Category Archives: Research

Intervention Groups May Help Lower HIV Risk Among Gay, Bisexual Youth

From the Pharmacy Times

Research published in AIDS and Behavior show that parents in an intervention group with gay or bisexual sons can employ effective communication tactics, specifically about condoms and HIV, and other parenting behaviors to help keep their children healthy.

The study is the first to show evidence of positive effects in a randomized controlled trial with the parents of gay or bisexual sons, according to the authors. They added that these results are important because approximately 80% of all HIV infections among teens are from the gay and bisexual population. There were very few previous public health interventions seeking to lower the HIV risk among this group, according to the study.

“By focusing on the parents, this study shows we might be able to reduce HIV risk among gay and bisexual male youth,” said David Huebner, professor of Prevention and Community Health at the Milken Institute School of Public Health at the George Washington University, in a press release. “Parents represent an untapped yet promising resource in preventing HIV infection and improving sexual health among this underserved population.”

Read the full article.

Health Alert: If you’re sexually active, get a full screening for sexually transmitted infections

The CDC is reporting the number of new sexually transmitted infections continues to go up, with the highest number of STIs in the U.S. ever.

The newly released CDC 2020 STD Surveillance Report found that at the end of 2020:

  • Reported cases of gonorrhea and primary & secondary (P&S) syphilis were up 10% and 7%, respectively, compared to 2019.
  • Syphilis among newborns (i.e., congenital syphilis) also increased, with reported cases up nearly 15% from 2019, and 235% from 2016Early data indicate primary and secondary syphilis and congenital syphilis cases continued to increase in 2021 as well.

As a result, the CDC is recommending that anyone who is sexually active get a full screening for STIs. To find local testing clinics near you, go to https://gettested.cdc.gov/. Most clinics are free.

To find out how to prevent STIs, you can go to the CDC website at https://www.cdc.gov/std/prevention/default.htm.

Dr. Anthony Silvestre led the way on Pitt Men’s Study and AIDS Task Force

From the University Times

Anthony “Tony” Silvestre, whose work with the LGBT community was far ahead of its time and made the pioneering Pitt Men’s Study possible, died Sept. 1, 2022 at 75.

Doctor Silvestre on the cover of Out Magazine
Dr. Silvestre on the cover of Pittsburgh’s Out Magazine in May 1984

[…] His international advocacy and public health work began at Penn State (1971-76), continued with several Philadelphia organizations (1976-83) and brought him to Pitt in early 1984 until his retirement in 2018.

In 1976, he was the founding chairman of the Pennsylvania Governor’s Council on Sexual Minorities, likely the first such state organization in the country. He was U.S. liaison to the World Health Organization (1990-93) and a subject matter expert on HIV for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2002.

Through the years, he served on many expert and advisory panels for the Pennsylvania Department of Health and the Allegheny County Department of Health on HIV, alcohol and substance use among gender and sexual minorities, community marginalization and health education and outreach.

But he is perhaps best known in Pittsburgh for his role in forming and running the Pittsburgh AIDS Task Force (now Allies for Health and Wellbeing) in its early years. In the process, he supported more than a dozen other state and community groups promoting LGBTQIA-related and HIV-related health messaging for at-risk communities.

In conjunction with his research and teaching in the Department of Infectious Diseases and Microbiology, he founded the Pennsylvania Prevention Project (now the HIV Prevention and Care Project) there in 1993 to advance comprehensive HIV planning with impacted communities. He also helped create and direct the School of Public Health’s Center for LGBT Research, and was honored by Pitt with the Chancellor’s Distinguished Service Award.

He published more than 45 peer-reviewed articles, proceedings and book chapters, and created many state and federal professional reports and presentations as well, much of which can be found at Dickinson College.

Read the full article.

Successes and challenges for people diagnosed with HIV

From POZ online

[…] The proportion of older people living with HIV has been increasing, and 55% of people included in this survey were over age 50. People ages 40 to 49 accounted for 19% of respondents, those ages 30 to 39 for 18% and those ages 18 to 29 for 8%.

This report confirms that HIV disproportionately affects Black and Latino Americans, underlining the importance of targeted care and outreach for these groups. In this analysis, 42% of people with diagnosed HIV were Black, 29% were white, 24% were Latino and 6% were another race or ethnicity. When accounting for their share of the total population, Black Americans are 3.4 times more likely, and Latinos are 1.3 times more likely, to be diagnosed with HIV.

one in ten experience homelessness. one in six experience food insecurity. four in ten live in households at or below the poverty level.

People with diagnosed HIV were more likely than the population at large to face socioeconomic challenges that can make it more difficult to maintain good health, including poverty, unemployment and homelessness.

Read the full article at poz.com.

HIV testing and diagnoses drop during COVID-19 pandemic

HPCP gets a fair amount of comments on our social media platforms about why are there more ads for HIV testing in Pennsylvania. We’ve also been hearing a lot about unscientific, unfounded connections between COVID vaccines and HIV. The *real* connection to the need for more testing and COVID is that people stopped getting tested for HIV during the COVID crisis. Now HPCP is helping to make up for lost ground. As reported by Contagion Live, the pandemic disrupted testing among vulnerable populations (see below). As a result, HPCP, in partnership with Penn State University, is offering free HIV self-test kits to anyone who resides in Pennsylvania, you can find out more and get a FREE HIV self-test kit in the mail at www.getmyHIVtest.com.

