Though HIV is treatable today, the challenges of navigating the health care system can be stressful for anyone, let alone an individual living with a chronic illness. AIDS Resource Alliance utilizes a team of case managers who are trained to help their clients with insurance, housing, treatment and other issues that impact the lives of persons living with HIV. Twice-monthly support groups give clients a chance to share their experiences and struggles within a safe space where judgment and stigma are not allowed.
AIDS Resource Alliance also provides prevention services to the communities they serve. HIV and STI testing are available free of charge during office hours, as are condoms and other harm reduction materials. Each testing client is also provided with risk-reduction education, and general education services are available to local agencies and organizations who want their members to learn more about HIV and sexual health.
Much has changed since the earliest days of the epidemic, and the staff at AIDS Resource are preparing for the future with programming that addresses the new landscape of HIV in America. PrEP, the daily medication that can prevent HIV infection, is prescribed free in the Williamsport offices, as are the required testing and physical examinations necessary to continue the medication (the cost of the drug is the responsibility of the patient, but the AIDS Resource team can assist the client in applying for programs that assist in covering the cost of the drug.) As the population of people living with HIV enters their 60s and beyond, support group and other focused social activities enable clients to maintain positive social connections. Counseling services are provided free of charge to clients who request them.
Find out more.
One in ten new cases of HIV in gay and bisexual men are linked to gonorrhea and chlamydia infection. That’s the conclusion of a modelling study highlighted by the NCSD (National Coalition of STD Directors) in the US.
The journal, Sexually Transmitted Diseases, published the research this week. Both sexually transmitted infections can increase the risk of HIV transmission taking place: a fact known for some time.
However, with rates of both gonorrhea and chlamydia rising in the US, health experts are concerned how this may impact public health advances in tackling HIV.
Between 2013-2017, the US saw a 22% increase in chlamydia. Gonorrhea diagnosis shot up by 67%. By comparison, there has been a 13% drop in HIV diagnosis over the last eight years.
The precise extent to which chlamydia and gonorrhea increase HIV transmission is unknown. Other biological factors may also play an influence. For this reason, parts of the ‘modelling’ study relied on estimates.
However, researchers from Emory University and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta say their findings should be used by those working in public health to address the issue of STIs and HIV transmission.
Read the full article.
The Pennsylvania Department of Health is reporting an historic increase in the number of new Syphilis infections in the state.
The Health Department is asking anyone who fits the criteria listed here to have a Syphilis test…
- A rash on the palms of the hands or on the soles of the feet, back, chest, or stomach
- A lesion (red sore) in the genital, rectal, or oral area
- Moist papules in the mouth
- Sudden scalp alopecia (loss of hair)
- Sudden loss of eyelashes and eyebrows
- Swelling of the lymph nodes
- A recent positive test for another STD such as gonorrhea, chlamydia, HIV or Hepatitis C
Send your zip code to m4mInformation@pitt.edu and we’ll send you locations for STD testing. Most are free.
Syphilis is a sexually transmitted infection. If it goes untreated, it can lead to serious health problems including paralysis, blindness, and dementia. However, Syphilis is 100% curable with simple antibiotics.
Syphilis is spread through direct contact with a Syphilis sore during vaginal, anal, or oral sex. You can get Syphilis and not have any symptoms so the only way to know for sure you’re not infected is to get tested.
Several locations around the state have free Syphilis testing. Click on this link to find free testing at a State Health Center near you.
To find out more about Syphilis, go to www.cdc.gov/std/syphilis/stdfact-syphilis.htm
To find out more about Health Alerts, go to the Pitt Men’s Study Website.
To Unsubscribe from Health Alerts, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the word unsubscribe in the subject line.
Pitt Men’s Study Health Alerts are presented by the Pitt Men’s Study and the HIV Prevention and Care Project at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health.
From LGBTQ Nation…
In an interview with the Los Angeles Blade about the new study, lead author Phillip Hammack, a professor at the University of California, Santa Cruz, debunked the notion.
