April 12, 2011
Here is a quick look at a few HIV/AIDS stories recently reported in the media:
Bureau of HIV/AIDS Chief Confirms Possible ADAP Eligibility Reduction (From The Florida Independent)
In response to Florida's serious budget crisis and its AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP) waiting list, the Florida Department of Health's Bureau of HIV/AIDS has proposed reducing eligibility for people living with HIV who access their meds through the state's ADAP. Currently, 3,905 people are on Florida's ADAP waiting list -- the nation's longest ADAP list.
In the upcoming weeks, Tom Liberti, chief of the Florida Department of Health's Bureau of HIV/AIDS, said he will hold public hearings about reducing the percentage of the federal poverty level that patients must fall below in order to qualify for ADAP, making it harder for people to qualify so that those with the most need would receive the life-saving meds. He is proposing that people living with HIV have an income that is 200 percent or less of the federal poverty level in order to access ADAP, as opposed to 400 percent or less.
This means that, given that the current federal poverty level is $13,000, a person living with HIV would have to earn $26,000 or less to qualify for ADAP.
This announcement comes a day after Carl Schmid, deputy executive director of The AIDS Institute, leaked to The Florida Independent on April 11 that the bureau had proposed these reductions last week.
Drop in AIDS-Related Cancers in the U.S. (From US News and World Report)
AIDS-related cancers are down says a new report conducted by the U.S. National Cancer Institute and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Researchers found that cancers such as Kaposi's sarcoma, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and invasive cervical cancer decreased from 34,000 cases between 1991 and 1995 to about 10,000 cases between 2001 and 2005. They believe that antiretroviral therapy's ability to halt the progression from HIV to AIDS is the main factor in why the rates of these cancers have gone down.
This is good news, but they also found that the rates of other non-AIDS-related cancers, such as lung, stomach, esophageal and anal cancer, are up.
"Our study observed striking increases for a number of malignancies related to cancer risk factors that are known to be prevalent in this population, such as smoking and infection with cancer-causing viruses," study author Meredith S. Shiels, from the division of cancer epidemiology and genetics at the National Cancer Institute, said in a journal news release. "We also observed increases for nearly all other cancers, which is what one might expect for an aging population."
Sex Education and STDs: Why the Message Matters (From RH Reality Check)
April is STD Awareness Month! RH Reality Check has partnered with the National Coalition of STD Directors to create op-eds about STD prevention, the public health implications of neglecting STDs and treatment and funding.
One standout entry from this series was written by Sandra Serna-Smith about the importance of the messages in prevention. Serna-Smith writes that while the National Survey of Family Growth (NSFG) claims that more American teens and pre-teens are receiving STD and HIV prevention education, the CDC has found that the rates of gonorrhea and chlamydia among young girls have gone up; and syphilis rates among young men and women have gone up as well. Among black men ages 15-29, syphilis has gone up 167 percent.
Serna-Smith believes that the scare tactic messages that young people get play a role in this disconnect. She writes:
A society that is willing to move beyond scary pictures is one that is willing to address stigma and health inequities and promote sexual health -- without which there is little chance of reducing the burden of STDs, including HIV, in our communities. Efforts such as [the health communication campaign "Get Yourself Tested"] and the recent infusion of Office of Adolescent Health funding to replicate evidence-based programs that move beyond fear appeals are steps in the right direction. We owe our youth the opportunity to be self-advocates with an accurate and complete understanding of STD transmission, prevention, and treatment and what most impacts their risk.
Do you agree with Serna-Smith?
"Got STD Testing?" Meeting the STD and HIV Testing Needs of Men Who Have Sex With Men (MSM) (From RH Reality Check)
Kellee Terrell is the former news editor for TheBody.com and TheBodyPRO.com.
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