SNAP research to improve the sexual health of black men

Dr Carl Latkin

Carl Latkin, PhD

 

Dr. Carl Latkin of the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health is conducting a paid research study called SNAP. The study aims to explore sexual health promotion strategies among black men and is seeking black men age 18 or older who have had sex with black men and live in Baltimore.

African-American men who have had sex with men and may be: HIV positive/negative; gay, bisexual, same gender loving or straight are asked to call 800-967-5710 or text 443-253-6729. All calls and participation are kept confidential.

 

Researchers investigate use of PrEP and risk-taking among men who have sex with men

From U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (posted on TheBody.com)

Truvada (tenofovir) is used for pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) to reduce risk of HIV infection among risk-taking HIV-negative gay men. Researchers investigated whether use of Truvada as PrEP encouraged risk-taking among men who have sex with men (MSM). The researchers studied 400 gay men for 24 months between 2005 and 2007 in a randomized double-blind placebo study. One group of participants began taking Truvada at the outset of the study and the other began nine months later. Researchers interviewed the men at entry into the study and every three months concerning sexual risk-taking and use of recreational drugs and erectile dysfunction medications.

Participants had an average of 7.25 partners in the three months prior to the study. This number decreased to 6 partners between months 3 and 9 and to 5.71 in the second year. Before baseline, 57 percent of participants reported unprotected anal sex. The number dropped to 48 percent between months 3 and 9, and rose to 52 percent in the second year. Also, at baseline, 29 percent of participants reported unprotected intercourse with a man they knew to be HIV-positive. This number dropped to 21 percent between months 3 and 9 and increased slightly to 22 percent in the second year. Unprotected sex with partners they knew to be HIV-positive decreased from 2 at the beginning of the study to 1.37 during the second year, and unprotected anal intercourse with partners believed to be HIV-negative increased from 2.75 at baseline to 4 during year two.

Findings indicate that the use of Truvada as PrEP did not increase sexual risk-taking among HIV-negative MSM. However, findings are tempered by the fact that the study provided the participants with risk-reduction counseling, condoms and lubricant, routine HIV tests, STD testing, and links to prevention services. The researchers acknowledge that these measures may have affected the observed risk reduction and risk declines.

The full report, “Sexual Risk Behavior Among HIV-Uninfected Men Who Have Sex with Men (MSM) Participating in a Tenofovir Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) Randomized Trial in the United States,” is published online in the Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes.

May is Hepatitis Awareness Month

awarenessmonth_211x205From AIDS.gov

May 1 marks the start of the month-long observance of Hepatitis Awareness Month. The observance is an important element of government-wide efforts to raise awareness about viral hepatitis and decrease health disparities by educating communities about the benefits of viral hepatitis prevention, testing, care, and treatment.

Throughout the month of May, HHS and our partners who support the Action Plan for the Prevention, Care and Treatment of Viral Hepatitis will be engaged in a variety of activities to increase awareness—among the public and healthcare providers—about viral hepatitis, including the importance of testing, the availability of care and treatment, and associated adverse health effects resulting from undiagnosed and untreated viral hepatitis. In the coming weeks, we’ll be sharing several blog posts about implementation of the Action Plan. On May 19, we will observe the second annual Hepatitis Testing Day. Viral hepatitis is the leading cause of liver cancer and the most common reason for liver transplantation in the United States. An estimated 4.4 million Americans are living with chronic hepatitis; most do not know they are infected. This places them at greater risk for severe, even fatal, complications from the disease and increases the likelihood that they will spread the virus to others.

Hepatitis Testing Day was established in the Action Plan as a means to raise awareness and educate health care providers and the public about who should be tested for chronic viral hepatitis. Unfortunately, many communities and populations remain uninformed about various facets of viral hepatitis, including associated adverse health effects, the need for testing and care, and the availability of vaccines (for hepatitis A and hepatitis B) and treatment – especially priority populations at high risk for viral hepatitis, such as injection drug users; people living with HIV; gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men; baby boomers (people born between 1945-1965); African Americans; and Asians and Pacific Islanders.

Please join us in promoting both of these important observances—Hepatitis Awareness Month and Hepatitis Testing Day—to enhance public awareness of viral hepatitis prevention, testing, care and treatment across the United States. Here are a few things you can do:

  • Learn more about awareness activities, including testing events, taking place in communities around the country to mark Hepatitis Testing Day. This page from CDC allows people to search for Hepatitis Testing Day events taking place near them in May. Event organizers can also list their events.
  • Review the web badges, digital tools, fact sheets, posters and other resources available from CDC on this page and find one you can use this month.
  • Take this 5-minute online hepatitis risk assessment developed by the CDC and get a personalized report on hepatitis testing and vaccination recommendations.
  • Read more about the Viral Hepatitis Action Plan on our recently updated page.

Won’t you please commit to learning more yourself and/or sharing information about viral hepatitis with at least two other people this month?  Working together, we can raise greater awareness about the epidemic of viral hepatitis in the United States and, in so doing, make great strides in improving the health of persons who are at risk for or living with viral hepatitis.

Task Force calls for every adult to be routinely screened for HIV

From WebMD

New guidelines from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force call for virtually every adult to be routinely screened for HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

The updated recommendations, which are published in the April 30 issue of the journal Annals of Internal Medicine, suggest that pregnant women and all people aged 15 to 65 be screened for HIV. The guidelines are now more in line with screening recommendations from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the American College of Physicians and the American Academy of Pediatrics.

“HIV is a critical public health problem. There are 50,000 new infections in the U.S. each year, and we need to find ways to prevent and treat it,” said guideline author Dr. Douglas Owens, a professor of medicine at Stanford University and a senior investigator at the VA Palo Alto Health Care System, in California.

The guidelines, last updated in 2005, reflect new evidence about the effectiveness of treatment, especially when started early in the course of HIV infection.

“The best way to reduce HIV-related death and disability is to avoid getting infected,” Owens said. “Should someone become infected, we want them to understand that there are very good treatments that will help them live longer and reduce transmission.”

Experts agreed that such blanket screening is the best — and possibly only — way to stop the HIV epidemic in its tracks.

Knowing one’s HIV status is “a first step for both prevention and needed medical services, yet the history of the epidemic has set up barriers such that, in some states, it is still not straightforward to access an HIV test without the need for written consent or a fee,” said Dr. Sten Vermund, director of the Institute for Global Health at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Nashville. “Free, regular screening for HIV, much as we try to have regular blood pressure or breast cancer screening, is one of the best ways to start reducing the HIV epidemic in the U.S.”

Read the full article on WebMD.