Health Alert: Get tested for HIV and other STIs

According to a CDC report, HIV continues to have a disproportionate impact on racial and ethnic minorities, gay and bisexual men, and other men who have sex with men. Yet, 15% of men who are infected with HIV don’t know it.
Also, according to CDC research, cases of gonorrhea, chlamydia and syphilis have risen for the fifth consecutive year.

Some STIs (including HIV) can go unnoticed since symptoms can be mistaken for minor health problems like a cold or sore throat. Some may have no symptoms at all. The only way to know if you’re infected is to get tested.

If you send us your zip code, we can help find local testing near you. Most are free. You can also ask us questions about basic sexual health, including PrEP. Send a message to m4mInformation@pitt.edu. We’re here to help

 

Health Alert: New drug-resistant STI spreading among men who have sex with men

Researchers at the University of Washington have identified a worrisome new bacterial cluster that’s growing in prevalence among men who have sex with men and is resistant to antibiotics.

The drug-resistant strains were identified in Seattle and Montreal, although researchers believe they’re common worldwide. Known as Campylobacter coli, the bacteria cause severe abdominal pain, bloody diarrhea, and fever and are estimated to affect about 1.3 million people in the United States annually. The journal Clinical Infectious Disease published the finding this month.

While the infection usually passes after a few days, it can pose a more serious threat to those with compromised immune systems.

Men who have sex with men are more prone to infection due to sexual practices like anal sex and rimming, according to the researchers. Transmission occurs when fecal matter enters another person’s body, and while it isn’t limited to any one population, gay men are more likely to experience drug-resistant infections because they’re more likely to have recieved antibiotics for similar infections in the past.

“The international spread of related isolates among MSM populations has been shown before for Shigella [another enteric pathogen], so it makes sense to see it in Campylobacter as well,” wrote the study’s lead author, Dr. Alex Greninger. “The global emergence of multidrug-resistant enteric pathogens in MSM poses an urgent public health challenge that may require new approaches for surveillance and prevention.”

Read more on Out Magazine online.

Most Americans have never been tested for HIV

From CNN

Most Americans have never been tested for HIV, the virus that attacks and weakens a person’s immune system.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is hoping to change that.
According to a new report, the agency found that fewer than 40% of people in the United States have been screened for HIV. It recommends that all people 13 to 64 be tested at least once.
Fifty jurisdictions across the country are responsible for more than half of all HIV diagnoses, yet only 35% of the people recommended for testing in those areas were screened in the previous year, the CDC says. And fewer than 30% of people across the country with the highest risk of acquiring HIV were tested in that period.
“Diagnosis and treatment are the first steps toward affording individuals living with HIV a normal life expectancy,” CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield said in a statement. “As we encourage those at risk for HIV to seek care, we need to meet them in their journey. This means clearing the path of stigma, finding more comfortable ways of delivering health services, as well as learning from individuals already in treatment so the journey becomes easier for others who follow.”

1 in 5 new HIV diagnoses are among Latinx gay and bi men

From pridesource.com

According to the CDC, one in five new HIV diagnoses in 2017 in the U.S. were among Latinx gay and bisexual men. While HIV rates are stable, or falling in other groups, they rose by 12 percent among these men from 2012-2016. Eighty-four percent of the increase among Latinx gay and bisexual men was in Puerto Rico, Arizona, California, Florida, Illinois, New York, and Texas. By looking at different factors and health outcomes, the authors highlight four policy actions to heighten attention:

  • Strengthen governmental responses to HIV that focus on the unique prevention and care needs of Latinx gay and bisexual men
  • Address the social determinants of Latinx gay and bisexual men’s health.
  • Support immigrants and migrants, including when providing HIV services.
  • Cultivate and support emerging Latinx leaders.

“There is much that we are getting right in our national response to HIV, as exemplified by declining HIV diagnoses and increased HIV viral suppression, yet these outcomes are not being equally shared. By understanding the challenges facing Latinx communities and more strongly embracing Latinx gay and bisexual men, we can turn this around and reduce these disparities,” says Jeffrey S. Crowley, program director of Infectious Disease Initiatives at the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law at Georgetown Law.

Read the full article.

