Syphilis and HIV: A dangerous duo affecting gay and bi men

From the AIDS.gov blog:

Trend data released today in CDC’s 2011 STD Surveillance Report show that primary and secondary syphilis rates are increasing among gay and bisexual men, who now account for more than 70% of all infections.

Annual syphilis surveillance data published in the just released 2011 STD Surveillance Reportcontinue to emphasize the disproportionate burden of disease among gay and bisexual men. While the health problems caused by syphilis in adults are serious in their own right, it has been shown that the genital sores caused by syphilis make it easier to transmit and acquire HIV infection sexually. There is an estimated 2- to 5-fold increased risk of acquiring HIV if exposed to that infection when syphilis is present, and studies have also shown that syphilis will increase the viral load of someone who is already HIV infected. This is especially concerning, as data from several major cities throughout the country indicate that an average of four in 10 MSM with syphilis are also infected with HIV. The stakes are too high to ignore these health disparities. It is critically important that syphilis infections among MSM be promptly diagnosed and treated in order to decrease the rates of subsequent HIV infection.

Read more on AIDS.gov.

Allegheny County health director urges flu vaccinations

From the Pittsburgh Post Gazette:

Now that the flu season has officially begun — the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said so Monday — Allegheny County Health Department Interim Director Ronald E. Voorhees has a message for those still unprotected:

“Get vaccinated. It’s here, and the clock is ticking.”

According to the CDC’s weekly surveillance report published Friday, 48 states and Puerto Rico have reported cases of laboratory-confirmed influenza and, nationally, the percentage of specimens testing positive for influenza is rising fast. Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee and Texas all are reporting above-normal cases of flu. Such an uptick usually doesn’t happen until after Christmas.

Read more: allegheny-county-health-director-urges-vaccinations-amid-flu-uptick

Not too late to get your yearly flu vaccine

NIVW_web-button_180x150_AABy Ronald Valdiserri, M.D., M.P.H., Deputy Assistant Secretary for Health, Infectious Diseases, and Director, Office of HIV/AIDS and Infectious Disease Policy, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

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As daylight hours get shorter and temperatures are falling, we’re not only approaching winter but also flu season. While we can all find ways to enjoy the change of seasons, no one enjoys the flu — a contagious respiratory illness caused by flu viruses spread between people. Seasonal flu is a special concern if you are a person living with HIV (PLWH) since HIV can make your body too weak to fight off the flu. HIV also increases your risk for serious flu-related complications. Experts agree that getting the flu vaccine is the most effective way to prevent the flu.

CDC has designated this week as National Influenza Vaccination Awareness Week, so we encourage you to learn more about the seasonal flu and take steps to protect yourself. Here are some resources to help you:

Remember, it is not too late to get your yearly flu vaccine to protect against the flu viruses experts predict will spread this season. As long as flu viruses are spreading and causing illness, vaccination can provide protection against the flu.

Need for action among black gay and bi men

From the Huffington Post Blog…

To End AIDS Among Black Gay and Bi Men, There’s a Need for Action

The face of AIDS as imagined by some in America is that of a black gay or bisexual man. Indeed, black gay and bisexual men, or men who have sex with men (MSM), have the highest HIV rates in the country. Black MSM are commonly portrayed as as “down low brothers” who transmit the disease to women by having unsafe sexual relationships with men on the side, or even as carriers of the disease by default, somehow. These stereotypes treat the epidemic as a result of ignorance about safe sexual practices, or of homophobia, and in doing so they offer an overly simplistic solution to a far more complex problem.

What all too often goes unaddressed is the fact that black MSM tend to be at the intersection of multiple identities and challenging circumstances — racism, homophobia and economic disenfranchisement — that adversely affect their access to HIV testing, prevention and treatment. That intersection is a very dangerous place, and our various communities and the federal government have yet to respond adequately to address our health and service needs.

Continuie reading here.