From Contagion Live

The COVID-19 pandemic significantly disrupted HIV testing and new diagnoses among vulnerable populations, according to a Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Ora Quick test kit

 

CDC investigators analyzed data from national data collection systems in order to compare the numbers of HIV tests performed and HIV infections diagnosed in the US. in the years prior to (2019) and during (2020) the COVID-19 pandemic. The study authors noted that due to the pandemic, health care systems were disrupted including HIV testing and the redirection of some public health departments from sexual health services towards COVID-19 services.

Read the full article.

Combination Anti-HIV Antibody Infusions Suppress Virus for Sustained Period

From HIV.gov

National Institute of Health and Infectious Diseases logoIndividuals with HIV who began taking antiretroviral therapy (ART) in the early stages of infection achieved a lengthy period of HIV suppression without ART after receiving two broadly neutralizing anti-HIV antibodies (bNAbs), according to a small study published today in the journal Nature . The findings suggest that combination bNAb therapy might offer a future alternative to daily ART for people living with HIV. […]

The purpose of the study was to see if treatment with the bNAbs could suppress HIV in the absence of ART. None of the seven participants who received the bNAb treatment had to restart ART before 28 weeks post-infusion compared to six of the seven participants who received placebo.

Read the full press release on HIV.gov.

COVID 19 Impact: Cases of Gonorrhea, syphilis, and Congenital Syphilis Surpass 2019 Levels

From medical.net

Reported cases of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) in the United States decreased during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, but most resurged by the end of that year. Ultimately, reported cases of gonorrhea, syphilis, and congenital syphilis surpassed 2019 levels, while chlamydia declined, according to new data published today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The data provide the clearest picture yet of COVID-19’s impact on the U.S. STD epidemic.

The newly released 2020 STD Surveillance Report found that at the end of 2020:

  • Reported cases of gonorrhea and primary & secondary (P&S) syphilis were up 10% and 7%, respectively, compared to 2019.
  • Syphilis among newborns (i.e., congenital syphilis) also increased, with reported cases up nearly 15% from 2019, and 235% from 2016. Early data indicate primary and secondary syphilis and congenital syphilis cases continued to increase in 2021 as well.
  • Reported cases of chlamydia declined 13% from 2019.

Chlamydia historically accounts for the largest proportion of reported STDs in the United States. The decline in reported chlamydia cases is likely due to decreased STD screening and underdiagnosis during the pandemic, rather than a reduction in new infections. This also contributed to an overall decrease in the number of reported STDs in 2020 (from 2.5 million reported cases in 2019 to 2.4 million in 2020).

Read the full article.

Researchers document third known case of HIV remission

From HIV.gov

A woman with HIV who received a cord blood stem cell transplant to treat acute myeloid leukemia has had no detectable levels of HIV for 14 months despite cessation of antiretroviral therapy (ART), according to a presentation at today’s Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI).

National Institute of Health and Infectious Diseases logoThis is the third known case of HIV remission in an individual who received a stem cell transplant. The research was conducted by the International Maternal Pediatric Adolescent AIDS Clinical Trial Network (IMPAACT) P1107 observational study led by Yvonne Bryson, M.D., of the University of California Los Angeles, and Deborah Persaud, M.D., of Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore. The IMPAACT network is funded by the National Institutes of Health.

The IMPAACT P1107 study began in 2015 and was a U.S.-based observational study designed to describe the outcomes of up to 25 participants living with HIV who underwent a transplant with CCR5Δ32/Δ32 cord blood stem cells for treatment of cancer, hematopoietic disease, or other underlying disease. As a result of the genetic mutation CCR5Δ32/Δ32, missing cells lack CCR5 co-receptors, which is what HIV uses to infect cells. By killing off the cancerous immune cells via chemotherapy and then transplanting stem cells with the CCR5 genetic mutation, scientists theorize that people with HIV then develop an HIV-resistant immune system.

Read the full article on HIV.gov.

Two People With HIV Suppressed Virus After Stopping Treatment

From US News and World Report

In one patient, viral suppression lasted nearly three and a half years, with occasional rebounds in virus counts. The other patient had nearly complete HIV suppression for close to four years, but then had a big surge when he was infected with a different HIV strain, a situation called “superinfection.”

In the first patient, researchers found high levels of HIV-specific immune cells called CD8+ T cells that can kill virus-infected cells.

The second patient had a weaker CD8+ T cell response against HIV, but a very strong neutralizing antibody response until the sudden viral rebound.

graphic of H I V cell

Read the full article.

What to know about HIV and transgender men

From Medical News Today online…

Most scientific studies relating to HIV and transgender people focus on transgender women — research about HIV and transgender men is limited.

trans man holding trans flag

According to research from 2018, this is because HIV prevalence is thought to be higher among transgender women: approximately 25–31%, compared with 0–3% among transgender men.

Other research, from the University of California San Francisco, suggests that trans MSM have an increased risk of contracting HIV, including those who do sex work.

This research states that in one study, most trans MSM reported not consistently using a condom during receptive anal and frontal sex with non-trans male partners. Participants also reported low rates of HIV testing and a low perception of the risk.

Read the full article.