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HIV/AIDS News Digest: August 18, 2011

August 18, 2011

Here is a quick look at a few HIV/AIDS stories recently reported in the media:

Depression Is Still Common Among People Living With HIV (From The AIDS Beacon)

Researchers from several universities, including the University of California, San Diego, Johns Hopkins University and the University of Washington, found that even though antiretrovirals have improved health outcomes overall, people living with HIV still experience depression and have suicidal thoughts. The AIDS Beacon reported that the researchers looked at the "lifetime rate of suicidal behavior" of 1,500 U.S. patients and found the following:

  • 63 percent of participants reported symptoms of depression currently or at some point in the past.
  • 26 percent of participants reported having had thoughts of suicide and 13 percent of participants reported having attempted suicide in their lifetimes.
  • Participants who had thought about, planned or attempted suicide reported more severe depression symptoms and significantly lower overall health-related quality of life than participants who had not.
  • Participants who reported a past suicide attempt were significantly less likely to be on Sustiva (efavirenz).
  • Participants with a history of thinking about or attempting suicide had higher viral loads. The researchers hypothesized that this was due to lower medication adherence in depressed participants, and not related to how much time had passed since someone had been diagnosed.
  • HIV-positive African Americans experienced higher rates of suicidal behavior and depression. The researchers hypothesized that the stigma associated with HIV increases an HIV-positive person's risk of developing depression.

Depression and mental issues are not new concepts for the HIV community. This is why the researchers of this study hope that doctors are more vigilant about diagnosing and treating depression in their HIV-positive patients.

Why the Black Church Must Get Real on HIV/AIDS (From The Grio)

This article, which was published on The Grio, NBC's news site geared for African Americans, focuses on how more black churches must step up and cease moralizing with regard to certain behavior that leads to increased rates of HIV infection among African Americans. The church, which is one of the most powerful and influential social institutions in the black community, could serve as the knowledge broker of the epidemic. And while there are some black churches that have stepped up, there is still a lot of stigma and ignorance that remains unchecked -- and some community members are getting fed up.

David Malebranche, an assistant professor of medicine at Emory University, believes that in order to make progress, more churches need to talk about sexuality and normalize sexuality. The Grio reported:

"The church does not even talk about sexuality. To leap frog to homosexuality is a challenge," said Malebranche whose research explores the reasons behind the HIV racial disparity in the Black community. "Are people going to be honest about sexuality and how they are going to express their sexuality in a church setting?"

Malebranche said he has worked with a lot of churches in different areas on this topic and recognizes that what works for him is how he approaches the discussion. Many times, he said, gay advocates come into arenas and shove "gay" down others' throats.

"A lot of churches do not dig that. A lot of the gay movement comes from the white gay movement. The approach," he said, "Has to be about sexuality and then dealt with in a larger context. Work on sexuality curriculum and work on it in the larger context."

Heterosexual HIV Rates Higher Among Poor, Jobless (From MedPage Today)

A new U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention analysis finds poverty, unemployment and a lack of education to be strong factors for HIV among heterosexuals. It found the HIV rate among low-income heterosexuals to be 10 to 20 times higher than among all U.S. heterosexuals. This finding comes from the National HIV Behavioral Surveillance System, based on data collected from 14,837 people in 24 metropolitan areas with high HIV prevalence.

What's interesting about the finding is that, "The link was independent of traditional HIV risk factors among heterosexuals, such as use of crack cocaine and exchanging sex for money or drugs." Moreover, race and ethnicity did not play a significant role in HIV rates among low-income heterosexuals, despite national HIV rates among blacks being eight times more than that in whites, and rates among Latinos being three times more than in whites.

According to MedPage Today, the specific rates were as follows:

  • 2.8 percent among participants with less than a high school education and 1.2 percent among those with more than a high school education
  • 2.6 percent among those who were unemployed and 1.0 percent among those with jobs
  • 2.3 percent among those with annual household incomes of $9,999 or less and 1.0 percent among those whose incomes were $10,000 to $49,999

Now that we have factors aside from race, drug use and sex work, experts are hopeful we can take these findings to strengthen prevention efforts.

Other HIV/AIDS Articles in the Media

HIV-Positive Moms and Pre-Term Delivery: More Research Needed Before Changing Current Guidelines (From

BMS Selects 2011 "Fight HIV Your Way" Contest Winners (From a BMS press release)

Exercise Guidelines Published for People With HIV Over 50 (From

Celebrity Hairstylist and AIDS Activist Guy Wayne Lawson Dies at 66 (From Variety)

Kellee Terrell is the former news editor for and Warren Tong is the research editor for and

Copyright © 2011 The HealthCentral Network, Inc. All rights reserved.

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