necessary to reach people with HIV may seem old-fashioned. But in areas with limited access to health care, employment, and education, HIV experts agree that a new model is needed to reach at-risk groups of black and Hispanic Americans.

Of the 50,000 new HIV infections in the U.S. in 2010, gay and bisexual men accounted for two-thirds of them, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Black men and women are eight times more likely to become infected than whites, based on population size. Of all groups, white men who had sex with men comprised the largest segment of new infections, at 11,200. Black men who had sex with men were second, with 10,600 new infections.

Dr. Nunn, an assistant professor of medicine at Brown, told Healthline that more money must be targeted toward poor and minority neighborhoods. “If this were happening to white people there would be protests,” she said. “It’s so easy to overlook poor people.”

Of the more than 1.1 million people in the U.S. living with HIV, almost 16 percent don’t know they have it, according to the CDC. Powerful antiretroviral medications available to most everyone in the U.S. can suppress viral loads to the point that transmission is unlikely. But they will only work if they are taken regularly.

“We’ve got to get these people into treatment come hell or high water,” Nunn said.

Continue reading on Healthline.com.

Weekly clinic geared toward LGBTQ clients in Pittsburgh

research pageFrom The Pittsburgh Post Gazette… 

The first weekly Community Clinic for lesbian, gay and transgender people will be held Thursday in downtown Pittsburgh. The clinic, with physician Stacy Lane, is the only one targeting LGBTQIA individuals with no age limits or income requirements. It will be held on the eighth floor at 810 Penn Ave. from 2 to 5:30 p.m. During the clinic hours, the Garden of Peace Project will supply testing for sexually transmitted diseases and Project Silk will provide HIV testing.

Charmaine Turner, founder and director of Step Up 2 Step Out, will host a hip-hop dance class at 4 p.m. The Garden of Peace Project and Project Silk, which are the hosts, invite other providers to host their own dance classes or other health-related group activities such as yoga, meditation and self-esteem workshops.

HIV-infected men at increased risk for heart disease, large study finds

NIH-Supported Research Also Identifies Predictors of Heart Disease Risk In This Group
Plaque buildup in the arteries that nourish the heart, a condition called coronary atherosclerosis, narrows the arteries and increases the risk for heart attack.

Plaque buildup in the arteries that nourish the heart, a condition called coronary atherosclerosis, narrows the arteries and increases the risk for heart attack.

The buildup of soft plaque in arteries that nourish the heart is more common and extensive in HIV-infected men than HIV-uninfected men, independent of established cardiovascular disease risk factors, according to a new study by National Institutes of Health grantees. The findings suggest that HIV-infected men are at greater risk for a heart attack than their HIV-uninfected peers, the researchers write in Annals of Internal Medicine. In addition, blockage in a coronary artery was most common among HIV-infected men whose immune health had declined the most over the course of their infection and who had taken anti-HIV drugs the longest, the scientists found, placing these men at even higher risk for a heart attack. “These findings from the largest study of its kind tell us that men with HIV infection are at increased risk for the development of coronary artery disease and should discuss with a care provider the potential need for cardiovascular risk factor screening and appropriate risk reduction strategies,” said Gary H. Gibbons, M.D., director of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), part of NIH. “Thanks to effective treatments, many people with HIV infection are living into their 50s and well beyond and are dying of non-AIDS-related causes¬—frequently, heart disease,” said Anthony S. Fauci, M.D., director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), also part of NIH. “Consequently, the prevention and treatment of non-infectious chronic diseases in people with HIV infection has become an increasingly important focus of our research.”

NIAID and NHLBI funded the study with additional support from the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences, part of NIH. Past studies of the association between heart disease and HIV infection have reached inconsistent conclusions. To help clarify whether an association exists, the current investigation drew participants from the Multicenter AIDS Cohort Study (MACS), a study of HIV/AIDS in gay and bisexual men established by NIAID nearly 30 years ago. “One advantage of the MACS is that it includes HIV-uninfected men who are similar to the HIV-infected men in the study in their sexual orientation, lifestyle, socioeconomic status and risk behavior, which makes for a good comparison group,” said Wendy S. Post, M.D., who led the study. Dr. Post is a professor of medicine and epidemiology at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore.

