County health officials get court order to stop HIV-infected man

From the Seattle Times

In a very unusual step, King County public-health officials have gone to court to try to stop a man with HIV who has infected eight partners in the past four years from infecting others.

“We’re not trying to criminalize sexual behavior here,” said Dr. Matthew Golden, director of Public Health — Seattle & King County’s HIV/STD Control Program. “We are trying to protect the public’s health. And we’re trying to make sure that everyone gets the care they need, including the person involved in this.”

The order, issued Sept. 4 by King County Superior Court Judge Julie Spector, requires the man, identified only as “AO,” to follow a “cease-and-desist” order issued in late July by the public-health department requiring him to attend counseling and all treatment appointments made by public-health officials.

If he defies the court order, the judge could order escalating fines or even jail time.

“AO” tested positive at the Public Health STD Clinic at Harborview Medical Center in June 2008, where he was counseled to disclose his status to sex partners and how he should practice safe sex, according to papers filed in the court case.

Since then, despite having received HIV counseling at least five more times, he is believed to have infected eight adult partners from 2010 through this June. Public-health officials said in the court documents that eight people newly diagnosed with HIV had named AO as a partner with whom they’d had unprotected sex.

The officials in July and August served “AO” with “cease-and-desist” orders, the first specifying he attend counseling and the second adding the requirement he seek HIV treatment.

Continue reading on the Seattle Times online.

Fighting stigma: Increasing infection rates among young gay men a cause for concern

Anthony Siegrist and Roy Gomez listen to Andrew Brandon of Family Health Centers of San Diego talk about STDs

Anthony Siegrist and Roy Gomez listen to Andrew Brandon of Family Health Centers of San Diego talk about STDs

From UT San Diego

by Paul Sisson

At a time of ever-increasing treatment options, and the promise of a cure on the horizon, HIV infection rates for gay men age 24 and younger have increased 132 percent from 2002 to 2011. The numbers, which recently appeared in the Journal of the American Medical Association, highlight an important challenge: Beating HIV is not just about better drugs. It’s also about altering cultural practices that are allowing it to spread.

Observers say an erosion of safe sex behavior, coupled with a stigma that reduces the social opportunities of people who are HIV-positive, has created an environment where many do not admit they have the disease or avoid getting tested. Peter Staley, an AIDS activist whose story was featured in the 2012 documentary “How to Survive a Plague,” has blogged often on what he calls “gay-on-gay shaming.” He said the situation feeds on itself. “All of the negative guys are walking around thinking they don’t know any positive guys. The silence feeds the stigma which feeds more silence,” Staley said.

Many gay men who survived the early days, when HIV had no treatment, are quick to say that a lack of fear of HIV is feeding the increase in infection rates. But younger men, like Michael Manacop of Hillcrest, who are in the middle of the quiet crisis, say it’s not that simple. “All my close friends, they’re still afraid of it. Some are too afraid of it to even get tested. They think it’s better to not know whether they’re HIV-positive or not,” he said.

Continue reading on UT San Diego.

Hispanics make up 21 % of new HIV infections despite being 16 % of population

From the Latin Post

The Center for Disease Control rolled out a new campaign to target Hispanic and Latino communities in addressing HIV/AIDS, citing a high number of new infections each year. Annually, the CDC reports, 500,000 people become infected each year in the U.S., and the Hispanic and Latino population — which is 16 percent of the nation’s population — constitutes 21 percent of new infections.

Introducing their new campaign, accompanied with two videos highlighting the information, the CDC said, “We all have a role to play. We can stop HIV one conversation at a time. Together, all of our conversations can help protect the health of our community and reduce the spread of HIV. ” The “one conversation at a time” tagline is the being promoted ahead of the National Latinos AIDS Awareness Day, which coincides with the last day of Hispanic Heritage Month, on Oct. 15.

The CDC said that 1 in 36 Hispanic/Latino men and 1 in 106 Hispanic/Latina women will be diagnosed with HIV at some point in their lives. “Because there is no single Latino culture, the factors driving the epidemic in this population are as diverse as the communities themselves,” the CDC said.

Despite prevention methods and measures, the Latinos continue to bear a heavier burden than most when it comes to HIV/AIDS. Where Latinos live also affects the numbers of infected men specifically. HIV diagnosis in the Northeast is more than twice that of any other region in the country, mostly from male-to-male sexual contact and intravenous drug use. In the South, those with HIV are more likely to have been affected by male-to-male sexual contact, according to the CDC.

One of the campaign videos by the CDC titled Sin Verguenza, or “Without Shame,” starts off like a soap opera — introducing the main characters, each with a somber face as their names flash across the screen. It is intended to engage the audience as the 8-minute video begins with an introduction to the fictional Salazar family. Once over, one of the characters comes into the camera frame and asks the audience if they can identify which of the family members may have HIV/AIDS.

This is the first installment in the campaign, which promises more episodes. “It may not always be easy to talk about HIV/AIDS, but we must talk openly about it to protect our community. By learning the facts about HIV and talking about ways to protect ourselves, our loved ones, and our community, we can help increase HIV awareness, decrease stigma and shame that are too often associated with HIV, and play a part in stopping HIV in the Hispanic/Latino community,” the CDC said.

