Updated HIV/AIDS strategy and amfAR releases report

From OUT online

Last week the White House released the National HIV/AIDS Strategy for the United States updated through the year 2020. It’s vision statement read: “The United States will become a place where new HIV infections are rare, and when they do occur, every person, regardless of age, gender, race/ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, or socio-economic circumstance, will have unfettered access to high quality, life-extending care, free from stigma and discrimination.”

The five-year plan discusses steps that are necessary to take across different facets of the HIV/AIDS topic, including reducing new HIV infections, increasing access to care for those infected and improving health outcomes for them, reducing HIV-related disparities and health inequities, and achieving a more coordinated national response to the HIV epidemic.

To accompany the strategy, the American Foundation for AIDS Research released a report commending the amount of coordinated efforts to tackle the HIV/AIDS epidemic on the federal level, but admits that to be successful, the same thing has to happen on a state level.

The foundation gave recommendations for the states so they can improve their HIV prevention and care, and align with the vision set out by the national strategy. “The burden of HIV, and the responses to it, varies across states due to a number of social, political, and economic factors,” said Jeffrey S. Crowley, Program Director of the National HIV/AIDS Initiative at the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law in a release. “But we have found that if states focus on a handful of priority action steps and implement them successfully, they can begin to close critical gaps and dramatically accelerate progress toward ending their HIV epidemics.”

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Health Alert for men who have sex with men

Pennsylvania (and the Pittsburgh area in particular) is still experiencing an alarming increase in syphilis cases, primarily among men who have sex with men (MSM). Over the last 5 years, Pennsylvania’s MSM community has experienced an 85% increase in syphilis infections. MSM represented approximately 65% of all new syphilis cases reported in the state.

Syphilis is a sexually transmitted infection. If it goes untreated, it can lead to serious health problems including paralysis, blindness, and dementia.   In the late stages, the disease can damage internal organs and can result in death.  In its early stages, syphilis is 100% curable with simple antibiotics.

You can get syphilis and not have any symptoms, so the only way to know you’re infected is to get a simple blood test.

As a result of the increase in syphilis cases, the Pennsylvania Department of Health recommends that all sexually active MSM get a routine syphilis test every 6 months. Several locations around the state have free syphilis testing, click on this link to find testing near you: hivtest.cdc.gov.

To find out more about Syphilis, go to the CDC’s Website.

Question: What are the early signs of an HIV infection?

sick guy in bedAnswer: In the early stages of infection, many people will, in fact, develop no signs or symptoms at all. This is perhaps one of the reasons why one out of five of the 1.1 million Americans infected with HIV go undiagnosed.

However, in 40% or more of cases, flu-like symptoms will develop within 7-14 days of an exposure. This condition is commonly referred to as acute retroviral syndrome, or ARS(alternately known as acute seroconversion syndromeacute HIV syndrome, or seroconversion illness).

ARS can present with a number of symptoms, ranging from mild to severe, including:

  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Pharyngitis (sore throat)
  • Myalgia (muscular aches and pain)
  • Arthralgia (joint pain)
  • Lymphadenopathy (swollen lymph glands)

Occasionally, these symptoms are accompanied by a morbilliform rash (i.e., a rash characterized by a flat, red area of the skin covered with small, confluent bumps). Additionally, 30% of people with ARS are likely to experience short-term nausea, diarrhea or vomiting.

Most of these symptoms are a result of the body’s natural immune response as HIV rapidly disseminates (or spreads) from the site of infection to the lymphoid tissues of the body.

ARS can persist for up to four months in some individuals until such time as the immune system begins to take control of viral replication. While HIV is still actively replicating during this chronic stage of infection, it generally does so at a lower level until the HIV viral load is stabilized and a so-called “viral set point” is established.

Continue reading at aidsabout.com.

HIV PEP with emtricitabine/tenofovir/rilpivirine has excellent completion and adherence rates

From aidsmap.com

Daily post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) with single tablet emtricitabine/tenofovir/rilpivirine (Complera, Eviplera) has excellent completion rates and good side-effect and safety profiles, Australian investigators report in the online edition of Clinical Infectious Diseases.

The open-label, non-randomised study involved 100 men who have sex with men (MSM) requiring PEP after possible sexual exposure to HIV. Treatment lasted 28 days and was completed by 92% of participants. Side-effects were mild, the most common being nausea and tiredness. There were no serious adverse events.

