Study shows equal rates of risky sex between gay and straight male teens — but queer youth still more susceptible to HIV

From the Advocate.com

As part of the International AIDS Conference in Durban, South Africa, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention presented a report today analyzing the sexual risk behavior of American males in high school. These risk behaviors included having sex without condoms and having multiple sexual partners. The new study, which compiled data from ninth- through 12th-grade males identifying as gay, bisexual, or heterosexual, found “no significant differences” in the HIV-related risk behaviors between these groups.

Queer youth still getting HIVBut despite the very little difference between the HIV-related risk behaviors of gay youth and that of straight youth, the data show that the rate of HIV transmission is still much higher among men who have sex with men. MSM have an HIV diagnosis rate at 57 times that of heterosexual men. In 2014, for example, MSM represented a full 80 percent of new youth infections.

So why does HIV infection disproportionately affect gay and bisexual men if they don’t engage in risky sexual behavior more often than their heterosexual peers? A huge factor is the increased prevalence of HIV in the sexual networks of gay and bisexual men. And one must also keep in mind that, when it comes to HIV transmission, not all sex acts are created equal. According to Dr. Laura Kann, chief of the CDC’s School-Based Surveillance Branch, MSM are at higher risk because “the transmission risk for receptive anal sex is 17 times higher than [for] vaginal sex.”

Read the full article.

HIV pill could cut infections in gay, bisexual men by a third

From Reuters Health

The rate of new HIV infections among gay and bisexual men could drop by up to a third over the next decade if enough eligible men take a drug that protects against the virus, researchers estimate.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, eligible gay and bisexual men meet any of three criteria: they have unprotected anal sex in a monogamous relationship with a partner not recently tested for HIV, or they have unprotected anal sex with a partner outside of a monogamous relationship or they have any anal sex with someone who is HIV positive.

Getting the drug, known as Truvada and manufactured by Gilead, to 40 percent of high-risk men would prevent 1,162 infections among every 100,000 gay and bisexual men over 10 years, researchers estimate in The Journal of Infectious Diseases.

The daily pill is a combination of two antiretroviral drugs that work to keep the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), which causes AIDS, from reproducing in the body. Approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2012, Truvada is often just referred to as PrEP, which stands for pre-exposure prophylaxis.

“We were all interested in estimating the public health impact and efficiency of PrEP,” said Samuel Jenness, the study’s lead author from Emory University in Atlanta.

Jenness and colleagues point out that PrEP is 92 percent effective in preventing HIV infections.

To see how PrEP might change the number of new infections over the next decade, the researchers used a mathematical model that took into account HIV transmission rates among men who have sex with men and the CDC guidelines.

They ran several scenarios through the model and found that getting PrEP to 40 percent of eligible men – and having 62 percent stick to the daily regimen – would avert 33 percent of expected infections among all gay and bisexual men in the U.S. over the next decade, compared to a scenario in which the drug was not available.

Getting PrEP to 10 percent of eligible men would avert about 11 percent of expected new infections, and increasing coverage all the way to 90 percent would avert about half of cases, the researchers calculated.

In a scenario where 40 percent of eligible men take PrEP, the researchers say, having 25 men taking the pill every day would prevent one new HIV infection.

Counseling men on adhering to the daily pill would maximize the public health investment by decreasing the number of men needed to treat to prevent one infection, they add.

Jenness told Reuters Health that currently, 5 percent to 10 percent of gay and bisexual men take PrEP.

In an editorial published with the study, an HIV expert said he’s not sure it’s actually possible to get 40 percent of eligible gay and bisexual men to take PrEP.

“However, PrEP studies from the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, France, and other high-income countries are showing that those who seek out PrEP have substantial HIV risk and adhere well, resulting in near elimination of HIV acquisition,” writes Dr. Jared Baeten, of the University of Washington in Seattle.

Those results show the men currently starting PrEP are good candidates, he said.

SOURCE: bit.ly/29H7FNb The Journal of Infectious Diseases, online July 14, 2016.

Free test kits can help guys on Grindr test more often

From the New York Times…

Grindr, the gay dating app, is an effective way to get gay black and Hispanic men to try home H.I.V. self-testing kits, according to a recent study.

Free test kits on GrindrThe small study was confined to Los Angeles, and fewer than 400 test kits were distributed, but the idea has broader potential. Grindr is used by at least five million men in 192 countries, according to its developer.

In the United States, young gay black and Hispanic men are the groups most likely to be infected with H.I.V. and the least likely to be tested for it, because they often lack health insurance and fear being rejected by their families.

In some other countries, gay men may be harassed, jailed or even executed.

