Vitamin D sufficiency may speed up immune recovery during HAART

From medicalnewstoday.com

vitimin D aids HARRTThere are an estimated 33 million people infected with HIV worldwide – 1.2 million of them in the US. The advent in 1996 of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) – a combination of different classes of medications taken daily – means that for many patients who have access to the medication, what was once a fatal diagnosis can now be managed as a chronic disease.

For their study, Prof. Ezeamama and colleagues examined 18 months of data for 398 HIV-positive adults on HAART.

The data included a measure of participants’ vitamin D levels at the start of the trial (baseline) and their CD4 cell counts at months 0, 3, 6, 12 and 18.

In their analysis, the researchers looked at how the changes in CD4 cell counts related to the baseline levels of vitamin D over the study period.

They found that participants with sufficient levels of vitamin D at baseline recovered more of their immune function than participants with vitamin D deficiency.

Read the full story here.

Scruff makes it easier for users to advertise prevention preferences

From thebody.com

Last month, Scruff, the popular mobile hookup app, unveiled new profile options that will allow users to disclose their safer-sex practices more easily. The drop down menu presents three HIV prevention methods: condoms, pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) and treatment as prevention (TasP). Scruff users can select one of those options (PrEP or condoms orTasP), select a few combination options (PrEP and condoms or TasP and condoms) or choose to leave the field blank. prevention preferences on ScruffThe new feature has the potential to promote disclosure of HIV prevention practices upfront and facilitate connections between app users with similar approaches to stopping HIV transmission. Notably, it more easily allows individuals to indicate that they use only PrEP or TasP and choose not to use condoms.

New menu options that promote transparency and normalize disclosure of HIV prevention status are certainly welcome, and, with any luck, other mobile apps will follow Scruff’s lead. For many men who have sex with men (MSM), it is often unsafe to discuss our HIV prevention practices openly and with full honesty. We often feel the need to self-censor because our sex lives are already under such intense scrutiny. We dare not draw further attention to ourselves by saying that we do not use condoms 100% of the time. Hopefully, these new choices will help Scruff users make selections that are more in line with their actual prevention choices.

Read the full article on thebody.com.

LGBTQ Americans: Time to enroll in health care

enroll in the affordable care actFrom AIDS.gov

The 2016 open enrollment season has begun. Through January 31, 2016, you can apply for a 2016 health plan, renew your current plan, or pick a new plan through the Health Insurance Marketplace.

This is important news for all Americans, including those who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT). On average, LGBT Americans experience greater exposure to violence and homelessness, as well as higher rates of poverty, HIV infection, tobacco and substance use, mental health disorders, and cancer. These disparities are even more pronounced for LGBT individuals who are also members of racial and ethnic minorities and have low incomes.

These health disparities are due in part to lower rates of health coverage. Now, thanks to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), LGBT Americans have increased access to quality, affordable health insurance.

Visit HealthCare.gov to enroll in a new plan, change your current plan, and get answers about the ACA. See HHS.gov’s LGBT Health and Well-being: The Affordable Care Act to learn how the ACA helps LGBT individuals and families.

Chemsex rise prompts public health warning

From theguardian.com

The growth in use of illegal psychoactive substances during sex could pose an increasing risk to public health, experts say. The popularity of “chemsex” – mostly but not exclusively among gay men – is leading some sexual health services to set up special clinics to treat the consequences of drugs such as GHB, GBL and crystal meth.

chemsex and gay healthUsers are turning to such sources to lower inhibitions and increase pleasure, according to an editorial in the BMJ by experts in sexual health and drug misuse. Its authors warn of a “small but important” increase in the use of mental health services by chemsex drug users. Psychological and physiological dependence on the drugs can become permanent, they say.

“Chemsex drug users often describe losing days – not sleeping or eating for up to 72 hours – and this may harm their general health. Users may present too late to be eligible for post-exposure prophylaxis for HIV transmission.” say the authors. “An increased number of sexual partners may also increase the risk of acquiring other sexually transmitted infections. Data from service users suggest an average of five sexual partners per session and that unprotected sex is the norm.”

Read the full article.