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University of Pittsburgh Research Assistant and Technical Writer

April 10th is National Youth HIV/AIDS Awareness Day


sign saying National Youth HIV Awareness DayAll youth deserve access to comprehensive sexual health education. National Youth HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NYHAAD) is an opportunity to work together to make this a reality. By educating youth about the basics of HIV, how to protect themselves, find testing, treatment and care services, and confront HIV stigma in their communities, we are empowering them to take an active role in ending the HIV epidemic for future generations.

Today’s youth have many of the same hopes and dreams as previous generations. But we must also recognize they are distinct in many ways too. Their widespread passion for advocacy and social change sets them apart. They also face unique challenges and barriers when it comes to achieving those dreams.

In 2018, youth aged 13 to 24 made up 21% of the 37,832 new HIV diagnoses in the United States and dependent areas. Most new youth diagnoses were among gay, bisexual men, and men who have sex with men (MSM). Most of these new diagnoses occurred among young Black and Latinx MSM. Yet, in 2018, youth were the least likely age group to be aware they had HIV, remain in care, or achieve viral suppression. One of the most important things we can do to change this trend is to provide accurate, age-appropriate, and culturally sensitive information about HIV.

Read the full article.

Upcoming virtual events and webinars hosted by the Mid-Atlantic AETC

Wednesday, April 14 at 12:00pm ET

Part of the Wednesday Webinar series presented by the MAAETC in collaboration with the Delaware Regional Partner:

Integrated HIV Prevention Services
Wednesday, April 14, 2021 12:00pm – 1:00pm ET

Featured speakers: Brian Wharton, MSN, RN, CPEN, CPST & Daeshawn Gray, BS

By the end of this webinar, participants will be able to identify 3 effective strategies in HIV prevention, explain the term “Status Neutral” approach to HIV, and identify 3 HIV-stigma reducing strategies. See event page for credit information.


Wednesday, April 14 at 2:00pm ET

Brought to you by the University of Maryland Regional Partner of the MAAETC.

The third in the MAAETC’s Minority AIDS Initiative (MAI) virtual event series:

Impact of Racism on Health Inequities
Wednesday, April 14, 2021 2:00pm – 3:00pm ET

Featured panel speakers: see event page

The objectives of this event include: discuss the history of health inequities within minority communities, describe how ethnicity/cultural orientation and other social determinants of health (SDOH) increases the likelihood of BIPOC experiencing poorer health outcomes with infectious diseases such as HIV, and identify specific strategies to employ in addressing healthcare disparities in vulnerable patient populations. See event page for credit information.


For the rest of the events in the series, please visit:

Thursday, April 15 at 10:15am ET

Brought to you by the West Virginia Regional Partner of the MAAETC:

Hot Topics HIV 2021:

Prevention and Reproductive Choices for Women
Thursday, April 15, 2021 10:15am – 1:40pm ET

See event page for featured speakers.

At the end of the program, participants should be able to describe best practices for identification, care and treatment for the pregnant woman living with HIV, discuss HIV transmission and prevention issues specific to the female population, describe the WV FREE Comprehensive Pregnancy Options Referral model, identify resources available to individuals for choosing the following options: parent, adoption and abortion, and deliver information with a neutral and objective tone for each option.

See event page for credit information.


For the rest of the events in the series, please visit:

Thursday, April 15 at 2:00pm ET

Part of the COVID-19 and HIV series presented by the MAAETC:

The Intersection of Public Health and Motivational Interviewing during COVID-19
Thursday, April 15, 2021 2:00pm – 3:30pm ET

Featured speakers: Antoine B. Douaihy, MD & Cassandra L. Boness, MA

The COVID-19 pandemic has gravely affected people’s lives creating a “new normal” with serious consequences impacting communities and individuals. This webinar aims to introduce healthcare practitioners to the usefulness of motivational interviewing (MI) in fostering collaborative conversations promoting public health behaviors, such as mask wearing and vaccine uptake, and navigating uncertainty in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. MI has been defined as person-centered method of guiding to elicit and strengthen personal motivation for change. It is designed to help people change a desired behavior by leveraging their own values and beliefs. MI is an egalitarian, empathetic “way of being”. It is a collaborative communication style that uses specific strategies such as reflective listening, shared decision-making, and eliciting change talk. This interactive webinar will discuss how practicing MI can help practitioners cope better with the “new normal,” support patients in practicing public health behaviors, and address the challenges of the impact of the pandemic. See event page for credit information.


