The six ways you can get HIV

largeFrom Tyler Curry on HIVequal…

There are a lot of assumptions made about the kind of people who get HIV. Some people think that it is only an issue for people who are promiscuous, the poor, minorities, gay people, or whatever other group that they are not a part of. With the false safety of these beliefs, people continue to make common mistakes that have the potential to lead them to a rude awakening about who can get HIV. More than half of young people who are living with HIV are unaware of their status, and HIV infection is on the rise. So don’t be naïve about the kinds of people who can get HIV, because no one is exempt from infection and almost everyone has had an experience that could have made all the difference.

Go to HIVequal to see the six common ways that you can become infected with HIV.

February 7 is National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day

From AIDS.gov

Like so many Americans, I have seen the tragedy first hand, of friends lost to HIV/ AIDS. I’ve also seen the hope of those living with HIV as we continue to work toward an AIDS free generation.

Each February 7th, we mark National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NBHAAD). It’s an opportunity for all of us to honor the memory of those we’ve lost, and to call attention to the fact that HIV continues to disproportionately affect African American men, women, and youth.

The numbers are startling: African Americans represent only 14 percent of the U.S. population, but account for almost half of all new HIV infections in the United States per year, as well as more than one-third of all people living with HIV in our nation.

NBHAAD Banner

This year’s NBHAAD theme, “I Am My Brother’s/Sister’s Keeper: Fight HIV/AIDS” challenges all of us to work to eliminate these unacceptable health disparities by ramping up our HIV prevention efforts, encouraging individuals to get tested, and helping those who are living with HIV to access the life-saving medical treatment they need.

One of the ways the Department of Health and Human Services is responding to this charge is by launching a new four-year demonstration project funded through the Secretary’s Minority AIDS Initiative to address HIV disparities among men who have sex with men (MSM), including men of color.

We are focusing on HIV disparities among MSM, including MSM of color, because black gay and bisexual men—particularly young men—remain the population most heavily affected by HIV in the U.S. Young black MSM account for more new infections (4,800 in 2010) than any other subgroup of MSM by race/ethnicity and age. These shocking figures demand that we take action.

The cross-agency demonstration project will support community-based models in strengthening HIV prevention efforts, addressing gaps in care for those living with HIV, and helping meet the health care needs of MSM, including MSM of color. More specifically, the funding will support state and local health departments in providing MSM of color, and other MSM, with the health and social services they need to live healthy lives free of HIV infection. For those already infected, the funding will support community-based services that help MSM of color, and other MSM, get diagnosed and linked to the right care—including substance abuse and mental health treatment as well as necessary social services, like stable housing. Helping people access and remain in HIV care is good medicine and important to our public health—since it lowers individuals’ risk of passing HIV to others.

We all have a role to play in working toward an AIDS free generation. Education and understanding prevention and treatment of HIV is important. And HIV testing is also critical as we continue to tackle this disease. One thing we can all do is speak out – speak out against HIV stigma whenever and wherever you encounter it. Stigma and shame continue to prevent too many people from seeking testing and getting the health care they need to live healthy, active lives.

Read more about HIV among African Americans and efforts to prevent and treat this disease at CDC.gov.

Early HIV treatment advantage is lost if treatment is interrupted

From AIDSMEDS.comAnti-Retroviral-AIDS-Drug-006

The immune recovery benefits conferred by starting antiretrovirals (ARVs) for HIV shortly after infection are lost if treatment is later interrupted, aidsmap reports. In a recent study, there was no difference in terms of immune reconstitution between those who started treatment immediately and later interrupted it for a time and those who waited to start treatment. Publishing their findings in the journal AIDS, French researchers measured the CD4 to CD8 cell counts, and determined the ratio between them, among 727 HIV-positive people in the PRIMO cohort study.

CD4 cells are also known as “T-helper” cells, and are key to instigating the body’s immune response to an infection. CD8, or “T-suppressor,” immune cells are involved in killing off infected cells. Healthy HIV-negative people HIV typically have more CD4s than CD8s, meaning their CD4 to CD8 ratio is greater than 1.0—usually between 1.0 and 2.0. The ratio for an HIV-positive person is typically below 1.0.

continue reading on AIDSMEDS.

