Disproportionate number of new HIV infections occur among youth

From the CDC:

In a recent report published on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Website, researchers concluded that a “disproportionate number of new HIV infections occurs among youths, especially blacks/African Americans, Hispanics/Latinos, and men who have sex with men (MSM).”

The report went on to say that although the number of new HIV infections is highest among men, fewer men have been tested for HIV (as compared to women). Routine HIV testing as part of regular medical care was therefore recommended by the CDC for everyone. In addition, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends testing for all youths by age 16–18. They also recommend testing for all sexually active youths regardless of age.

Better adherence to these guidelines, especially for men, is needed to increase early HIV diagnosis and treatment. Treatment is not only critical for the health of the person infected, it is also critical in reducing the chances of spreading the infection to others.

Other key points from the CDC report:

  • Youths aged 13–24 years account for 7% of the estimated 1.1 million persons living with HIV in the United States.
  • In 2010, 26% of estimated new HIV infections were among youths: 57% among blacks/African Americans, 20% among Hispanic/Latinos, and 20% among whites.
  • Nearly 75% of the 12,200 new HIV infections among youths were attributable to male-to-male sexual contact.
  • Only a low percentage of youths have been tested for HIV, and 60% of youths with HIV are unaware of their infection.
  • Young males who have sex with males are at increased risk for HIV because of high rates of HIV in potential sex partners, and they are more likely to engage in HIV-related risk behaviors (e.g., unprotected sexual intercourse and injection drug use) than other male or female high school students.

The report concludes:

More effort is needed to provide effective school- and community-based interventions to ensure all youths, particularly MSM, have the knowledge, skills, resources, and support necessary to avoid HIV infection. Health-care providers and public health agencies should ensure that youths are tested for HIV and have access to sexual health services, and that HIV-positive youths receive ongoing health-care and prevention services.

To read the full report, you can go to the CDC’s Website: http://www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns.

MTV airs HIV positive youth special

From the Associated Press:

MTV is airing a special next week with profiles of three young people who have the HIV infection, amid worries that some people are taking the condition too casually.

The special, “I’m Positive,” is scheduled to air Dec. 1 at 7 p.m. ET/PT. Drew Pinsky, who is one of the show’s producers, said that if it does well, he hopes it can become a regular series.

In three decades, infection with the virus that causes AIDS has gone from a virtual death sentence to a chronic condition that can be controlled with early detection and a drug regimen. But even if it doesn’t develop into full-blown AIDS, there’s still some doubt about the long-term health implications of living with HIV and the drugs designed to keep control of it, Pinsky said.

Read the full article on the AP Website.

Gay American Smoke Out

gay american smoke outFrom the Advocate.com:

[November 15th] is the American Cancer Society’s Great American Smokeout, a day when people are encouraged to quit smoking — or plan to quit — and remain nonsmokers thereafter. It also happens to be the Gay American Smoke Out, which was introduced in 1994 by the Billy DeFrank LGBT Community Center. Although national statistics show that adult smoking rates have declined over the years, smoking is still prevalent among LGBT people. A study published last year in Nicotine & Tobacco Research from the University of Colorado Cancer Center found that gays and lesbians are almost twice as likely to smoke than straight people.

One of the possible reasons for this is stress, which has long been identified as a major contributing factor to smoking and one of the leading causes of relapse for those who have quit. Stress may play an especially important role for LGBT people, especially LGBT youth. A study conducted by CenterLink (formerly the National Association of LGBT Community Centers) looked at 46 focus groups and found that “employment and relationship-related issues were common triggers for smoking, while larger issues like racism, homophobia, and transphobia were seen as playing a key role in why LGBT individuals were more likely to smoke than other people.”

Read the full article on the Advocate’s Website.

Philadelphia FIGHT launches new HIV-prevention project

From the Philadelphia Gay News:

FIGHT’s Jonathan Lax Treatment Center and Youth-Health Empowerment Project are launching [Philadelphia’s] first Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis Program, a prevention initiative aimed at young HIV-negative men who have sex with men. Each participant will also begin a regimen of Truvada, the first-ever drug designed for HIV-prevention, which was originally introduced in 2004. PrEP will consist of in-person group meetings in which the participants will discuss HIV stigma, healthy living, leadership development and other topics. The 15-member group will range in age from 18-29.

Dr. Helen Koenig, physician at the Jonathan Lax Center, along with Noel Ramirez, health-education program coordinator at the Dorothy Mann Center, will spearhead the project. Koenig noted that the center has seen an influx of young men of color coming in, newly diagnosed with HIV. She hopes that PrEP will help stymie this trend.

Read more: PGN-The Philadelphia Gay News