Prompt PEP, after possible sexual or occupational exposure to HIV, can reduce the risk of infection. Guidelines recommend triple-drug therapy, ideally commenced within 72 hours of exposure. Failure of PEP has been linked to poor treatment adherence or the premature discontinuation of treatment. A recent analysis of 97 PEP studies found that only 57% of patients completed their four-week course of treatment.

The combination pill emtricitabine/tenofovir/rilpivirine provides well tolerated and easy-to-take once-daily HIV therapy. Though it must be taken with food, investigators from Australia hypothesised that the combination pill would provide convenient and safe PEP.

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Black market for Truvada PrEP may undermine treatment adherence in marginalised people living with HIV

From aidsmap.com

The increasing demand for pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) is likely to increase the likelihood that some marginalised individuals living with HIV sell some of their prescribed medication to pill brokers and drug dealers, according to a study presented to the Conference of the Association for the Social Sciences and Humanities in HIV in Stellenbosch, South Africa last week.

Steven Kurtz told the conference that several reports have documented street markets for diverted antiretrovirals (ARVs) in the United States. His own research focuses on south Florida, where he recruited 147 HIV-positive men who have sex with men (MSM) who regularly use cocaine, crack or heroin. He purposively sampled (over-recruited) individuals who had sold or traded their antiretrovirals, so that he could better understand the factors associated with doing so.

Economic vulnerability is the key explanation. Within this sample, men who had recently sold ARVs were more likely to have an income below $1000 a month, to have traded sex for money or drugs and to be dependent on drugs. Age, race and education were not relevant factors. Unsurprisingly, men who had sold their HIV treatment had poor levels of adherence to it.

Continue reading on aidsmap.com.

San Diego activist shares his experience taking PrEP for 100 days

From Gay San Diegop2_images

In February, I thought long and hard about whether or not I wanted to go on PrEP. Do I really want to take a pill every day? Do I want to see a doctor every three months? And my own fears kicked in — what if it doesn’t work? I made an appointment with a doctor at Sharp, we talked about it honestly and I was sold.

I had to get some initial bloodwork done, of course an HIV test, and some other general health tests. My test came back negative that same day and the doctor wrote a prescription for Truvada. My prescription was ready later that day, and the next morning I was taking my first pill. I’ve taken one pill every day since then — now over 100 days — and I’m so glad I made that choice.

Sure, it was a little hard at first. After the first couple of days, when the medicine started to settle into my body, I didn’t feel so good. I had some mild nausea and decided to take a couple of days off work to let the symptoms subside — which they did after three days. I’ve never had another side effect since then and I’ve taken other medications in my life that were a lot more common than Truvada and had much worse side effects.

I’ve proudly posted about taking PrEP on my personal social media and many other online groups related to PrEP and HIV, and, as I mentioned earlier, it’s really caught people’s attention.

Working with the #BeTheGeneration campaign, we’ve really made an impact, and I hope more and more people continue to reach out to me, Benny and others at The Center to ask questions. We want people to know about the options available to them, and we want to help people stop being so fearful and put an end to the stigma and shaming.

I know that being on PrEP has made feel more confident and healthier and has given me a better outlook on sex and I want you to be able feel this freedom too. Please don’t hesitate to contact me or anyone else at The Center’s #BeTheGeneration campaign, for more information or just to talk.

Together, we can end new transmissions of HIV!

  1. —Rick Cervantes is the social media coordinator at The San Diego LGBT Community Center and active in its #BeTheGeneration campaign. Reach him at 619-692-2077 ext. 220 or follow his journey on Twitter @mistercervantes.

Read the full article.

Study finds bisexuals have worse health than gay or straight people

From the Advocate.com

Gay_Men_In_Bed_02[1]Professors of Sociology at Rice University have found that bisexual Americans face higher health disparities than their gay, lesbian, and straight counterparts. A variety of these health issues stem from systemic socioeconomic vulnerability in the bisexual community, according to the new study.

“As a group, bisexual men and women have higher rates of a variety of factors that can lead to poor health — things like poverty or involvement with lifestyle activities that can lead to poor health, ” lead author Bridget Gorman tells The Advocate.“A big thing was emotional support. When you compare relative to other groups, bisexuals reported lower rates of getting the emotional support that they felt they needed.”

Bisexual respondents also reported a higher propensity for smoking and using alcohol than straight or gay counterparts — health risks that can be amplified by the higher rates of poverty among the bisexual community compared with other peers. Among gay, lesbian, and straight counterparts, researchers found members of the bisexual community were the least likely to be educated at a university level.

Continue reading on the Advocate.com.