For the rest of the events in the series, please visit:

Wednesday, April 21 at 11:45am ET

The third event in the four part Prevent, Engage, and Treat series:

Determinants of Health that Increase Adverse Health Outcomes for Vulnerable Populations
Wednesday, April 21, 2021 11:45am – 2:00pm ET

Featured speakers: see event page for more information

This is the third event in a four-part community networking series for Ending the HIV Epidemic (EHE) in Maryland. This event was created for providers and consumers of Maryland and the surrounding areas but is open to anyone interested in attending. At the end of each event, participants will have the opportunity to win a prize! By the end of this event, participants should be able to identify the unique case management needs for key vulnerable populations with HIV and become knowledgeable of different models for HIV care, including Ryan White and non-Ryan White funded programs. There is no accreditation offered for this event.


For the rest of the events in the series, please visit:

Thursday, April 22 at 2:00pm ET

Part of the COVID-19 and HIV series presented by the MAAETC:

The Impact of COVID-19 on the Aging Population with HIV
Thursday, April 22 2021 2:00pm – 3:00pm ET

Featured speakers: Dorcas Baker, RN, BSN, ACRN, MA & Melanie Reese

This webinar will provide current knowledge surrounding the impact of COVID-19 in the general population of older adults in comparison to individuals aging with HIV; Identify medical conditions that can increase risk for severe illness; Describe the psychosocial impact of COVID on individuals aging with HIV and the importance of social support and Identify the challenges and successes of maintaining adherence during the pandemic. In addition, there will be a panel discussion with Long Term Thrivers sharing their perspectives on the impact of COVID-19.

See event page for credit information.


For the rest of the events in the series, please visit:

Friday, April 23 at 2:00pm ET

Brought to you by the Howard University Regional Partner of the MAAETC:

Providing Affirmative Care for LGBTQ+ people
Friday, April 23, 2021 2:00pm – 3:00pm ET

Featured speaker: Deborah Dunn, PA-C, MBA

By the end of this training participants will be able to address the different sexual orientation Identities (Definition, terms, proper etiquette, etc), discuss Social determinants of health (SDOH) that can increase the vulnerability of LGBT people to include poverty, homelessness, housing, dissemination, minority stress, incarceration, health care, and education, understand how to collect Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SO/GI) Data In Electronic Health Record, address Health disparities that impact the L,G,B communities, and discuss Primary Care and Preventative Care for Transgender Individuals to include cancer screening, behavioral health, sexual wellness, health disparities, and elder LGB patients.  See event page for credit information.


For the rest of the events in the series, please visit:

Wednesday, April 28 at 12:45pm ET

Brought to you by the West Virginia Regional Partner of the MAAETC:

nPEP (non-occupational Post Exposure Prophylaxis) –

The Role of the Pharmacist
Wednesday, April 28, 2021 12:45pm – 2:00pm ET

The objectives of this event include summarize the nPEP guidelines, recognize medication regimens approved for HIV prophylaxis, describe common side effects of HIV prophylaxis medications, recall pertinent counseling points for HIV prophylaxis medications, compose a therapeutic plan for a patient with a possible HIV exposure, and discuss retail billing for nPEP.

See event page for credit information.


Thursday, April 29 at 10:45am ET

Brought to you by the West Virginia Regional Partner of the MAAETC:

Hot Topics HIV 2021: Human Trafficking
Thursday, April 29, 2021 10:45am – 12:15pm ET

Featured speaker: Brenda Joseph

This event will focus on human trafficking within the state and nation, as well as the opioid epidemic’s impact and laws surrounding this issue.  At the end of this program, participants should be able to: 1. Describe the role of human sex trafficking and risk for HIV acquisition and transmission. 2. Compare and contrast human trafficking vs. smuggling vs. adult sex work.

