By Erin McElderry, Associate, Prevention, NASTAD
The National HIV/AIDS Strategy (NHAS), released in 2010, is the nation’s guide towards taking measureable steps to end the HIV epidemic. It proposes a bold vision: “The United States will become a place where new HIV infections are rare and when they do occur, every person, regardless of age, gender, race/ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity or socio-economic circumstance, will have unfettered access to high quality, life-extending care, free from stigma and discrimination.” Within that overarching vision is a call to action to target resources towards communities disproportionately impacted by HIV—in particular gay men and other men who have sex with men (MSM). The NHAS stressed, “the United States cannot reduce the number of HIV infections nationally without better addressing HIV among gay and bisexual men.” Continue reading
By Christopher Cannon, Manager, Health Care Access, NASTAD
Prior to the approval of Truvada as PrEP, health departments feared there would be a rush of affluent gay men demanding access to Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP)-the use of antiretroviral medication to prevent the infection of HIV-to abandon condom use altogether. In so doing, they would create greater health disparities among vulnerable populations like young gay and bisexual men, Black and Latino gay and bisexual men, and transgender women who are often disenfranchised. However interest in PrEP outside of clinical trials across the country has been very limited. Gilead, manufacturer of Truvada, reports only 2,319 prescriptions filled for Truvada as PrEP from January 1, 2012 (prior to FDA approval in July 2012) to September 30, 2013 in the United States, which currently has an estimated 50,000 HIV infections each year. Continue reading
By Liisa Randall, Consultant, NASTAD
Each year on June 27th, we mark National HIV Testing Day (NHTD) as an opportunity to further promote HIV testing as an important HIV prevention tool and as the critical first step to linking individuals living with HIV with medical care and support services that can help them stay healthy and improve their quality of life.
Missing an opportunity to diagnose acute HIV infection has important public health implications. Health departments play an important role in HIV testing in that health department HIV prevention programs conduct more than three million tests each year. During the acute phase of HIV infection, individuals are highly infectious and research has demonstrated that acute infection contributes disproportionately to HIV transmission. Research also suggests that treatment of early HIV infection with antiretroviral therapy (ART) may delay disease progression and may also decrease the severity of acute disease.