Syphilis up among minority gay, bisexual men

From Reuters.com

Syphilis is a sexually transmitted bacterial infection that can be easily cured with antibiotics in the early stages. But many people do not have symptoms early on, or don’t recognize the symptoms, and continue to transmit the infection. In the U.S., syphilis has been on the rise since 2000, when the national rate hit an all-time low of 2.1 cases per 100,000 people.

That increase has been largely among men, who had a rate of just under 8 cases per 100,000 in 2009 (versus 1.4 cases per 100,000 women), according to the CDC. And studies have suggested that gay and bisexual men now account for a majority of new syphilis cases.

Health officials are concerned about the resurgence not only because of syphilis itself, but also because the infection makes people more vulnerable to contracting HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

Now the new findings, reported in the Annals of Internal Medicine, show that minorities — and young men, in particular — are being hit hardest by syphilis.

To read the full story, go to Reuters.com.

CDC rolls out ‘Strength Through Affirmation’

click on the image for a larger view

From Colorlines.com

When the Center for Disease Control and Prevention released its latest estimates of HIV infection earlier this month, it made unexpected headlines with a startling finding: 30 years into the epidemic, researchers have found a burgeoning epidemic among young black gay and bisexual men. This week, at the agency’s massive annual convening of HIV prevention scientists and experts, federal health officials rolled out a rare national campaign targeting black gay men.

According to the CDC, new infections among black gay and bisexual men under 30 years old shot up by 48 percent in recent years, rising from an estimated new 4,500 infections in 2006 to an estimated 6,500 in 2009. The findings—which also confirmed the U.S. continues to log 50,000 new cases a year overall, roughly half of which are among African Americans—prompted many to ask the perennial question: Why is this happening and what can be done about it?

The CDC has pointed to several factors, including limited access to both HIV testing and sexual health education, stigma surrounding HIV and homosexuality that has gone unchallenged in communities of color and a higher incidence rate of other sexual transmitted illnesses, which have been show to facilitate transmission of HIV.

Richard Wolitski, a deputy director in the CDC’s HIV/AIDS Prevention Division, spoke with Colorlines.com about the Testing Makes Us Stronger campaign and the CDC’s concern over the increase in HIV infection rates among black gay and bisexual men.

 Read the full article at Colorlines.com.

Chicago Black Gay Men’s Caucus address the alarming rate of HIV infection among gay black men

From the Windy City Times…

In response to alarming new data that reveals young Black men who have sex with men are significantly more likely to contract HIV than their peers, the Chicago Black Gay Men’s Caucus (CBGMC) hosted “Conversations: A Discussion on the National HIV/AIDS Strategy and the impact for Black Gay/Bisexual Men in Chicago” Aug. 11.

On Aug. 3, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control announced that HIV cases among young Black men (ages 13-29) who have sex with men rose by 48 percent between 2006 and 2009. Similarly, records from the Chicago Department of Public Health indicate new HIV cases among young gay Black men (13-29) in Chicago rose by 62 percent between 2005 and 2008.

Read the full article on the Windy City Times Website.

An important message for recipients of the SPECIAL PHARMACEUTICAL BENEFITS PROGRAM (SPBP) concerning the 2011 recertification period

The SPBG will mail recertification forms to currently enrolled clients. Clients will then have 30 days to complete and submit the forms for recertification in the program.

SPBP Recertification is occurring earlier this year and the time period to submit recertification forms will close earlier as well. Cancellation letters will be mailed on September 16, 2011 for individuals who do not respond to the recertification. The 30 day appeal period will close on October 17, 2011.

It is therefore imperative that cardholders respond within the identified timeframe, in order to avoid an interruption in enrollment status. Any interruption in enrollment status will result in the inability to qualify for the expanded income criteria for program eligibility.

Note that the SPBP requires a minimum of three business days to process Recertification Forms. When it is necessary to provide additional supporting documentation of required information, an additional three business day processing period applies. Also, this recertification applies to people who have commercial coverage or Medicare and use SPBP for co-pays.

Please allow at least seven business days before calling the SPBP Customer Service Line, toll free at 1-800-922-9384, Monday through Friday, from 8:00 A.M. to 4:30 P.M., to inquire regarding the status of a Recertification. You may also contact the SPBP staff by email at: spbp@state.pa.us.

If you haven’t received the recertification form in the mail, you can download the form and the instructions from this Website.

 

American Psychological Association supports same-sex marriage 157-0

From LifeSiteNews.com:

WASHINGTON, D.C., August 8, 2011  – The American Psychological Association (APA) has re-affirmed its support for same-sex “marriage” for the eighth consecutive year, this time with a more strongly-worded statement.

On the eve of this year’s annual convention, the association’s policymaking body supported same-sex “marriage” unanimously in a 157-0 vote.

The APA has backed “marriage” for homosexual couples since 2004, and marriage-like benefits since 1997, and now calls itself “a strong advocate for full equal rights for LGBT people for nearly 35 years.”

This year’s resolution is the first new wording of the association’s position since 2004, and includes stronger support for same-sex “marriage” by both asserting the possibility of long-term gay relationships as well as criticizing the stress that traditional marriage campaigns cause gays.

One APA official indicated that the recent spread of gay “marriage” in America, most notably in New York last month, has made the association’s public support for normalizing same-sex “marriage” more bold.

Read the full article.

One-third of workers have access to same-sex health benefits

From the New York Times:

WASHINGTON — In the first comprehensive count of domestic partner benefits by a federal government agency, the Bureau of Labor Statistics found that about one-third of all workers had access to health care benefits for same-sex partners.

 Bureau officials added two questions about domestic partner benefits for same-sex couples to the National Compensation Survey, a sample of 17,000 businesses and local governments, as a response to growing public interest in the topic, said Philip Doyle, assistant commissioner at the agency. The results were made public on Tuesday.

 Thirty-three percent of state and local government employees had access to domestic partner health benefits for same-sex couples, the survey found, slightly higher than the 29 percent of employees in private companies.

 Gary Gates, a demographer at the Williams Institute on Sexual Orientation Law at the University of California, Los Angeles, said the data collection “reflects contemporary reality of what constitutes a compensation package.” It will also allow researchers to track whether laws on same-sex marriage affect the availability of domestic partner benefits.

To read the full article, you can go to the New York Times online.