See event page for credit information.


For the rest of the events in the series, please visit:

Despite Increasing Rates of STIs, Federal Investment Has Been Flat


Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) impose billions of dollars in medical costs in the U.S., but STI prevention and control is chronically underfunded, stigmatized, and siloed from efforts to promote overall health and well-being, says a new report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. The report calls for modernizing national STI surveillance and monitoring systems, bolstering the STI workforce, developing and scaling up structural and behavioral interventions, and accelerating the development of vaccines, diagnostics, and therapeutics. Taking these strategic actions would also better position the U.S. to respond to COVID-19, HIV/AIDS, and future infectious disease outbreaks, the report says.

The prevention and control of STIs requires a more holistic approach that promotes sexual health and expands access to comprehensive prevention and treatment services — rather than focusing on individual behaviors or blaming people who acquire STIs, says Sexually Transmitted Infections: Adopting a Sexual Health Paradigm.

test tube vile labeled S T D test

Despite the economic burden and alarming increase of STI rates over the last 20 years, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s STI funding has remained flat. Although HIV is an ongoing and highly significant concern, the mandate of the committee that wrote the report was to focus its recommendations on STIs other than HIV, due to increasing rates of chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis. However, the report discusses the interplay between HIV and other STIs, and ways HIV and STI services can collaborate or integrate their prevention, care, and research efforts.

One in five people in the United States will have an STI in a given year. Many cases can be asymptomatic, and therefore go undiagnosed and unreported. Left untreated, STIs can lead to chronic pelvic pain, infertility, miscarriage or newborn death, increased risk of HIV infection, genital and oral cancers, and neurological and rheumatological consequences. The COVID-19 pandemic has also set back efforts to control STIs, the report notes. People are delaying routine STI screenings and may have undiagnosed and more advanced cases. Furthermore, STI clinic staff and resources have been diverted to the COVID-19 response.

The report emphasizes the need for easier access points for STI care. Specifically, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and state governments should ensure that STI prevention and treatment is available through multiple venues, such as comprehensive sexual health clinics, pharmacies, urgent care settings, and telehealth visits. These settings should also address concerns about confidentiality, particularly among adolescents and young adults on their parents’ health insurance plans.

Read the full article.

Gilead, Merck collaborate to develop long-acting HIV treatment

From Reuters

Gilead Sciences Inc and rival Merck & Co Inc said on Monday they will test a combination of their experimental HIV drugs to develop a long-acting treatment for the infection that affects millions worldwide.

Gilead sign in front of office building

As part of the non-exclusive agreement, the companies hope to develop a therapy that allows for less frequent dosing, compared to the current once-daily treatments available to HIV patients.

The agreement also takes on rival treatments by GlaxoSmithKline’s unit ViiV Healthcare, which recently filed an application to expand the use of its HIV drug Cabenuva to include dosing every two months.

“The market will infer that GSK and ViiV are left out in the cold here, supporting our long-standing concerns over the longer term outlook for GSK’s HIV franchise,” Citi analyst Andrew Baum said.

Gilead and Merck will share global development and commercialization costs 60% and 40%, respectively, while having an equal share of the therapy’s sales until the revenue crosses certain milestones.

The companies will share equal profit until annual sales of the therapy’s oral version hit $2 billion and the injectable version’s sales reach $3.5 billion, following which the revenue will be split 65% for Gilead and 35% for Merck.

1.7 million new HIV infections were reported globally in 2019 and 38 million people were living with HIV, according to the World Health Organization.

Get Involved: Rutgers School of Public Health conducting web-based survey among people with HIV who received COVID vaccine

The Center for Health, Identity, Behavior and Prevention Studies (CHIBPS) at the Rutgers School of Public Health is conducting a web-based survey to understand the thoughts and experiences of COVID-19 vaccination among people ages 18+ living with HIV in the United States.  This is part of our ongoing effort to shine a light on the challenges faced by those living with HIV in this COVID-19. 

covid vaccine bottles

We seek to recruit at least 1,000 participants to take part in the research.  Participants will be entered for a chance to win $60 electronic gift cards. The survey has been approved by the Institutional Review Board at Rutgers University (#Pro2021000063).