“Our data don’t support the idea that we can attribute the rise in STIs to PrEP use, at least not in a direct manner. I personally don’t think that’s what’s happening,” said Hammack.
Instead, Hammack points at the rise of dating apps like Grindr, and a decrease in fear towards contracting HIV, as more likely causes.
“I would speculate it has more to do with a culture shift about sex,” said Hammack. “More people are having sex today. We’re in sort of a quiet sexual revolution when it comes to new identities, new labels, and sexual behavior.”
On the down side, the study also showed that only 4% of men who have sex with men are using PrEP. What’s more, many gay and bisexual men aged 18-25 aren’t getting annual HIV tests. 25% of men who have sex with men in that age range have never gotten an HIV test.
“I worry especially about younger men who didn’t grow up with the concerns of HIV that men of older generations did,” said Hammack in the William Institute press release on the study. “The low rate of HIV testing probably reflects a degree of complacency and cultural amnesia about AIDS.”
Read the full article.
Popular dating apps could soon help stop the spread of record high STD infections among their users.
Grindr and other primarily gay dating apps are exploring ways to add the ability for people who test positive for an STD to notify partners using the app, Mashable has learned in multiple interviews with public health experts.
According to Dr. Heidi Bauer, the chief of STD control at the California Department of Health, and Dan Wohlfeiler, director of the health consortium Building Healthy Online Communities(BHOC), STD partner notification messages are currently under consideration by several different app-makers, including Grindr, with one possibility already in the design and piloting phase.
Read the full article.
From Infectious Disease Adviser…
The incidence rate of syphilis in people with HIV increased through 2015, according to new research published in Clinical Infectious Diseases.
Since 2000, the incidence of syphilis has increased among gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men (MSM) in the United States. This represents an ongoing sexual risk, and temporal trends and associated risk factors for newly diagnosed syphilis infections among people with HIV were therefore investigated.
Data from HIV Outpatient Study cohort participants visiting 10 clinics in the United States from 1999 to 2015 were analyzed. A total of 6888 participants with HIV were included, and 641 had one or more new syphilis diagnoses during a median follow period of 5.2 years. Participants were mostly male, age 31 to 50 years (78%), and the majority were MSM (56%).
Read the full article.
Rates of new sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are much higher among men who have sex with men (MSM) taking Truvada (tenofovir disoproxil fumarate/emtricitabine) as pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) than among other MSM. More research is needed, however, to determine whether starting PrEP leads to higher STI rates among MSM.
Publishing their findings in the journal AIDS, researchers conducted a meta-analysis of 18 studies of MSM in which new STI diagnoses were reported. Five of the studies included MSM given PrEP, and 14 were conducted with MSM who were not given PrEP. (One study, the PROUD study, included both a group given PrEP immediately and a group given PrEP on a deferred basis and thus fell into both the PrEP and the non-PrEP categories of studies.)
The researchers found that the rates of new diagnoses of STIs among MSM given PrEP were 25.3 times greater for gonorrhea, 11.2 times greater for chlamydia and 44.6 times greater for syphilis, compared with the rates among MSM not given PrEP. After repeating the analysis but excluding studies conducted before 1999, the researchers found that the results were similar.
Looking to parse apart the contributing factors to the higher rate of STI diagnoses among MSM given PrEP, the meta-analysis’s authors theorized that the regular STI testing that is part of taking PrEP might have led to a higher rate of STI detection. A greater number of sex partners and a higher rate of condomless sex among those given PrEP might also have contributed to their higher STI diagnosis rate.
The study is limited by the fact that, except in the case of PROUD, the researchers compared different populations of MSM from study to study. They also compared groups that tested for STIs at different frequencies and used different variations of STI tests. Additionally, the PrEP studies specifically sought out participants engaging in high-risk sexual behaviors, while the other studies might have had different criteria with regard to sexual risk taking. However, participants in many of the non-PrEP studies were indeed recruited based on some level of reported sexual risk taking.
Read the full article.