Tuesday June 18, 2013
Underscoring its efforts to increase HIV testing nationwide, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), through its ambitious Act Against AIDS Initiative, has launched the Razones/Reasons campaign targeted at at-risk Latino gay and bisexual men.
The bilingual, mass-media campaign focuses attention on a community that is among the hardest hit by HIV in the U.S. Overall, Latinos account for nearly 22% of all new infections, despite representing only 17% of the population.
Of this group, the largest number of new infections has occurred among gay and bisexual men between the ages of 24 and 35. Even more concerning is the fact that 70% of HIV-positive Latino gay and bisexual men between the ages of 18 and 24 are wholly unaware of their status.
The Razones/Reasons campaign aims to redress this disparity by confronting many of the emotional, cultural and social barriers that keep many for being tested. Combining easy-to-understand facts with compelling, first-person testimonies, the initiative affirms many of the "reasons" why HIV testing is of such benefit to this at-risk population -- emphasizing not only personal health and well-being, but community, family and pride.
The Razone/Reasons campaign highlights the increased multidisciplinary coordination seen in recent years between governmental and local health authorities. By actively promoting universal testing, earlier treatment intervention, and stronger linkage to appropriate care, the CDC and others are aiming to reverse infections rates in vulnerable ethic, youth and MSM (men who have sex with men) populations.
The Razones/Reasons campaign was officially launched in Los Angeles on June 6, with an additional launch planned for Miami to coincide with National HIV Testing Day on June 27. Other launches are planned throughout the summer -- with targeted mobile and online advertising, as well as local print and outdoor/transit advertising slated for major U.S. cities.
More on HIV Testing
Image provided by the Act Against AIDS Initiative.
Monday June 10, 2013
While much focus has been placed in recent months on issues ranging from therapeutic vaccines to the possibility of a "functional cure," there have been just as many advances in the development of next-generation antiretroviral drugs.
The most promising candidates are those that offer better tolerance, easier dosing, greater penetration of viral reservoirs, and novel mechanisms that can more effectively suppress drug-resistant viruses.
Here are a few of the agents we're keeping a close eye on:
Dolutegravir - Currently under review by the FDA, dolutegravir is a once-daily integrase inhibitor that performed impressively in clinical trials. Results thus far have shown that it is statistically superior to the twice-daily Isentress (raltegravir), with fewer resistance mutations, fewer virological non-responders (15% versus 24%), and fewer adverse event discontinuations (2% versus 4%) after 24 weeks of use.
Clinical trials are underway to explore the use of dolutegravir in a once-daily, fixed dose combination with abacavir and lamivudine. Expect dolutegravir on our shelves sometime in late-2013.
Friday June 7, 2013
It may not seem like such a big thing, but news that case workers in New York City were able to locate 689 HIV-positive people "lost to follow up" signals a significant shift in the public health policy in the U.S.'s most populated city.
The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene had identified 797 people on its database who had tested positive, but thereafter dropped off the radar with no follow-up visits or lab tests. Early investigation revealed that five percent of these patients had moved outside of the department's jurisdiction, while two percent had died.
In intensifying their search (which included home visits and internet searches), case workers were eventually able to re-connect 77% to the appropriate medical care, while identifying three additional infections linked to the cases.
Reason for the disappearances included:
- Patients felt well and didn't believe they needed treatment.
- Lack of trust in the public healthcare system.
- Being uninsured.
- Not wanting to think about being HIV-positive.
Wednesday June 5, 2013
Medscape, the New York-based healthcare information provider, recently released their annual Physician's Compensation Report, which analyses the earnings, practices and job satisfaction of over 22,000 physicians in the U.S.
The report provides some surprising insights about HIV specialists in particular, shedding some light on a profession (and professionals) that we often take for granted.
Fact # 1: HIV doctors make less than any other medical specialty in the U.S.
Of the 25 specialties listed in the survey, HIV physicians were at the very bottom of the pay scale, averaging around $170,000 per annum. That's nearly $100,000 per year less than the average physician salary in the U.S. ($264,000), and more than 200% less than the top earner (orthopedics at $405,000).
Fact #2: Less than half of HIV doctors believe that they are fairly compensated.
On average, 48% of all physicians believe that they are fairly compensated, according to the survey. HIV doctors fall more-or-less in line with that figure at 46%. Ironically, only 39% of orthopedic doctors feel that they are properly compensated.
Fact #3: Despite this, HIV doctors rank number two in overall satisfaction with the profession they've chosen.
With a 53% overall satisfaction rating, HIV doctors rank only second to dermatologists at 59% (a profession for which averages $306,000 per year).