It’s clear that there are discrepancies in the support young men of color have when it comes to accessing key sexual health services. So, what can we do to change this?
One way we can help young people prevent HIV is through providing PrEP on college campuses. Providing PrEP on college campuses gives young people the tools they need, while also eliminating the stigma around HIV. Navigating college as Latinx students can already be difficult enough, especially for first generation students like myself. In my experience, feeling supported by your school is key in creating an environment where all students can thrive, and having your health needs met is a part of that.
Providing PrEP on college campuses also eliminates another barrier many students face in accessing PrEP: transportation. Given that not all schools are located in metropolitan areas, some young people may have to travel unrealistic distances to the nearest clinic to find PrEP. Students attending college outside of their hometowns might not even have access to a car, eliminating the option of transportation altogether.
To Omar Martinez, National Latinx AIDS Awareness Day is about uplifting the voices of Latinx activists and ensuring that Latinx people living with HIV and AIDS receive the best care possible moving forward while remembering Latinx people who died of HIV and AIDS.
“The way to move forward is to really tackle and address the structural issues,” Martinez, an assistant professor at Temple University’s School of Social Work, told HRC. “[This] includes discrimination, the anti-immigration rhetoric, structural racism, cultural imperalism and access and barriers to health care… I would argue that these are the major challenges.”
October 15 marks National Latinx AIDS Awareness Day — a day to raise awareness about how HIV and AIDS impact the Latinx community, educate the public on preventative measures and more. NLAAD’s theme this year is “living with HIV or not… we’re fighting this together,” focusing on ending the stigma around the disease and helping to address HIV in the Latinx community.
PrEP, or pre-exposure prophylaxis, is an HIV prevention method in which people who do not have HIV take medicine on a daily basis to reduce their risk of getting HIV if they are exposed to the virus. Descovy for PrEP should be used as part of a comprehensive strategy, including adherence to daily administration and safer sex practices, including condoms, to reduce the risk of sexually acquired infections.
The safety and efficacy of Descovy for PrEP were evaluated in a randomized, double-blind multinational trial in 5,387 HIV-negative men and transgender women who have sex with men and were at risk of HIV-1 infection. The trial compared once daily Descovy to Truvada (emtricitabine, tenofovir disoproxil fumarate, 200 mg/300 mg), a daily fixed dose combination of two drugs approved in 2012 to prevent the sexual acquisition of HIV; participants were followed for 48 to 96 weeks. The primary endpoint was the rate of HIV-1 infection in each group. The trial showed that Descovy was similar to Truvada in reducing the risk of acquiring HIV-1 infection.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over 1.1 million people 13 years old and over are living with HIV, and nearly 14 percent of them are undiagnosed.
While studies from world health organizations continue to expand deeper realities unseen in the epidemic, transgender men are often excluded from the conversation — especially when it comes to PrEP, an HIV prevention strategy that when practiced routinely makes it impossible to contract HIV. Today, the only FDA-approved drug to be used as PrEP is Truvada, a once-daily pill.
Now, thanks to researchers at The Fenway Institute, a groundbreaking study is the first of its kind to investigate PrEP and other biological/psychological factors (like alcohol or substance abuse, depression, relationship status, needle sharing, and more) specifically among transgender men who have sex with men (MSM).
The study, which was published in the Journal of the International AIDS Society, was conducted online from November 2017 to December 2017 and included 857 trans MSM (aged between 18 to 60, though the majority of them were under 30), all of whom were surveyed by researchers to determine their PrEP use and HIV risk factors.
HIV treatment that leads to viral suppression for at least 6 months is 100% effective in preventing the transmission of HIV, even in the absence of condoms or HIV prevention drugs, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But not all care providers tell their patients that.
A survey in the Midwest showed that 22% of HIV physicians still don’t feel comfortable explaining to patients the science behind what is known in the community as U=U, or undetectable equals untransmittable.
And that number is even higher among the physician assistants, nurse practitioners, advanced practice nurses, and traditional registered nurses who serve people living with HIV, said Emily Petran, MPH, from the Minnesota site of the Midwest AIDS Training and Education Center (MATEC) in Minneapolis.
