Category Archives: HIV

Jun 19 2012

AIDS: Update Your Status

The timing of the current Washington, DC, revival of The Normal Heart, a period piece about the very earliest days of the AIDS epidemic in America, is no accident. The play (reviewed in the Washington Post) is set in New York City in the early 80s, at the very start of the epidemic—when the disease had no name, no effective treatment and no prevention strategy. The revival will still be playing in the nation’s capital during the International AIDS Conference, the first time the conference has been held in the United States since 1990. Conference organizers boycotted the U.S. as a meeting site because of travel restrictions for HIV-positive travelers, which were lifted in 2010.


But theatre goers who think they’re seeing a historical account of a bygone disease are dangerously mistaken. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention(CDC), 1.2 million people in the United States are living with HIV/AIDS and one in five is unaware of their infection. HIV experts say late detection of the infection can mean that drugs may be insufficiently effective.

To help increase the numbers of Americans who get tested for HIV/AIDS, this week, Greater Than AIDS, a national public information advocacy group, released outdoor media messages, including billboards and bus and rail posters, aimed at connecting people with free and low-cost testing in their communities by promoting hotlines and web-based resources provided by CDC, state and local health departments and AIDS service organizations.

The new campaign includes the first Spanish language messages in the lead up to National HIV Testing Day on June 27. “This campaign is about helping to reduce the stigma surrounding HIV testing and connect people with services in their communities,” says Tina Hoff, Senior Vice President and Director of Health Communication and Media Partnerships at the Kaiser Family Foundation, a co-founding partner of Greater Than AIDS.

Learn more about HIV testing and prevention:

  • Use your zip code to find an HIV testing site.
  • Participate in a webinar on Thursday, June 21, at 12 p.m. EST from the HHS Healthy People initiative, featuring The Bronx Knows, an initiative that successfully identifies un-diagnosed HIV-positive individuals and connects them to much-needed care. The Assistant Secretary for Health, Dr. Howard Koh, will also announce brand new data on the national percentage of people living with HIV who are aware of their status. Dr. Koh will also be answering questions during a live Twitter chat today (June 19) from 1 to1:30 p.m. EST using the hashtag #NHTD. Follow@gohealthypeople for more information.

May 11 2012

Public Health News Roundup: May 11

FDA Panel Backs HIV Drug to Prevent Transmission of the Virus

Reuters is reporting that an FDA advisory committee has recommended that the HIV drug Truvada be approved for the prevention of HIV for people at highest risk of contracting the infection, such as men who have sex with other men. The agency is expected to rule on the recommendation next month. While the drug has been effective in preventing transmission of the infection in clinical trials, drawbacks include the high cost of the drug and a risk for serious kidney problems when the drug is used long term. Read more on HIV.

Washington State Declares Whooping Cough Epidemic

This week the governor of Washington State, Chris Gregoire, made emergency funds available to the state Department of Health to help curb the outbreak of whooping cough (pertussis) underway in Washington. The state’s Health Secretary declared a whooping cough epidemic last month. Gregoire also urged health care professionals to get vaccinated and vaccinate their patients, and announced federal approval for health officials to re-direct some funds to buy several thousand doses of pertussis vaccine for adults.

“I’m especially concerned about the vulnerable babies in our communities that are too young to be fully immunized,” said Gregoire. “These actions will help state and local health leaders get vaccine into people’s arms so we can stem the tide.” According to the Department of Health 1,132 cases of whooping cough have been reported in the state through April 28—that’s compared to 117 over the same time last year. There were 965 cases reported in all of 2011. Read more on vaccine-preventable illnesses.

Stores Recall Thousands of Water Slides Linked to One Death, Two Critical Injuries

In cooperation with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), Wal-Mart Stores Inc., and Toys R Us Inc., are announcing the recall of about 21,000 inflatable Banzai in-ground pool water slides. During use, the slide can deflate, allowing the user to hit the ground underneath the slide and become injured. The slide is also unstable and can topple over in both still and windy conditions and carries inadequate warnings and instructions. The CPSC says it is aware of one death, a paralyzing injury and a neck fracture linked to use of the slides.

CPSC urges consumers to immediately stop using the product and return it to the nearest Wal-Mart or Toys R Us for a full refund. Consumers can also cut the two safety warning notices out of the slide and just return that portion.

The CPSC has also recently published a roundup of recalls this past year of products most likely to be used in the spring and summer, such as playground sets, gas grills and kiddy bikes. Read more on injury prevention.

