Category Archives: Health Alerts

Why are Hispanic/Latino Men 4 Times More Likely to Get HIV Than White Men?

Amid the coronavirus pandemic, the hope and promise for a healthier tomorrow might feel reminiscent of another virus — one that ravaged the LGBTQ community in the 1980s and beyond. But in the years since HIV transmission was at its height, has HIV/AIDS started to feel like a bygone disease despite a death toll that has soared over 32 million people worldwide? In the United States, it depends on who you ask. And if you’re part of the Latinx community, the answer is complicated.

Toward the end of 2019, The New York Times trumpeted a promising headline: “New York Says End of AIDS Epidemic Is Near.” The optimistic article sourced the Center for Disease Control (CDC)’s 2010-2016 findings, that rates of infection among gay and bisexual men have remained stable, and that, per Governor Andrew Cuomo, New York is on track to end the AIDS epidemic in the state by the end of 2020.

But while most demographics have experienced a trend-setting decrease in infection rates, the CDC noted that for Hispanic/Latino men, “the annual number of HIV infections in 2016, compared with 2010, increased,” and that during those years, the infection rates for this demographic were “4.3 times that for white males.”

With extensive and varied work, healthcare advocates and community leaders are spearheading efforts across the country to tackle HIV prevention and awareness for the Latinx community. But for many, it’s still an uphill battle.

“I will say I’m proud to be there for them,” says Danny Ochoa of his community. A gay man living with HIV, Ochoa is a Prevention Intervention Specialist in the Community Health Department at Gay Men’s Health Crisis (GMHC). A leader in HIV/AIDS prevention, care and advocacy, GMHC’s mission has evolved since its 1982 founding to recognize the importance of inclusion and diversity and has now become a haven for the urban queer Latinx populations. This resource can be just as vital as hospitals and medical centers.

Read the full article.

STD Testing Rates, Service Receipt Among HIV-Positive MSM Remain Low

From the American Journal of Managed Care

The CDC recommends regular testing for bacterial sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) among all sexually active gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men (MSM) because they have a higher risk of infection. Chief among these STDs are gonorrhea, chlamydia, syphilis, and hepatitis C virus (HCV). Those most at risk also should be receiving recommended STD counseling services.

decorative image“Having an STD (like gonorrhea) makes it easier to get HIV or give it to others, so it’s important that you get tested to protect your health and the health of your partner,” states the CDC.

Despite these guidelines, there has been a constant uptick in STDs over the past decade, particularly among HIV-positive MSM, even though they are receiving care for their HIV, according to the authors who investigated the receipt of STD testing and associated services among these individuals and published their results online today in Annals of Internal Medicine.

The primary outcome of their study was to determine both deficiencies in bacterial STD testing and what risky behaviors result in these deficiencies among HIV-positive MSM—especially because having an STD increases the risk of transmitting HIV.

Read the full article.

Go to https://gettested.cdc.gov/ to find free local testing.

New Interim NIH Guidelines for people living with HIV regarding the COVID-19 pandemic

From the National Institutes of Health and Human Services

New guidelines have been set by the NIH in regards to persons living with HIV. This interim guidance reviews special considerations for persons with HIV and their health care providers in the United States regarding COVID-19. Information and data on COVID-19 are rapidly evolving. This guidance includes general information to consider. People with HIV who have COVID-19 have an excellent prognosis, and they should be clinically managed the same as persons in the general population with COVID-19, including when making medical care triage determinations.

Follow this link to read the new guidelines (https://aidsinfo.nih.gov/guidelines/html/8/covid-19-and-persons-with-hiv–interim-guidance-/0).

This interim guidance was prepared by the following working groups of the Office of AIDS Research Advisory Council:

  • HHS Panel on Antiretroviral Guidelines for Adults and Adolescents
  • HHS Panel on Antiretroviral Therapy and Medical Management of Children Living with HIV
  • HHS Panel on Treatment of Pregnant Women with HIV Infection and Prevention of Perinatal Transmission
  • HHS Panel on Guidelines for the Prevention and Treatment of Opportunistic Infections in Adults and Adolescents with HIV
  • HHS Panel on Opportunistic Infections in HIV-Exposed and HIV-Infected Children

Second Open Letter on COVID-19 Focuses on Nondiscrimination, Data Collection and Economic Harm for LGBTQ Communities

On April 21, 2020, GLMA, Whitman-Walker Health, the National LGBT Cancer Network, the National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance, the New York Transgender Advocacy Group, and SAGE issued a second open letter to public health officials, healthcare institutions and government leaders on the impact of COVID-19 on LGBTQ communities. The letter, joined by 170 organizations, called for action to protect LGBTQ patients from discrimination and to include sexual orientation and gender identity in data collection efforts related to the pandemic. The letter also called for action to address the economic harm to LGBTQ communities from the pandemic.

To read the full second open letter and list of signatories, click here.

The letter released on April 21 is a follow-up to an open letter signed by more than 150 organizations issued by the six coordinating organizations on March 11, 2020. Information on the first letter is available here.

Important COVID-19 Resources:

Detectable Viral Load Tied to Uptick in Heart Disease Risk in Youth With HIV

From Poz.com

The association between viral load and cardiovascular disease risk has been under-investigated among young people with HIV.