The survey link is:

We ask kindly if you could share this email this with you mailing lists or post to your social networking sites.

If you have any questions about the survey, please contact Dr. Marybec Griffin at

Study Finds Low Awareness of PrEP, the Highly Effective Medication that Protects Individuals from HIV


A study led by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health found that just under 20 percent of HIV-uninfected patients visiting Baltimore sexual health clinics were aware of pre-exposure prophylaxis medication (PrEP), a daily regimen that decreases a person’s risk of contracting HIV from sex by more than 90 percent. The paper, published online March 3 in the Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved, highlights the potential of integrating PrEP programs into public clinics that reach more patients with high HIV transmission risk but who often lack access to reliable health care.

For the study, the research team surveyed 1,464 HIV-uninfected patients who visited two public Baltimore City Health Department clinics devoted to sexually transmitted diseases in 2016. Of the participants, only 18 percent, or 258 participants, reported prior knowledge of PrEP. Four percent (10 participants) were already using PrEP. Importantly, 46 percent of the 1,397 patients unfamiliar with PrEP, or 638 participants, indicated they were highly receptive to learning more about PrEP, with interest among the high-risk men having sex with men (MSM) patients even higher at 63 percent.

“We want to ensure these communities have the awareness and resources they need,” says the study’s lead author, Cui Yang, PhD, a professor in the Bloomberg School’s Department of Health, Behavior and Society. “Otherwise, the same cycle of investing resources into programs that don’t resonate continues.”

Read the full article.


An open letter from Deron C. Burton, MD, Acting Director, National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention…

March 10 is National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NWGHAAD), sponsored by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Office on Women’s Health. As we continue our work toward ending America’s HIV epidemic, we acknowledge the challenges the COVID-19 pandemic has presented. For some women, the impact of COVID-19 has made it more difficult to access HIV services. On NWGHAAD, join us in making sure all women have continued access to HIV testing (including self-testing), prevention, and treatment and care. Together, we can prevent new HIV infections and help women with HIV stay healthy.

decorative image

In recent years, we have seen progress toward reducing HIV diagnoses among women in the United States and dependent areas. From 2014 to 2018, HIV diagnoses decreased 7% among women overall, including a 10% decline among Black/African American women. While these numbers are encouraging, there is still much work to do to address gender and race-related disparities. In 2018, more than 7,000 women received an HIV diagnosis. Black/African American women made up 57% (4,097) of those diagnoses, followed by White women (21%; 1,491) and Hispanic/Latina women (18%; 1,269). Making the most of the full toolkit of HIV prevention and treatment strategies can raise awareness and help to prevent new HIV infections among women.

Many women without HIV can benefit from proven prevention options such as pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) and post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) and the related support services associated with these interventions. Women with HIV should be offered treatment and the appropriate services that help people with HIV get in care, stay in care, and adhere to antiretroviral therapy (ART) so that they become virally suppressed to protect their health and the health of their sexual partners. Condoms provide additional protection for women regardless of status to prevent HIV, sexually transmitted diseases, and unplanned pregnancy. Despite the promise of these tools to help end the HIV epidemic, they only work when the people who need them most can access them. Recent CDC data reveal that only 7% of women who could benefit from PrEP were prescribed PrEP. We must continue to help women get the tools they need to protect their health, including addressing structural barriers such as systemic racism that perpetuate health disparities.

As part of the HHS Ending the HIV Epidemic: A Plan for America initiative, CDC and other federal agencies are working together to prevent new HIV infections by ensuring everyone has access to HIV prevention options, such as PrEP. To address cost barriers, HHS launched Ready, Set, PrEP, a nationwide program that makes PrEP medications available at no cost to people who don’t have insurance that covers prescription drugs. The program also addresses transportation barriers by giving people a choice to have their PrEP medications sent directly to their home or health care provider. For women who don’t qualify for the Ready, Set, PrEP program, Gilead’s Advancing Access Program and other state PrEP assistance programs are available.

