Pittsburgh AIDS Task Force adds PrEP to its efforts in fighting HIV

From the Pittsburgh AIDS Task Force

As part of our new medical services, PATF is excited to now offer Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP), a powerful new tool in the fight to halt the spread of HIV! PrEP involves taking a daily medication, called Truvada, and is over 90 percent effective at reducing the risk of HIV transmission for HIV-negative individuals.
logoExpanding access to PrEP is a main component of the national HIV strategy, which has a goal of eliminating new HIV infections. Despite best efforts at HIV prevention, including encouraging condom use, the number of new HIV infections per year in Pittsburgh and the surrounding area has remained stable in the last few years. PrEP empowers individuals with a critical new method to help prevent HIV and is an especially important tool for those who are disproportionately affected by the virus including men who have sex with men and transgender women.
While any medical doctor is able to prescribe PrEP, many are unaware of the regimen or are uncomfortable prescribing it. Furthermore, many individuals may not be comfortable discussing HIV risk factors, like sexual practice or drug use, with primary care physicians. We’re proud to now be part of a small group of clinics and practitioners in Pittsburgh who regularly offer PrEP and who provide a stigma-free zone to discuss HIV risk factors openly and honestly.
PATF’s PrEP for Wellness program takes a holistic approach to sexual health care. Individuals who enroll in the program come into PATF every three months for HIV and STI testing and have a clinical check up every six months. Trained Health Advocates lead clients through the process, answer questions, and help devise strategies to adhere to the medication.
Individuals in our PrEP program are also able to use PATF’s pharmacy, which delivers medications directly to clients at their home or location of their choosing. Though side effects from Truvada are rare and are generally very mild, pharmacy staff is available on-call to answer any questions related to the medication, drug interactions or side effects.
Most insurance covers PrEP, and our pharmacy is specially trained to help with drug assistance programs, including those that cover co-pays and deductibles. Assistance is also available for those without insurance.
For more information on our PrEP for Wellness program, visit patf.org/prep or call 412-248-0550.

MidAtlantic AIDS Education and Training Center hosts World AIDS Day 2016 conference

nov_labg_worldaidsday2WHAT: To observe the 28th World AIDS Day, The MidAtlantic AIDS Education and Training Center (MAAETC), based at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health, will collaborate with UPMC and local HIV/AIDS clinics to host an all-day educational event. The World AIDS Day 2016 conference will bring together experts in the field of HIV to enable physicians, nurses and other HIV care providers to improve care. Experts will discuss prevention including PreP, aging and HIV, antiretroviral treatment, and substance use and HIV. To learn more or register, visit https://www.maaetc.org/events/view/8202.

WHY: Despite advances in HIV treatment, there continues to be an increase in HIV infections. This necessitates routine testing for everyone, to identify and link persons with HIV to care so that they can live longer lives. New treatment is available to prevent HIV infection, and concerns and issues are emerging among persons aging with HIV infection.
WHO: Introductions by Corey O’Connor, councilman, City of Pittsburgh, and Donald S. Burke, M.D., Dean, Pitt Public Health. Speakers include Rachel Levine, M.D., physician general, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Harold Wiesenfeld, M.D., M.P.H., Allegheny County Health Department, and Magee-Womens Hospital of UPMC, Donna Gallagher, Ph.D., M.S.N., ANP-BC, F.A.A.N., New England AIDS Education and Training Center, Ken Ho, M.D., M.P.H., medical director, Pitt Men’s Study, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Antoine Douaihy, M.D., medical director, Addiction Medicine, University of Pittsburgh Department of Psychiatry
WHEN: 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Thursday, Dec. 1
WHEREUniversity Club, 123 University Place, Pittsburgh, 15260
Note to Media: To cover this event, contact Allison Hydzik at 412-647-9975 or HydzikAM@upmc.edu.

CDC sending out an SOS over soaring rates of STDs

From the New York Daily News

Every year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) releases an annual report of a national overview of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).

The report for 2015 was not encouraging at all. In fact, it was quite discouraging as such STDs as chlamydia and gonorrhea were at an all-time high, including higher rates of syphilis.

Sexually transmitted diseases are typically not discussed in polite conversation. But the less they are talked about, the more of a hidden epidemic they are becoming.

We need to realize that anyone who has sex — oral, anal or vaginal intercourse and genital touching — can get an STD. It doesn’t matter whether you are straight, married, single or gay, everyone is at risk.

Read the full article.