 

Hornet Gay Social Network launches ap to locate HIV testing and services

hornetFrom the Washington Blade

The Hornet Gay Social Network has launched a feature that will help users locate HIV testing services and learn more about PrEP and other topics, the San Diego Gay & Lesbian News reports. The app’s creators have partnered with aids.gov to power the feature, which was used about 30,000 times its first day, the article said. Hornet is a gay-owned location-based dating and social network.

The gay community has made progress in reducing HIV infection rates, but new trends among young people show that HIV rates are increasing once again, 132.5 percent from 2001-2011—a much higher increase than older gay men and a significant contrast with the drop among the general population. Studies show that public concern about HIV has decreased, yet the number of people living with HIV in the U.S. exceeds 1.1 million and continues to increase, the San Diego Gay & Lesbian News article said.

In a news release, Hornet said that in order to end the epidemic, help is needed to promote HIV services in ways that are far-reaching and lasting. Traditional advertising does not reach all users in need of health services. Sophisticated geo-specific resources are powerful. Within the Hornet app, social network members can use the tool to find the 10 closest HIV locations. The widget is supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and is available for free, the article said.

Preventing HIV with medicine can carry a stigma

From GPB News

In order to slow the spread of HIV, certain people who do not have the virus but are at risk should take medicine to prevent becoming infected. That’s the recommendation of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and, just recently, the World Health Organization. The preventive treatment is known as PrEP, for pre-exposure prophylaxis.

Eric McCulley made the decision to start PrEP. He’s 40, gay and HIV-negative. Outside an Atlanta coffee shop, he pulls out a plastic baggy with a few blue pills. “They’re a decent size, actually,” he says. “Some people might call them a horse pill.” The pill is called Truvada, a combination of two drugs used to treat HIV. Despite McCulley’s negative HIV status, he’s taken the pill daily for the past few months.

After hearing about the treatment and doing extensive research on his own, McCulley made an appointment with his primary care doctor earlier this year. “He was very supportive about it. He encouraged me to do it,” he says. “He gave me a lot of stuff to read, gave me a lot of stuff to think about, and told me I was a good candidate for it. So off we went.”

So far, McCulley says, the only change the drug has made in his life is in his attitude. “I have what I was looking for. I have peace of mind. I feel like I’ve taken responsibility for my health,” he says.

But some PrEP users worry that not everybody in the medical community is up to speed. Although Truvada has been on the market for a decade, only recently have prescribing guidelines been available. Dylan West is a 25-year-old Atlanta resident and works in international aid. He is also gay and recently found out firsthand that not every doctor is as familiar with PrEP as McCulley’s is.

Continue reading

 

Stigma still a factor in fighting HIV

From the Huffington Post

The International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association reminds us that 12 U.S. states with some of the highest HIV incidence rates in the country still have not repealed their anti-sodomy laws, including Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, North and South Carolina, Utah, Kansas, Texas, Oklahoma, Michigan and Idaho. That’s despite a 2003 ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court declaring such laws unconstitutional.

Homophobia, racism, sexism, ageism, stigma and violence clearly contribute to the spread of HIV around the globe. Why get tested for HIV if you will be harmed because of your status? Why link to healthcare that may give you inadequate care or cause you harm? Why stay in care in a place that is hostile? How can you possibly remain 90 percent adherent to HIV meds if you have no place to live or store your medications, or a safe and confidential pharmacy to get them from? Why indeed. The HIV epidemic, no matter how close it comes to becoming a medicalized, chronic and manageable illness through the intervention of science will never come to an end unless these parallel social diseases are also defeated.

Read the full article on the Huffington Post.

Rates of HIV infection still going up in U.S. among young gay males

From philly.com

A new report offers good and bad news about the AIDS epidemic in the United States: The annual diagnosis rate of HIV, the virus that causes the disease, has dropped by one-third in the general population but has climbed among young gay and bisexual males.

Significantly fewer heterosexuals, drug users and women were diagnosed each year with HIV, according to the report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. However, the annual diagnosis rate more than doubled for young gay and bisexual males.

The push for safer sex may be falling on deaf ears in a generation too young to have seen the ravages of AIDS, said report co-author Amy Lansky, deputy director for surveillance, epidemiology and laboratory sciences at the CDC’s Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention.

“It’s been more than 30 years since the first cases were reported,” she said. “It’s harder to maintain that sense of urgency.”

The report only looked at people diagnosed with HIV, and health officials think many more are infected with the virus but don’t know it. The statistics also don’t say anything about when these people were infected, making it hard to pinpoint trends in efforts to prevent transmission of the virus.

Still, “we’re making significant progress and seeing declines overall,” said Lansky. However, she added, the rising numbers of diagnoses among young men who have sex with other men are “a considerable problem.”

The AIDS epidemic began more than 30 years ago. While the last two decades have brought great advances in drugs that prevent AIDS from developing in HIV-positive people, an estimated 1.1 million people are still living with HIV in the United States, Lansky said. Officials believe about 16 percent of those people — or about 176,000 — don’t know they’re infected, she said.

In the new report, published in the July 23/30 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers examined HIV diagnoses in the United States from 2002 to 2011 in people aged 13 and older.

Although almost 500,000 people were diagnosed with HIV during that time, the annual rate of diagnoses fell from 24 out of every 100,000 people to 16 — a decline of 33 percent.

Continue reading.