The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that some racial/ethnic groups are at higher risk for getting HIV than others.
CDC data shows that Black/African American communities account for a higher proportion of new HIV infections as compared to other races and ethnicities. In 2018, Black/African Americans accounted for 13% of the US population but 42% of new HIV diagnoses.
Similarly, in the same 2018 report, the CDC notes adult and adolescent Hispanics/Latinos made up 27% of the 37,968 new HIV diagnoses in the United States.
Why? Because these communities are impacted by demographic factors such as discrimination, stigma, and institutionalized health disparities—all of which affect their risk for HIV.
So what can we do?
People who know they’re infected can get into treatment and become HIV undetectable—which means the level of virus in the body is so low that it can’t be passed on to a sex partner. And people who know they’re not infected can take steps to prevent future infection by practicing safer sex (like using condoms) and taking the HIV prevention medication known as PrEP.
The first step, then, to preventing HIV is to get tested.
The good news is that anyone who resides in Pennsylvania can now get a free HIV self-test kit delivered in the mail.
In early 2021, the Pennsylvania Expanded HIV Testing Initiative (at Penn State University) and the HIV Prevention and Care Project (at the University of Pittsburgh) began a joint program called getmyHIVtest.com.
“We created getmyHIVtest.com to make test kits available to anyone in the state who might be at risk for HIV,” explains Raymond Yeo, one of the project’s coordinators at the University of Pittsburgh. “Knowing your HIV status is key in the preventing HIV in our communities—especially those most at risk for new infections.”
The website, www.getmyHIVtest.com, provides easy-to-follow instructions and online form where PA residents can order their free kit, which typically arrives—in an unmarked package—within five to ten business days. Recipients of the kit are asked to provide basic demographic information and to take a follow up survey as a means to improve the program in the months ahead.
“This is a big development in the fight against HIV in Pennsylvania and we need all the input we can get,” added Yeo. “It’s unrealistic to think we can test everyone in the state so it’s important that we find ways to get our test kits into the hands of the people who need them the most.”
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.
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.”
Women are missing from PrEP messaging
When most respondents in a population don’t know about a particular medication, that means that the word is not getting out. Although efforts may have gotten better since 2013, the reality is that most women still are not considered in the marketing of PrEP especially among people that have some high-risk activities within their lifestyle.
The parallels of this lack of knowledge continue a legacy of female bias when it comes to sexual health topics. The female condom is one example of a tool that was meant to empower women to protect themselves. However, the commitment by the health community to engrain it in our cultural sexual education failed and it is always seen as an option that men and women don’t fully embrace.
Black women continue to be diagnosed with HIV at disproportionately high rates relative to white and Hispanic/Latina women, according to a report released Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Despite recent progress that has seen new HIV diagnoses decrease by 21 percent from 2010 to 2016, black women still accounted for 6 in 10 new HIV infections among women in 2016.
“When we look at the use of Prep, we find that there are disproportionate uses of the drugs. We find that communities of color use Prep less than other communities. Some are not even aware that Prep is out there,” Angarone said.
…Cost also plays a crucial role in black women seeking treatment. Public health experts believe that making Prep and HIV-treatment medications, such as Truvada, affordable to all populations is vital.
“Cost plays a significant role in women seeking treatment. They want to know that insurance covers it. Insurance coverage for Prep is also important,” Angarone said.
“Ultimately, the health of black women has to be made a priority,” Angarone said.
“We have to ask ourselves as a community, how do we get all of the testing strategies that have been working for other populations in place to bring about similar outcomes to the African American female community?”
We’ve all been there: getting hot and bothered and oh-so-turned on and can’t wait to just go for it. Hopefully you reach for the box of condoms before you do anything. Using protection greatly reduces the chance of contracting STDs, and there are some nasty ones out there. But are you using the right size condom? Unfortunately, many sex-ed classes are severely lacking in teaching proper condom use which can lead to a whole slew of unpleasant things.
For many people, they will just grab the standard box of Trojans and call it a day. However, there is a variety of different sized condoms available to purchase, each with their own fit. Unlike some clothing, condoms aren’t a one-size-fits-all thing and it’s very important that people use the right size for their little (or big) man.
From Reuters Health…
Last month U.S. regulators said a pill that helps prevent infection with HIV is safe for use by adolescents, and a study suggests most physicians would be willing to prescribe this medicine to teens.
So-called pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) with Truvada, a daily pill combining the medicines tenofovir and emtricitabine, can lower the risk of getting HIV from sex by up to 90 percent, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Truvada has long been used to treat HIV and as a prevention strategy for adults.
The current study was conducted between October 2016 and January 2017, before the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved PrEP for teens who weigh at least 35 kg (77 pounds).
Researchers surveyed 162 doctors who worked with adolescents and young adults. While 93 percent of the clinicians had heard of PrEP, only 35 percent had prescribed it.
Among those who were unwilling to prescribe it themselves, about two-thirds said they would prescribe it for teens if it had FDA approval for these patients.
“Everyone, including adolescents, should know whether they could benefit from PrEP,” said lead study author Dr. Geoffrey Hart-Cooper, a pediatrician at Stanford Children’s Health and a HIV prevention specialist at the San Francisco Department of Public Health.
From NBC News…
In a major shift, pharmaceutical giant Gilead Sciences will begin airing television ads for PrEP, its HIV prevention medication. The company said the ads, which will start in June and run through August, are “designed to encourage candid conversations around sexual health and promote public awareness of HIV prevention.”
PrEP, or pre-exposure prophylaxis, involves taking a daily pill to prevent HIV transmission. Major clinical trials have shown that PrEP — also known by its brand name, Truvada — is safe and effective at preventing HIV if taken daily. The pill is also recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for at-risk groups.
Since the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Truvada for HIV prevention in 2012, Gilead has leaned on public health agencies to promote the drug. New York City has for years placed advertisements on subways and buses to promote PrEP, and the District of Columbia’s health department aired its own racy HIV PrEP television ad earlier this year.