WASHINGTON, D.C. – NASTAD (National Alliance of State & Territorial AIDS Directors), a leading non-partisan non-profit association that represents public health officials who administer HIV and hepatitis programs in the U.S. and around the world, published a new statement affirming that durably virally suppressed people living with HIV on antiretroviral therapy (ART) do not sexually transmit the virus. The statement accelerates NASTAD’s longstanding work to end HIV and promote policies and public health practice grounded in science.
”The science is clear that people living with HIV with a sustained undetectable viral load do not transmit the virus to others. What’s also clear is that we have the tools to end the HIV epidemic and HIV-related stigma and make new infections a thing of the past. Today, we tackle a major part of this work by raising awareness about the latest science of HIV transmission risk,” remarked NASTAD Executive Director Murray Penner.
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Professor of sociology Matt G. Mutchler’s research over the past 20 years into HIV prevention and treatment issues, especially within the African American community, has garnered him more than 15 external research awards and respect as an expert in the field. In addition to serving as a faculty member at California State University, Dominguez Hills, he is currently a visiting professor with the Center for AIDS Prevention and Study at University of California, San Francisco, and director of community-based research with AIDS Project Los Angeles.
Mutchler’s more recent work addresses sexual communication among African-American gay and bisexual males and their close friends, and other sexual health issues related to gay men. He also investigates HIV treatment adherence programs.
Mutchler brings his expertise in community-based research to the CSUDH’s Urban Community Research Center (UCRC), where he serves as director. The multi-disciplinary, sociology-based applied research center focuses on the needs, problems and solutions that arise in urban areas. The center also offers CSUDH students hand-on research experience as they collaborate with CSUDH faculty, and a number of governmental, community-based, and university/research institutions, such as AIDS Project Los Angeles (APLA), Charles R. Drew University, Spectrum, REACH LA, and the RAND Corporation.
Mutchler recently shared insights about his studies and findings, the challenges and rewards of conducting his research within the African American community, and his latest work.
Read the interview with Professor Mutchler on csudhnews.com.
Earlier this month, Poz magazine’s Benjamin Ryan drew attention to a concerning new study out of Northern California’s health system: Using data gathered from July 2012 through June 2015, researchers found that, among a cohort consisting mostly of same-sex–attracted men on the HIV-prevention regimen PrEP, “quarterly rates of rectal gonorrhea and urethral chlamydia increased steadily and about doubled after one year.” In other words, guys on the fantastically effective pill-a-day Truvada program were avoiding HIV infection—there were no new transmissions for regimen-adherent patients over the study period, in fact—but they seemed to be getting other sexually transmitted diseases relatively often.
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New research suggest that stigma and discrimination may alter gay men’s cortisol balance resulting in stress. Moreover, black gay men, a double minority, are likely to experience more stress that white gay men.
Investigators explain that research over the past two decades has shown that cortisol is a life sustaining adrenal hormone essential to maintaining the natural balance of the body. Cortisol is often referred to as “the stress hormone,” as it influences, regulates, and modulates many of the changes that occur in the body in response to stress.
New studies measure cortisol at various times during the day on a 24-hour basis to examine possible adrenal imbalances. The majority of these diurnal cortisol studies have been conducted among white heterosexuals, with very little research examining HPA-axis functioning between different minorities.
However, individuals who identify as both sexual and racial minorities may experience increased stigma and discrimination that can affect this HPA-axis functioning.
To address this need for more expansive research, investigators led by Stephanie H. Cook, DrPH, conducted a study, “Cortisol profiles differ by race/ethnicity among young sexual minority men”, examining differences in diurnal cortisol rhythm between young, self-identified, white gay men (WGM) and black gay men (BGM).
The research appears in the journal Psychoneuroendocrinology.
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From the Minnesota Daily…
With widespread accessibility of mobile technology, researchers hope a new app may support the wellbeing of HIV-positive youth.
A study funded by the National Institutes for Health drew together faculty from across the country, including some from the University of Minnesota, to develop an app – called “Youth Thrive”. The app for mobile devices reminds HIV-positive youth to take their medications.
The five-year study is in its earliest stages, and the team will spend the next year developing the app and getting feedback from youth before they launch it at the end of 2017, said Keith Horvath, community health and epidemiology professor at the University.
While the project officially started in July, Horvath said it took a few months to get moving. He said the NIH funded two other centers to research technology’s impact on slowing HIV’s spread.
The idea for the app stemmed from an earlier program for adult men living with HIV, he said.
The original app is already in the field and lets users talk to each other and access specific information about their situation. It also sends text message reminders to take medications.
“All of the studies use technology since we’re really a technology-based center,” Horvath said. “We’re trying to figure out how can we really leverage technologies for youth either who are living with HIV in the case of my study or youth who are at high risk for HIV.”
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From Rolling Stone online…
When Truvada was introduced four years ago as a way to prevent HIV, public health leaders didn’t welcome the drug with open arms. The head of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation panned the once-daily pill as a “party drug.” Other health officials claimed that taking Truvada would cause a wave of wild unprotected sex. Even members of the LGBTQ community parroted the criticism, with one gay journalist (regretfully) labeling some users “Truvada whores.”
But the last four years has seen a shift in attitude. More and more Americans are embracing pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), the HIV prevention method that requires a daily dose of Truvada to reduce viral risk. And more and more prescriptions are being written for the antiretroviral drug. While PrEP is growing in popularity, a new study out of the University of California released last month suggests that the populations most at risk of HIV infection are not the ones benefitting from the prevention strategy.
In a survey of gay and bisexual men in California, only a handful of participants reported having taken PrEP. PrEP use was highest among young white men, at 13.9 percent. For young Latino men, that figure was cut by more than half, while young black men represented less than 10 percent of people who started PrEP.
“This is not reflective of the HIV epidemic at all,” says Shannon Weber, founder of Please PrEP Me, an online directory of over 230 clinics in California that provide PrEP. “It is reflective about access, and where and how people are getting that information.”
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From the Rainbow Times…
The 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.”