Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day on Tuesday, March 9

Please join Human Services Center Corporation in honoring National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day on Tuesday, March 9 at 5:00PM via Zoom. We will discuss women’s sexual health, women and HIV, and healthy living with HIV. RSVP here. If you have questions, please contact agodollei@hscc-mvpc.org or 412-436-9537.  

Get a free HIV self-test kit delivered to your home

The Pennsylvania Department of Health, in partnership with the Pennsylvania Expanded HIV Testing Initiative (PEHTI) and the HIV Prevention and Care Project (HPCP), has introduced HIV Self-Testing (HST) for individuals who reside in Pennsylvania (excluding Philadelphia County). The goal of the getmyHIVtest.com program is to help people get tested who wouldn’t otherwise go to their doctor or to a testing clinic.  

Tests are available from the website getmyhivtest.com. Individuals are asked to read the information on the website and answer a few questions in order to receive an FDA-approved, OraQuick home HIV test kit mailed to their provided address. Support for clients who request and administer the HIV self-test is available through OraQuick and the HPCP, as noted on the website.   

Individuals who reside in Philadelphia County should visit PhillyKeepOnLoving.com to order the HIV Self-test kit and for additional information about testing from the Philadelphia Department of Public Health.   

If you have any questions, please send an email to info@getmyHIVtest.com.  

Mail Order Now an Option for “Ready, Set, PrEP”

From HIV.gov

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recently enhanced mail-order delivery options for participants to receive PrEP HIV prevention medication at no cost to eligible individuals without prescription drug coverage. Ready, Set, PrEP participants can choose to have their PrEP medication sent directly to their home or healthcare providers (in participating states) when they enroll or continue to use the more than 32,000 participating co-sponsoring pharmacies.

The option of having PrEP delivered to a preferred location is not only convenient for participants, but it also allows Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) and Indian Health Service (IHS) facilities, Tribal Health Programs, and Urban Indian Organizations to provide “one stop shopping” for potential enrollees. They can now get tested, receive their PrEP prescription and get the prescription sent via mail in one visit by enrolling with a healthcare provider’s assistance through GetYourPrEP.com  or the call center by calling 855-447-8410.

“This option allows our IHS, Tribal and Urban facilities the ability to provide a wholly integrated service inclusive of HIV testing, PrEP prescriptions and now the ability for our healthcare providers to offer mail-order for Ready, Set, PrEP enrollees,” said Darrell LaRoche, director of the Office of Clinical and Preventive Services at IHS. “The convenience of getting tested, enrolled and prescriptions mailed in one visit, sent to their home or a healthcare provider, is particularly important in Indian Country where a health center or pharmacy may be hours away.”

Read the full article.

How the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting another epidemic among teens: STDs | Expert Opinion

2020 marks the fifth consecutive year of increasing rates of gonorrhea, chlamydia and syphilis in the U.S.

From The Philadelphia Inquirer

virus and bacteria images

While the eyes of the nation are on the coronavirus pandemic, another threat to public health has been steadily growing in the United States. We’ve been battling rising rates of sexually transmitted infections (STI) for the last several years. In fact, 2020 marks the fifth consecutive year of increasing rates of gonorrhea, chlamydia and syphilis in the U.S., due in part to significant funding cuts to more than 50% of the nation’s public health STI programs. And now the COVID-19 pandemic has placed an even greater burden on our strained public health system and supply chains, shifting focus from one major public health issue to another.

We can’t risk losing one critical resource that will be essential to ending the STI epidemic — the availability of free and confidential STI testing for adolescents. Prior to the pandemic, national public health efforts were scaling up to improve STI and HIV testing, and quickly link youth to prevention services.  Rapid identification and treatment of STIs not only has public health benefits in terms of lowering transmission, but when left untreated, STIs increase the risk of infertility, severe pelvic infection, chronic pelvic pain, ectopic pregnancy and HIV transmission.

While accounting for 25% of the population, adolescents and young adults comprise over 50% of STIs in the U.S. each year. Black, Latinx, and LGBT youth face the greatest burden of infections and risk of complications. Fortunately, significant advances have been made over the last several decades to improve rates of STI and HIV testing among adolescents and young adults. The American Academy of Pediatrics now recommends HIV screening by the age of 16-18 years for all youth regardless of their sexual activity.

Read the full article.

HIV Prevention Efforts Utilize Salons in Black Communities

From Nurse.com

Researchers from Duke University School of Nursing in Durham, N.C., are turning to a ubiquitous locale — beauty salons — to help raise HIV prevention awareness among Black women in the South. Salons are often considered safe spaces for intimate conversations.

The numbers highlight the stark need: Black women, who make up 13% of the U.S. population, account for 64% of new HIV infections among U.S. women. They also make up 69% of all new HIV infections in the South, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Schenita D. Randolph, PhD, MPH, RN, CNE, and her research partner, Ragan Johnson, DNP, APRN-BC, both assistant professors at Duke University, developed a strategy to help prevent HIV spread in their region by focusing on Black women who have not been exposed to the virus.

Schenita D. Randolph, RN

The strategy involves training stylists to start conversations about HIV, educating women about HIV prevention, and linking them to prevention medication (pre-exposure prophylaxis or PrEP).

The research team received two-year funding from Gilead Sciences, which manufactures the HIV prevention medication Truvada, to put a pilot program in place.

Randolph explained that 44% of the people who could benefit from PrEP in the U.S. are African American (500,000). However, only 1% in that group have been prescribed PrEP, despite evidence that if taken once a day it can lower a person’s risk for getting HIV through sex by more than 90%.

Read the full article.

CDC report: new rates of hiv infection still on the rise among specific at-risk populations in the u.s.