Another advantage was the MACS’ size, with nearly 7,000 men cumulatively enrolled, 1,001 of whom participated in the new study. The participants included 618 men who were HIV-infected and 383 who were not. All were 40 to 70 years of age, weighed less than 200 pounds, and had had no prior surgery to restore blood flow to the coronary arteries. Dr. Post and colleagues investigated whether the prevalence and extent of plaque buildup in coronary arteries, a condition called coronary atherosclerosis, is greater in HIV-infected men than HIV-uninfected men and whether that plaque is soft or hard. Coronary atherosclerosis, especially soft plaque, is more likely to be a precursor of heart attack than hard plaque.

The scientists found coronary atherosclerosis due to soft plaque in 63 percent of the HIV-infected men and 53 percent of the HIV-uninfected men. After adjusting for cardiovascular disease risk factors, including high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, high body mass index and smoking, the presence of soft plaque and the cumulative size of individual soft plaques were significantly greater in men with HIV infection.

In addition, by examining a subgroup of HIV-infected men, the scientists discovered two predictors of advanced atherosclerosis in this population. The first predictor deals with white blood cells called CD4+ T cells, which are the primary target of HIV and whose level, or count, is a measure of immune health. The researchers found that for every 100 cells per cubic millimeter decrease in a man’s lowest CD4+ T cell count, his risk of coronary artery blockage rose by 20 percent. The scientists also found that for every year a man had taken anti-HIV drugs, his risk of coronary artery blockage rose by 9 percent.

Because the investigators examined coronary artery plaque at a single point in time, further research is needed to determine whether coronary artery plaque in HIV-infected men is less likely to harden over time, or whether these men simply develop greater amounts of soft plaque, according to Dr. Post. In addition, she said, studies on therapies and behavioral changes to reduce risk for cardiovascular disease in men and women infected with HIV are needed to determine how best to prevent progression of atherosclerosis in this population.

 

Hook-up risks higher with non-gay-identified men

From the Washington Bladecraigslist image

A newly published study found evidence that men having sex with men use the Internet to find sexual partners who do not identify as gay, either to fulfill a fantasy or because it allows anonymous sexual encounters without discovery. The findings, conducted by Eric Schrimshaw, Ph.D. at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health and Martin Downing Jr., Ph. D. of the National Development and Research Institutes, were published in the online journal “Psychology of Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity” published by the American Psychological Association.

To examine the subgroup of men seeking non-gay-identified (NGI) men in the online sexual marketplace, the researchers reviewed 1,200 Internet personal ads posted on Craigslist and selected 282 for analysis. They performed comparisons of two categories of personal ads: those seeking encounters with NGI men, including straight, bisexual, married, curious and men on the “down low”; and a contrasting set of ads that did not specifically seek NGI men.

Among the ads studied, 11 percent were placed by men seeking NGI partners. Although men who posted NGI-seeking ads were more likely to self-identify as bisexual, married, and/or discreet and to seek out an anonymous encounter relative to the ads of comparison men, only 24 percent of online advertisements seeking NGI men were posted by men who were themselves non-gay-identified. This suggests that many of the posts are placed by gay men seeking NGI men, perceived by some gay men to be more masculine, dominant or “straight-acting.” Only a small number of ads by NGI-seeking men mentioned safe sex or condom use.

Obama appoints HIV/AIDS activist as new AIDS czar

From the Washington Times

President Obama on Monday appointed as his new AIDS czar Douglas Brooks, an activist on health care policy who has been living with the HIV virus for more than 20 years. Mr. Brooks has served most recently as senior vice president at the Justice Resource Institute in Boston, a nonprofit which provides outreach mental health treatment and services people with HIV/AIDS. He also has served on the National Black Gay Men’s Advocacy Coalition in Washington, and was appointed by Mr. Obama in 2010 to the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS. “Douglas’s policy expertise combined with his extensive experience working in the community makes him uniquely suited to the task of helping to achieve the goal of an AIDS-free generation, which is within our reach,” Mr. Obama said in a statement. “I look forward to having him lead our efforts from the White House.”

