People living with HIV disproportionately affected by hepatitis

From Dr. John Ward, Director, Division of Viral Hepatitis, CDC :

May is Hepatitis Awareness Month, an observance intended to remind us of the high, under-recognized hepatitis-associated disease burden in this country and of the often neglected opportunities for prevention and care. An estimated 3.5 – 5.3 million Americans have chronic viral hepatitis, which is a leading cause of primary liver cancer. People living with HIV are disproportionately affected by viral hepatitis and the related adverse health outcomes. Of those infected with HIV, more than 25% are co-infected with Hepatitis C and an estimated 10% with Hepatitis B.  While highly active antiretroviral therapy has extended the life expectancy of HIV-infected persons, liver disease (much of which is related to Hepatitis C) has become the most common non-AIDS-related cause of death of among this population.

HIV, Hepatitis B, and Hepatitis C share common modes of transmission. People living with HIV who are also living with viral hepatitis are at increased risk for serious, life threatening complications.  As a result, all persons living with HIV should be tested for Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C by their doctors. Co-infection with hepatitis may also complicate the management of HIV infection.

In order to prevent co-infection with Hepatitis B, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommends universal Hepatitis B vaccination of susceptible patients with HIV/AIDS.  Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B vaccines are also recommended for all men who have sex with men, users of illicit drugs, and others at increased risk of infection. There is no vaccine for Hepatitis C.

In 2010, an interagency work group of U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) experts was created to develop a comprehensive strategic action plan to respond to the viral-hepatitis-associated disease burden. The HHS Action Plan for the Prevention, Care and Treatment of Viral Hepatitis describes opportunities to improve coordination of viral hepatitis prevention activities across HHS, and the framework needed to engage other agencies and nongovernmental organizations in prevention and care. Various strategies throughout the plan outline methods of integration of HIV and viral hepatitis in education, prevention and services.  The HHS Action Plan was released on May 12.

This article comes from blog.AIDS.gov.

HIV at “critical levels” in Philadelphia

From the Philadelphia Gay Issues Examiner:

HIV has reached critical levels in Philadelphia. The City of Philadelphia has just begun a campaign called Freedom Condom. The goal of this campaign is to reduce the infections of HIV and other STDs among teenagers in Philadelphia. According to the City of Philadelphia Department of Health, men who have sex with men in Philadelphia have more than a 40% chance of getting HIV by having unprotected sex. There are an estimated 16,905 people living with HIV or AIDS in Philadelphia.

These statistics are shocking but true. HIV has become the ultimate threat to the gay community, especially for gay African-Americans and Hispanics. There are many reasons why HIV is spreading so rapidly in Philadelphia but one of the main reasons is that there is an increase use of unprotected sex among gay men and ignorant myths about how the virus is transferred. There are many myths that HIV is transferred by hugging, kissing, or shaking hands with someone who is HIV positive. These myths are completely wrong. Before understanding how HIV is spread, understanding what is HIV is most important. HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus, meaning that the virus can only be transmitted between humans. HIV attacks the body’s immune system by invading and taking over the CD4+ T cells.

Continue reading on Examiner.com

Nearly 50 Percent of Gay Men with HIV Don’t Know They’re Infected

From the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Website:

CDC estimates that more than one million people are living with HIV in the United States. One in five (21%) of those people living with HIV is unaware of their infection. Despite increases in the total number of people living with HIV in the US in recent years, the annual number of new HIV infections has remained relatively stable. However, new infections continue at far too high a level, with an estimated 56,300 Americans becoming infected with HIV each year.

More than 18,000 people with AIDS still die each year in the US. Gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men (MSM)† are strongly affected and represent the majority of persons who have died. Through 2007, more than 576,000 people with AIDS in the US have died since the epidemic began.

By risk group, gay, bisexual, and other MSM of all races remain the population most severely affected by HIV.

  • MSM account for more than half (53%) of all new HIV infections in the U.S. each year, as well as nearly half (48%) of people living with HIV.
  • While CDC estimates that MSM account for just 4% of the US male population aged 13 and older, the rate of new HIV diagnoses among MSM in the US is more than 44 times that of other men and more than 40 times that of women.
  • White MSM account for the largest number of annual new HIV infections of any group in the US, followed closely by black MSM.
  • MSM is the only risk group in the U.S. in which new HIV infections have been increasing since the early 1990s.

Potential heart risk when combining HIV drugs

The Food and Drug Administration issued a warning recently that potential heart risks when combining two HIV drugs. The agency said preliminary data suggest Roche’s Invirase and Abbott Laboratories’ Norvir can affect the electrical activity of the heart when used together. Changes to the heart’s electrical activity can delay the signals that trigger heart beats. In some cases the problem can cause irregular heart rhythms, leading to lightheadedness, fainting, and even death.

You can read the full Reuters article here.