Category Archives: Research

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.

Study: Combining PrEP with U=U yields incredible results

From HIVplusmag.com

When people use a combination of HIV prevention methods, researchers found there was a significant drop in HIV transmission.

Published in the academic journal HIV Medicine, the study found that using several methods such as taking PrEP, early HIV diagnosis from frequent testing, and proper antiretroviral treatment decreased transmission by 80 percent.

The research was evaluated at 56 Dean Street, which is a sexual health clinic and part of Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust in London.

“We witnessed an 80% reduction in the number of HIV diagnoses between 2012 and 2017, following the introduction of a number of HIV prevention measures (PrEP introduction, early HIV diagnosis through frequent and facilitated access to HIV testing and timely ART used as treatment-as-prevention) were key to the success of this model,” lead author Nicolo Girometti, told Contagion. Girometti is also a consultant in HIV medicine at 56 Dean Street.

Read the full article.

Social Workers Helping Older Adults with HIV Survey

From the Professional Association of Social Workers

The HIV Age Positively: A Social Work Response Initiative seeks to address the unique challenges experienced by individuals aging with HIV & AIDS.  As we strive to identify and enhance social work practices especially to address the unique challenges experienced by those aging with HIV/AIDS, we would like to know more about your experiences, thoughts, and needs as a social work or allied professional working with aging adults living with HIV and/or AIDS.

P A S W H A logoWe invite you to complete and share the online Social Workers Helping Older Adults with HIV Survey. The survey will remain open until Thursday, June 3, 2021. To thank you for your participation, we will be including you in a drawing for a free membership to PASWHA and a conference registration to the National Conference on Social Work and HIV and AIDS.

Additionally, at the end of the survey, you will also be invited to participate in the Client Survey, which will aid us to learn directly about the needs of aging adults living with HIV and/or AIDS.

If you have any questions about the initiative or the survey, please contact Rusty Bennett via email (rusty@collaborative-solutions.net) or phone (205-939-0411) Rusty Bennett.

Take the survey here.

Stigma Remains a Barrier in HIV Prevention and Treatment

From newswise,com

Stigma and discrimination, such as homophobia and racism, impede engagement in HIV prevention and use of biomedical tools for treatment in both HIV-negative and HIV-positive gay and bisexual men, according to a Rutgers study.

The paper, published in AIDS and Behavior, examined the impact of stigma on HIV-related outcomes among gay and bisexual men in the U.S.

man standing alone on a dock

Despite recent advances in HIV prevention and treatment, and access to biomedical interventions that can hasten the end of the HIV epidemic, gay and bisexual men continue to be disproportionately affected by the virus.

Read the article on newswise.com.

NASTAD: COVID-19’s impact on PrEP/PEP and sexual health services

NASTAD, in collaboration with the National Coalition of STD Directors (NCSD), released “One Year Later: COVID-19’s Impact on PrEP/PEP and Sexual Health Services.” This resource explores the impact COVID-19 has had on the provision of sexual health and HIV prevention services over the last year.

NASTAD logoThis reflection piece details the many challenges and opportunities COVID-19 has brought to the HIV/STD prevention field, particularly in the southern United States, and showcases the innovative approaches sexual health providers implemented to further prevent service disruption.

While the COVID-19 pandemic is still ongoing, this document looks at what the sexual health workforce has been through, and continue to go through, navigating ending an HIV epidemic while in a global pandemic.