Age Makes the Difference in Sticking With HIV Meds

From US News and World Report

Researchers assessed more than 1,400 patients ages 12 to 24 with HIV who were referred to a nationwide treatment network.

Of those, 75% were enrolled in care, with 34% remaining in care and beginning antiretroviral treatment. Twelve percent achieved viral suppression after a median of nearly five months. (Median means half took less time, half took longer.)

That rate of viral suppression is much lower than the range of 32% to 63% found among adults older than 24, despite similar rates of care in both age groups, according to the authors of the U.S.  National Institutes of Health (NIH)-funded study.

The findings were recently published in the Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome.

The results suggest that after young people enroll in an HIV treatment program, only a low percentage stick with it.

“Our findings indicate an urgency for research on how best to tailor HIV intervention services to the needs of youth,” study first author Dr. Bill Kapogiannis said in an NIH news release. He’s a researcher in the Maternal and Pediatric Infectious Diseases Branch of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

Read the full article.

Registration is now open for the 2020 National Ryan White Conference on HIV Care & Treatment


The Health Resources and Services Administration’s HIV/AIDS Bureau (HRSA HAB) will host the 2020 National Ryan White Conference from August 11-14, 2020, at the Marriott Marquis Washington, DC.

The conference is the largest national meeting for HIV care and treatment providers, Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program recipients, and other stakeholders. This year’s theme is “30 Years of Innovating Care, Optimizing Public Health, Ending the HIV Epidemic,” which is timely as HRSA recognizes a major program milestone, 30 years since the Ryan White Comprehensive AIDS Resources Emergency (CARE) Act was first enacted.

The National Ryan White Conference is held every two years to deliver program and policy updates, share best practices and innovative models of care, and provide technical assistance to Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program recipients and subrecipients.

To register for the conference, visit

Registrants will receive information on booking a hotel room once your registration is approved.


Youth with HIV less likely than adults to achieve viral suppression

From the National Institutes of Health

HIV infected T Cell

Despite similar rates of enrollment into medical care, youth with HIV have much lower rates of viral suppression — reducing HIV to undetectable levels — compared to adults, according to an analysis funded by the National Institutes of Health. Among more than 1,000 youth, most of whom were newly enrolled in care at treatment centers throughout the United States, 12% had attained viral suppression, far lower than the 32% to 63% observed in studies of adults over age 24. The findings suggest that after they enroll in an HIV treatment program, a low proportion of youth adhere to care regimens. The study appears in the Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes.

“Our findings indicate an urgency for research on how best to tailor HIV intervention services to the needs of youth,” said the study’s first author, Bill G. Kapogiannis, M.D., of the Maternal and Pediatric Infectious Diseases Branch at NIH’s Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD). The analysis was funded by NICHD, the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the National Institute of Mental Health.

Read the full news release.

Shepherd Wellness Community February Events Calendar

Shepherd Wellness Community is the only AIDS community center in western Pennsylvania and the only AIDS community serving the 11-county region of southwestern Pennsylvania.

Since its inception in 1987, Shepherd Wellness Community has offered supportive services for people infected and affected by HIV/AIDS.

As the needs of our members have changed, Shepherd Wellness Community has responded by offering new programs and services. See a calendar of upcoming dinners, programs and events by clicking here.

Center programs include:

  • Wellness Dinners improve nutrition and provide emotional support
  • Social events and outings
  • Wellness education programs
  • Support groups to boost mental and physical health
  • Support group specifically for HIV positive people
  • Fitness and alternative therapy programs

To find out more, go to the Shepherd Wellness Community Website.

National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day in Pennsylvania: ‘We’re making progress but…’


Dr. Trish Gadson, of Macedonia FACE, in Pittsburgh, speaks during a Capitol news conference marking an annual observance of National Black HIV/AIDS Day in Pennsylvania

From the Pennsylvania Capital-Star

Black people make up 12 percent of Pennsylvania’s population of about 12.8 million people. But they accounted for 49 percent of HIV diagnoses in 2018 — and to Rep. Brian Sims that’s “racist as hell.”
“A racist system produces a racist result. You don’t need to look at the data to know that,” Sims, D-Philadelphia, said Wednesday, adding, “If medicine only reaches people who look like me, in a state that doesn’t look like me, we’re doing something wrong.”

Jeannine Peterson, CEO of Harrisburg’s Hamilton Health Center, speaks during a Capitol press conference on Wednesday, 2/5/2019 (Capital-Star photo by John L. Micek)

Sims, one of two openly gay House members, was one of several lawmakers and public health advocates who were on hand during a Capitol press conference Wednesday for the 21st annual observation of National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day in Pennsylvania.

Read the full article.

Prevention Point Pittsburgh providing needle exchange for 25 years

Prevention Point provides sterile syringes and other supplies to reduce spread of HIV and Hepatitis C.

Prevention Point Pittsburgh was founded in 1995 when James Crow and Caroline Acker, along with a handful of dedicated volunteers, began providing needle exchange services once a week in the Hill District to prevent the spread of injection-related blood-borne disease. In April 2002, PPP established a county-authorized needle exchange site in Oakland. Since that time, over 7,000 injection drug users have enrolled in our program for critical prevention services. PPP’s services are authorized by the Allegheny County Board of Health and The Allegheny County Council.

