NIH awards $7.9 million to test mobile HIV prevention app for young gay and bi men

From the Rainbow Times

1The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has awarded a $7.9 million grant to the Columbia University School of Nursing to test an HIV prevention mobile app specifically developed for high-risk young men. In the five-year project, Columbia researchers will adapt and test a new mobile version of MyPEEPS, an existing HIV education intervention that covers topics including correct condom use, dealing with stigma and shame, and communicating effectively about safer sex. MyPEEPS Mobile will be a web-based version of the intervention that will be accessible by mobile and desktop devices and that will feature games, videos, and interactive scenarios. The app will be evaluated in a randomized controlled trial involving 700 racially and ethnically diverse 13- to 18-year-old men with HIV-negative or unknown status at four geographically diverse sites: Birmingham, Alabama; Chicago, Illinois; New York, New York; and Seattle, Washington.

“Our aim is to provide this population with information to make better health decisions,” says Rebecca Schnall, a co-principal investigator for the project. “Young, diverse MSM are the most at-risk for HIV infection, and there is a dearth of evidence-based interventions targeting this community. There is much evidence that mobile tech is a great way to connect with this generation. By meeting them where they are, we are hopeful about the intervention’s potential to decrease infections.”

Carnegie Mellon University recruiting HIV-negative individuals at risk of getting HIV

carnegiemellonuniversity_wordmarkSocial scientists at Carnegie Mellon University are recruiting HIV-negative individuals who are at risk of contracting HIV for one-hour interviews about their daily lives, their view on their personal HIV risk, and their thoughts about the costs, risks and benefits of taking PrEP.

You are eligible to participate if you:

Are HIV negative and between the ages of 18-60, AND;

* Have had sex without a condom in the last 6 months, OR
* Have been diagnosed with a sexually transmitted infection within the last 6 months, OR
* Use a needle to inject drugs

All participants will receive $50 cash.

This study is sponsored by the Center for Inclusion Health at Allegheny Health Network

For more information or to schedule an interview, contact: 

The PrEP Study
Phone: 412-336-8993

‘His Health’ is a new platform helping doctors tackle implicit bias in treating Black gay men


While the threat of HIV/AIDS has decreased significantly thanks to advances in antiretroviral therapy, treatment as prevention, and pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), black men who have sex with men (MSM) are still affected at a disproportionate rate.

In February, the CDC released an eye-opening study which claimed at the current rate of infection, one in two black MSM will contract HIV in his lifetime.

4605712d88d88917ae31f918cee6fbaaOne of the reasons for the virus’s prevalence in the black community is a lack of quality healthcare. The National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors (NASTAD) is addressing this with a new online training platform, His Health aims to help doctors, nurses, and medical professionals unlearn racial bias and elevate the quality of healthcare for black MSM.

Recent research found that white healthcare providers harbored “implicit or “subconscious” bias to patients of color which led to their patients receiving inferior care. Furthermore, LGBT people can often face stigma or discrimination in access to healthcare as well as unique health challenges their providers are not always apt to deal with—for instance, one in three primary care physicians and nurses have never even heard of PrEP. And that’s certainly not helping the 60 percent of gay and bi men who don’t know that PrEP can help prevent the transmission of HIV.

According to a press release, His Health does the following:

– Provides accredited and expert-led continuing education courses that count towards the credits medical professionals already need to maintain their medical licensure.

– Offers portraits of innovative models of care including Project Silk—a CDC funded, Pittsburgh-based recreational safe space and sexual health center rooted in house ball culture—and Connecting Resources for Urban Sexual Health, a sexual health clinic created by and for LGBTQ youth of color.

– Gives easy access to evidence-based resources to support the delivery of high quality, culturally affirming healthcare services for black men who have sex with men.

“There is a lot of discussion right now about implicit bias and police brutality in the U.S.—but the truth is, this is a huge challenge for health care providers as well,” said Omoro Omoighe, Associate Director of Health Equity and Health Care Access at NASTAD.

“We know doctors and nurses desperately wish to offer culturally affirming healthcare that is stigma-free to black LGBT patients. With the advent of His Health, they now have the tools necessary to tackle implicit bias and feel more confident in their ability to uplift the standard of care for black gay men while maintaining their licensure to practice medicine.”

For more on His Health, click here.

