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University of Pittsburgh Research Assistant and Technical Writer

Scaling up HIV Prevention Services in STD Specialty Clinics

From HIV.gov

Combined cases of syphilis, gonorrhea, and chlamydia reached an all-time high in the United States in 2018, reaching 2.4 million cases. This marked the fifth consecutive year of sharp increases in STDs. For more than a century, sexually transmitted disease (STD) clinics have provided critical prevention and care for these common infections. Today, data show that STD clinics serve a high volume of racial/ethnic minorities, gay and bisexual men, and transgender people, and that they have become a primary source of both STD and HIV prevention services for people without regular access to healthcare.

national network of STD clinical prevention training centers

As a result, STD clinics will play a vital role in the nation’s ambitious federal initiative Ending the HIV Epidemic: A Plan for America (EHE). However, these clinics are vastly under-resourced. An FY2020 investment from the HHS Minority HIV/AIDS Fund (MHAF) aims to address that by bolstering training and technical assistance (T/TA) efforts so STD specialty clinics can better provide HIV prevention services.

Leveraging the infrastructure and expertise already in place through this dynamic collaborative, the HHS MHAF investment will allow the NNPTCs to provide effective T/TA to enhance and scale up HIV prevention services, like pre-exposure prophylaxis (or PrEP) and post-exposure prophylaxis (or PEP) provision, in STD specialty clinics. Activities could include, for example, providing onsite or distance-based (web or phone) consultations, guidance to conduct clinic assessments, in-person site visits, and resources. These efforts will strengthen the clinical, laboratory infrastructure, and health delivery systems of STD specialty clinics serving a high proportion of racial/ethnic and sexual minorities in EHE jurisdictions.

Read the full article on HIV.gov.

“Speak for Health” is how APHA members stand up for public health interests

From the American Public Health Association

APHA believes public health professionals deserve a stronger voice in public health advocacy. Together, we can change the narrative and turn the tide. #SpeakForHealth

APHA is the leading voice for public health in Washington. The policies we advance are based in science, research and member-led processes. Join us and Speak for Health — for today and future generations.

Speak for Health banner

Public Health on the Ballot

This November, 435 U.S. representatives and 35 U.S. senators are up for election. As you consider your options at the polls ask your candidates these questions to find out where they stand on critical public health issues (PDF). We need champions in Washington, D.C., who will support evidence-based policies that prioritize the public’s health.

Find out what you can do to Speak for Health.

Updating State & Local Health Departments About EHE

From HIV.gov

NASTAD HIV and Hepatitis assistance meeting logoOn October 1, I joined federal colleagues from CDC and HRSA in a virtual meeting with HIV and viral hepatitis program leaders from state and local health departments. The meeting, organized by NASTAD  as the first part of their annual technical assistance meeting, provided an opportunity for sharing updates and engaging in dialogue with these key stakeholders in Ending the HIV Epidemic: A Plan for America (EHE). Much of the conversation focused on EHE as well as the broader response to HIV and other infectious diseases amid the pandemic.

Here are some highlights…

Ending the HIV Epidemic: Culturally Attuned Educational Materials for American Indians/Alaska Natives

From HIV.gov

As one of several Indian Health Service activities supported by the Minority HIV/AIDS Fund (MHAF) in Fiscal Year 2020, the Urban Indian Health Institute (UIHI) is currently leading a project focused on creating  culturally attuned HIV education materials—including print, digital, and video formats—for both American Indian and Alaska Native patients and the healthcare providers who serve them.

UIHI , located in Seattle, Washington, works to provide information to and assist urban Indian-serving organizations to better the urban Indian community’s health nationwide. Seven out of 10 American Indians and Alaska Natives currently live in urban settings away from federally defined tribal lands. Since 2016, UIHI has led several projects that promote culturally attuned HIV prevention and treatment.

Among the new materials being developed under this project, in March 2020, UIHI released a short film, Positively Native , in which long-time HIV survivors Bill Hall (Tlingit), Shana Cozad (Kiowa), and Hamen Ides (Lummi) discuss their lived experiences with HIV stigma, discrimination, and advocacy. Along with the film, UIHI released an accompanying toolkit that includes a facilitator’s guide, discussion questions, and a presentation on the basics of HIV. The organization presented Positively Native to an audience of 38 people at the International Indigenous Pre-Conference on HIV/AIDS in July 2020.

Read the full article on HIV.gov.