As director of the White House Office on National AIDS Policy, Mr. Brooks will lead the administration’s work to reduce new HIV infections, improve health outcomes for people living with HIV, and eliminate HIV health disparities in the United States, the White House said. A licensed social worker, Mr. Brooks replaces Dr. Grant Colfax, who served in the post for two years.

Read more: http://www.washingtontimes.com

The fight against HIV/AIDS is vital to a future without tuberculosis

From AIDS.gov

On Monday, March 24, 2014, the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) joined the international community in commemorating World TB Day and those who have lost their lives to this terrible disease; TB is second only to HIV/AIDS in global deaths due to infectious diseases. Moreover, the World Health Organization estimates that at least one-third of the nearly 36 million people living with HIV/AIDS are also infected with TB. TB is the leading cause of death among people living with HIV in sub-Saharan Africa. With these two diseases so closely linked, the 2015 Millennium Development Goal of a 50 percent reduction of TB-related deaths is integral to achieving an AIDS-free generation.

Despite the staggering cost of lives due to co-infection between TB and HIV, we at PEPFAR, in conjunction with our partners implementing TB programs around the world, are encouraged to see progress over the past few years in combatting co-infection. In 2012:

  • Rates of ART coverage among TB/HIV patients globally rose from 49 percent in 2011 to 57 percent.
  • 4.1 million people enrolled in HIV care were screened for TB in 2012, up from 3.5 million in 2011.
  • The percentage of TB patients who knew their HIV status rose from 69 percent in 2011 to 74 percent in sub-Saharan Africa.

The effects of co-infection between HIV and TB cannot be understated which is why PEPFAR addresses the deadly links between these two diseases as a top policy and programmatic priority. Our efforts are focused on prevention, care, and treatment programs as outlined in the 2012 PEPFAR Blueprint [PDF 2.83KB].

Read the full article on AIDS.gov.

Black voices: leveraging digital tools to reach and engage Black gay men

From AIDS.gov

More Americans than ever before have access to Internet-enabled technologies and are participating in online social networking platforms. This trend is particularly notable among women, African-Americans, and Latinos and provides hope that effective use of new social technologies could reshape how we reach, engage, and mobilize vulnerable populations such as Black gay men (BGM) and other men who have sex with men (MSM) who are disproportionately impacted by the domestic HIV epidemic. For example, recent data from the The Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project indicate that while the digital divide persists as it relates to Internet access, African-Americans use mobile devices at the same rate as their peers and lead the way in participation in social media such as Twitter.

There is little data available about how BGM/MSM are using social technologies. So, last year, as part of ongoing efforts to improve the health and wellbeing of BGM/MSM, The National Black Gay Men’s Advocacy Coalition (NBGMAC) launched a national survey to learn about the online communication habits of Black gay men. The survey’s goals are to better understand how BGM/MSM use the Internet to communicate and receive national health policy and advocacy information. The data gathered from this survey will contribute to our understanding of how to effectively leverage the Internet for outreach and engagement around health information and national policy issues of importance to BGM/MSM across the nation.

Preliminary survey data highlight the importance of social networking platforms like Facebook in connecting with communities of Black gay men and sharing health policy and advocacy information. The data also reflect a notable level of interest in biomedical HIV prevention tools like Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP). Findings like these point to the growing importance of making information available about HIV prevention in a way that meets the needs of the populations most impacted the epidemic. If you are a Black gay, bisexual or same-gender loving man, please take a moment to complete the brief survey and share with your networks. If not, please also consider sharing with any colleagues, friends or loved ones who may be willing to participate and help us to shed light on the communication, health information, and policy and advocacy needs of this underserved community.

To complete the survey, click here or copy and paste the survey’s URL into your Internet browser: http://svy.mk/15KFMwc .

