m4mHealthySex.org is a joint effort between the HIV Prevention and Care Project and the Pitt Men’s Study at the Graduate School of Public Health, University of Pittsburgh. Our goal is to provide up-to-date sexual health information for men who have sex with men. Click on the menu or the page links above to find testing and care resources, including information about PrEP. You can also scroll down for the latest blog posts as part of our archive of sexual health information.
From the New York Times…
State financial regulators in New York said Wednesday that they would investigate reports that gay men have been denied insurance policies covering life, disability or long-term care because they were taking medication to protect themselves against H.I.V.
The investigation was triggered by an article published Tuesday by The New York Times, she said.
The Times reported that various insurers around the country had denied policies to gay men after learning they took Truvada, a cocktail of two anti-AIDS drugs, to avoid catching H.I.V. through sex. To get insurance, some men even stopped taking the protective drugs.
The practice — known as “pre-exposure prophylaxis,” or PrEP — is recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Studies have shown that people who take the drug every day have nearly a zero chance of becoming infected, even if they are in a long relationship with an H.I.V.-infected person or have sex with many strangers without condoms.
From Allentown’s Morning Call…
Teenage life is brimming with insecurity, awkwardness and anxiety no matter who you are or who you love. But studies show that this already prickly period is several times more difficult for young people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. The struggles can go beyond typical teenage angst, and can lead to depression, suicide, home insecurity and drug and alcohol abuse.
The risks for LGBT youth are real. Though they only make up 4 to 10 percent of the population, researchers estimate as many as 40 percent of homeless youth identify as LGBT. According to the American Psychological Association, young LGBT people have greater barriers to health services and therefore experience higher risks for alcohol and drug abuse, HIV and suicide.
“This is a population that is underserved, marginalized and stigmatized,” said Randell Sell, an associate professor at Drexel University’s Dorn School of Public Health. “Anything that provides access to care and a space like this for these young people is a huge leap forward.”
Project Silk is modeled after a similar program that started at the University of Pittsburgh. The aim was to target vulnerable groups at risk for HIV and find an effective way of providing testing and paths to treatment and other services. The Allentown program was made possible through a $210,000 grant from the University of Pittsburgh’s HIV Prevention and Care Project to replicate the program elsewhere in Pennsylvania.
The program turns what could be a clinical, impersonal service into something familiar and safe. Ketterer said it gives young people a place to belong before introducing services and resources that provide emotional and physical support.
The center has had visits by 115 individuals, Ketterer said. Of those, 70 visited three or more times, said Andrew Palomo, director of research and evaluations at Valley Youth House. The program has administered 50 HIV tests. Youth using the program also have the chance to earn smartphones and other technology by volunteering for work around the center or taking leadership positions.
Read the full article on The Morning Call.
February 7, 2018 marks the 18th year for National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NBHAAD), a national HIV testing and treatment community mobilization initiative targeted at Blacks in the United States and the Diaspora. NBHAAD was founded in 1999 as a national response to the growing HIV and AIDS epidemic in African American communities. The NBHAAD initiative leverages a national platform to educate, bring awareness, and mobilize the African American community. NBHAAD has four key focus areas which encourage people to:
- Get Educated about HIV and AIDS;
- Get Involved in community prevention efforts;
- Get Tested to know their status; and
- Get Treated to receive the continuum of care needed to live with HIV/AIDS.
From MD Magazine…
According to a recent study led by Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH), young men who have sex with men (MSM) are less likely to receive school-based HIV education than young men who have sex with women, leading to a higher risk of HIV infection.
Researchers aimed to evaluate HIV education and sexual risk behaviors among young men who have sex with men (YMSM) relative to men having sex with women (MSW) in order to identify the relationships between HIV education and YMSM sexual risk behaviors.
The study, published in LGBT Health, found that 84% of MSM reported learning about HIV in school compared to 90% of MSW.
“It’s striking that the young people who are at most risk of HIV are least likely to report HIV education in school,” Julia Raifman, ScD, SM, lead author, assistant professor, health law, policy and management, Boston University School of Public Health, said in the study.
Researchers used data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Youth Risk Behaviors Surveillance System that collected information on sex of sexual contacts and HIV education in 2011 and/or 2013. HIV education, number of sexual partners ever and in the past 3 months, and condom use at last sex were all assessed, controlling for age, race/ethnicity, state and year.
The campaign is designed to help raise the community’s awareness that what was the Pittsburgh AIDS Task Force is now Allies for Health + Wellbeing and that Allies provides integrated medical and behavioral health care, as well as supportive human services and community-based education for all those living with or at risk of HIV, viral hepatitis and sexually transmitted infections.
The “I am an Ally.” campaign will feature images on the back of Port Authority buses leaving the East Liberty garage starting February 1, 2018, and in other media outlets through April.
Allies of Allies for Health + Wellbeing featured in the campaign include:
- Allies Board Member Linda Bucci and her husband, Chairman of MARC USA Tony Bucci
- Medical Director of the Pitt Men’s Study, UPMC infectious disease doctor and Allies Board Member, Ken Ho, MD, MPH
- Director of the Allegheny Health Department, Karen Hacker, MD MPH
- Friends of Allies Richard Parsakian, Dr. Larry Leahy, John Van de Grift, Nancy Simpronio and Chuck Culbertson.
- Allies for Health + Wellbeing LGBQTIA community advocates J Daniel Barlow and Dandy Hayes.
Join the Allies campaign by contacting Allies for Health + Wellbeing at firstname.lastname@example.org.
From The Associated Press…
From gritty neighborhoods in New York and Los Angeles to clinics in Kenya and Brazil, health workers are trying to popularize a pill that has proven highly effective in preventing HIV but which — in their view — remains woefully underused.
Marketed in the United States as Truvada, and sometimes available abroad in generic versions, the pill has been shown to reduce the risk of getting HIV from sex by more than 90 percent if taken daily. Yet worldwide, only about a dozen countries have aggressive, government-backed programs to promote the pill. In the U.S., there are problems related to Truvada’s high cost, lingering skepticism among some doctors and low usage rates among black gays and bisexuals who have the highest rates of HIV infection.
“Truvada works,” said James Krellenstein, a New York-based activist. “We have to start thinking of it not as a luxury but as an essential public health component of this nation’s response to HIV.”
A few large U.S. cities are promoting Truvada, often with sexually charged ads. In New York, “Bare It All” was among the slogans urging gay men to consult their doctors. The Los Angeles LGBT Center — using what it called “raw, real language” — launched a campaign to increase use among young Latino and black gay men and transgender women.
“We’ve got the tools to not only end the fear of HIV, but to end it as an epidemic,” said the center’s chief of staff, Darrel Cummings. “Those at risk have to know about the tools, though, and they need honest information about them.”
In New York, roughly 30 percent of gay and bisexual men are using Truvada now, up dramatically from a few years ago, according to Dr. Demetre Daskalakis, a deputy commissioner of the city’s health department.
However, Daskalakis said use among young black and Hispanic men — who account for a majority of new HIV diagnoses — lags behind. To address that, the city is making Truvada readily available in some clinics in or near heavily black and Hispanic neighborhoods.