Why the HIV battle continues for gay men

From the Huffington Post

Ace Robinson
Global Health Policy Analyst

September 27th was National Gay Men’s HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. It’s the day that approximately 80 gay and bisexual men will become infected with HIV. Thirty (30) of those men will be Black. Twenty-five (25) will be White and twenty-one (21) will be Latino. Some of those men will find out about their status very early, will be engaged in competent healthcare, and will live a full productive life while managing this chronic illness. But to this day, that will be the exception and not the rule.

Ace Robinson   Global Health Advocate Focused on Reducing the Impact of Infectious Diseases on Marginalised Populations

Ace Robinson
Global Health Advocate Focused on Reducing the Impact of Infectious Diseases on Marginalized Populations

Like just about all viral illnesses life the flu, treating HIV right away and staying on treatment will not only stop you from getting sicker, but stop you from being able to transmit that virus to others. The same is true for HIV. Last month, Dr. Carl Dieffenbach, Director of the Division of AIDS at the National Institutes of Health confirmed what global experts had been saying for years: “Once you begin therapy and you stay on therapy…you are NOT capable of transmitting HIV to a sexual partner.” It is called Treatment as Prevention (TasP). That is excellent news. But that is only true for 30% of Americans. The vast majority of People Living with HIV (PLWH) are not benefitting from the advances in treatment due to not knowing their HIV status, lacking access to care and treatment, lacking social support, or a mix of all the above.

Of those infected each day in the United States, two-thirds are gay and bisexual men. In vast parts of the USA, gay and bisexual men do not receive the type of needed support to access and stay on treatment which puts them at risk for HIV progression and potentially transmitting the virus to another person. Due to homophobia, some men do not have support from their families, have reduced access to jobs and housing, and have had poor experiences in healthcare settings. That creates the perfect storm for the continued epidemic that has gripped this globe for over 35 years.

Today, we live in an age that PLWH can live nearly their entire expected life span IF they receive sustained treatment. We also live in an age that people can take a daily pill (PrEP) that can prevent HIV infection before exposure. And if that is not enough, we also live in an age that people can take a course of treatment that can prevent HIV infection after exposure(PEP).

But what good does TasP, PrEP, and PEP do if people most at-risk for infection are not aware of it. They are really just a jumble of letters. In my circles, it seems that everyone know about these things. But that’s not the norm. For so many, there is nearly no knowledge of these ways to treat and prevent HIV. A couple of weeks ago, I was in southern Georgia visiting my mother and we went on a mini-vacation to Jekyll Island. I was chatting with a young Black gay man who worked at the local hotel. Eventually, we started chatting about what I do and I off-handedly starting rambling on about PrEP and PEP. If you could have seen the look on his face, you would have thought that I had told him that aliens had landed in Times Square. For that young man, we had failed him. He should have known sooner.

The HIV prevention and treatment toolbox is filling faster today than ever before. But not everyone knows what is in it. Awareness, advocacy, and access will be the ultimate tools in the HIV toolbox to ultimately end HIV in mine and others’ communities. We must strive to continue not only raising awareness, but also advocating for access for gay men who have been disproportionately impacted by HIV for far too long.

Study shows equal rates of risky sex between gay and straight male teens — but queer youth still more susceptible to HIV

From the

As part of the International AIDS Conference in Durban, South Africa, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention presented a report today analyzing the sexual risk behavior of American males in high school. These risk behaviors included having sex without condoms and having multiple sexual partners. The new study, which compiled data from ninth- through 12th-grade males identifying as gay, bisexual, or heterosexual, found “no significant differences” in the HIV-related risk behaviors between these groups.

Queer youth still getting HIVBut despite the very little difference between the HIV-related risk behaviors of gay youth and that of straight youth, the data show that the rate of HIV transmission is still much higher among men who have sex with men. MSM have an HIV diagnosis rate at 57 times that of heterosexual men. In 2014, for example, MSM represented a full 80 percent of new youth infections.

So why does HIV infection disproportionately affect gay and bisexual men if they don’t engage in risky sexual behavior more often than their heterosexual peers? A huge factor is the increased prevalence of HIV in the sexual networks of gay and bisexual men. And one must also keep in mind that, when it comes to HIV transmission, not all sex acts are created equal. According to Dr. Laura Kann, chief of the CDC’s School-Based Surveillance Branch, MSM are at higher risk because “the transmission risk for receptive anal sex is 17 times higher than [for] vaginal sex.”

