Groundbreaking study aims to develop a cure for HIV


From The Philadelphia Gay News

With the support of a multimillion-dollar federal grant, several local organizations are taking part in a groundbreaking study that aims to develop a cure for HIV. The Wistar Institute, in partnership with Philadelphia FIGHT, the University of Pennsylvania, University of California and Merck, is undertaking a trial study based on a therapeutic strategy that has already shown promise at reducing HIV-1 virus levels.

Dr. Luis J. Montaner, a professor at The Wistar Institute and director of Wistar’s HIV-1 Immunopathogenesis Lab, and collaborators received a four-year, $6.2-million grant from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease of the National Institutes of Health to support the study. Montaner said his team has been pursuing the grant for several years. “There is a lot of preamble before the award is given,” he said. “We have been chasing the opportunity to do this study since 2011.”

The study is based on a prior pilot trial in which a protein called interferon-alpha was shown to reduce persistent HIV-1 in patients being treated with antiretroviral therapy. The grant will pay for the management of the clinical and administrative expenses of the study and for laboratory follow-up, which will allow researchers to calculate the study’s outcome. Montaner said the team will perform an initial evaluation of the study in mid-2016, and it will be finalized in 2018.

Read more: PGN-The Philadelphia Gay News

Legacy aims to end high rates of smoking by the LGBT community

From the Edge on the Net

Pennsylvania-Woman-Tells-Teens-to-Get-a-Job-Is-Shot-over-a-Cigarette-2Did you know that gays smoke cigarettes at rates nearly 70 percent higher than the general population, and tobacco companies target the LGBT community specifically? There are 440,000 preventable deaths from tobacco-related causes each year. Maybe it’s time to make that resolution happen, and let Legacy help you kick that butt for good.

“Legacy has been working to support the LGBT community since its inception, doing everything from funding grant projects to listening sessions, convening folks to talk about issues facing the community,” said Legacy’s Senior Vice President of Collaboration and Outreach William Furmanski. “Last year we had a report published with our findings and hosted a webinar to have a national dialogue.” Legacy is a Washington, D.C.-based foundation responsible for truth®, the national youth smoking prevention campaign that has been cited as contributing to significant declines in youth smoking. Their education campaigns include EX®, an innovative public health program designed to speak to smokers in their own language and change the way they approach quitting. Legacy helps people live longer, healthier lives by building a world where young people reject tobacco, and anyone can quit.

Furmanski cited statistics that reveal the LGBT community has some of the highest rates of smoking among any population group — in fact, dramatically higher than the public at large. This means that the disease and death caused by tobacco use impacts our community at a much higher rate. “Anything we can do to help individuals understand the risks in smoking and how they can improve their health by quitting, and strategies used by the tobacco industry to attract them to a product are important,” said Furmanski. “We realized that even just relaying these harms would help the LGBT community, because tobacco use takes a back seat to other health issues in our community like HIV/AIDS. Many people think smoking can be okay to deal with the stress in life.”

Read the full article on 

Gonorrhea and syphilis are on the rise among gay and bi men


Gonorrhea and syphilis are on the rise in the U.S., mostly in men who have sex with men, a trend the government said is linked to inadequate testing among people stymied by homophobia and limited access to health care.

The rate of new gonorrhea cases rose 4 percent in 2012 from the year before, while syphilis jumped 11 percent, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said today in a report. Rates for chlamydia, the most common of the bacterial sexually transmitted diseases, gained less than 1 percent. While all three diseases are curable with antibiotics, many people don’t get tested as recommended, said Gail Bolan, the director of the CDC’s STD prevention division. That’s especially the case for syphilis, where the rise is entirely attributable to men, particularly those who are gay or bisexual.

“We know that having access to high-quality health care is important to controlling and reducing STDs,” Bolan said in a telephone interview. “Some of our more-vulnerable populations don’t have access. There are a number of men who come in to our clinic for confidential services because they’re too embarrassed to see their primary care doctors.”

The CDC rate for gonorrhea was 107.5 cases out of 100,000 in 2012, while syphilis was 5 cases per 100,000 people. The infections cost the U.S. health-care system about $16 billion every year, according to the report.

Read the full article on Bloomberg News.  

HIV testing and linkage to care available for young gay, bi and transgender African Americans via Project Silk

projectsilkProject Silk is a service project for young adult gay, bisexual or transgender African Americans. It’s a partnership between the Pennsylvania Department of Health and the University of Pittsburgh and is run by Anthony Silvestre, PhD, and Mackey R. Friedman, PhD, MPH, of the department of infectious diseases and micobiology in Pitt’s Graduate School of Public Health. Project Silk provides a safe, youth-centered space in downtown Pittsburgh and is open four nights a week. An on-site social worker is available and helps connect young people to important services such as housing, employment and health care. HIV testing and linkage to care are available during drop-in hours, and a private office can be requested. The project includes a mix of structured programming, such as civic discussion groups. There’s also unstructured time for young people to practice dance moves and prepare for house balls, which are competitive dance events.



Reducing health disparities for LGBT Americans through the Affordable Care Act

Seeking to reduce health disparities for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) Americans through the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the National LGBT Health Education Center at The Fenway Institute, and the Center for American Progress, have released “Optimizing LGBT Health under the Affordable Care Act: Strategies for Health Centers,” a guide detailing how the ACA will improve LGBT health and best practices for health centers to increase enrollment of LGBT people in coverage under the ACA. Download a free copy of the PDF here.

“The long history of discrimination in health care and societal bias against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people has created alarming health disparities for this community,” said Harvey Makadon, MD, Director of the National LGBT Health Education Center. “LGBT people have disproportionately high rates of tobacco use, HIV infection, encounters with violence and homelessness, elevated rates of depression and suicide attempts, and reduced access to preventive health services. The ACA reforms described in our guide represent a critical step toward addressing these disparities and improving the health of LGBT Americans.”

Keep reading on