HIV risk among young gay, bi men tied to societal issues

From Reuters Health

Participants were recruited from the New York City area between 2009 and 2011 and were 18 or 19 when they entered the study. At that point they were all HIV-negative. Over the next three years, 43 participants became infected with HIV. About a third of black, Hispanic and mixed or other race participants became HIV-positive during the study, compared to about 7 percent of white participants. People who described themselves as being in low to average social and economic groups were more likely to become HIV-positive than those in higher socioeconomic groups.

Also, the authors found, young age at first sexual experience with another male was tied to an increased risk of becoming HIV-positive, compared to a first encounter at an older age. “The bigger point here is that it’s just too simplistic to (blame) everything on race,” Halkitis said. “We’re trying to get at the reason that’s happening. This paper starts to point to it.”

The researchers point out that social and economic status is closely tied to race in the U.S. People with lower social and economic status likely live in areas with more poverty, less access to healthcare and more untreated sexually transmitted infections (STI), they write. They also point out that young gay and bisexual men may not be properly educated about STIs, and their heterosexual parents may not be equipped to educate on those topics.

“I think that one way we can begin to address this issue is through comprehensive sexual health education,” said Jason Coleman, an expert on HIV and STI prevention at the University of Nebraska-Omaha.

Read the full article.

Social apps back in the news after Rhode Island study notes alarming rise of STDs

From Latinos Health

In the report by the Rhode Island Department of Health, researchers highlighted the alarming rise of STD’s in the state between 2013 and 2014, with HIV infections up by 33 percent, gonorrhea up 30 percent, and syphilis rising an alarming 79 percent.

“New cases of HIV and syphilis continued to increase among gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men at a faster rate than in other populations,” the report noted, adding that “infection rates of all STDs continued to have a greater impact on the African-American, Hispanic, and young adult populations.”

While better testing partly explains the increase, health officials also highlighted “high-risk behaviors that have become more common in recent years,” such as “using social media to arrange casual and often anonymous sexual encounters.”

Read the full article.

H.I.V. treatment should start at diagnosis, U.S. health officials say

From the New York Times

People with H.I.V. should be put on antiretroviral drugs as soon as they learn they are infected, federal health officials said Wednesday as they announced that they were halting the largest ever clinical trial of early treatment because its benefits were already so clear.

The study was stopped more than a year early because preliminary data already showed that those who got treatment immediately were 53 percent less likely to die during the trial or develop AIDS or a serious illness than those who waited.

The study is strong evidence that early treatment saves more lives, the officials said. Fewer than 14 million of the estimated 35 million people infected with H.I.V. around the world are on treatment now, according to U.N.AIDS, the United Nations AIDS-fighting agency. In the United States, only about 450,000 of the estimated 1.2 million with H.I.V. are on treatment, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“This is another incentive to seek out testing and start therapy early, because you will benefit,” said Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Disease, which sponsored the trial. “The sooner, the better.”

Continue reading on the New York Times.

CDC dedicates $185M to prevent HIV among trans and MSM

From edgeboston.com

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recently announced $185 million in funding for three new programs to prevent HIV infection among transgender people and gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men (MSM), with a particular focus on MSM of color.

The programs are part of a multi-pronged strategy to address the disproportionally heavy burden of HIV infection on MSM and transgender men and women. These programs will help health departments and local HIV prevention partners deliver and apply the most effective HIV prevention tools.

In particular, CDC plans to award up to $125 million over a three-year period to state and local health departments to expand the use of: 1) pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) for uninfected MSM and transgender people who are considered at substantial risk for HIV infection; and 2) ongoing medical care and antiretroviral treatment for people already living with HIV. Health departments will be funded to provide PrEP information and referrals and to conduct outreach and training to increase the number of healthcare providers who are knowledgeable about PrEP and offer it to their patients.

Backlash to New York City’s fear-based HIV prevention campaign

From aidsmeds.com

The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene’s recent fear-based HIV prevention campaign may have led to unintended consequences by stigmatizing young black and Latino men who have sex with men (MSM). Publishing their findings in Health Affairs, researchers analyzed the 2010 “It’s Never Just HIV” campaign, which used fearful, horror-movie-like imagery and messaging to highlight health problems tied to HIV or its treatment, such as osteoporosis, dementia and anal cancer.

“Relying on fear is risky business,” the authors write in the paper. The health department came to appreciate that its analysis of the campaign’s success could not be governed simply by HIV rates among the target population. Rather, the department needed to consider the campaign’s social and political impact. Not only was there a huge amount of controversy among people in the HIV community, but according to certain criticisms, people at risk of HIV and those living with the virus may have suffered stigma as a result of the campaign.

New York City has since moved away from fear-based HIV prevention campaigns. For example, “Be HIV Sure,” which launched on World AIDS Day 2014, encourages HIV testing as part of sexual intimacy.

To read a press release on the study, click here.

People who don’t tell anyone else their HIV status have as good health outcomes as other people living with HIV

From aidsmap.com

[D]oes non-disclosure matter? Is it associated with poorer health outcomes? While a quantitative survey, completed on a single occasion by respondents, has some limitations in terms of the insight it can give into the quality of people’s lives and relationships, these data are reassuring.

Mental health difficulties and adherence problems were quite common among survey respondents. But they weren’t more frequently reported by people who hadn’t disclosed to anyone. After statistical adjustment for other factors that could skew the results, rates of the following were very similar in people who disclosed and people who did not:

  • Low social support.
  • Symptoms of depression.
  • Symptoms of anxiety.
  • Problems with adherence to HIV treatment.
  • A detectable viral load.

In fact, some of the data suggested that having disclosed to most or all friends and family was actually associated with poorer outcomes in gay men. A more selective disclosure strategy was associated with better outcomes.

Read the full article on aidsmap.com.