Undetectable viral load “completely effective” at stopping HIV transmission, study finds

From Buzzfeed

A groundbreaking new study found zero transmissions occurred between HIV-positive men with an “undetectable viral load” due to treatment, and their HIV-negative partners, across thousands of instances of anal sex without a condom.

The Opposites Attract study, led by professor Andrew Grulich from the Kirby Institute, followed a cohort of 358 gay male couples – one partner HIV-positive, the other HIV-negative – in Australia, Thailand and Brazil.

The HIV-positive partners in the study had an “undetectable viral load”, meaning they are on treatment to suppress the virus so it is undetectable in the blood.

Not a single HIV transmission occurred across the almost 17,000 times participants reported having anal sex without a condom.

12,000 of those sexual encounters were protected solely by the HIV-positive partner’s undetectable viral load, and in the other 5,000, the HIV-negative partner was also taking a drug to protect against contracting HIV, known as PrEP.

“It really does confirm that undetectable viral load is completely effective at preventing transmissions in gay couples,” Grulich told BuzzFeed News from Paris, where he is presenting the research to the International Aids Society (IAS) Conference on HIV Science.

“Essentially, we’re documenting that this is a form of safe sex for couples in this situation.”

Read the full article.

Grindr, virtual reality and vlogging: new ways to talk about sexual health

From the Guardian.com

Almost half the world’s population is online and billions of young people use social media. So why doesn’t more sex education happen across these channels? The first Global Advisory Board for Sexual Health and Wellbeing brings together a group of individuals who are using innovative ways to reach more people with information about sex and relationships. Here are some of the projects they’ve been working on:

Grindr to reach patients at risk of HIV in the US

In 2015, Antón Castellanos Usigli, a male nurse working in New York, started working in an HIV/sexually transmitted infections (STIs) prevention clinic at a hospital in Brooklyn. The goal was to increase the number of at-risk patients that came into the clinic for sexual health prevention services. Initially, the clinic tried outreach in clubs and bars in Brooklyn, but not a single client came in through this approach.

Usigli thought about using Grindr, a dating app for gay men, to raise awareness of HIV. He set up a profile as a male nurse to tell at-risk patients about the services offered at the clinic. He then developed a script for healthcare professionals to use.

The success rate has been astonishingly high. In the first month of using the app in this way, more than 20 new at-risk patients came to the clinic for a variety of preventative services, such as sexual health counselling, HIV/STI testing and pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP). In little over a year, more than 100 new at-risk patients came into the clinic. Some of those tested positive for HIV and Usigli was able to link them to medical care. Others tested positive for STIs and Usigli was able to treat them.

Read the full article.

AIDS deaths are on the decline thanks to medications but increasing drug resistance poses a danger

From the Los Angeles Times

The world has made major progress in the fight against AIDS — an epidemic that over the last four decades has killed 35 million people — as increasing numbers of people gain access to life-saving treatment and the number of deaths each year fall dramatically. But there have also been setbacks, most significantly growing resistance to the drugs.

The latest statistics came out this s week in two reports, one by the United Nations AIDS agency, the other by the World Health Organization.

Here’s the epidemic today, by the numbers.

Smoking rampant in LGBTQ community, UIC researcher finds

From dnainfo.com

LGBTQ people smoke at twice the rate of straight people, a University of Illinois at Chicago researcher notes in a paper that offers five ideas to reduce the trend.

UIC clinical psychologist Phoenix Matthews

The paper, produced by a team led by UIC clinical psychologist Phoenix Matthews, said LGBTQ people are “at an elevated risk for tobacco related health disparities due to disproportionately high rates of tobacco use.”

Around 46 percent of gay men and 48 percent of adult lesbians smoke, according to the National Institutes for Health.

Many anti-smoking programs target specific ages, ethnicities and gender — but not sexual orientation, Matthews said in a press release about the paper, published in June by the Society of Behavioral Medicine. Cessation services, such as tobacco quit lines, “are underused by LGBT smokers,” Matthews added.

Matthews recommends that smoking surveys include gays and lesbians specifically and that anti-smoking media campaigns include messages that target them. In addition, the paper urges reducing menthol-flavored cigarettes, which are favored by young smokers, and creating a national clean air act aimed reducing second hand smoke.

Read the full article.

Antibiotic-resistant Gonorrhea on the rise: Are you at risk of drug-resistant STD?

From techtimes.com…

The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned that gonorrhea, a common sexually transmitted disease, has become harder and sometimes even impossible to treat. Neisseria gonorrhoeae, the bacteria that causes the STD, is so smart it evolves to develop resistance against the antibiotics used to treat infection. [Read the WHO report here]

WHO said that decreasing use of condom, poor infection detection rates, urbanization and travel, as well as inadequate or failed treatments all contribute to the rising cases of antibiotic-resistant gonorrhea. “WHO reports widespread resistance to older and cheaper antibiotics. Some countries — particularly high-income ones, where surveillance is best — are finding cases of the infection that are untreatable by all known antibiotics,” WHO said in a statement. WHO experts said that oral sex is driving the spread of super-gonorrhea. In the United States, about two-thirds of those between 15 and 24 years old have had oral sex.

Teodora Wi, from the WHO, said that when antibiotics are used to treat infections of the throat such as normal sore throat, these get mixed with the Neisseria species in the throat, which can lead to resistance.

What makes matters more worrying is that many people with gonorrhea in the throat are not aware they are infected and are more likely to transmit the infection via oral sex. “In the US, resistance [to an antibiotic] came from men having sex with men because of pharyngeal infection,” Wi said.

Read the full article.