Undetectable viral load and HIV prevention: what do gay and bi men need to know?

What does undetectable mean? What about undetectable viral load and HIV transmission? And if I’m living with HIV, can I use “undetectable viral load” as an HIV prevention strategy?

From thebody.com

Risk of HIV transmission is virtually eliminated when people living with HIV are consistently taking effective HIV medication, (known as antiretroviral therapy or ARVs). It’s well-verified by research, and backed up by many years of real world observation: There have been no cases of transmission in couples where the HIV-positive partner was on meds and had “undetectable” viral load test results for at least six months.

But what does this mean for gay and bi men making decisions about sex, whether in ongoing partnerships, casual dating or anonymous encounters?

Get the answers on thebody.com.

Do doctors need to know their patients’ sexual orientation and gender identity?

From the New York Times

A growing number of federal agencies has been pushing health care providers to ask. Federally funded community health centers, which treat millions of patients, have begun to collect the data. Electronic health software must be able to store it. And blueprints for national health goals recommend collecting the information from all patients.

By knowing whether a patient is lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or straight, say public health experts, clinicians can be more alert to a person’s medical needs and more thoughtful in interactions. If hospitals report statistics on all patients, health care disparities among L.G.B.T. patients can be identified and redressed more effectively.

Read the full article.

Is technology increasing the rate of STDs among certain populations?

by Laurie Saloman, MS

It’s known that men who have sex with men tend to have disproportionately high rates of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) compared with the general population, particularly African American and Latino men. A new study has discovered a link between the methods that these men use to find sexual partners and STD infection rates.   The study, conducted by scientists at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), was comprised of 853 African American and Latino men who lived in Chicago, Illinois, Kansas City, Missouri, and Fort Lauderdale, Florida, who indicated that they had engaged in sex with at least 1 man during the previous year. The men were recruited either online or through some form of community outreach. Questions included their HIV status, whether they identified as gay or bisexual, how many male partners they’d had in the previous 3 months, and whether they used the Internet (via computer) and mobile-phone applications (apps) to look for sex partners.

Read the full article.

Laurie Saloman, MS, is a health writer with more than 20 years of experience working for both consumer and physician-focused publications. She is a graduate of Brandeis University and the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.

Finding LGBT-friendly care  

 

Resources for finding LGBT-friendly care, support and useful information:

• The Human Rights Campaign releases an annual report, “Healthcare Equality Index,” with information on the policies and practices that health care facilities in the United States offer to LGBT patients and their families.

SAGE is a national social service agency dedicated to LGBT seniors, with a free and confidential LGBT Elder Hotline: 888-234-7243.

• The National Resource Center on LGBT Aging offers a wide range of health, policy and legal info on its site, where you can search for local resources by state.

  • The LGBT National Help Center is an online and call-in resource center for information, support and referrals. It includes an online peer-support chat group and a hotline you can call to speak with a volunteer peer counselor: 888-843-4564.

• The Gay and Lesbian Medical Association allows you to search for health care providers in your area.

CenterLink, the Community of LGBT Centers, has a locator where you can find the gay community center nearest to you or your loved one’s home.

• The Metropolitan Community Churches, an international Christian denomination, is particularly welcoming of LGBT people. A staff person at the nearest MCC might be able to recommend appropriate resources in your area.

  • Family Caregiver Alliance offers LGBT caregiving FAQs, as well as a section on “Legal Issues for LGBT Caregivers” and other useful legal resources.

• The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has information about its policies and military benefits for LGBT service members and veterans.

• The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers a range of info on LGBT health issues.

• The American Psychological Association includes some general information on transgender people and gender identity.

• The World Professional Association for Transgender Health has established standards of care for the treatment of gender identity disorders, and offers information on a spectrum of transgender issues, plus a provider search engine.

• The Transgender Law Center fights discrimination, helps transgender people find legal assistance and has updates on related legal news (with some focus on California).

Editor’s note: If you live in Allegheny County, you can find local health resources on our Website in a downloadable pdf file. 

Mobile hookup apps account for Philly’s STD spike among gay men: Report

From Metro.us

new report from the Philadelphia Department of Health says mobile so-called hookup apps are contributing to a spike in reported cases of sexually transmitted diseases among gay men. Statistics show those mobile app meetups among men that led to sex doubled from 2015 to 2016, according to the city.

Meanwhile, internet and in-person meetups among men that later led to sex declined through 2016. The report, titled “The resurgence of syphilis among men who have sex with men,” directly links the new cases to the rise of so-called hookup apps like Grindr.

Mobile app users who contracted syphilis made up some two-thirds of the city’s syphilis cases — representing almost the entire increase above prior infection rates, the report concludes. “These apps present a challenge for identifying and treating sexual partners of syphilis cases because the interaction is often anonymous and cannot be re-traced,” according to the report. “Between 2005 and 2016, infectious syphilis diagnoses more than quadrupled, from 208 to 925” in Philadelphia, it stated.

Read the full article.

Gay men syphilis rates over 100x greater than straight men

From medpagetoday.com

The first state-specific analysis of syphilis among men who have sex with men (MSM) shows they have dramatically higher incidence than men whose only sexual partners are female, the CDC is reporting.

Data from 2015, analyzed with a new methodology, show that the incidence of primary and secondary syphilis among MSM was 309.0 cases per 100,000 people, compared with 2.9 per 100,000 among men who reported sex with women only, according to Alex de Voux, PhD, of the CDC’s epidemic intelligence service, and colleagues at the CDC and Emory University in Atlanta.

The disparity was even more marked when the rate among MSM was compared with the 1.8 cases per 100,000 population seen among women, the researchers reported in the April 7 issue of Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

County-by-county data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey included the number of households with a male head-of-household and a male partner, De Voux and colleagues reported, and that information could be used to estimate the MSM population per county.

For the syphilis analysis, the researchers used data from the 44 states that had information on the sex of partners in at least 70% of reported cases. Those states accounted for 83.4% of all 23,872 reported cases in 2015, De Voux and colleagues reported.

State-specific incidence rates among MSM ranged from 73.1 per 100,000 population in Alaska to 748.3 in North Carolina, the investigators found. Syphilis incidence among MSM was highest in the South and West and four of the five states with the highest rates among MSM — Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and New Mexico — were in the South.

The overall syphilis among MSM was 167.5 times the rate among women, with state-specific rate ratios ranging from 63.7 in Louisiana to 2,140.3 in Hawaii, De Voux and colleagues reported.

Interestingly, the highest overall syphilis rate in the U.S., seen in 1946, was 70.9 cases per 100,000 population — a rate exceeded by the lowest state-specific rate among MSM in 2015: the 73.1 cases per 100,000 observed in Alaska.

The researchers cautioned that the data are based on 44 states and might not reflect the nation as a whole. Similarly, the estimates rely on the American Community Survey data; under-reporting of same-sex households would skew the outcome.

As well, they noted, the analysis did not include cases in which the sex of partners was unknown and if MSM are less likely than other men to report the sex of their partners, the findings might under-estimate the rate of disease among MSM.

Finally, De Voux and colleagues cautioned, not all cases of syphilis are diagnosed and reported.

Editor’s note: To find free Syphilis testing near you, got to gettested.cdc.gov.

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.