Read the study abstract here.

Study shows “it get better,” but…

A new study released in the Journal of Adolescent Health looked at the lives of 231 LGBTQ adolescents to see if it really does get better–referencing the It Gets Better campaign launched by activist Dan Savage. After following the youth for 3.5 years, researchers at Northwest University in Chicago found that, technically, yes, “it gets better.” But the findings also suggested a more complex set of mental health issues at play for LGBTQ youth. In short, things don’t automatically get better. Early experiences of victimization were shown to have a lasting impact on later psychological functioning. As a result, researchers went on to suggest the need for interventions which decrease stigma and victimization at an early age.

You can read more about the study on  Reuters Health.

Study finds H.I.V. drugs priced out of reach

From the New York Times

Drugs to treat H.I.V. and AIDS are being priced out of reach for many patients enrolled in insurance plans through the new health care exchanges, despite warnings that such practices are illegal under the Obama administration’s health care law, according to a new analysis by Harvard researchers.

The study, to be published on Wednesday in an article in The New England Journal of Medicine, looked at 48 health plans in 12 states and found that a quarter of the plans showed evidence of what researchers called “adverse tiering,” or placing all of the drugs used to treat H.I.V. in a specialty tier where consumers are required to pay at least 30 percent of the cost of the drug.

The financial impact can be drastic, the researchers found: A patient taking a common H.I.V. treatment, Atripla, would pay about $3,000 more a year in a restrictive plan compared with someone enrolled in a more generous plan, even after accounting for the fact that the more restrictive plans tended to charge lower monthly premiums.

“That’s really a large cost difference, and really is a very significant financial constraint for those with chronic conditions, particularly H.I.V.,” said Douglas B. Jacobs, the lead author of the study, who is pursuing degrees in public health at the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health and medicine at the University of California, San Francisco.

Continue reading on The New York Times.

10 questions to ask yourself before you begin HIV treatment

puzzle man_white backgroundFrom thebody.com

An HIV diagnosis comes with its very own set of questions to ask yourself and decisions to make. Among the biggest is: When should you start treatment? It’s a Russian nesting doll of a decision, with many other questions tucked inside. Here, in no particular order, are 10 of the most important questions to ask yourself before you begin taking HIV medications.

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Introducing #standOUTpgh

10933879_658281264281364_9173789996442469325_nThe #standOUTpgh campaign is a new media driven initiative to help prevent substance abuse and HIV and STDs as well as fight minority stigma among gay and bisexual youth of color and all that self identify as trans no matter their race or age.
#standOUTpgh seeks to change the conversation around subculture and different expressions by giving young minority gay and bisexual men and trans individuals a digital platform to share their stories of uniqueness and responsibility for the world to see!
We hope to engage all community organizations that care about and serve these individuals to participate in support by spreading the word to those who may wish to participate. By defeating stigma and promoting self worth, we can break down one of the largest barriers to getting tested for HIV and STDs, getting prevention messages, and living healthier and happier lives.
How can you help? Learn about the campaign and its corresponding awareness events at www.standout.hiv and follow our social media pages
and share as the pageant unfolds. That’s it! Find us at:
The #standOUTpgh campaign will culminate in 6 events held in celebration of uniqueness and responsibility built around relevant national awareness days. These events will feature HIV/STD testing and prevention counseling. Information on these events will be broadcast via social media and standout.hiv. They are as follows:
  • World AIDS Day: Dec 1, 2014.
  • National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day: Feb 7, 2015.
  • National Youth Violence Prevention Week: March 18-22.
  • National Youth HIV Awareness Day: April 10, 2015.
  • National Prevention Week: May 12-18, 2015.
  • National HIV Testing Day: June 15.
We hope you will join us in building a positive movement behind these communities and shining a spotlight on what makes them stand out!