Protect yourself from the Flu: Important info for people with HIV

From HIV.gov

Getting a flu vaccine during 2020-2021 is more important than ever because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. When you get vaccinated, you reduce your risk of getting sick with flu and possibly being hospitalized or dying from flu. This season, getting a flu vaccine has the added benefit of reducing the overall burden on the health care system and saving medical resources for care of COVID-19 patients.

People with HIV—especially those who have a very low CD4 cell count or who are not taking antiretroviral therapy—are at high risk for serious flu-related complications. For this reason, it is especially important that people with HIV get a flu shot annually. (The nasal spray flu vaccine is not recommended for people with HIV.)

In addition to getting a flu shot every year, people with HIV should take the same everyday preventive actions CDC recommends of everyone, including avoiding people who are sick, covering coughs, and washing hands often.

Read the full article on HIV.gov.

Survey of Gay and Bi PrEP Users Finds 1 in 10 Share Their Medication

From Poz.com

In a 2018 survey of men who have sex with men taking pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) in three U.S. cities, about 10% reported sharing their medication with others.

PrEP pill This finding raises concerns that gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men (MSM) may be accessing PrEP without receiving the medical monitoring that is supposed to go hand in hand with taking Truvada (tenofovir disoproxil fumarate/emtricitabine) or Descovy (tenofovir alafenamide/ emtricitabine) for HIV prevention—namely, HIV tests every three months and routine screening for sexually transmitted infections and kidney function.

As described in JAMA Network Open, Gordon Mansergh, PhD, a senior behavioral scientist in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Division of HIV and AIDS Prevention, conducted a cross-sectional analysis of responses from a 2018 smartphone-based survey of 755 HIV-negative MSM living in Detroit, Atlanta and New York.

Read the full article on Poz.com.

COVID-19 and HIV “Virtual Listening Sessions” hosted by HPCP

The HIV Prevention and Care Project at the University of Pittsburgh–on behalf of the Pennsylvania HIV Planning Group–is hosting two COVID-19 and HIV Virtual Listening Sessions. These two sessions will provide a space for people living with HIV in Pennsylvania to share their concerns about COVID-19 and its life-disrupting effects.

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Session 1 will take place on October 14th from 4:00-5:30 pm for the Northwest, Northcentral, and Southwest regions of Pennsylvania.

Session 2 will take place on October 21st from 4:00-5:30 pm for the Southcentral, Northeast, and Eastcentral  (AIDSNET) regions.

Participants are required to preregister in order to receive a link to the virtual meeting. To register and find out more about session 1, click here. To register and find out more about session 2, click here.

You can download a .pdf for LIstening  Session 1  and Listening Session 2 for more information.

CDC HIV Prevention Funding Opportunity for Community-Based Organizations

From HIV.gov,..

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has announced the availability of fiscal year 2021 funds for a cooperative agreement program for community-based organizations (CBOs) to develop and implement high-impact HIV prevention programs. The Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO), known as  PS21-2102: Comprehensive High-Impact HIV Prevention Programs for Community Based Organizations, focuses on addressing the national HIV epidemic by reducing new infections, increasing access to care, and promoting health equity in accordance with the Ending the HIV Epidemic: A Plan for America initiative and CDC’s High-Impact HIV Prevention approach.

Find out more on HIV.gov.

The Single Biggest Risk Factor for Gay, Bi Men Becoming HIV-Positive

From the Advocate.com…

Of all those who became HIV-positive, over a third (36 percent) were persistent meth users. Men aged 36-45 reported the most meth use, and those living in Western states had the highest incidence of the drug.

image of a man with rainbow reflection across his facePersistent meth use is the biggest factor for seroconversion, researchers stated, followed by Black ethnicity and a syphilis diagnosis.

Researchers detailed the correlation between meth and HIV.

“Methamphetamine exacerbates HIV risk via increasing sexual libido while simultaneously reducing inhibitions,” the authors stated, according to AIDSMap. “Our findings highlight the need to address methamphetamine use and its associated risks among sexual and gender minorities, the likes of which may also serve to help end the HIV epidemic.”

Read the full article.

September 27th: National Gay Men’s HIV/AIDS Awareness Day

September 27th marks the annual observance of National Gay Men’s HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NGMHAAD).

As you plan activities or outreach for NGMHAAD, check out these resources below and find resources on ending the HIV epidemic:

We invite you to follow HIV.gov  and CDC  on Twitter. We’ll be using #NGMHAAD to continue our long-running conversations about the epidemic’s impact on gay and bisexual men and how to take action in response to HIV.