Six Lessons for Health Departments Using PrEP as an HIV Prevention Tool

By Dave Kern, ‎Manager, Infectious Disease Prevention Section at Washington State Department of Health

Dave Kern

Dave Kern

In Washington State, we’ve spent a lot of time talking about pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), the use of antiretroviral medication to prevent HIV infection, and what it means for our work. We’ve been inspired to acknowledge our fears, both known and hidden, and to seize the hope and promise that’s evolving before our eyes. We’ve given ourselves space to be curious, to make mistakes and to be OK with not creating the perfect plan. More importantly, we’ve made the decision to act, even as we continue to define our commitment. Continue reading

Improving Drug User Health through Health Department HIV Prevention Programs

By Erin McElderry, Associate, Prevention, NASTAD

New HIV Infections by Transmission Category, 1980 – 2010*

New HIV Infections by Transmission Category, 1980 – 2010*

In many ways, HIV prevention among people who inject drugs (PWID) has been a success story. Rates of new infections among PWID have declined dramatically since the beginning of the epidemic, due in part to the success of syringe services programs (SSPs) in preventing new HIV infections. However, this work is far from done. In 2010, PWID represented 8% of new HIV infections. The U.S. has also seen rising rates of young people addicted to prescription opioids transitioning to injection drug use.  Continue reading

Raising the Bars: Health Departments Use Data to Care Strategies to Improve Outcomes along the HIV Care Continuum

By Bryan Collins, CAPUS Coordinator, Virginia Department of Health; Melissa Morrison Webb, Director of HIV Prevention, Tennessee Department of Health; and Todd Harvey, Senior Manager, Prevention, NASTAD

Raising the Bars

Raising the Bars Report

To achieve the goals of the National HIV/AIDS Strategy and to implement the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s High Impact Prevention, state health department HIV prevention and surveillance programs are taking action towards raising the bars along the HIV care continuum. To do this, they are increasingly using HIV prevention activities to enhance effectiveness via collaboration and integration with their HIV surveillance efforts. In NASTAD’s 2013-2014 National HIV Prevention Inventory, we found that approximately 86% of HIV prevention programs reported collaborating with HIV surveillance programs by actively sharing decision-making, planning efforts and resources to achieve common goals. This indicator rose from 74% reported in our 2009 National HIV Prevention Inventory. Continue reading

No More Silos – PrEP is One Component of Gay Men’s Sexual Health: A Health Department Approach to PrEP

By Barry Callis, Director of Behavioral Health and Infectious Disease Prevention, Office of HIV/AIDS, Bureau of Infectious Disease and Dawn Fukuda, Director, Office of HIV/AIDS, Bureau of Infectious Disease, Massachusetts Department of Public Health

Barry Callis and Dawn Fukuda

Barry Callis and Dawn Fukuda

Many of us in the Office of HIV/AIDS at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH) were huddled excitedly around our computer screens when the first reports of success from the iPrEx clinical trial were released. It was December of 2010, and at long last, we had confirmed proof that an antiviral medicine (Truvada) could protect against HIV infection before exposure, and that it worked for gay and bisexual men and transgender women. It was a possibility we had only dreamed of in the early 1990’s, when effective antiretrovirals were first widely available as treatment. Continue reading

“All the Threads of the Tapestry are Equal in Value,” Dr. Maya Angelou

By Dr. Shanell L. McGoy, Director of HIV/STD, Tennessee Department of Health

Shanell McGoy

Dr. Shanell L. McGoy

Dr. Maya Angelou’s pen was silenced earlier this year; yet her bold, brilliant, and beautifully crafted words will live forever.  Her words speak of love – self-love and love for others, resilience, and the richness of diversity.  Dr. Maya Angelou wrote, “We all should know that diversity makes for a rich tapestry, and we must understand that all the threads of the tapestry are equal in value.”  The 1.1 million people living with HIV in the United States are as richly diverse as the tapestry Dr. Angelou describes in her poignant quote.  HIV/AIDS knows no boundaries, no specific race or ethnicity, age, gender, sexual preference, education level, profession, income, or religion.  Though we know that there are well documented HIV-related disparities that exist across a variety of demographics, we can be proud of our collective progress to reduce these disparities. Continue reading