Obamacare insurers prohibited from discriminating against same-sex marriages

From  the Washington Blade

The Obama administration clarified on Friday that insurers are prohibited from discriminating against same-sex marriages for the purposes of non-grandfathered family coverage — even if applicants are applying in non-marriage equality states. In guidance dated March 14, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid says existing provisions in the health care reform law prohibiting discrimination by insurers on the basis of gender — which the Obama administration has interpreted to extend non-discrimination protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity — also requires insurers not to refuse family coverage for married same-sex couples.

The guidance is set up as Q&A. The question is “If a health insurance issuer in the group or individual market offers coverage of an opposite-sex spouse, may the issuer refuse to offer coverage of a same-sex spouse?” The response starts off simply, “No.”

“This section prohibits an issuer from choosing to decline to offer to a plan sponsor (or individual in the individual market) the option to cover same-sex spouses under the coverage on the same terms and conditions as opposite sex-spouses,” the guidance states. Alicia Hartinger, a CMS spokesperson, said the guidance spells out that non-discrimination is the rule for insurers — both on and off the health insurance exchanges — when selling policies.

Continue reading on The Washington Blade.

 

First-of-its-kind LGBT health program at Penn

From the Penn Current

stock_17Neil Fishman, associate professor of medicine at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania (HUP), has experienced his share of uphill battles when it comes to creating imperative health initiatives. Arriving at Penn in 1988 as an infectious disease fellow, Fishman witnessed medical colleagues encounter significant barriers in developing an HIV/AIDS program that was crucial at a time when health professionals knew very little about the disease.

Fast forward to 2012, when Fishman’s colleague Baligh Yehia, an assistant professor of medicine at HUP, spearheaded the first-of-its-kind Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Health Program at Penn. As faculty adviser for the program, Fishman can now attest: The climate for responding to the needs of underserved communities is thriving at Penn. “It’s such a stark contrast to 25 years ago. There has been an overwhelming response and recognition of the need for the LGBT Health Program,” says Fishman. “I think it’s really a testimony to the people here at Penn, and also to the changing times and attitudes.”

But establishing the program, which launched in July 2013, has just been the first step on the road to provide comprehensive, inclusive health care for members of the LGBT community. The program is comprised of five core focus areas: institutional climate, patient care, community outreach, health education, and research. “LGBT health is increasingly being recognized as an important component of health care as we realize that LGBT individuals have increased disparities in care. Certain health conditions are more common in this population, such as HIV, colorectal cancers, and breast cancer in lesbians,” says Yehia, the program’s director. “We also know they face a lot of discrimination and stigma. Those feelings—as well as unfair or inequitable health care policies—have exaggerated these health disparities.” Coupled with those known disparities, which also include higher incidences of depression and alcohol and tobacco abuse, is the fact that very little data exists on LGBT populations.

Continue reading on the Penn Current online.

Staggering 12 % of young gay black men in Atlanta are getting HIV per year

AtlantaSnowFrom aidsmeds.com

A staggering 12 percent of young gay black men in Atlanta are contracting HIV each year, an incidence rate exceeding that of almost all other previously recorded figures in the world’s wealthier nations, aidsmap reports. At this rate, a sexually active black man who becomes sexually active at age 18 has a 60 percent chance of becoming HIV positive by the time he hits 30. Researchers presented these troubling findings at the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI) in Boston.

Researchers at Atlanta’s Emory School of Public Health uncovered this statistic in their InvolveMENt study, which was a longitudinal cohort study of black and white HIV-negative men who have sex with men (MSM) between the ages of 18 and 39. Of the 803 men initially recruited, 56 percent were black and the rest were white. Forty-four percent of the black men were HIV positive, compared with 13 percent of the whites. The study then followed 260 black and 302 white HIV-negative men for up to two years. Seventy-nine percent remained in the study through the follow-up, providing 832 person years of data.

