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m4mHealthySex.org is a joint effort between the HIV Prevention and Care Project and the Pitt Men’s Study at the Graduate School of Public Health, University of Pittsburgh. Our goal is to provide up-to-date sexual health information for men who have sex with men. Click on the menu or the page links above to find testing and care resources, including information about PrEP. You can also scroll down for the latest blog posts as part of our archive of sexual health information.

New York will investigate reports of gay men denied insurance

From the New York Times

State financial regulators in New York said Wednesday that they would investigate reports that gay men have been denied insurance policies covering life, disability or long-term care because they were taking medication to protect themselves against H.I.V.

Such denials would amount to illegal discrimination based on sexual orientation, and the companies doing so could be penalized, said Maria T. Vullo, the state’s superintendent of financial services.

The investigation was triggered by an article published Tuesday by The New York Times, she said.

The Times reported that various insurers around the country had denied policies to gay men after learning they took Truvada, a cocktail of two anti-AIDS drugs, to avoid catching H.I.V. through sex. To get insurance, some men even stopped taking the protective drugs.

The practice — known as “pre-exposure prophylaxis,” or PrEP — is recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Studies have shown that people who take the drug every day have nearly a zero chance of becoming infected, even if they are in a long relationship with an H.I.V.-infected person or have sex with many strangers without condoms.

Read the full article.

Allentown’s LGBT youth find sense of self through Project Silk

From Allentown’s Morning Call

Teenage life is brimming with insecurity, awkwardness and anxiety no matter who you are or who you love. But studies show that this already prickly period is several times more difficult for young people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. The struggles can go beyond typical teenage angst, and can lead to depression, suicide, home insecurity and drug and alcohol abuse.

Shyan Ortiz, 21, speaks about the impact of the Bradbury Sullivan LGBT Center’s youth program.

The risks for LGBT youth are real. Though they only make up 4 to 10 percent of the population, researchers estimate as many as 40 percent of homeless youth identify as LGBT. According to the American Psychological Association, young LGBT people have greater barriers to health services and therefore experience higher risks for alcohol and drug abuse, HIV and suicide.

“This is a population that is underserved, marginalized and stigmatized,” said Randell Sell, an associate professor at Drexel University’s Dorn School of Public Health. “Anything that provides access to care and a space like this for these young people is a huge leap forward.”

Project Silk is modeled after a similar program that started at the University of Pittsburgh. The aim was to target vulnerable groups at risk for HIV and find an effective way of providing testing and paths to treatment and other services. The Allentown program was made possible through a $210,000 grant from the University of Pittsburgh’s HIV Prevention and Care Project to replicate the program elsewhere in Pennsylvania.

The program turns what could be a clinical, impersonal service into something familiar and safe. Ketterer said it gives young people a place to belong before introducing services and resources that provide emotional and physical support.

The center has had visits by 115 individuals, Ketterer said. Of those, 70 visited three or more times, said Andrew Palomo, director of research and evaluations at Valley Youth House. The program has administered 50 HIV tests. Youth using the program also have the chance to earn smartphones and other technology by volunteering for work around the center or taking leadership positions.

Read the full article on The Morning Call.

February 7th is National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day

From the National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day Website

February 7, 2018 marks the 18th year for National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NBHAAD), a national HIV testing and treatment community mobilization initiative targeted at Blacks in the United States and the Diaspora.  NBHAAD was founded in 1999 as a national response to the growing HIV and AIDS epidemic in African American communities. The NBHAAD initiative leverages a national platform to educate, bring awareness, and mobilize the African American community. NBHAAD has four key focus areas which encourage people to:

  • Get Educated about HIV and AIDS;
  • Get Involved in community prevention efforts;
  • Get Tested to know their status; and
  • Get Treated to receive the continuum of care needed to live with HIV/AIDS.

For more information go to National HIV/AIDS Awareness Day online.  You can also find local testing resources by entering your zip code here.

Men who have sex with men receive less HIV education

From MD Magazine

According to a recent study led by Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH), young men who have sex with men (MSM) are less likely to receive school-based HIV education than young men who have sex with women, leading to a higher risk of HIV infection.

Researchers aimed to evaluate HIV education and sexual risk behaviors among young men who have sex with men (YMSM) relative to men having sex with women (MSW) in order to identify the relationships between HIV education and YMSM sexual risk behaviors.

The study, published in LGBT Health, found that 84% of MSM reported learning about HIV in school compared to 90% of MSW.

“It’s striking that the young people who are at most risk of HIV are least likely to report HIV education in school,” Julia Raifman, ScD, SM, lead author, assistant professor, health law, policy and management, Boston University School of Public Health, said in the study.

Researchers used data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Youth Risk Behaviors Surveillance System that collected information on sex of sexual contacts and HIV education in 2011 and/or 2013. HIV education, number of sexual partners ever and in the past 3 months, and condom use at last sex were all assessed, controlling for age, race/ethnicity, state and year.

Read the full article.

Allies for Health + Wellbeing launches “I am an Ally” campaign with the support of Mayor Peduto and many prominent Pittsburghers

The campaign is designed to help raise the community’s awareness that what was the Pittsburgh AIDS Task Force is now Allies for Health + Wellbeing and that Allies provides integrated medical and behavioral health care, as well as supportive human services and community-based education for all those living with or at risk of HIV, viral hepatitis and sexually transmitted infections.

The “I am an Ally.” campaign will feature images on the back of Port Authority buses leaving the East Liberty garage starting February 1, 2018, and in other media outlets through April.

Allies of Allies for Health + Wellbeing featured in the campaign include:

  • Allies Board Member Linda Bucci and her husband, Chairman of MARC USA Tony Bucci
  • Medical Director of the Pitt Men’s Study, UPMC infectious disease doctor and Allies Board Member, Ken Ho, MD, MPH
  • Director of the Allegheny Health Department, Karen Hacker, MD MPH
  • Friends of Allies Richard Parsakian, Dr. Larry Leahy, John Van de Grift, Nancy Simpronio and Chuck Culbertson.
  • Allies for Health + Wellbeing LGBQTIA community advocates J Daniel Barlow and Dandy Hayes.

Join the Allies campaign by contacting Allies for Health + Wellbeing at 412-345-7456/info@alliespgh.org.