National Asian and Pacific Islander HIV/AIDS Awareness Day May 19th

May 19 is National Asian & Pacific Islander HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, a day devoted to eliminating HIV stigma in API communities. Learn more about the impact of HIV on these populations online at https://bit.ly/3gfhsPG and https://bit.ly/3djLa4q. ‘

May 19 is National Asian and Pacific Islander H I V AIDS Awareness Day If you’re looking for testing resources, you can go to https://gettested.cdc.gov and search by zip code to find local testing clinics. Pennsylvania residents can also go to www.getmyHIVtest.com and order a free HIV test kit through the mail.

STD Clinics Contribute to Ending the HIV Epidemic in the United States

From HIV.gov

STD clinics play a key role in HIV diagnosis, prevention, care, and treatment.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recognizes this role and in August 2020 awarded $3 million to seven jurisdictions to scale up HIV services in eight STD clinics through funding announcement PS20-2010: Integrated HIV Programs for Health Departments to Support Ending the HIV Epidemic in the United States (EHE).

Having a sexually transmitted infection (STI) can increase theEnding the H I V epidemic chances of getting or transmitting HIV, because having an STI may make HIV transmission easier. Additionally, the same behaviors and circumstances that place people at risk for STIs also can place them at risk for HIV.

STD clinics are important healthcare settings for people who may not otherwise have access to healthcare services, including those who are uninsured or seek confidential services. They serve people who are not engaged in HIV prevention programs or the primary healthcare system for STD and HIV prevention and care.3 For example, in 2018, an analysis of CDC-funded HIV tests found STD clinics provided more than one-third of all HIV tests conducted among healthcare settings and identified approximately 20% of all people newly diagnosed with HIV in these settings.

Read the full article on HIV.gov.

HHS Prohibitions on Sex Discrimination in Line with Supreme Court Decision

From HIV.gov...

The Department of Health and Human Services announced that the Office for Civil Rights will interpret and enforce Section 1557 and Title IX’s prohibitions on discrimination based on sex to include: (1) discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation; and (2) discrimination on the basis of gender identity. Section 1557 prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age, or disability in covered health programs or activities. The update was made in light of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Bostock v. Clayton County and subsequent court decisions.

“The Supreme Court has made clear that people have a right not to be discriminated against on the basis of sex and receive equal treatment under the law, no matter their gender identity or sexual orientation. That’s why today HHS announced it will act on related reports of discrimination,” said HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra. “Fear of discrimination can lead individuals to forgo care, which can have serious negative health consequences. It is the position of the Department of Health and Human Services that everyone – including LGBTQ people – should be able to access health care, free from discrimination or interference, period.”

Discrimination in health care impacts health outcomes. Research shows that one quarter of LGBTQ people who faced discrimination postponed or avoided receiving needed medical care for fear of further discrimination.

Read the full article on HIV.gov.

Living with HIV in Pennsylvania? We need your input!

All individuals living with HIV in Pennsylvania are invited to share their opinions in this Priority Setting Survey!

Human Crowd Forming H I V Text On White Background Priority Setting is a part of HIV Planning in Pennsylvania and offers a special chance for individuals living with HIV to have their opinions recorded. These responses help the state’s HIV Planning Group and Pennsylvania Department of Health Division of HIV Disease make decisions about HIV spending and planning for a 5-year cycle. Individuals living with HIV are invited to rank a list of Ryan White Part B services, based on their own needs and the kinds of services that they find important.

Due to extended HIV Planning deadlines, we are reopening this year’s Priority Setting Survey, and are looking for your response!

We ask for your responses by Wednesday, June 30th .

Complete the Pennsylvania Ryan White Priority Setting Survey at this link:  https://bit.ly/3dZf3Hk. 

Please direct any questions to Maura Bainbridge at stakeholders@stophiv.org or 412-383-1619.

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.

HIV & STI National Strategic Plans Call for Enhanced Coordination of Efforts

From HIV.gov

The recently released STI National Strategic Plan (STI Plan) and HIV National Strategic Plan were developed concurrently with the Viral Hepatitis National Strategic Plan and each calls for a more integrated approach to addressing the syndemic of HIV, STIs, viral hepatitis, and substance use and mental health disorders. Together, these three plans aim to enhance coordination of the activities of federal agencies and diverse community stakeholders to reduce morbidity and mortality, stigma, discrimination, health inequities, and disparities; improve outcomes; and fortify the public health and health care infrastructure to support prevention, diagnosis, care, and treatment across these infectious diseases. As federal agencies begin work to develop implementation plans for each of these five-year plans, we will explore opportunities to enhance integration of prevention, care, and treatment of STIs, HIV, viral hepatitis, and behavioral health issues by leveraging capacity and infrastructure across the domains and breaking down operational and funding silos.

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Such silos result in missed opportunities every day to test people for multiple infections and to scale up services in settings where people at risk receive other services. These missed opportunities translate directly into lost time and resources and may result in harm to people who remain undiagnosed, untreated, and at risk of severe outcomes or of transmitting HIV, an STI, or viral hepatitis to others. A reciprocal, integrated approach in our responses to infectious diseases and substance use and mental health disorders that puts patients first through a status-neutral and no-wrong-door approach will maximize their ability to access services that meet their health needs.

For example, HIV testing, prevention, and care programs can identify opportunities to screen for other STIs, viral hepatitis, and behavioral health issues and provide treatment and/or linkage to appropriate services. Current CDC PrEP guidelines recommend STI screening as part of PrEP care and the HHS HIV Treatment Guidelines provide information on screening, treatment, and prevention of herpes and syphilis.

Similarly, STD clinic patients represent a population at increased risk for HIV; so STD specialty clinics play a vital role in reaching people at risk for HIV who are not engaged in HIV prevention programs or other health care services, including those who are uninsured and those who seek confidential services. In addition, STD specialty clinics serve a high proportion of racial and ethnic minorities, gay and bisexual men, and transgender people so are ideally positioned to reach these populations disproportionately affected by HIV who could benefit from PrEP or PEP or reach people with HIV who are either unaware of their status or are not virally suppressed and could benefit from linkage to or reengagement in care.

April 10th is National Youth HIV/AIDS Awareness Day

From HIV.gov

sign saying National Youth HIV Awareness DayAll youth deserve access to comprehensive sexual health education. National Youth HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NYHAAD) is an opportunity to work together to make this a reality. By educating youth about the basics of HIV, how to protect themselves, find testing, treatment and care services, and confront HIV stigma in their communities, we are empowering them to take an active role in ending the HIV epidemic for future generations.

Today’s youth have many of the same hopes and dreams as previous generations. But we must also recognize they are distinct in many ways too. Their widespread passion for advocacy and social change sets them apart. They also face unique challenges and barriers when it comes to achieving those dreams.

In 2018, youth aged 13 to 24 made up 21% of the 37,832 new HIV diagnoses in the United States and dependent areas. Most new youth diagnoses were among gay, bisexual men, and men who have sex with men (MSM). Most of these new diagnoses occurred among young Black and Latinx MSM. Yet, in 2018, youth were the least likely age group to be aware they had HIV, remain in care, or achieve viral suppression. One of the most important things we can do to change this trend is to provide accurate, age-appropriate, and culturally sensitive information about HIV.

Read the full article.