June 23, 2011
Here is a quick look at a few HIV/AIDS stories recently reported in the media:
One of the many issues that opponents of PEP have is the fear that people will forgo condoms altogether. Yet, researchers from San Francisco believe that with intensive PEP counseling and outreach, as opposed to just standard counseling, the opposite could happen. They found that it get people to engage is less risky sex and be less likely to acquire HIV one year later.
People receiving the enhanced intervention received the same two sessions, as well as three further sessions, during which difficulties in implementing the plan were explored, contextual factors (such as particular places or emotions) that led to high or low risk behavior were identified, and an increasingly personal risk reduction plan was developed.
Adherence counseling was also separately provided on three occasions.
Almost all participants were men, and PEP had commonly been prescribed after unprotected anal sex (80.1 percent), unprotected vaginal sex (7.5 percent) or oral sex to ejaculation (5.9 percent) in the previous 72 hours. Four out of 10 people receiving PEP knew that their partner was HIV-positive.
To test whether or not the extra counseling sessions made a difference in behavior, researchers looked at before and after occurrences of unprotected sex. In the six months before taking PEP, participants reported that they had unprotected sex an average of 5.5 times. For those who received the standard two counseling sessions after PEP, the number of unprotected sex acts dropped by 1.8, while those getting the extra sessions had 2.3 fewer unprotected sex acts.
Better news? Researchers found that those who were taking more sexual risks -- 4 or more unprotected sex acts -- were greatly impacted by these extra sessions. People who received the standard sessions had a reduction in 7.0 unprotected sexual acts. Those who received the extra sessions the average reduction was 13.2 acts.
CDC Cites Benefits of Expanded HIV Testing Program (From HealthDay)
A three-year testing initiative sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to identify new HIV diagnoses and link them to care has been successful, the federal agency claims. By testing nearly 2.8 million people, they identified 18,432 who were unaware that they were HIV positive.
Seventy-five percent of those newly diagnosed with HIV were referred to health care, officials from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.
"The goal is to test, to link to care and then to treat," said Dr. Michael A. Kolber, director of the Comprehensive AIDS Program at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.
Testing is also important because once someone finds out they are infected with HIV they often change their behavior, he said.
One of the main problems with testing is reaching those groups of people most at risk, including gay and bisexual men and African Americans, who make up the majority of new cases, the CDC said. The new report said blacks accounted for 60 percent of those tested and 70 percent of the new cases.
Due to the program's success, the CDC has extended it. The agency said that of the 1.2 million Americans living with HIV, 20 percent don't know they are infected.
"Expanding testing is critical to help individuals receive life-extending treatment and protect the health of their partners," the CDC said.
Another day, another criminalization bill introduced -- this time it's Pennsylvania's turn.
The state's House of Representatives has passed a bill that would criminalize the attempt to expose police officers to communicable diseases such as hepatitis B or HIV, state Rep. Keith Gillespie, the author of the bill, told the The York Dispatch:
"I have seen them many times myself during my history of working in an emergency room or as an EMS out on the highway, and these individuals can become very combative and attempting to contaminate not only police officers, but emergency services personnel, with various bodily fluids. As it stands right now if they try to infect a police officer and they are not in the confines of a jail they cannot be charged. This fixes a quirk in the law."
If the alleged attacker knows that they have a communicable disease, it would be assault of a law enforcement officer in the second degree, punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a $25,000 fine. If the person doesn't know whether he has a communicable disease, it would be assault of a law enforcement officer in the third degree, which draws up to seven years imprisonment and a $15,000 fine.
The bill is now waiting to be voted on by the state Senate.
Erection-boosting condom gets backing in Europe (From Reuters)
Huffington Post Writer Asks, "Why Aren't More People Getting Tested for HIV?" (From the Huffington Post)
Singer George Michael to Host HIV/AIDS Fundraiser Concert (From BBC News)
Kellee Terrell is the former news editor for TheBody.com and TheBodyPRO.com.
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