The study used banner ads on Grindr to offer free test kits. Recipients received a kit in the mail, a voucher that could be redeemed for a kit at a pharmacy, or a code that would produce a kit from a vending machine in the parking lot of the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center.

The test requires no blood; a swab of the gums produces results in 20 minutes.

Of the 56 black and Hispanic men who requested kits and were willing to answer survey questions, 69 percent had not been tested in the last six months; medical experts recommend that gay men who do not always usecondoms get tested every three months.

Two men learned from the kits that they were infected.

Researchers at the medical schools of Indiana University and the University of California, Los Angeles, chose Grindr rather than other gay dating apps like Scruff and Jack’d “because it was the oldest and biggest,” said Dr. Jeffrey D. Klausner, an H.I.V. specialist at U.C.L.A.’s David Geffen School of Medicine and one of the authors of the paper published in Sexual Health.

The idea of using the app to encourage home testing is “ripe for expansion” to other cities, and possibly to other countries, Dr. Klausner said

HIV epidemic continues for gay men across the globe

From Johns Hopkins University

Across countries and income levels, gay men continue to see disproportionately high rates of HIV infection, according to a new study from Johns Hopkins University’s Bloomberg School of Public Health. Though overall HIV rates have flattened in recent years and a diagnosis is no longer the death sentence it was once considered, researchers are concerned that the epidemic persists globally among men who have sex with men.

“It’s a tragic situation and it’s painful that the history of AIDS is looking like its future, but that’s actually where we are,” says study leader Chris Beyrer, a Bloomberg School professor and president of the International AIDS Society. “But the first step in taking on a problem is recognizing and articulating it, and we’ve really done that here.”

The findings, to be published July 9 in The Lancet, follow up on a 2012 call to action from the same group of researchers. Back then, they laid out anambitious framework to curtail HIV epidemics in gay men, setting targets for policy reform, funding, and improvement in HIV prevention and treatment—including expanded access to pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP, a pill that has proved highly effective in reducing transmission among this population.

Read the full article.

Gay, Bi men frightening health officials in US and UK with skyrocketing STD rates

From Advocate.com

STD rates alarming health officialsThere are new scary findings about sexually transmitted infections and diseases from the United Kingdom, where cases of syphilis and gonorrhea have jumped 73 percent and 53 percent, respectively, between 2012 and 2015. Officials cite “very high rates of STIs among gay men and young adults” as a factor in the rise, according to The Guardian.

The troubling report follows a similar one last year from the U.S.’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which showed 2014 syphilis and gonorrhea cases outnumbering those from 2013, the first rise since 2006. Again, MSM (men who have sex with men) were specifically referenced in the findings, which repeated a shocking, underreported fact — potentially fatal syphilis among MSM has been increasing since the year 2000.

Read the full article on Advocate.com.

Research: condomless gay porn can lead to more barebacking

From Advocate.com

[…] The study recruited 265 men who have sex with men (MSM) who were asked to relate the number of hours in an average week they spent viewing “man on man” porn, and how much of it featured anal penetration with a condom, as well as condomless anal sex.

Muscular nude male torso

In order to discern the perceived impact of their porn consumption, participants were also asked to describe how often in the preceding three months they fantasized about engaging in sexual acts they had watched, if watching Internet porn influenced the kind of sex they desired, if they sought out sexual contact after watching [porn on] the Internet, whether or not they felt Internet porn contributed to their engaging in “risky sex,” and whether they engaged in condomless anal sex.

Nearly all of the participants had consumed at least some porn both with (91.3 percent) and without (92 percent) condoms in the preceding three months. And researchers were able to discern a clear correlation between condom usage and the condom content of the pornography consumed by the participants; for instance, those who consumed “much” condomless porn (50 – 74 percent) could be expected to participate in 25 percent more sex without condoms than those who only viewed “some.”

Read the full article on Advocate.com.

A silent LGBT epidemic

From the Advocate

The LGBT community is no stranger to attacks on the safety, health and well-being of its members. From the recurring police harassment and violence that precipitated the Stonewall riots to the ravages of HIV and AIDS in the 1980s — coupled with an apathetic government and public — all the way through to the recent Orlando massacre, LGBT people repeatedly find themselves in the crosshairs of dangerous threats.

LGBT smoking epidemicWith such monumental obstacles to our health and well-being, it’s easy to overlook a much more subtle but even more deadly killer: smoking.

The American Cancer Society estimates that more than 30,000 LGBT Americans die from tobacco-related diseases annually. By comparison, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 14,000 Americans with an AIDS diagnosis — gay, straight, transgender, and cisgender — died in 2012.

Read the full article.