April is STD awareness month: Good health means getting tested

If you are sexually active, getting tested for STDs is one of the most important things you can do to protect your health. Make sure you have an open and honest conversation about your sexual history and STD testing with your doctor and ask whether you should be tested for STDs. If you are not comfortable talking with your regular health care provider about STDs, there are many clinics that provide confidential and free or low-cost testing.

Below is a brief overview of STD testing recommendations. STD screening information for healthcare providers can be found here.

  • All adults and adolescents from ages 13 to 64 should be tested at least once for HIV.
  • All sexually active women younger than 25 years should be tested for gonorrhea and chlamydia every year. Women 25 years and older with risk factors such as new or multiple sex partners or a sex partner who has an STD should also be tested for gonorrhea and chlamydia every year.
  • All pregnant women should be tested for syphilis, HIV, and hepatitis B starting early in pregnancy. At-risk pregnant women should also be tested for chlamydia and gonorrhea starting early in pregnancy. Testing should be repeated as needed to protect the health of mothers and their infants.
  • All sexually active gay and bisexual men should be tested at least once a year for syphilis, chlamydia, and gonorrhea. Those who have multiple or anonymous partners should be tested more frequently for STDs (i.e., at 3- to 6-month intervals).
  • Sexually active gay and bisexual men may benefit from more frequent HIV testing (e.g., every 3 to 6 months).
  • Anyone who has unsafe sex or shares injection drug equipment should get tested for HIV at least once a year.

You can quickly find a place to be tested for STDs by entering your zip code at gettested.cdc.gov.

Fighting HIV: Gaps in treatment, testing drive new infections

From modernhealthcare.com

An estimated 80% of the nearly 40,000 new HIV infections that occurred in the U.S. in 2016 were transmitted from those who either did not know their diagnosis or were not receiving regular care to maintain their virus at nearly non-transmissible levels, according to health officials.

In a new report, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Monday highlighted the gaps in access to treatment and testing resources that exists within the HIV care continuum. Those gaps have led to a halt in recent years to the progress made over the past two decades in reducing HIV infections.

An estimated 15% of people with HIV don’t know they have the virus, and that population accounted for 38% of all new infection, according to the study. Those who know their HIV status but are not receiving care make up 20% of people living with the virus but account for 43% of new infections.

CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield said the epidemic could end over the next few years by expanding access to testing and consistent treatment.

Read the full article.

New STDs emerging

From the New York Daily News

The first worrisome pathogen is Neisseria meningitides, a bacteria that “can cause invasive meningitis, a potentially deadly infection of the brain and spinal cord’s protective membranes,” the health website Mosaic informs us. “More commonly, it’s gaining a reputation as a cause of urogenital infections.”

N meningitides resides in the back of the nose and throat of between 5% and 10% of adults, the site said. There’s a chance people can transmit the bacteria via oral sex or deep kissing.

In 2015, Mosaic said, the bacterial strain mixed with the closely related N gonorrhoeae, which causes gonorrhea — a mutation that allowed the disease to spread more readily.

On the upside, vaccines are available that can protect against all five strains of the gonorrhea bacterium.

Second on the list is Mycoplasma genitalium, one of the world’s smallest bacteria. Between 1% and 2% of people are infected, most of them teens and young adults. Many times it doesn’t cause symptoms, but it can irritate the urethra and cervix, just as gonorrhea and chlamydia do. In women this can lead, like chlamydia, to pelvic inflammatory disease and its associated potential for infertility, miscarriage, premature birth and stillbirth.

While antibiotics exist that will eradicate it, resistant strains are developing, which means it could morph into a superbug.

Third on the list is Shigella flexneri, which one contracts from feces. Shigellosis is one of the bacteria causing dysentery, so is not exclusively contracted via sexual contact. But it might have found a new avenue in anal-oral sex, reported Medscape and the CDC. And given that it is becoming resistant to azithromycin, which also treats gonorrhea, the potential for a superbug is there.

Lymphogranuloma venereum (LGV) is number four on the emerging-STD list, caused by acute Chlamydia trachomatis strains. Its incidence is increasing in Europe and North America, especially among gay and bisexual men, Mosaic reports. A 2016 CDC report documented a cluster of cases among men having sex with men in Michigan. Its symptoms can be subtle, with a fast-disappearing lesion in the genital area, but they can also be even less noticeable, according to the CDC.