To raise awareness about the many HIV prevention options for women, we encourage you to download and use materials from CDC’s Let’s Stop HIV Together campaign. The new materials broaden our portfolio and build on the existing HIV prevention, testing, treatment, and stigma resources. You can also watch our new webisode, “Hey Friend: Let’s Talk Sexual Health,” which features Black women discussing sexual health. On NWGHAAD, keep the conversation going by sharing social media content from our digital toolkit using the #StopHIVTogether and #NWGHAAD hashtags.

Thank you for your continued commitment to HIV prevention during this challenging time. By ensuring women have equal access to quality HIV prevention and care services, we can achieve health equity and end the HIV epidemic.

Ten-year Italian study shows that people with HIV remain undetectable for 97% of the time


Long-term monitoring of people with HIV with an undetectable viral load has shown that viral suppression is rarely lost, enforcing the validity of ‘U=U’ (Undetectable equals Untransmittable) messaging, according to Italian research published in the online edition of AIDS.  The study involved over 8000 HIV-positive individuals taking antiretroviral therapy (ART) and with viral suppression (a viral load below 200) at baseline. Regular monitoring of viral load (at least twice a year for most) showed that viral load remained suppressed 97% of the time.

gay men smiling and embracing

However, some groups, including women, people who inject drugs and those with a past history of ART failing to control viral replication spent more time with a viral load above 200. The investigators suggest that people with these characteristics may need more support to maintain viral suppression.

“We found that in our population of people with HIV the ‘U’ status was maintained on average, for 97% of the following ten years of observation and the proportion of [time] spent in ‘U’ status showed a trend for an increase in recent years,” write the authors. “This data reassuringly suggests that U=U is an appropriate message to communicate to help decrease stigma and increase motivation to remain virally suppressed.”

Read the full article on

Injectable Long-Acting PrEP Is Safe, Highly Effective in Cisgender Women


Injectable long-acting cabotegravir (CAB LA) has been proven safe and highly effective in preventing HIV infection among cisgender women, according to interim results from a major study announced in late January. The findings complement previously established strong results for cabotegravir-based injectable pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) in cisgender men who have sex with men (MSM) and transgender women who have sex men, adding to evidence that injectable PrEP could ultimately have greater real-world efficacy than daily oral PrEP in many populations, thanks to better adherence.

woman's hand blocks a depiction of an HIV virus

The new data come from HIV Prevention Trials Network (HPTN) Study 084, interim results of which were presented at the biennial HIV Research for Prevention (HIVR4P) conference, which took place virtually this year in late January and early February. “These results complement data from HPTN 083, and confirm cabotegravir as the first safe and effective injectable PrEP agent for cisgender women,” said Sinead Delany-Moretlwe, MBBCh, Ph.D., the protocol chair and director of research at the Wits Reproductive Health and HIV Institute within the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, who presented the study. “We hope that these results will lead to the expansion of HIV prevention options for at-risk cisgender women globally, and ultimately reductions or elimination of HIV acquisition.”

Read the full article.

Health Alert: Pennsylvania reports highest rate of syphilis in 20 years


Pennsylvania state health officials are reporting increased amounts of sexually transmitted infections, in particular syphilis, prompting officials to encourage the public to take steps to decrease their risk.

decretive imagePregnant women should be screened at first and third trimester because of the sharp increase in the number of babies born with the disease in the United States. Nationally, cases of congenital syphilis increased by 185 percent between 2014 and 2018. In 2019, five congenital syphilis cases were reported in the state of Pennsylvania, following seven cases reported in 2018. These reported cases of congenital syphilis in the state represented the highest number of cases in more than 25 years.Early syphilis in Pennsylvania is currently at the highest rate in more than 20 years. Over the last five years, early syphilis reported in women of child-bearing age (women aged 15 to 44) increased 114 percent, from 78 cases in 2015 to 167 cases in 2019.

“Sexually transmitted diseases are serious diseases that impact many Pennsylvanians each year,” Acting Secretary Beam said. “It is essential that all residents are aware of the risks and dangers associated with STDs. Many of these diseases can be easily diagnosed and treated, which is why we encourage all residents to talk to their doctor about getting tested so we can further prevent diseases and keep our residents healthy.”

Read the full article.