Who we are…

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…

Can new ‘Smart PrEP Pills’ increase adherence for HIV-prevention medication among young people?

From the Daily Herald online…

How does the smart PrEP work?

“The pill Truvada — the only PrEP drug approved by the Food and Drug Administration — has a sensor tablet encapsulated over it, so that when the pill is swallowed, the sensor tablet comes in contact with gastric fluid in the stomach and creates an electrical signal,” explained Dr. Gregory Huhn, CCHHS’ Associate Professor of Infectious Diseases and principal investigator of the trial. “The electrical signal is less than the frequency of a heartbeat, so nobody is going to feel it. But it transmits a signal in real-time that the pill has been ingested.”

By having a record of when the pill has been taken that goes to both the patient and his or her doctors or providers, the providers can reach out to patients who haven’t been taking the pills as directed and find out if there are any issues they can help resolve-like medication side effects a patient might be having or that they’ve run out of medication, Brothers said.

PrEP is supposed to be taken once a day.

Read the full article.

New injectable antiretroviral treatment proved to be as effective as standard oral therapy

From Science Daily

Antiretroviral therapy (ART) intramuscularly administered may have the same effectiveness as current oral treatments. This is the main conclusion of the Phase II clinical trial carried out by 50 centers around the world — 9 in Spain — to which the team of Dr. Daniel Podzamczer, principal investigator of the Bellvitge Biomedical Research Institute (IDIBELL) and Chief of the HIV and STD Unit of the Infectious Diseases Service of Bellvitge University hospital (HUB) has contributed. The results of the trial, published by the journal The Lancet, pave the way to the implantation of all-injectable antiretroviral therapies with a lower frequency of administration, which would imply a significant improvement of the quality of life of HIV patients.

Read the full article.

HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis can be taken as needed

From Reuters Health

Men at risk for HIV infection can safely take pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) when they need it, instead of every day, suggests a new study.

In a study of gay and bisexual men, researchers found that taking four doses of PrEP around the time of sexual activity cut the risk of being diagnosed with HIV by 97 percent.

The pill, marketed by Gilead as Truvada, contains a combination of the two anti-HIV drugs emtricitabine and tenofovir disoproxil fumarate. Truvada was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for PrEP in 2012. Typically, the pill is taken daily.

The participants and the dosing schedule used in the new study were drawn from the IPERGAY clinical trial, which was discontinued early in 2014 after the drug was found to be highly effective at protecting against HIV.

“There are consistent data suggesting that on-demand PrEP before and after sex strictly following the IPERGAY dosing schedule . . . is also highly effective and could be an alternative to daily PrEP,” said Dr. Jean-Michel Molina, lead author of the new study and principal investigator of the trial.

The 361 men in the new study were enrolled from France and Canada after the completion of the IPERGAY trial. They were told to take two doses of Truvada between two and 24 hours before sex, another dose 24 hours later and a fourth dose 24 hours after that.

One participant who stopped taking PrEP during the roughly 18 months of follow-up was diagnosed with HIV, researchers reported July 23 in The Lancet HIV to coincide with presentation at the 2017 International AIDS Society Conference in Paris.

The overall rate of HIV among those in the study was 0.19 cases per 100 people per year. That compared to 6.60 cases per 100 people per year among men who were assigned to take a dummy pill during the larger trial.

The researchers found that about 14 percent of study participants reported minor stomach issues that eventually cleared up. Only four men stopped using the medication.

Read the full article.

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.