National organizations publish new guide on LGBTQ health advocacy priorities

From LGBT Weekly

The National LGBTQ Task Force Action Fund and the National Coalition for LGBT Health have published a new guide on health issues important to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) people. Released in advance of the 2016 presidential election, the “10 Key LGBTQ Health Advocacy Priorities Guide” is intended to educate voters on LGBTQ health priorities the two organizations will continue to focus on during the next administration.

“This new guide is like no other as it outlines critical healthcare issues through an intersectional approach. It takes into consideration the realities that make up the everyday lives of LGBTQ people, such as racial injustice, economic injustice, gender inequality, and immigration status,” said Candace Bond-Theriault, Policy Counsel for Reproductive Rights, Health and Justice at the National LGBTQ Task Force Action Fund.“We believe that in order to improve the lives and health of all LGBTQ people, a clear understating that these issues overlap is necessary.”

The guide lists the following ten key areas as priorities: advocating for reproductive health, rights and justice; creating an AIDS-free generation, promoting HIV harm reduction, and increasing access to pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP); expanding public education and treatment for sexually transmitted infections (STI) and sexually transmitted diseases (STD); supporting LGBTQ youth experiencing homelessness; improving transgender healthcare; addressing religious exemptions and nondiscrimination laws; promoting LGBTQ cultural competency; improving access to mental health; expanding access to affordable health care; and ending violence against LGBTQ people. The guide is available online on the National LGBTQ Task Force Action Fund and the National Coalition for LGBT Health’s Web sites.

“We collectively identified, prioritized and defined the issues that effect the LGBT community so that this information can be helpful in looking at how elected officials address these issues,” said Brian Hujdich, Executive Director of the National Coalition for LGBT Health. “The guide empowers LGBTQ individuals to have an impact on the health and wellbeing of our community

through voting and having their voices heard on Election Day this November 8th.”

Both organizations will host workshops, trainings, and informational sessions on these priority health advocacy issues during the 2017 Creating Change Conference Jan. 18-22 and SYNChronicity 2017: the National Conference on HIV, HCV, and LGBT Health, set for April 24-25.

$1 million renovation and expansion of the Pittsburgh AIDS Task Force

From the Pittsburgh Trib Review

A recently completed $1 million renovation and expansion of the Pittsburgh AIDS Task Force in East Liberty has made Sean DeYoung’s vision a reality.

The project, which took about a year to complete and included a medical clinic expansion, is a step toward PATF’s goal to transition to a fully integrated medical and social-service care organization for people with HIV.

“I’m a social worker, and that’s where the social work field is moving,” said DeYoung, the AIDS Task Force CEO who came aboard last year. “Research has shown that people who can receive all of their medical and social services in one place are much more likely to get the comprehensive level of care they need.”

The population served by PATF has unique challenges in addition to living with HIV/AIDS, DeYoung said.

“Ninety-eight percent of our client base is below the poverty line,” he said, “so they may also face housing challenges and job challenges, which is a huge problem. If you’re worried about getting evicted or not having a place to stay, you’re not going to be worried about taking your medication like you’re supposed to or coming to see your doctor when you need to.”

The renovated PATF center, unveiled at a ribbon-cutting last Tuesday, offers a food pantry, an on-site pharmacy, legal aid, programs for medical case management and federal housing assistance. It also offers an adherence program designed to help patients who struggle to remember to take their medications through personalized texts or phone calls.

Read the full article on the Trib Review online.

Why aren’t HIV prevention pills going to the people who need them?

From Rolling Stone online

When Truvada was introduced four years ago as a way to prevent HIV, public health leaders didn’t welcome the drug with open arms. The head of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation panned the once-daily pill as a “party drug.” Other health officials claimed that taking Truvada would cause a wave of wild unprotected sex. Even members of the LGBTQ community parroted the criticism, with one gay journalist (regretfully) labeling some users “Truvada whores.”

But the last four years has seen a shift in attitude. More andgetting-prep-to-people-who-need-it more Americans are embracing pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), the HIV prevention method that requires a daily dose of Truvada to reduce viral risk. And more and more prescriptions are being written for the antiretroviral drug. While PrEP is growing in popularity, a new study out of the University of California released last month suggests that the populations most at risk of HIV infection are not the ones benefitting from the prevention strategy.

In a survey of gay and bisexual men in California, only a handful of participants reported having taken PrEP. PrEP use was highest among young white men, at 13.9 percent. For young Latino men, that figure was cut by more than half, while young black men represented less than 10 percent of people who started PrEP.

“This is not reflective of the HIV epidemic at all,” says Shannon Weber, founder of Please PrEP Me, an online directory of over 230 clinics in California that provide PrEP. “It is reflective about access, and where and how people are getting that information.”

Read the full article.