The National Institutes of Health has awarded approximately $11.3 million to 23 institutions across the United States to collaborate with community partners to develop locally relevant plans for diagnosing, treating and preventing HIV in areas with high rates of new HIV cases.
The awards will help enhance the implementation science knowledge base needed for the proposed Ending the HIV Epidemic: A Plan for America. The plan aims to leverage the powerful data and tools now available to reduce new HIV diagnoses in the United States by 75 percent in five years and by 90 percent by 2030. President Donald J. Trump announced this bold new initiative during the State of the Union Address in February. If funds are appropriated by Congress, the 10-year initiative will begin in fiscal year 2020. The awards announced today are one-year awards to support pilot and formative studies to prepare for more extensive implementation science research proposals expected in 2020.
“With existing, powerful HIV treatment and prevention tools, we can end the epidemic in the United States,” said Anthony S. Fauci, M.D., director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) at NIH. “The new initiative is a practical, achievable implementation plan. By working directly with health departments and other community organizations, researchers can find the best ways to use the highly effective methods at our disposal to diagnose, prevent and treat HIV in the United States.”
People with HIV are more likely than people without the virus to have high blood pressure, in part because of treatments and repercussions of the condition itself, a new review of research shows.
Learning more about the underlying mechanisms of high blood pressure in people with HIV is critical in preventing one of the leading conditions that can cause premature cardiovascular disease in those adults, the researchers said. The implications are important in a population that has seen the rate of people dying from heart disease and stroke skyrocket over the last decade.
“I think that we really need to pay special attention to this population,” said Dr. Sasha Fahme, the study’s lead author and a global health research fellow at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City. “Now that people [with HIV] are living longer, we are seeing the non-infectious consequences of HIV, and hypertension [high blood pressure] is one of them.”
“When a person comes out to you, keep in mind that the person has not changed. The relationship you established with that person stays the same. It’s just another label, and there are layers and layers of labels that we all put on ourselves and that we give to each other. So when you learn this new information about somebody, does it really change the soul of the relationship? Are your feelings rich enough and deep enough that you established a relationship because you love this person? Or were your feelings so superficial that now that you’ve learned this element about this person, it’s enough to cause you concern? It’s a personal question that you have to ask yourself. If you love a person, if you’re friends with a person, if you cherish a person, then those labels shouldn’t matter.”
There is a dearth of scientifically investigated, evidence-based interventions to address substance use, mental health conditions and violence victimization in sexual and gender minority youth, according to a research review led by the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health and published today in the journal Pediatrics.
After poring over thousands of research publications spanning nearly two decades, the scientists identified only nine studies that evaluated such interventions, and most of these used suboptimal study designs, thereby limiting the validity of the findings. None of the programs would be sufficient to mitigate the substantial inequities faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) youth, the scientists concluded.
“While this knowledge gap is distressing, I think we can look at it as an opportunity,” said lead author Robert W.S. Coulter, Ph.D., M.P.H., assistant professor in Pitt Public Health’s Department of Behavioral and Community Health Sciences. “Promising programs are being created by community-based organizations that are ripe for rigorous evaluation by scientists to determine if they are successfully improving health among LGBTQ youth and, if so, whether they can be replicated in other communities.”
How do we reduce rates concentrated among black and Latino men who have sex with men? Or meet the needs of HIV-positive patients caught between insurance plans or places to live? To end the epidemic, we must start where we began — by focusing on those most affected, uniting advocacy efforts, pushing for a cross-sector response and focusing on the social determinants of health.
As someone who has spent the better part of my professional career as both an advocate and HIV public health expert, I’ve been reflecting on the decades-long fight for gay rights sparked by people who gathered together at Stonewall in 1969 to demand change for the LGBTQ+ community and put an end to years of discrimination. Not long after, the AIDS epidemic swept across the country, closely intertwining the movement for increased LGBTQ+ rights with the AIDS response. Gay rights groups were relentless in pushing for increased government attention and funding as thousands died from the disease. Activists organized “buyers clubs,” lobbied for faster FDA approval of promising drugs and countered the fear and discrimination people living with AIDS faced.