May 9 2012

Public Health News Roundup: May 9

Exercise May Increase Survival Rates for Some Cancer Patients

A review of 27 observational studies published between January 1950 and August 2011 finds that exercise may help improve survival for people with breast and colon cancer. The study was published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

Read more on cancer.

OSHA Begins 2012 Campaign to Protect Outdoor Workers Summer Heat and Sun

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has kicked off a national outreach initiative to educate workers and employers about the dangers of working outdoors in hot weather. The outreach effort builds on last year's campaign to raise awareness about the dangers of too much sun and heat.

Workers at risk include those on farms, construction workers, utility workers, baggage handlers, roofers, landscapers and anyone else who works outside. OSHA has developed heat illness educational materials in English and Spanish; a curriculum for workplace training; a dedicated website; and a free app that lets workers and supervisors monitor the heat index for a worksite. The app displays a risk level for workers based on the heat index, and worker safety information from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration heat alerts.

Read more on worker safety.

Johns Hopkins Establishes New Center for AIDS Research

Johns Hopkins University has been awarded $15 million over the next five years from the National Institutes of Health to establish a new Center for AIDS Research. A major priority for the new center will be to address Baltimore’s HIV epidemic. A report by the Baltimore City Health Department released last year found that despite national advances in HIV prevention and treatment, Baltimore continues to be among the top 10 urban areas in the country in HIV incidence rates.

At the end of 2009, there were 13,048 people in Baltimore living with HIV/AIDS and HIV infections were being diagnosed at a rate of almost one and a half per day. A 2006 study showed that the lifetime expense of treating each new case of HIV in Baltimore costs about $355,000. That expense, according to the Health Department’s report, “puts a significant strain on evolving health care systems, especially in a city like Baltimore with a high poverty rate.”

Read more on HIV/AIDS.

May 7 2012

Public Health News Roundup: May 7

The Weight of the Nation Conference, sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, begins today. The goal of the conference is to provide a forum to highlight progress in the prevention and control of obesity through policy and environmental strategies, and is framed around five intervention settings: early care and education; states, tribes and communities; medical care; schools; and workplaces. Several key resources on obesity are being released in connection with the conference:

  • A new book, The Weight of the Nation: To Win We Have to Lose, co-authored by Judith Salerno, Executive Officer of the Institute of Medicine, which looks at the forces driving the obesity epidemic in the U.S. and offers practical tips on weight loss.
  • The book is a companion to a new HBO documentary, The Weight of the Nation, on obesity in the US, which debuts May 14 and was produced in association with partners including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health.
  • On May 8 the IOM will release a report, Accelerating Progress in Obesity Prevention, at the Weight of the Nation conference, which will recommend ways society can support individuals by making healthy choices easier.

Follow coverage of the meeting on, @RWJF_ChdObesity, and on NewPublicHealth.

Too Few Bike-Share Riders Wear Helmets

A study published in the Annals of Emergency Medicine found that 80 percent of people using bike share programs in Boston and Washington, DC, did not use helmets. According to the researchers, from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, helmet use is associated with decreased rates of head injury and mortality and decreases the risk of head and brain injury by 65 to 88 percent. Helmet use in the two bike share programs studied, as well as others, is not required in order to rent the bikes.

Blacks Less Likely to Adhere to HIV Regimens

Blacks with HIV are much less likely to adhere to drug therapy than others with the disease, according to a University of Michigan study. Additionally, untreated depression may interfere with HIV/AIDS treatment for all low-income, HIV-infected patients, regardless of race. The one year study found that less than 30 percent of African-American HIV patients in the one-year study had optimal compliance with their drug therapy, compared with 40 percent of other HIV patients.

More than 66 percent of the 7,034 HIV-infected patients in the study were African-American and nearly half of them reported depression. However, the study also found that antidepressant treatment nearly doubled the odds of drug compliance among HIV patients of all races who reported depression. The study appeared in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.

Apr 2 2012

Public Health News Roundup: April 2

U.S. Health Outcomes Outpaced by Most Other Developed Countries

The U.S. is being outpaced by most other developed countries when it comes to improvements in health outcomes, according to a new analysis by a researcher at the University Of Washington School Of Public Health. The researcher, Dr. Stephen Bezruchka, a senior lecturer in global health, says the decline comes despite increased U.S. spending on health care services.