The black men were 3.8 times more likely than the whites to acquire the virus. Ignoring the race of the man becoming infected, those who had black sexual partners were 4.5 times more likely to acquire the virus than those who did not. Unprotected sex raised the risk of becoming HIV positive by a factor of 4.8. Those who had partners at least a decade older were 2.8-times as likely to contract the virus.

Continue reading aidsmeds.com

Pitt will be part of $3.2M grant to help solve epidemic among African-American MSM

From the Pittsburgh Post Gazette

African-American men who have sex with other men typically are more conservative in sexual behavior than gay men in general. So why are they far more likely to contract HIV/AIDS?

“Generally, they take far fewer risks than white guys. They are much more conservative than gay men in general. But it’s a 30-year-long epidemiological puzzle,” said Ron Stall, in the department of behavioral and community health sciences at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health. “Where’s all the virus coming from? If you can’t answer that question, you can’t do HIV prevention.”

The graduate school and the Center for Black Equity in Washington, D.C., now hope to answer that question. They’ve landed a $3.2 million grant through the National Institute of Nursing Research at the National Institutes of Health to answer the question and help put the brakes on the national epidemic of human immunodeficiency virus and the deadly disease that HIV causes — acquired immune deficiency syndrome, known as AIDS. The research team plans to survey nearly 6,000 African-American men who attend annual Black Gay Pride events in Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., which draw about 300,000 participants annually.

“We will bring the community, and Pitt will bring the science,” said Earl Fowlkes, president and CEO of CBE. “We hope to get answers to help both institutions and all of society. This is the most important thing we’ve done in the history of our organization.” The study will create the largest sample of HIV-related data ever collected from African-American MSM, “and that will yield important data about the health and well-being of our community,” Mr. Fowlkes said.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/

University of Pennsylvania rolling out health initiative for LGBT individuals

From the University Herald online

The University of Pennsylvania is rolling out a health initiative for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals in an effort to bring them into the medical mainstream, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported. The Penn Program for LGBT Health will span the medical, dental and nursing schools as well as the region’s largest health system. Hospitals and universities have begun tackling LGBT health since issues like gay marriage have been gaining in public acceptance. “We really want to do more. We want to do research. We want to change the climate and culture,” Baligh Yehia, 31, an infectious-diseases doctor who spearheaded Penn’s program, told The Philadelphia Inquirer. “To really prepare the next generation of clinicians to be sensitive to the needs of people.”

The goal of the program is to improve the care of LGBT populations by becoming a local and national leader in LGBT patient care, education, research, and advocacy. The program will include a three-hour curriculum involving transgender health that is now mandatory for first-year students. The course will teach students about the human body with Trans examples, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported. For example instructors will use the body’s physiological changes during hormone therapy to help students understand the endocrine system. Medical students at the university will also receive less than five hours of training on LGBT issues courses on lesbian, gay and bisexual health. The idea for this program came out of a daylong planning retreat that the program’s organizers held in the fall.

Continue reading here.

February 7 is National Black HIV AIDS Awareness Day

Nat Black HIV wareness dayFriday, February 7 is National Black HIV AIDS Awareness Day (NBHAAD). There are many ways you can help increase HIV awareness and work to reduce the impact of HIV in the black community in support of NBHAAD. Check out this list of Ten Things You Can Do for NBHAAD. Also, please join the Twitter Town Hall sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and AIDSVu, with the NBHAAD Strategic Leadership Committee (Twitter: @NatBlackAIDSDay) and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) (Twitter: @NAACP). The theme is “How do we end the HIV epidemic in Black America?”and will take place on Friday, February 7 at 12 pm Eastern Time.

The hashtag #NBHAADchat will be used for the Twitter Town Hall. Everyone is encouraged to participate. For more information on NBHAAD or to find and NBHAAD event, go to http://nationalblackaidsday.org/.

