Increasing levels of engagement with care is key to controlling HIV epidemic in US


engagement with care key to controlling HIVTest-and-treat’ is unlikely to be an effective strategy to control the HIV epidemic in the United States without improvements in retention in care, investigators argue in the online edition of Clinical Infectious Diseases. A mathematical model suggested that without interventions to address poor levels of engagement in HIV care, there could be as many as 1.39 million new HIV infections in the US over the next 20 years, at a cost of $256 billion. Targeting testing and linkage would only prevent 21% of these new infections. But a package of interventions comprising testing, linkage and retention in care would prevent over half of the projected new infections, reduce AIDS-related mortality by almost two-thirds and be cost effective.

“To alter the course of the HIV epidemic in the United States, strategies of ‘test and treat’ alone may be insufficient; attention to the full continuum of care will be essential,” comment the authors.

United States guidelines recommend expanded HIV testing and antiretroviral therapy at any CD4 count as strategies to reduce rates of AIDS-related deaths and HIV transmissions. However, this approach may not be as effective as hoped. Recent research has shown that there is significant attrition at each stage of the HIV care continuum in the US. Up to a fifth of HIV-infected individuals are undiagnosed; 20% of recently diagnosed patients are not linked to care within 90 days; 54% of patients are not retained in care; only 30% of diagnosed patients have an undetectable viral load.

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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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Research shows structural barriers need to be addressed for PrEP to have an impact


The uptake of PrEP in people who need it risks being limited due to low levels of awareness, gaps in health insurance, opaque bureaucratic procedures, under-usage of medical services, and limited awareness and skills in healthcare providers, according to an analysis published online ahead of print in Clinical Infectious Diseases. Also taking into account sub-optimal adherence among some PrEP users, the researchers conclude that just 15% of gay men in the American city of Atlanta who could benefit are likely to achieve protection from HIV with PrEP.

The PrEP care cascade

Colleen Kelley and colleagues at Emory University outline a ‘care cascade’ or ‘continuum of care’ for PrEP which identifies the key steps in the process of getting hold of PrEP and using it effectively. Analysis of the care cascade can help focus attention on where there are significant barriers to a person moving on to the next step.

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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.

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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.

Few gay teenage boys get tested for HIV


Few gay teens tested for HIVThe greatest barriers to these teenage males getting tested are not knowing where to go to get an HIV test, worries about being recognized at a testing site and—to a lesser degree—thinking they are invincible and won’t get infected.

“Understanding the barriers to testing provides critical information for intervening, so we can help young men get tested,” said study first author Gregory Phillips II, a research assistant professor of medical social sciences at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and an investigator for the IMPACT LGBT Health and Development Program at Feinberg.

“Rates of new HIV infections continue to increase among young gay and bisexual men,” said Brian Mustanski, principal investigator of the study, an associate professor of medical social sciences at Feinberg and director of IMPACT. “Testing is critical because it can help those who are positive receive lifesaving medical care. Effective treatment can also help prevent them from transmitting the virus to others.”

The study will be published Aug. 26 in the Journal of Adolescent Health. Continue reading.

HIV/AIDS still holds a powerful stigma


Indiana was hit with an outbreak of HIV/AIDS this spring, and it got a lot of attention because it is so stigma still related to HIV/AIDSexceptional.

Our perception of HIV/AIDS has changed since the disease emerged in the early 1980s. There are all kinds of treatments and resources — things that simply didn’t exist when the epidemic began.

In the U.S., an estimated 1.2 million people are living with HIV, according to the CDC. New infections are down from the peak in the 1980s, but the epidemic is nowhere near over. HIV/AIDS has affected millions of people around the world. In this country, gay men have been hardest hit.

Today on For the Record: HIV then and now. Two survivors, from two different generations, tell their stories. Click the audio link on this page to listen to the full conversation.