HUD Awards $33 Million to HIV/AIDS Housing Programs

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has announced nearly $33 million in grants to extremely low-income persons living with HIV/AIDS. The grants will provide housing and supportive services such as case management and employment training. Read more on health and housing.

Funding Expands Opportunities for Veterans to Enter Health Professions

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has announced two grant programs totaling more than $24 million to help veterans enter the health profession workforce and increase the nation’s supply of advanced practice nurses and physician assistants. Read more on military health and opportunities.

FDA Denies Request to Ban BPA

Reuters is reporting that the Food and Drug Administration has denied a petition by the Natural Resources Defense Council to ban BPA, also known as bisphenol A, a chemical used in products such as water bottles, soup cans and other food and drink packaging that may cause harm to developing babies and young children.

The FDA says the petition did not provide the scientific evidence needed to change current regulations.

Mar 9 2012

Public Health News Roundup: March 9

New CDC Campaign Urges HIV Testing Among Black Women

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has launched “Take Charge. Take the Test.”—a new campaign to increase HIV testing and awareness among black women. The campaign is being launched in ten cities where black women are especially hard-hit by the disease.

Black women are far more heavily affected by HIV and AIDS than women of any other race or ethnicity in the United States. They account for nearly 60 percent of all new HIV infections among women (and 13 percent of new infections overall). The rate of new infections among black women is 15 times higher than among white women.

The campaign emphasizes the importance of HIV testing. Venues for messaging include outdoor and transit advertising; radio ads and posters and handouts distributed in salons and stores. Read more on HIV prevention.

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Mar 8 2012

Public Health News Roundup: March 8

Critical Rise in Army Suicides

Suicides among U.S. soldiers rose 80 percent from 2004 to 2008, according to a study in the journal Injury Prevention. While 40 percent of the suicides may have been linked to combat experience in Iraq, nearly a third of the soldiers who committed suicide were not in combat, according to the study. The researchers also found that rates of suicide among Army personnel from 1977 to 2003 were similar to trends in the general population, but in 2004 suicides started to increase quickly, outpacing the suicide rates among civilians by 2008. Read more on military health.

HIV Treatment in First Year of Life Needed to Avoid Cognitive Impairment in Children

A new study funded by the National Institutes of Health finds that treating HIV in order to avoid brain impairment may have a window of just the first year of life. Treatment begun later than that may not have as significant results in avoiding cognitive impairment. Read more HIV news.

Over Thirty Percent of U.S. Families Struggle with Medical Bills

One-third of American families are having trouble paying for health care, according to a report from the National Center for Health Statistics. Data for the first six months of 2011 found that one in five families had difficulty paying medical bills, one in four pays bills over time and one in 10 can't pay medical bills at all. Read more on access to health care.

Feb 21 2012

Public Health News Roundup: February 21

Hepatitis C Now Kills More People in U.S. than HIV

Deaths from hepatitis C have increased in the U.S. in the last few years, at least in part because many people don't know they have disease, according to a new study in the Annals of Internal Medicine. Researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention looked at data from 1999 to 2007 and found that deaths from hepatitis C (15,000) surpassed deaths from HIV (13,000) and that deaths from hepatitis C and B are mostly among people who are middle-aged.

Additional studies in the current issue of the journal found that the best treatment is expensive, about $60,000, but may be worth the cost because hepatitis C raises the risk of more expensive outcomes, including cancer and liver transplants; and that routine screening, not commonly done, may detect more cases of hepatitis C earlier, when treatment is most effective. Read more on infectious disease.

U.S. Counties With More Dermatologists Have Lower Rates of Death From Melanoma

Counties with more dermatologists have lower rates of deaths from melanoma, according to a new study in the Archives of Dermatology. Researchers compared the number of dermatologists and melanoma deaths in 2,472 U.S. counties between January 2002 and December 2006. Their review found that that having 0.001 to one dermatologist per 100,000 people in a county was associated with a 35 percent lower rate of melanoma deaths. Having an even higher ratio of dermatologists, though, was not associated with a further decrease in melanoma death rates.

Other findings:

  • Counties with hospitals that had oncology departments had slightly lower melanoma death rates.
  • Metropolitan counties had about 30 percent lower melanoma death rates than rural counties.

The researchers say it’s not clear whether density of dermatologist’s impacts prevention, diagnosis, treatment or a combination of those factors. Read more cancer news.