Among young people living with HIV, having a detectable viral load is associated with a slight increase in the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Sitaji Gurung, MD, PhD, MPH, of Hunter College at the City University of New York, presented findings from a study of HIV-positive youth 14 to 26 years old at the 2020 Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections in Boston last month.

The study relied on electronic health records from the Adolescent Medicine Trials Network 154 Cascade Monitoring, which derives its data from clinics across the United States that care for adolescents with HIV.

Read the full article on Poz.com.

Facebook disables some misleading ads on HIV prevention drugs, responding to growing outcry

From the Washington Post

Facebook has quietly started removing some misleading ads about HIV prevention medication, responding to a deluge of activists, health experts and government regulators who said the tech giant had created the conditions for a public-health crisis.

Facebook logoThe ads at issue — purchased by pages affiliated with personal-injury lawyers and seen millions of times — linked drugs designed to stop the spread of HIV with severe bone and kidney damage. Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender advocates long have said such claims are “false,” pointing to multiple studies showing the class of medication, known as PrEP, is safe.

After initially declining to disable the ads, Facebook began on Friday retroactively labeling some of them as rule violations in its archive, limiting their visibility. The company’s third-party fact-checkers concluded the ads were misleading and lacked context, according to a copy of an email sent by those fact-checkers to LGBT groups that was shared with The Washington Post, which first reported on the matter earlier this month.

The change in course at Facebook drew praise from LGBT organizations that had worked since September to stop the spread of HIV misinformation on the social media platform. But many activists said they remain uneasy that it took so long to get Facebook’s attention in the first place — and worried the company’s policy on such ads in the future remains unclear.

“The removal of select ads is a strong first step given the findings of Facebook’s own fact-checking agency and the dozens of organizations that spoke out,” said Sarah Kate Ellis, the leader of GLAAD. She added the “time is now for Facebook to take action on other very similar ads which target at-risk community members with misleading and inaccurate claims about PrEP and HIV prevention.”

Facebook spokeswoman Devon Kearns confirmed that the company had taken action against some of the ads. “After a review, our independent fact-checking partners have determined some of the ads in question mislead people about the effects of Truvada,” she said, referring to the name of the drug. “As a result we have rejected these ads and they can no longer run on Facebook.”

Read the full article.

Health Alert: Get tested for HIV and other Sexually transmitted infections

According to a CDC report, HIV continues to have a disproportionate impact on racial and ethnic minorities, gay and bisexual men, and other men who have sex with men. Yet, 15% of men who are infected with HIV don’t know it.
several images depicting a variety of gay male couples
Also, according to CDC research, cases of gonorrhea, chlamydia and syphilis have risen for the fifth consecutive year.Some STIs (including HIV) can go unnoticed since symptoms can be mistaken for minor health problems like a cold or sore throat. Some may have no symptoms at all. The only way to know for sure if you’re infected is to get tested.
If you send us your zip code, we can help find local testing near you. Most are free. You can also ask us questions about basic sexual health, including PrEP. Send a message to m4mInformation@pitt.eduWe’re here to help

STDs at an all-time high in U.S.

From Healthline.com

New data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show 3 sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are on the rise in the United States — and have been for the past 5 years.

In 2018, the total number of syphilis, gonorrhea, and chlamydia cases reached an all-time high since the organization began tracking the infections back in 1991, according to the report the CDC published Tuesday.

decorative image

Over 1.7 million cases of chlamydia were reported last year, a 3 percent increase from 2017.

About 580,000 cases of gonorrhea were reported, which marks a 5 percent increase, along with a 14 percent spike in syphilis.

The rise in STDs has many health experts concerned, as it could have massive implications on public health.

Infertility rates could rise, and the infections could continue to contribute to a range of health issues, including strokes, meningitis, dementia, cardiovascular complications, and neurological conditions.

The mother-to-child transmission of STDs, specifically congenital syphilis, is also worrisome, as it puts the pregnancy at a higher risk for miscarriage, stillbirth, and even lifelong physical and neurological issues.

As the CDC states, it’s time to put a greater focus on the country’s STD epidemic and better manage the spread of these infections.

“You have to have a multifaceted approach to really deal with this problem, and of course they’d like to start with education — people have to understand that safe sex is still very important even in the age of antibiotics and antiretroviral drugs,” Dr. Dean Winslow, an infectious disease physician at Stanford Health Care, told Healthline.

See the full article on Healthline.com.

If you need to find local STD testing locations, go to gettested.cdc.gov.

Care providers reluctant to explain *undetectable equals untransmittable*

From Medscape

WASHINGTON, DC — 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 man sitting in a doctors office, speaking with his doctor 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 survey — which was more of a needs assessment than a scientific survey — points to the need for education so that people with HIV have all the information they need to care for themselves and their partners, she said here at the United States Conference on AIDS 2019.

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Study: People with HIV more likely to have high blood pressure

From MyHIVteam

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.

man getting his blood presure checked 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.”

In the Weill Cornell Medicine-led research review, published May 18 in the American Heart Association journal Hypertension, Fahme and her colleagues included 24 medical articles published between 2005 and 2017 that looked at high blood pressure among adults with HIV and those who didn’t have the virus. The study populations included the United States, Brazil, China, Italy, Tanzaniaand other countries.

Read the full article.