Steroid use higher among gay and bi teen boys

Steroid RaidFrom the Washington Post

Gay and bisexual teen boys use illicit steroids at a rate almost six times higher than do straight kids, a “dramatic disparity” that points up a need to reach out to this group, researchers say. Reasons for the differences are unclear. The study authors said it’s possible gay and bi boys feel more pressure to achieve a bulked-up “ideal” male physique, or that they think muscle-building steroids will help them fend off bullies. Overall, 21 percent of gay or bisexual boys said they had ever used steroids, versus 4 percent of straight boys. The difference was similar among those who reported moderate use — taking steroid pills or injections up to 40 times: 8 percent of gay or bi teens reported that amount, versus less than 2 percent of straight boys. The heaviest use — 40 or more times — was reported by 4 percent of gays or bi boys, compared with less than 1 percent of straight teens.

The study is billed as the first to examine the problem; previous research has found similar disparities for other substance abuse. “It’s a bit sad that we saw such a large health disparity,” especially among the most frequent steroid users, said co-author Aaron Blashill, a psychologist and scientist with the Fenway Institute, the research arm of a Boston health center that treats gays and lesbians. “Given the dramatic disparity … it would seem that this is a population in which greater attention is needed,” the authors said.

Continue reading on the Washington Post.

Groundbreaking study aims to develop a cure for HIV

 

From The Philadelphia Gay News

With the support of a multimillion-dollar federal grant, several local organizations are taking part in a groundbreaking study that aims to develop a cure for HIV. The Wistar Institute, in partnership with Philadelphia FIGHT, the University of Pennsylvania, University of California and Merck, is undertaking a trial study based on a therapeutic strategy that has already shown promise at reducing HIV-1 virus levels.

Dr. Luis J. Montaner, a professor at The Wistar Institute and director of Wistar’s HIV-1 Immunopathogenesis Lab, and collaborators received a four-year, $6.2-million grant from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease of the National Institutes of Health to support the study. Montaner said his team has been pursuing the grant for several years. “There is a lot of preamble before the award is given,” he said. “We have been chasing the opportunity to do this study since 2011.”

The study is based on a prior pilot trial in which a protein called interferon-alpha was shown to reduce persistent HIV-1 in patients being treated with antiretroviral therapy. The grant will pay for the management of the clinical and administrative expenses of the study and for laboratory follow-up, which will allow researchers to calculate the study’s outcome. Montaner said the team will perform an initial evaluation of the study in mid-2016, and it will be finalized in 2018.

Read more: PGN-The Philadelphia Gay News

NY Health Department clears the way for PrEP

From DNAinfo New Yorktruvada

The drug, known by its prescription name Truvada, can reduce the chance of infection by as much as 73 percent, according to studies funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. However, the AIDS Institute stressed that PrEP alone was not enough to prevent new infections. “PrEP should not be offered as a sole intervention for HIV prevention. PrEP should only be prescribed as part of a comprehensive prevention plan,” the report says.

Advocates say the drug is needed, in combination with prophylactics including condoms, because the HIV infection rate in New York is growing among certain populations — including young men who have sex with men and injection drug users — even as the statewide infection rate is shrinking. “PrEP may be an effective option to augment behavior change in these high-risk populations,” according to the report, which found the new infections are primarily in minority communities.

Many AIDS organizations have recommended PrEP since the Food and Drug Administration approved it in July 2012, but the new state guidelines are a major step forward in increasing its use among at-risk populations, officials said. Advocates hope the state’s endorsement of the strategy will lead to more doctors prescribing it.

Continue reading here.

Legacy aims to end high rates of smoking by the LGBT community

From the Edge on the Net

Pennsylvania-Woman-Tells-Teens-to-Get-a-Job-Is-Shot-over-a-Cigarette-2Did you know that gays smoke cigarettes at rates nearly 70 percent higher than the general population, and tobacco companies target the LGBT community specifically? There are 440,000 preventable deaths from tobacco-related causes each year. Maybe it’s time to make that resolution happen, and let Legacy help you kick that butt for good.

