A study that looked at the way risk of HIV transmission changed over time in a group of gay men during a six- to eight-year period has found that there was vast variation in the degree of risk men subjected themselves to, the length of time they were at risk and, as a result, HIV incidence.
The researchers analysed the number of times cohort members took sexual risks over the study period (by allocating a “risk score” to each six-month period) and found that men’s risk scores tended to be consistent, and to fall into three different groups. It found that one-in-seven men belonged to a very high risk group, a third of whom became infected with HIV over the study period. Just under a quarter belonged to a moderate risk group, of whom 10% became HIV positive.
The other two-thirds were at low risk of HIV, except for short periods; 3% of them acquired HIV. Being in the one-third of the cohort that did take more risks was associated with being white, having a high income, and being younger; in addition, being in the most at-risk one-seventh of the group was associated with depression and taking recreational drugs.
The authors specifically did this cohort analysis because they wanted better information that could help in the targeting of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) at the right groups: one of the reasons this prevention method has taken off slowly in the US and not yet received approval elsewhere is concern about its cost. Cost-effectiveness studies suggest that PrEP will only be economical if taken by people with the highest risk of HIV infection (see this report for one example).
It is, however, of broader interest, as the first-ever study to demonstrate a relationship between specific characteristics and what the authors call “risk trajectories” – longitudinal patterns of risk over time.
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To read the study abstract, click here.
From the Pittsburgh Post Gazette…
African-American men who have sex with other men typically are more conservative in sexual behavior than gay men in general. So why are they far more likely to contract HIV/AIDS?
“Generally, they take far fewer risks than white guys. They are much more conservative than gay men in general. But it’s a 30-year-long epidemiological puzzle,” said Ron Stall, in the department of behavioral and community health sciences at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health. “Where’s all the virus coming from? If you can’t answer that question, you can’t do HIV prevention.”
The graduate school and the Center for Black Equity in Washington, D.C., now hope to answer that question. They’ve landed a $3.2 million grant through the National Institute of Nursing Research at the National Institutes of Health to answer the question and help put the brakes on the national epidemic of human immunodeficiency virus and the deadly disease that HIV causes — acquired immune deficiency syndrome, known as AIDS. The research team plans to survey nearly 6,000 African-American men who attend annual Black Gay Pride events in Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., which draw about 300,000 participants annually.
“We will bring the community, and Pitt will bring the science,” said Earl Fowlkes, president and CEO of CBE. “We hope to get answers to help both institutions and all of society. This is the most important thing we’ve done in the history of our organization.” The study will create the largest sample of HIV-related data ever collected from African-American MSM, “and that will yield important data about the health and well-being of our community,” Mr. Fowlkes said.
Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/
Being in love really does make sex better, according to a study on gay and bisexual men. New research reveals 92.6 percent of all the men surveyed were in love with the last long-term partner they had sex with. The survey, which involved almost 25,000 gay and bisexual men in the US, also found that older men were more likely to be certain about their love for their partner. The findings revealed that men between the ages of 30 and 39 were most likely to report being in love with their sexual partner.
Lead researcher Joshua Rosenberger, a professor at George Mason’s College of Health and Human Services in Virginia said “these findings highlight the prevalence and value of loving feelings within same-sex relationships,” according to the Daily Mail. “Given the extent to which so much research is focused on the negative aspects of sexual behavior among gay men, particularly as it relates to HIV infection, we were interested in exploring the role of positive affect – in this case, love – during a specific sexual event,” Rosenberger added. “This study is important because of myths and misunderstandings that separate men from love, even though the capacity to love and to want to be loved in return is a human capacity and is not limited by gender or sexual orientation,” added Dr. Debby Herbenick of the University of Indiana.
The study also revealed that 91.2 percent of men “matched” when it came to their feelings of love for their partner. The study revealed that older men were less likely to be uncertain about whether they love their partner. “We found it particularly interesting that the vast majority of men reported sex with someone they felt ‘matched’ with in terms of love, meaning that most people who were in love had sex with the person they loved, but that there were also a number of men who had sex in the absence of love,” Rosenberger added. “Very few people had sex with someone they loved if that person didn’t love them back. This ‘matching’ aspect of love has not been well explored in previous research, regardless of sexual orientation,” he concluded.
From the University Herald online…
The University of Pennsylvania is rolling out a health initiative for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals in an effort to bring them into the medical mainstream, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported. The Penn Program for LGBT Health will span the medical, dental and nursing schools as well as the region’s largest health system. Hospitals and universities have begun tackling LGBT health since issues like gay marriage have been gaining in public acceptance. “We really want to do more. We want to do research. We want to change the climate and culture,” Baligh Yehia, 31, an infectious-diseases doctor who spearheaded Penn’s program, told The Philadelphia Inquirer. “To really prepare the next generation of clinicians to be sensitive to the needs of people.”
The goal of the program is to improve the care of LGBT populations by becoming a local and national leader in LGBT patient care, education, research, and advocacy. The program will include a three-hour curriculum involving transgender health that is now mandatory for first-year students. The course will teach students about the human body with Trans examples, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported. For example instructors will use the body’s physiological changes during hormone therapy to help students understand the endocrine system. Medical students at the university will also receive less than five hours of training on LGBT issues courses on lesbian, gay and bisexual health. The idea for this program came out of a daylong planning retreat that the program’s organizers held in the fall.
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Friday, February 7 is National Black HIV AIDS Awareness Day (NBHAAD). There are many ways you can help increase HIV awareness and work to reduce the impact of HIV in the black community in support of NBHAAD. Check out this list of Ten Things You Can Do for NBHAAD. Also, please join the Twitter Town Hall sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and AIDSVu, with the NBHAAD Strategic Leadership Committee (Twitter: @NatBlackAIDSDay) and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) (Twitter: @NAACP). The theme is “How do we end the HIV epidemic in Black America?”and will take place on Friday, February 7 at 12 pm Eastern Time.
The hashtag #NBHAADchat will be used for the Twitter Town Hall. Everyone is encouraged to participate. For more information on NBHAAD or to find and NBHAAD event, go to http://nationalblackaidsday.org/.
From the Washington Post…
Gay and bisexual teen boys use illicit steroids at a rate almost six times higher than do straight kids, a “dramatic disparity” that points up a need to reach out to this group, researchers say. Reasons for the differences are unclear. The study authors said it’s possible gay and bi boys feel more pressure to achieve a bulked-up “ideal” male physique, or that they think muscle-building steroids will help them fend off bullies. Overall, 21 percent of gay or bisexual boys said they had ever used steroids, versus 4 percent of straight boys. The difference was similar among those who reported moderate use — taking steroid pills or injections up to 40 times: 8 percent of gay or bi teens reported that amount, versus less than 2 percent of straight boys. The heaviest use — 40 or more times — was reported by 4 percent of gays or bi boys, compared with less than 1 percent of straight teens.
The study is billed as the first to examine the problem; previous research has found similar disparities for other substance abuse. “It’s a bit sad that we saw such a large health disparity,” especially among the most frequent steroid users, said co-author Aaron Blashill, a psychologist and scientist with the Fenway Institute, the research arm of a Boston health center that treats gays and lesbians. “Given the dramatic disparity … it would seem that this is a population in which greater attention is needed,” the authors said.
Continue reading on the Washington Post.