Illinois health dept. discusses plans for PrEP assistance

By Gretchen Rachel Blickensderfer, Windy City Media Group

Cross-posted from Windy City Media Group

Dr. Mildred Williamson

Dr. Mildred Williamson

With the 26th annual World AIDS Day commemorated Dec. 1 across the globe by communities, governments and organizations, the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) HIV/AIDS Inter-Agency Taskforce unveiled strategies for the implementation of a program to dramatically improve access and affordability of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) medication for at-risk individuals statewide. Continue reading

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

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

NASTAD Partners With National Organizations to Encourage Gay Youth to “Speak Out” About HIV

By Carlos De Leon, Senior Associate, Health Equity and Prevention, NASTAD

Speak Out LogoEvery person carries with them a unique story that, in some manner, affects the person that they are and they embody. It is uncommon to be given a platform and adequate time to openly and honestly talk about these experiences in depth while feeling safe and comfortable in exposing our raw selves. This is especially true for sexual minorities, same gender loving men and other men who have sex with men (MSM), especially men of color within this group. Gay men/MSM continue to be the most severely affected community by HIV and Black and Latino gay men/MSM are disproportionately affected. Young gay men/MSM, aged 13 – 24, from 2008 – 2011 accounted for the greatest percentage increase (26%) in diagnosed HIV infections. In the aforementioned youth group, Blacks and Hispanic/Latinos constituted 58% and 20%, respectively, of all young gay men/MSM in 2011 infected with HIV. Black young gay men/MSM aged 13 – 24 experienced the largest increase in diagnosed HIV infections among all racial/ethnic groups. The over representation of Black and Latino gay men/MSM newly infected or living with HIV is due to numerous issues including access to health care and institutionalized stigma. Moreover, many gay men/MSM encounter unique challenges in expressing their sexuality openly and comfortably. Continue reading

How New York is Using Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) to End HIV

By Dan O’Connell, Director, AIDS Institute, New York State Department of Health

The AIDS Institute, New York State Department of Health

The AIDS Institute, New York State Department of Health

In June of this year, New York’s Governor, Andrew M. Cuomo, announced a plan to bring HIV below epidemic levels in New York State by 2020. In this plan, pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) is identified as one of three key strategies for reducing new HIV infections to sub-epidemic levels, and is a great example of how health departments can bring the domestic HIV epidemic to its end within a rapidly changing system of HIV prevention and care services and raising the bars of the HIV care continuum. Continue reading