“Legacy has been working to support the LGBT community since its inception, doing everything from funding grant projects to listening sessions, convening folks to talk about issues facing the community,” said Legacy’s Senior Vice President of Collaboration and Outreach William Furmanski. “Last year we had a report published with our findings and hosted a webinar to have a national dialogue.” Legacy is a Washington, D.C.-based foundation responsible for truth®, the national youth smoking prevention campaign that has been cited as contributing to significant declines in youth smoking. Their education campaigns include EX®, an innovative public health program designed to speak to smokers in their own language and change the way they approach quitting. Legacy helps people live longer, healthier lives by building a world where young people reject tobacco, and anyone can quit.

Furmanski cited statistics that reveal the LGBT community has some of the highest rates of smoking among any population group — in fact, dramatically higher than the public at large. This means that the disease and death caused by tobacco use impacts our community at a much higher rate. “Anything we can do to help individuals understand the risks in smoking and how they can improve their health by quitting, and strategies used by the tobacco industry to attract them to a product are important,” said Furmanski. “We realized that even just relaying these harms would help the LGBT community, because tobacco use takes a back seat to other health issues in our community like HIV/AIDS. Many people think smoking can be okay to deal with the stress in life.”

Read the full article on edgeonthenet.com 

HIV testing and linkage to care available for young gay, bi and transgender African Americans via Project Silk

projectsilkProject Silk is a service project for young adult gay, bisexual or transgender African Americans. It’s a partnership between the Pennsylvania Department of Health and the University of Pittsburgh and is run by Anthony Silvestre, PhD, and Mackey R. Friedman, PhD, MPH, of the department of infectious diseases and micobiology in Pitt’s Graduate School of Public Health. Project Silk provides a safe, youth-centered space in downtown Pittsburgh and is open four nights a week. An on-site social worker is available and helps connect young people to important services such as housing, employment and health care. HIV testing and linkage to care are available during drop-in hours, and a private office can be requested. The project includes a mix of structured programming, such as civic discussion groups. There’s also unstructured time for young people to practice dance moves and prepare for house balls, which are competitive dance events.

Read more on newpittsburghcourieronline.com

 

Reducing health disparities for LGBT Americans through the Affordable Care Act

Seeking to reduce health disparities for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) Americans through the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the National LGBT Health Education Center at The Fenway Institute, and the Center for American Progress, have released “Optimizing LGBT Health under the Affordable Care Act: Strategies for Health Centers,” a guide detailing how the ACA will improve LGBT health and best practices for health centers to increase enrollment of LGBT people in coverage under the ACA. Download a free copy of the PDF here.

“The long history of discrimination in health care and societal bias against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people has created alarming health disparities for this community,” said Harvey Makadon, MD, Director of the National LGBT Health Education Center. “LGBT people have disproportionately high rates of tobacco use, HIV infection, encounters with violence and homelessness, elevated rates of depression and suicide attempts, and reduced access to preventive health services. The ACA reforms described in our guide represent a critical step toward addressing these disparities and improving the health of LGBT Americans.”

Keep reading on  10thousandcouples.com.

Unprotected anal sex up 20% among men who have sex with men

2222293557_condoms_xlargeFederal health officials are reporting a sharp increase in unprotected sex among gay American men over the last decade. The same trend has recently been documented among gay men in Canada, Britain, the Netherlands, France, and Australia.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the number of men who told federal health investigators that they had had unprotected anal sex in the last year rose nearly 20 percent from 2005 to 2011. In the 2011 survey, 33 percent of men who were HIV positive but unaware of their status reported having unprotected anal sex.  This was more than twice the rate reported in men who knew their HIV positive status.  The survey also found that a third of the men interviewed had not been tested in the past year.

As a result, the CDC is urging gay and bisexual men to get tested for HIV. Regular testing allows people who have HIV to know their status, get life-saving treatment and care, and prevent HIV transmission to others. Call 1-800-CDC-INFO or visit http://www.hivtest.org/ to find free, confidential HIV testing locations near you. Some locations have rapid testing, so you can get results on the spot.

To find out how to prevent HIV infection, go to the CDC Website: (http://www.cdc.gov/msmhealth/HIV.htm ).

You can also find more HIV and STD information on our Website: www.m4mHealthySex.org.

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