F.D.A. ends ban, allowing some blood donations by gay men

 

From the New  York Times

gay men can donate bloodFollowing up on a preliminary recommendation it made a year ago, the Food and Drug Administration said on Monday that the agency would scrap a decades-old lifetime prohibition on blood donation by gay and bisexual men.

The agency continued to bar men who have had sex with men in the past year, however, saying the measure was needed to keep the blood supply safe.

Gay rights groups considered the lifting of the lifetime ban a major stride toward ending a discriminatory national policy, but had wanted blanket bans for gay men to be removed entirely. Donations should be considered on an individual basis, critics said, as some gay men — like some heterosexual men and women — are at far higher risk of H.I.V. infection than others.

GMHC, the advocacy group formerly known as Gay Men’s Health Crisis, harshly criticized the 12-month delay. Kelsey Louie, the group’s chief executive officer, said it “ignores the modern science of H.I.V.-testing technology while perpetuating the stereotype that all gay and bisexual men are inherently dangerous.”

The Food and Drug Administration enacted the lifetime ban in 1983, early in the AIDS epidemic. The virus that would become known as H.I.V. was discovered that year, and no way to test for it in donations existed.

Now, however, tests can tell whether donated blood contains the virus in as little as nine days after the donor has been infected. The “window period” — during which a unit of donated blood might test negative but still infect the recipient — is the reason for continuing time-based bans on people who engage in various kinds of high-risk behavior.

Read the full on the New York Times.

 

Gay/bi men are 2% of population but 67% of all new HIV infections in 2014

From Reuters Health

HIV still on the rise among gay menNew strategies to reduce risky sexual behaviors among young gay and bisexual men with human immunodeficiency virus may be needed to reduce new infections, according to a new study.

Researchers found that most young gay and bisexual men with HIV don’t have the virus suppressed by medication, making them more likely to infect others, and more than half reported recent unprotected sex.

While medications for HIV and access to those treatments improved over time, lead author Patrick Wilson said addressing unemployment, education and mental health is also important.

“I think we have to take a multipronged approach,” said Wilson, of the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health in New York City.

Gay and bisexual men represent about 2 percent of the U.S. population, but accounted for about 67 percent of all people diagnosed with HIV in 2014, according to the HIV Surveillance Report released on Sunday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (see Reuters Health story of December 6, 2015 here).

The steepest rise in HIV diagnoses between 2005 and 2014 was among young gay and bisexual men, with increases ranging from 56 percent among young white men to 87 percent among young black and Latino men.

Continue reading.

University of Pittsburgh’s Dr. Ken Ho talks about PrEP

Dr. Ken Ho at Pitt

Dr. Ken Ho at Pitt

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are working to inform patients and health care providers of a new, anti-viral pill that they estimate can drastically reduce the risk of infection.  Here to tell us more about this treatment and discuss why it hasn’t been adopted by clinicians in the region are Dr. Ken Ho, an HIV specialist at the University of Pittsburgh and Jason Herring, director of programs and communications at the Pittsburgh AIDS Task Force.

Listen to the broadcast on Essential Pittsburgh 90.5 WESA, Pittsburgh’s NPR station.

Positive men get naked in an effort to end ‘stigma’ of HIV status

From San Diego Gay and Lesbian News

With dating apps and other online socializations making it easier to voice opinions and judgments under the guise of a stop HIV stigmausername, revealing that you have HIV is an invitation for some to shame, bully even block you.

“It’s a regular occurrence on dating apps,” Paul, 29, told FS “Everything will be great until my status is disclosed and then bang…they block me. Although the way I see it is that it gets rid of all the shit guys. The ones who are worthy of me stick around regardless of my status.”

The international LGBT publication, FS Magazine, produced by GMFA: The gay men’s health charity recently released two YouTube videos of men reading mean texts in response to other app users finding out they have HIV.

Of course there are other cyber daters more educated and empathetic to carriers, the negativity expressed in the videos below only go to show how hurtful people can be even in 2015.

Some of the men in the video above decided to strip down to nothing for FS Magazines “HIV Stripped Bare” layout, showing that they are not ashamed of who they are and that it’s time to stop progressing the stigma.

Twenty-five year-old HIV positive model Sadiq says there are two main reasons why people are intolerant towards him.

“Stigma can come from two very different places: ignorance and maliciousness,” he said. “While ignorance is something that can be tackled, maliciousness I have absolutely no time for.”

You can see the entire FS “HIV Stripped Bare” layout (NSFW) HERE.

 

Vitamin D sufficiency may speed up immune recovery during HAART

From medicalnewstoday.com

vitimin D aids HARRTThere are an estimated 33 million people infected with HIV worldwide – 1.2 million of them in the US. The advent in 1996 of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) – a combination of different classes of medications taken daily – means that for many patients who have access to the medication, what was once a fatal diagnosis can now be managed as a chronic disease.

For their study, Prof. Ezeamama and colleagues examined 18 months of data for 398 HIV-positive adults on HAART.

The data included a measure of participants’ vitamin D levels at the start of the trial (baseline) and their CD4 cell counts at months 0, 3, 6, 12 and 18.

In their analysis, the researchers looked at how the changes in CD4 cell counts related to the baseline levels of vitamin D over the study period.

They found that participants with sufficient levels of vitamin D at baseline recovered more of their immune function than participants with vitamin D deficiency.

Read the full story here.

Scruff makes it easier for users to advertise prevention preferences

From thebody.com

Last month, Scruff, the popular mobile hookup app, unveiled new profile options that will allow users to disclose their safer-sex practices more easily. The drop down menu presents three HIV prevention methods: condoms, pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) and treatment as prevention (TasP). Scruff users can select one of those options (PrEP or condoms orTasP), select a few combination options (PrEP and condoms or TasP and condoms) or choose to leave the field blank. prevention preferences on ScruffThe new feature has the potential to promote disclosure of HIV prevention practices upfront and facilitate connections between app users with similar approaches to stopping HIV transmission. Notably, it more easily allows individuals to indicate that they use only PrEP or TasP and choose not to use condoms.

New menu options that promote transparency and normalize disclosure of HIV prevention status are certainly welcome, and, with any luck, other mobile apps will follow Scruff’s lead. For many men who have sex with men (MSM), it is often unsafe to discuss our HIV prevention practices openly and with full honesty. We often feel the need to self-censor because our sex lives are already under such intense scrutiny. We dare not draw further attention to ourselves by saying that we do not use condoms 100% of the time. Hopefully, these new choices will help Scruff users make selections that are more in line with their actual prevention choices.

Read the full article on thebody.com.

LGBTQ Americans: Time to enroll in health care

enroll in the affordable care actFrom AIDS.gov

The 2016 open enrollment season has begun. Through January 31, 2016, you can apply for a 2016 health plan, renew your current plan, or pick a new plan through the Health Insurance Marketplace.

This is important news for all Americans, including those who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT). On average, LGBT Americans experience greater exposure to violence and homelessness, as well as higher rates of poverty, HIV infection, tobacco and substance use, mental health disorders, and cancer. These disparities are even more pronounced for LGBT individuals who are also members of racial and ethnic minorities and have low incomes.

These health disparities are due in part to lower rates of health coverage. Now, thanks to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), LGBT Americans have increased access to quality, affordable health insurance.

Visit HealthCare.gov to enroll in a new plan, change your current plan, and get answers about the ACA. See HHS.gov’s LGBT Health and Well-being: The Affordable Care Act to learn how the ACA helps LGBT individuals and families.