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In-Brief: December 4th, 2017

In Brief is NEAETC's news service covering the latest developments and educational resources about HIV, hepatitis, health disparities, and related topics. To subscribe, please click HERE.

Top 10 HIV Clinical Developments of 2017 and “ID/HIV Items to Be Grateful For”

On the website TheBodyPRO, HIV specialist Dr. David Wohl recently wrote a feature outlining his choices for the top 10 HIV clinical developments of 2017. For each of the items listed below, Wohl provides an overview of recent research on the topic, a “bottom line” section covering its implications, and links to related articles. 

·        The Cost of Cuts in HIV Spending

·        Awakening to the Opioid Crisis

·        Does It Work to Pay People to Come to Clinic?

·        Bictegravir – It’s Coming

·        A Better Second Chance

·        More Real World Test for Dual Antiretroviral Therapy

·        Heart Attacks in HIV Often Not Due to Atherosclerosis

·        How Long for Long-Acting Antiretrovirals?

·        ART Resistance Spreads

·        We Order Too Many CD4 Cell Counts, But Should We Really Stop?

Continuing a Thanksgiving tradition, another HIV expert, Dr. Paul Sax, spotlighted several infectious disease highlights for 2017 in his Some ID/HIV Items to Be Grateful For, 2017 Edition blog post for NEJM Journal Watch. The two HIV-specific items on Sax’s list are:

·        “Undetectable = Untransmittable” is now unequivocally endorsed by the National Institutes of Health and U.S. Centers for Disease Control. Sax links to a fact sheet and medical journal editorial summarizing the supporting data and implications of this statement.

·        Resistance to the integrase inhibitor class of HIV drugs remains extremely rare.

Note: Since these are just two experts’ views of selected key developments in HIV/AIDS during 2017, in future newsletter issues, we hope to link to any other year-end summaries that become available.

Access to Care

NASTAD Launches Web-Based Tool to Help PrEP Users Choose Health Coverage

NASTAD recently launched – an online tool designed to help PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) users who want to obtain or renew Health Insurance Marketplace coverage during the current open enrollment period – which ends on December 15. The site is designed to help PrEP users and health navigators identify and compare access to PrEP in different Marketplace plans. Site users begin by filling out a brief online form with information about their age, location, and health coverage status. The site then provides information about plans available through the 2018 Federally Facilitated Marketplace, and helps users choose and enroll in the best plan for them.

Please note that the site is a work in progress. As this newsletter went to press, did not yet offer assessments for all states’ health plans. However, NASTAD noted that it is working to expand the available assessments, and encouraged users to visit the site again soon if their state’s health plans are not currently covered. In the meantime, the site provides links to state marketplace websites where people may compare and purchase plans – but without PrEP-specific information.

Opioid Epidemic

Videos from “Hidden Casualties” Opioid Meeting Now Available

Drug overdose is currently the leading cause of death among persons under 50 years old in the United States. Data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicate that more than 90 Americans die each day from opioid overdose, including heroin. Another important, but lesser known consequence of the opioid epidemic is that increases in injection drug use are driving up rates of infectious diseases and related conditions. For example, hepatitis C virus (HCV) rates have risen nearly 300%, and in some regions, increases have also been seen hepatitis B virus (HBV), HIV, endocarditis, septic arthritis, epidural abscess, osteomyelitis, and infants exposed to HCV.

To address this health threat, the HHS Office of HIV/AIDS and Infectious Disease Policy recently convened a meeting of federal stakeholders, entitled Hidden Casualties: Consequences of the Opioid Epidemic on the Spread of Infectious Diseases. The speakers included: Dr. Don Wright, Acting Assistant Secretary for Health (OASH); Dr. Jerome Adams, U.S. Surgeon General; Dr. Jonathan Mermin, Director, CDC’s National Center for HIV, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention; Dr. Christopher Jones, Acting Associate Deputy Assistant Secretary, Science and Data Policy, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation; and Dr. Vanila Singh, Chief Medical Officer, OASH. Videos of selected presentations from the Hidden Casualties meeting are available on the HHS hepatitis blog.

Health Communication and Social Media

New Blog Posts Focusing on Digital Health Communication

In the mid-November issue of In Brief, we included descriptions and links to several posts on the blog site focusing on online health literacy trainings and digital communication tools. During the past two weeks, has added more educational posts on digital health communication for public health professionals and others interested in raising awareness about HIV, viral hepatitis, and other health issues. These are:

·        The Inside Scoop from Four Social Media Experts – includes four videos in which experts describe why they like social media and share tips for how to use it effectively;

·        Using Infographics for HIV Communication – describes why and how infographics can be used in health communication, provides examples of effective HIV-related infographics, and provides links to free and low-cost design tools for creating infographics;

·        Supporting Digital Communication for World AIDS Day – although this post links to materials for World AIDS Day commemorations, many of the included resources and tips may be useful all year long.