Read the full article.

HIV pill could cut infections in gay, bisexual men by a third

From Reuters Health

The rate of new HIV infections among gay and bisexual men could drop by up to a third over the next decade if enough eligible men take a drug that protects against the virus, researchers estimate.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, eligible gay and bisexual men meet any of three criteria: they have unprotected anal sex in a monogamous relationship with a partner not recently tested for HIV, or they have unprotected anal sex with a partner outside of a monogamous relationship or they have any anal sex with someone who is HIV positive.

Getting the drug, known as Truvada and manufactured by Gilead, to 40 percent of high-risk men would prevent 1,162 infections among every 100,000 gay and bisexual men over 10 years, researchers estimate in The Journal of Infectious Diseases.

The daily pill is a combination of two antiretroviral drugs that work to keep the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), which causes AIDS, from reproducing in the body. Approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2012, Truvada is often just referred to as PrEP, which stands for pre-exposure prophylaxis.

“We were all interested in estimating the public health impact and efficiency of PrEP,” said Samuel Jenness, the study’s lead author from Emory University in Atlanta.

Jenness and colleagues point out that PrEP is 92 percent effective in preventing HIV infections.

To see how PrEP might change the number of new infections over the next decade, the researchers used a mathematical model that took into account HIV transmission rates among men who have sex with men and the CDC guidelines.

They ran several scenarios through the model and found that getting PrEP to 40 percent of eligible men – and having 62 percent stick to the daily regimen – would avert 33 percent of expected infections among all gay and bisexual men in the U.S. over the next decade, compared to a scenario in which the drug was not available.

Getting PrEP to 10 percent of eligible men would avert about 11 percent of expected new infections, and increasing coverage all the way to 90 percent would avert about half of cases, the researchers calculated.

In a scenario where 40 percent of eligible men take PrEP, the researchers say, having 25 men taking the pill every day would prevent one new HIV infection.

Counseling men on adhering to the daily pill would maximize the public health investment by decreasing the number of men needed to treat to prevent one infection, they add.

Jenness told Reuters Health that currently, 5 percent to 10 percent of gay and bisexual men take PrEP.

In an editorial published with the study, an HIV expert said he’s not sure it’s actually possible to get 40 percent of eligible gay and bisexual men to take PrEP.

“However, PrEP studies from the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, France, and other high-income countries are showing that those who seek out PrEP have substantial HIV risk and adhere well, resulting in near elimination of HIV acquisition,” writes Dr. Jared Baeten, of the University of Washington in Seattle.

Those results show the men currently starting PrEP are good candidates, he said.

SOURCE: The Journal of Infectious Diseases, online July 14, 2016.

Free test kits can help guys on Grindr test more often

From the New York Times…

Grindr, the gay dating app, is an effective way to get gay black and Hispanic men to try home H.I.V. self-testing kits, according to a recent study.

Free test kits on GrindrThe small study was confined to Los Angeles, and fewer than 400 test kits were distributed, but the idea has broader potential. Grindr is used by at least five million men in 192 countries, according to its developer.

In the United States, young gay black and Hispanic men are the groups most likely to be infected with H.I.V. and the least likely to be tested for it, because they often lack health insurance and fear being rejected by their families.

In some other countries, gay men may be harassed, jailed or even executed.

The study used banner ads on Grindr to offer free test kits. Recipients received a kit in the mail, a voucher that could be redeemed for a kit at a pharmacy, or a code that would produce a kit from a vending machine in the parking lot of the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center.

The test requires no blood; a swab of the gums produces results in 20 minutes.

Of the 56 black and Hispanic men who requested kits and were willing to answer survey questions, 69 percent had not been tested in the last six months; medical experts recommend that gay men who do not always usecondoms get tested every three months.

Two men learned from the kits that they were infected.

Researchers at the medical schools of Indiana University and the University of California, Los Angeles, chose Grindr rather than other gay dating apps like Scruff and Jack’d “because it was the oldest and biggest,” said Dr. Jeffrey D. Klausner, an H.I.V. specialist at U.C.L.A.’s David Geffen School of Medicine and one of the authors of the paper published in Sexual Health.

The idea of using the app to encourage home testing is “ripe for expansion” to other cities, and possibly to other countries, Dr. Klausner said