From the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

In 2018, 37,968 people received an HIV diagnosis in the United States (US) and dependent areas. From 2014 to 2018, HIV diagnoses decreased 7% among adults and adolescents. However, annual diagnoses have increased among some groups.

click on image for larger view
click on image for enlarged view

Gay and bisexual men are the population most affected by HIV, with Black/African American, Hispanic/Latino gay and bi men having the highest rates of new infections.

The number of new HIV diagnoses was highest among people aged 25 to 34.

info graphic showing rates of H I V infection in the u. S. according to age
click on image for enlarged view

Source: CDC. Diagnoses of HIV infection in the United States and dependent areas, 2018 (updated)HIV Surveillance Report 2020;31.

Gender-Diverse Teens More Likely to Have Risky Sex Than Cisgender Peers

From Poz.com

Compared with their cisgender peers, gender-diverse teens are more likely to report sexual behaviors that put them at risk for HIV and other sexual health concerns, including the use of drugs or alcohol prior to sex, MedPage Today reports.

Brianna S. McMichael, MSN, MPH, of Children’s Minnesota in Minneapolis, conducted a survey of 411 teenagers who came into two emergency departments in the Midwestern city. She presented findings from the study at the American Academy of Pediatrics virtual meeting.

The study recruited young people 12 to 18 years old and provided them with an iPad on which to complete a survey while their parents stepped out of the room. Young people who came to the emergency department for mental health reasons or who were considered at risk for suicide were excluded.

Read the full article on Poz.com or from the original source, MedPage Today.

What STDs Can Tell Us About How To Fight Covid

From Politico…

As Covid-19 has rampaged across the United States, government officials have struggled with the basic steps needed to contain the pandemic. Should everyone get tested, or just people with symptoms? Should public health officials require Americans to wear masks or not? What’s the best way to track the infection, particularly in marginalized communities?

For one set of public health experts, the heated debates over testing, wearing masks and contact tracing were eerily familiar — as odd as it might seem, these are similar to arguments that officials and academics working to eradicate sexually transmitted diseases have been having for decades as they’ve worked to bring down the rates of infections like HIV, syphilis, gonorrhea and chlamydia.

Read the full article.

Chlamydia and gonorrhea have increased among younger women, study finds

From the Philadelphia Inquirer

Rates of chlamydia and gonorrhea are increasing among women ages 18 to 30 in the United States, a recent study by Quest Diagnostics suggests.

The study, recently published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, analyzed more than 17 million laboratory samples taken between 2010 and 2017 from females ages 12 to 30. Researchers found that while there was a decline in cases of chlamydia and gonorrhea among adolescents ages 12 to 17, women of ages 25 to 30 experienced a 50% increase in positive test results. Women 18 to 24 had a 21% increase in positive test results over the period of the study.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends annual screenings for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) among sexually active women under 25, said Harvey Kaufman, director of Quest’s Health Trends Research Program. For women 25 and older, the CDC recommends screenings only for those with specific risk factors, such as reporting that their sex partner may have a concurrent sex partner. Kaufman, a co-author of the study, said the findings suggest that sexual and contraceptive practices have changed since 2002, when the CDC guidelines were first published.

Kaufman pointed out that the CDC guidelines were largely influenced by a 1998 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine that found that the overall rate of chlamydia among female Army recruits was 9.2%. As a result, the authors of the study recommended a screening program for female recruits 25 and under.

Read the full article. 

Women’s Health: Facts about Birth Control, STIs and Condoms

From the Society of Behavioral Medicine

A Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI) is a bacterial or viral infection that is passed from one person to another through sexual contact (i.e., anal, vaginal, or oral). More than 25 STIs have been identified, affecting 20+ million men and women in the U.S. each year.

Anyone who is sexually active can get an STI, even without having penetrative sex (i.e., vaginal or anal sex). Some STIs, like herpes and HPV, are spread by skin-to-skin contact. Many STIs don’t show symptoms for a long time. Even without the presence of symptoms, they can still be harmful and passed between partners during sex (i.e., anal, vaginal, or oral).

woman holding condoms

STIs occur in all parts of the population.

Young adults between the ages of 15 to 24 account for nearly half of all new STIs infections each year.

Racial and ethnic minority groups are experiencing significant increases in STI rates. In 2017, the rate of reported cases of Chlamydia among Black females was five times the rate of White females and 6.6 times greater in Black males than White males.

STI rates have significantly increased within the LGBTQIA+ community. A 2018 CDC report states Gonorrhea diagnoses nearly doubled between 2013-2018 in gay and bisexual men, and men who have sex with men (MSM). Data from 2018 indicate that gay and bisexual men accounted for 54% of all syphilis cases.

People 60+ account for the largest increase of in-office STI treatment. Between 2014-2017, rates for Herpes simplex, Gonorrhea, Syphilis, Hepatitis B, Trichomoniasis, and Chlamydia rose 23% in this population.

Women who are pregnant can become infected with the same STDs as women who are not pregnant.

Fact: Oral contraceptives (birth control) cannot prevent an STI.

A common myth is that birth controls can prevent the spread of STIs. Two of the most common forms of birth controls are oral contraceptives and condoms. Many people may not use condoms because they are using another form of birth control, and feel they are safe from STIs.

Oral contraception is only effective in preventing pregnancy and cannot stop STIs from being passed between sexual partners.

Fact: Condoms can prevent an STI.

Correctly using male and female condoms can help prevent the spread of STIs and help prevent pregnancy. Dental dams, a barrier method for oral sex, can also help prevent STIs when used correctly. Most condoms and dental dams are made from latex or polyurethane, which may be preferable for individuals with a latex allergy.

Read the full article on Society of Behavioral Medicine.