New Study: Pro Baseball Players Frequently have Abdominal Strains

Concussions have been the sports injury most frequently in the news, but as the calendar turns toward baseball season, a new study in the American Journal of Sports Medicine finds that lack of stretching and training too often results in abdominal strains—known as side strains—for professional baseball players. The researchers say that their study suggests that there may be too much focus during training on building strength, and not enough on stretching and flexibility.

The injuries typically occur with twisting or pivoting, such as a pitcher's throwing motion or a batter's swing. The researchers looked at 20 years of records from Major League Baseball's disabled list, from 1991 to 2010, and found that of 8,136 players on the disabled list during that time; five percent of injuries were abdominal strains. The researchers say the injuries were most likely to happen in March and April when weather is colder and it’s harder to loosen muscles, or before the players are as in as good physical condition as they are later in the season. Read more on injury prevention and safety.

Feb 7 2012

Today Is Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day


February 7, 2012 marks the 12th annual National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, a national community mobilization initiative to boost HIV awareness and advance HIV prevention, testing, and treatment among blacks in the United States.

Among all racial and ethnic groups in the U.S., African Americans have the greatest burden of HIV. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that one in 16 black men and one in 32 black women will be diagnosed with HIV infection during their lifetimes. In 2009, blacks made up 14 percent of the U.S. population but accounted for nearly half (44 percent) of all new HIV infections. Recent CDC data shows an alarming 48 percent increase in new HIV infections from 2006 to 2009 among young, black men who have sex with men aged 13 to 29 years. Black women, according to the CDC, are far more affected by HIV than women of other races. The rate of new HIV infections for black women is more than 15 times as high as that of white women, and more than 3 times as high as that of Latino women.

The theme for 2012 is I Am My Brother's/Sister's Keeper: Fight HIV/AIDS! and is focused on making sure that all black men, women, and young adults, regardless of sexual orientation, economic class, or educational level, see themselves as part of the solution to the HIV epidemic in black communities.


  • To find a testing site call 1-800-CDC-INFO (232-4636), visit, or, on your cell phone, text your zip code to KNOW IT (566948).
  • Listen to a podcast from Dr. Kevin Fenton of CDC, talking about the HIV epidemic in the African American community and steps everyone can take to stop the spread of HIV.
  • Get CDC information and resources on HIV and AIDS in African American and other black communities.
  • Learn about HIV and AIDS, how it is and is not transmitted, the risk factors for HIV transmission, preventing transmission, and the symptoms of HIV infection.
  • Join Testing Makes Us Stronger on Facebook.
  • Follow TalkHIV on Twitter.
  • Visit for federal HIV and AIDS resources.

>>Read more about efforts to create health equity.

Jan 26 2012

Kaiser Permanente Shares HIV Best Practices

Kaiser Permanente, the largest nonprofit health care provider in the U.S., issued a challenge today to private health care providers and public and community health clinics to increase the number of HIV-positive people getting effective treatment by sharing Kaiser Permanente’s toolkit of clinical best practices, provider and patient education materials, mentoring, training and health IT expertise.

The HIV Challenge was announced at the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Innovation Care Innovations Summit in Washington, D.C.

Kaiser Permanente has treated more than 60,000 people with HIV in the last thirty years, and announced that it has reduced disparities among its current HIV population of more than 20,000 people by working to meet or exceed the objectives of the U.S. National HIV AIDS Strategy.

HIV clinical care outcomes announced by Kaiser Permanente include:

  • HIV mortality rates that are half the national average
  • More than 90 percent median treatment adherence among patients regularly in care and on antiretroviral therapy
  • No disparities among its black and Latino HIV-positive patients for both mortality and medication rates, compared to a 15 percent higher rate in the United States for mortality and for medication
  • Among Kaiser Permanente's HIV-positive patients, 89 percent are in HIV-specific care within 90 dayscompared to 50 percent of HIV-positive patients in the U.S. getting this kind of care within one year
  • Nearly 70 percent of all Kaiser Permanente's HIV-positive patients have maximal viral control, compared to 19 to 35 percent nationally

The tools being shared by Kaiser Permanente include:

  • Quality improvement programs that measure gaps in care;
  • Testing, prevention and treatment guidelines;
  • Multi-disciplinary care team models that emphasize the medical home so HIV specialists, care managers, clinical pharmacists and providers work together; and
  • Education for both the provider and patient.

Weigh In: Does your community have an HIV best practice that could improve detection and care in the U.S.? What about prevention