Erie County Health Department: A little-known prevention tool can help reduce infection

From Lisa Szymanski, R.N. public health nurse with the Erie County Department of Health (via goErie.com)…

On the heels of World AIDS Day, I can think of no better time to talk about HIV prevention.

HIV is no longer the death sentence it once was. Today, people infected with the virus are living healthier and longer lives; there are well over 300 people living with HIV in Erie County alone.

But HIV can still have serious health consequences.

A little-known HIV prevention tool is available. We call it PrEP, or pre-exposure prophylaxis.

PrEP helps HIV-negative adults greatly reduce their risk of infection. It consists of a medication, Truvada, taken once a day.

If used as prescribed, the U. S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that daily PrEP reduces the risk of getting HIV from sex by more than 90 percent or higher if combined with other risk-reducing behaviors. Among people who inject drugs, it reduces the risk by more than 70 percent.

The CDC is recommending PrEP for people who are HIV-negative and diagnosed with a sexually transmitted disease in the past six months. It is also recommended for those who have an HIV-positive sexual partner, heterosexual men and women who do not regularly use condoms during sex with partners of unknown HIV status, and gay or bisexual men unless in a mutually monogamous relationship with a partner who recently tested HIV-negative.

PrEP is also recommended for people who have injected drugs and have shared needles or been in drug treatment in the past six months.

You must take an HIV test before beginning PrEP and every three months while you’re taking it. There are several health-care providers in the Erie area who are now prescribing PrEP to their patients.

The cost of PrEP is covered by many health insurance plans, and a commercial medication assistance program provides free PrEP to people with limited income and no insurance to cover PrEP care.

Talk with your doctor or health-care provider to determine if PrEP is right for you. For more information, you may contact the Erie County Department of Health.

Gay guys: you’re douching wrong

From voice.com

…you don’t truly need to clean out before riding the baloney pony all night long. It all comes down to anatomy. As Dr. Goldstein told me, stool resides in the sigmoid colon, the part of the large intestine closest to the rectum and anus. There, you’ll find a muscle that keeps poo from going into the rectum and through the anus until you’re actually ready to, you know, poo. That means there shouldn’t be any stool where the top’s dick is going, unless your top is hung like Jon Hamm times Justin Theroux.

You’re probably about to say, “Yeah, but when I douche all kinds of poo comes out.” You’re not wrong. The thing about enemas and irrigation devices is that they were made for people with actual constipation issues, not bottoms. When we douche, the force of water propelled into the colon goes past the area that actually needs to be clean for sex, up into the sigmoid colon. That fills the feces up there with water, and then washes it all out, which is the point of the enema in the first place. An enema cleans out way more than you need to for sex, making your butthole even dirtier in the process. And many people do this repeatedly, until the water comes out clear. That’s like draining a whole pool just to get a few leaves out when you could be using a skimmer instead. (Though it’s possible for a dick to enter the sigmoid colon depending on one’s individual anatomy, it’s not common.)

Read the full article.

Six top experts resigned from Trump’s HIV/AIDS advisory panel

From the Huffingtonpost.com

Scott Schoettes, Counsel and HIV Project Director at the pioneering LGBTQ legal group Lambda Legal, resigned late last week from the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS (PACHA), along with five other council members, in protest of Donald Trump’s polices ― or lack of polices ― to combat the HIV epidemic.

On Friday, Schoettes lambasted Trump as callous, a president who “simply does not care,” laying out the reasons for the resignations in a piece on Newsweek.com:

As advocates for people living with HIV, we have dedicated our lives to combating this disease and no longer feel we can do so effectively within the confines of an advisory body to a president who simply does not care. The Trump Administration has no strategy to address the on-going HIV/AIDS epidemic, seeks zero input from experts to formulate HIV policy, and—most concerning—pushes legislation that will harm people living with HIV and halt or reverse important gains made in the fight against this disease.

PACHA, created in 1995 during the Clinton administration, advises the Secretary of Health & Human Services, who is now Tom Price, the former Georgia GOP congressman with an abominable anti-LGBTQ voting record. In 2013, Price, on a conference call of far-right activists, responded to a question about the “medical health impact” of the “homosexual agenda” by stating that “the consequences of activity that has been seen as outside the norm are real and must be explored completely and in their entirety prior to moving forward with any social legislation that would alter things.”

Price is now spearheading Trump’s and the GOP’s efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act and replace it with Trumpcare, which the Congressional Budget Office estimated would cause 23 million people to lose health care within ten years. This would harm hundreds of thousands of people with HIV across the country as well as many more HIV-negative gay and bisexual men and transgender women at risk who need insurance for pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), the drug therapy to prevent HIV infection. And any advances to stem the epidemic could be dramatically halted or reversed.

One of the most ominous signs of Price’s and the Trump administration’s lack of concern about HIV is that the website for the Office of AIDS Policy was taken down shortly after Trump took office and has not been replaced ― another reason cited by the six members of PACHA who resigned.

Read the article here.

 

 

Canandian HIV activists: Your Nostalgia Is Killing Me

From thebody.com

[Chevalier and Bradley-Perrin’s] piece, titled “Your Nostalgia is Killing Me,” features that wry line, emphatically rendered in bright-yellow, drop-shadowed letters, against the backdrop of a computer-illustrated bedroom. Keith Haring and General Idea graphics serve as wallpaper; visual ephemera from the ’80s — ACT UP reproductions, Therese Frare’s famous photo of mourners at a patient’s bedside, promotional images for the films Philadelphia and Blue — are presented as teenybopper posters, plastered on the wall like pin-ups.

