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HIV/AIDS News Digest: May 10, 2011

By Kellee Terrell

May 10, 2011

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


Teens Often Willing to Accept Free or Low-Cost Rapid HIV Testing (From Medical News Today)

Just because the CDC recommends that everyone ages 13-64 should be routinely tested for HIV doesn't mean that's actually happening, especially among young people. But a study from the Bradley Hasbro Children's Research Center found that teens who are offered free or low-cost rapid HIV testing are often willing to accept the test.

The study included 81 at-risk adolescents between the ages of 15 and 21. More than half of all participants were boys; 34 percent were Latino and 25 percent were African-American. Overall, 53 percent of teens in the study accepted the free HIV test, with African-American teens more likely to agree to testing compared to Latino youth (75 percent vs. 39 percent).

"Given that many adolescents are willing to know their HIV status, policies that support free or low-cost routine testing may ultimately help identify more cases of HIV among teens," said lead author Rebecca Swenson, Ph.D., a child psychologist with the Bradley Hasbro Children's Research Center. "Our findings suggest that widespread routine testing is a viable HIV prevention strategy for this particular age group."


Are Gay Men More at Risk for Developing Cancer? (From Reuters)

A new study conducted at Boston University School of Public Health found that gay men are twice as likely to report being diagnosed with cancer as straight men. Researchers believe that gay men have much higher rates of cancer risk factors, including HIV, which could partly account for the difference. By examining data from a health survey of 120,000 adults living in California that documented sexual orientation, researchers, researchers found that among the 51,000 men who were surveyed, 8 percent of gay or bisexual men reported a history of cancer, compared to just 5 percent of straight men.

While there were no differences in self-reported cancer rates between lesbian or bisexual women and straight women, lesbian and bisexual women were more likely to rate their health as fair or poor than straight female cancer survivors.

But some LGBT health advocates have some issues with these findings. Liz Margolies, executive director of The National LGBT Cancer Network, told Reuters, "A lack of hard data [on how sexual orientation affects the risk of cancer is] one of the biggest problems we have. It's critical that we know that for funding and for program planning."

Margolies stated that there are other factors at play, such as higher rates in the LGBT community of smoking, alcohol use and avoidance of routine checkups because of doctors' intolerance of LGBT people.


GMHC Leaves Chelsea and Moves Into Its New Home (From DNAinfo.com)

On the morning of May 6, after past debate and protest, Gay Men's Health Crisis (GMHC) finally left its Chelsea building after 10 years to move into its new digs near Madison Square Garden on W. 33rd St and Tenth Avenue. The move into the larger, 165,000 square foot space will allow the three-decade old HIV/AIDS service and advocacy organization to expand programs including nutrition counseling and daily hot lunches.

"We're now in a position to provide more people with more efficient and effective services," chief executive officer Marjorie Hill said before the ribbon-cutting.

In a recent Huffington Post article, "GMHC: Moving Forward in the Fight to End the Epidemic," Hill expressed that just because GMHC's building has changed doesn't mean its mission or commitment to the community has. She wrote:

Our new home will enable us to extend the best services possible to the nearly 11,000 New Yorkers affected by HIV/AIDS who rely on GMHC for access to meals and nutrition counseling, an expanded food pantry, health education, access to benefits and housing, legal and social services, workforce development and so much more. The offices, meeting rooms, state-of-the-art kitchen and dining room are spread generously over two floors. We were fortunate to receive from the departing tenant, WNET, an over $4 million gift of furnishings and fixtures.

Over the 30 years of the AIDS epidemic, science has given people living with HIV and AIDS hope and longer lives and for that, we are all grateful. Yet science has not given people the tools to lead longer, more productive lives, the tools to talk about HIV to family members, co-workers, friends and neighbors, nor sufficient tools to help prevent the rate of new infections and reduce stigma attached to HIV. This new home gives us, the GMHC family, the potential and promise to provide greater opportunities for all New Yorkers affected by HIV to lead more productive lives. We will make that potential a reality today and every day.


Other HIV/AIDS Articles in the Media

Op-Ed: Epidemics Breed Public Disorder and Mistrust (From The Guardian)

U.S. Senate to Consider Historic AIDS Housing Resolution (From Housing Works)

Current and Five Former Mayors of Vancouver Advocate for City's Safe Injection Site (From Georgia Straight)

Kellee Terrell is the former news editor for TheBody.com and TheBodyPRO.com.


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