In addition to needle exchange services, PPP provides comprehensive case management services, assistance to drug treatment, individualized risk reduction counseling, health education, condom and bleach distribution, overdose prevention training with naloxone, and free HIV, Hepatitis C, and syphilis screening in collaboration with the Allies for Health + Wellbeing (formerly the Pittsburgh AIDS Task Force).

Find out more on their Facebook page. You can also open/download a  Needle Exchange Site Map for 2020.

Together for Love: February 7 is National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day

From the Chronicle online

National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NBHAAD) is February 7. NBHAAD is a day to increase awareness about HIV among blacks/African Americans and encourage people to get involved in prevention efforts, get tested, and get treatment if they have HIV.

HIV diagnoses have fallen in recent years among black/African American women (25% decline from 2010 to 2016) and heterosexual men (26% decline). Diagnoses among young black/African American gay and bisexual men (aged 13 to 24) decreased 5%. This good news shows that the nation’s HIV prevention efforts are helping reduce HIV infections among some blacks/African Americans.

Although the latest data show progress, we must continue our efforts. In 2017, nearly 17,000 blacks/African Americans received a new HIV diagnosis. Blacks/African Americans accounted for 43% of all HIV diagnoses in the United States and 6 dependent areas,** despite making up 13% of the U.S. population. Also, from 2010 to 2016, HIV diagnoses increased 40% among black/African American gay and bisexual men aged 25-34.

This year NBHAAD’s theme, Together for Love: Stop HIV Stigma, focuses on our shared responsibility for taking actions to help end HIV stigma—negative attitudes or beliefs about people with HIV. Stigma affects the emotional well-being and mental health of people who have HIV and can keep people from getting tested and treated for HIV. Ending HIV stigma is critical to reducing new HIV infections among African Americans and helping African Americans with HIV stay healthy.

On NBHAAD, help us make progress to reduce HIV among African Americans by fighting stigma and promoting HIV testing, prevention, and treatment. Eventually we can get to no new HIV infections if we work together.

Read the full article.

Bruce Richman: Meet the Man Behind U=U


Bruce Richman, the renowned activist and founder of the Prevention Access Campaign, the organization that launched the undetectable equals untransmittable (U=U) message, is on a return flight from Greece where he joined local advocates in sharing the news that when you’re living with HIV, on meds, and undetectable, it is impossible to transmit the virus to others.

For the last several years, Richman has united activists in efforts to end both the HIV epidemic and the stigma that many people living with HIV face. A growing network of health experts, professionals, teachers, siblings, spouses, parents, and friends have changed perspectives on what a positive diagnosis means. Through hard-hitting research and tenacious activism and lobbying, U=U has become a global consensus, recognized by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and numerous other agencies, doctors, and organizations around the world.

But despite the immense impact U=U has already had on the esteem, relationships, and overall wellness of those living with HIV (and the people who love them), the rest of the country’s general perception of HIV is still outdated. This is what drives Richman’s pursuit to change hearts and minds.

“U=U is my calling,” Richman, a lawyer-turned-activist, says. “It grabbed me by the gut and yanked me forward. I’ve never felt such a compulsion and clarity. I knew that undetectable equals untransmittable, but millions of people were suffering because they were not being told and people in positions of great influence to alleviate that suffering were sitting on their hands. I had no choice.”

Read the full article.

HIV in the United States and Dependent Areas 2018


In 2018, 37,832 people received an HIV diagnosisa in the United States (US) and dependent areas.b From 2010 to 2017, HIV diagnoses decreased 11% among adults and adolescents in the 50 states and District of Columbia. However, annual diagnoses have increased among some groups.

HIV Diagnoses

New HIV Diagnoses in the US and Dependent Areas for the Most-Affected Subpopulations, 2018 (click image to enlarge).

Subpopulations representing 2% or less of all people who received an HIV diagnosis in 2018 are not represented in this chart.
Source: Diagnoses of HIV infection in the United States and dependent areas, 2018pdf.

Despite ART, Immune System Ages Faster Among People Living With HIV


Today’s powerful antiretroviral therapy (ART) helps fight back HIV infection and restore normal immune function. However, clinical evidence suggests that people with HIV who are virologically suppressed still have higher rates of comorbid viral infections than the general population.

Now, a new study in the Journal of Infectious Diseases suggests that ART does not restore the immune system completely back to normal. Instead, people with HIV may experience “immune amnesia,” in which the immune system slowly loses its capacity to recognize and fight off viral infections introduced during childhood or through a vaccine.

“Even with therapy, there’s something not quite fixed about the immune system,” said lead author Michael Augenbraun, M.D., FACP, FIDSA, who is vice chair of the Department of Medicine and director of the Division of Infectious Diseases at SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University and Kings County Hospital Center.

In the study, Augenbraun and his colleagues compared immune response among a group of 50 HIV-negative women and a group of 50 HIV-positive women on ART with low viral load. Each of these women had been vaccinated against smallpox during childhood, so they should all theoretically have similar levels of lingering protection against the smallpox virus.

Read the full article.