It was a bold comment on how romanticizing the past can obscure present priorities and impede real action. But not everyone read it that way. For many, especially those who had lived through those crisis years, the poster was a lightning rod. On social media, older activists attacked Ian and Vincent for what they perceived as undermining or dismissing the lived experience of survivors, calling them “stupid fucking brats” and accusing them, among other things, of committing “a little Oedipal murder.”

“It became really clear to me that there was this generational divide among people living with HIV, where younger people and older people interpreted the poster differently,” Ian says. He was struck, he notes, by how different generational experiences of HIV are from one another and he felt compelled to investigate that difference.

“It was personal, political, historical,” he continues. “That combination of factors is what my work is now, and what it has always been.”

The posterVIRUS clash was a particularly heated and visible example of Ian’s activist work, but it was far from his first foray into challenging the dominant paradigm. A lifelong critical thinker, Ian can trace the origins of his militant consciousness back to his time as a high school student in Oakville, Ontario, a well-heeled suburb of Toronto.

It was in his teens that the seeds of his current interest in the intersections of public health and marginalized communities were planted. In 2007, during Ian’s final year of high school, he began dating his first boyfriend, who was grappling with addiction and mental health issues and struggling to find ongoing care and treatment.

Through the lens of first love, Ian’s eyes were opened to the shortcomings in the Canadian healthcare system — the dearth of detox, addictions and recovery services, and the challenges of finding a therapist for someone struggling with serious mental health needs. In a time of crisis, the only option seemed to be to go to the emergency room. “I was watching the outer limits of what was possible in Canada for healthcare,” he says.

Read the full article.

Mental health care is key to ending AIDS

From Advocate.com

Research shows a strong correlation between mental health disorders and living with HIV or AIDS, a correlation that is often overlooked. According to the National Institutes of Health, people with HIV have an increased risk for developing mood, anxiety, and cognitive disorders and are twice as likely to live with depression as those who do not have HIV. A 2010 U.K. study showed that one-third of HIV-positive men who participated in the survey met the criteria for a post-traumatic stress disorder diagnosis.

For those living with HIV or AIDS, depression is more than just mental hell — it can be a silent killer. Studies show that if people living with HIV feel stigmatized or suffer from mental illness, they are less likely to take their medication properly, which not only puts their own health at risk by not suppressing the individuals’ viral load, but also raises the likelihood that they will pass HIV on to others. Individuals living with HIV and depression are also more likely to think about suicide or even attempt to take their own lives.

Despite what we know about the connection between mental health and HIV/AIDS, too few people living with HIV or AIDS, and those invested in their health and happiness, are getting the mental health support they need. That is why we are proud to announce the opening of the state-of-the-art GMHC Carl Jacobs Mental Health Clinic, which will allow us to incorporate innovative treatment and counseling into our service model. Services will be available to adult New Yorkers of all sexual orientations, gender identities, and income levels, regardless of HIV status.

Past traumas, stress, depression, reduced self-esteem, and other challenges can be grueling to deal with. We aim to offer holistic services that address not only our clients’ mental health issues, but their social, spiritual and health concerns as well. Meanwhile, the ability to reach more HIV-negative people with HIV-preventive interventions and mental health services will help us decrease new HIV infections.

Read the full article.

The new gay sexual revolution

From Advocate.com

Now there’s hope the younger generation may also experience worry-free sex lives — without the side effects of living with HIV. The use of the antiretroviral drug Truvada as pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP (it’s the only medication approved for HIV prevention), has been shown to reduce the chance of HIV transmission to near zero. Since the medication was first approved as PrEP in 2012, only two verified cases of transmission have been documented among those who adhere to the daily schedule (a third, according to HIV expert Howard Grossman, could not be confirmed). New, longer-lasting PrEP injectables should reach market in the next few years. Studies suggest that on-demand PrEP (such as taking it before and after sexual activity) may also be effective.

“This is a revolution!” Gary Cohan, MD, who prescribes PrEP, told us in 2016. “This should be above the fold in The New York Times and on the cover of Time magazine. A pill to prevent HIV?”

Read the full article on Advocate.com.

Three reasons why language is important in media coverage of HIV

From the HRC… (by Diego Mora Bello, HRC Global Fellow)

Stigma and discrimination continue to be common barriers for people living with HIV. Fortunately, the media can play an important role in helping to remove these and other barriers. In my own survey of Latin American news articles mentioning HIV and AIDS, and in meeting with media professionals and advocates, I found that Latin American Media has room to improve its use of correct and destigmatizing language when talking about people living with HIV. Covering HIV both correctly and responsibly is important, because doing so is an essential part of raising awareness, debunking common myths, and giving voice to an already marginalized group of people.

The importance of using correct and responsible language in journalistic coverage of HIV inspired me to research this topic and share my findings. The ultimate goal of HIV in the Media is to report on this subject in a scientifically accurate and responsible way that inspires others to follow suit.

Based on my research, here are the top three reasons why language is important when covering HIV and AIDS in the media.

Read the full article on the HRC Website.