In Brief: HIV and Hepatitis News
 
October 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.
Continuum of Care
 
Less Than 70% of U.S. Children Living with HIV Are Retained in HIV Care
In 2014, nearly 2,500 U.S. children under the age of 13 were living with diagnosed HIV infection. Current U.S. HIV treatment guidelines recommend that HIV+ children visit their health care providers every 3 to 4 months for the first 2 years after they begin care.
 
In a recent study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), researchers analyzed Medicaid and commercial insurance claims data for about 290 HIV+ children to determine HIV care retention rates in each group. They found that only 60% of Medicaid-insured children and 69% of commercially insured children were retained in care during the three-year period after they first received HIV care. These retention in care rates are well below the national target of 90% for adults living with HIV. The researchers note, “Although there is no specific [retention in care] goal for children aged ≤13 years, no reason exists for why children should have a lower retention in care target than adults . . . Further investigation into the causes of nonretention in pediatric HIV care is indicated to identify possible areas for public health action.”
CDC Report Tracks Progress and Challenges in HIV Care Among Hispanics/Latinos
An estimated 235,600 Hispanics or Latinos were living with HIV infection in the U.S. at the end of 2014 (the latest year for which national HIV prevalence data are available), according to CDC. In a new report, CDC researchers have summarized continuum of care data among Hispanics/Latinos living with HIV infection in 38 states, the District of Columbia, and U.S. territories with complete reporting of CD4 T-cell and viral load data. 
 
This study included about 6,700 persons newly diagnosed with HIV during 2015, as well as the approximately 142,000 Hispanics/Latinos living with HIV in the 38 jurisdictions. The researchers found that about three-quarters (75.4%) of persons newly diagnosed were linked to care within one month of their diagnosis. Among the entire population of Hispanics/Latinos living with HIV, 70.2% received HIV medical care, and 58.2% were virally suppressed. The lowest levels of HIV care and viral suppression were seen among men whose infection was attributed to injection drug use, and the highest levels of care and viral suppression were among heterosexual women. The report concludes, “Among Hispanics or Latinos, targeting strategies to groups that bear a disproportionate burden of HIV disease (e.g., persons who inject drugs) could lead to reductions in HIV infections and health inequities and help achieve the national goal of 80% of all persons living with HIV infection having a suppressed viral load.”
NHBS Report Provides Latest HIV Data for Persons Who Inject Drugs in Major U.S. Cities
In late September, CDC published the latest report from the National HIV Behavioral Surveillance (NHBS) program, HIV Infection, Risk, Prevention, and Testing Behaviors Among Persons Who Inject Drugs (PWID). The surveillance report, which is the fourth of its kind focusing on PWID, summarizes data gathered from nearly 10,500 PWID surveyed in 20 major U.S. cities during 2015. Selected highlights of the CDC analysis are summarized below. Please note that the behavioral data are based on self-reports.
 
·        HIV prevalence among PWID by gender: 7% for males, 7% for females, and 31% for transgender persons.
·        HIV prevalence by race/ethnicity: 10% for Blacks; 8% for Hispanics/Latinos; and 4% for Whites.
·        HIV testing rates: 57% tested during the 12 months before the survey; 91% had ever been tested.
·        Injection drug use during the previous year: 89% injected heroin, 28% injected methamphetamines, and 20% injected prescription opioids. The highest rates of prescription opioid injection (32%) were reported among young persons 18 to 24 years old.
·        Needle sharing rates during the previous year: 25% among HIV+ PWID; 34% among HIV-negative PWID.
·        Receipt of HIV care among HIV+ PWID: Overall, 83% reported visiting a health care provider for HIV care within the prior 6 months; 71% were currently receiving antiretroviral therapy (ART). ART rates among HIV-positive PWID were 76% for Blacks, 67% for Hispanics/Latinos, and 66% for Whites.
Black AIDS Institute Urges Action to Preserve Gains in Health Care Coverage
Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the proportion of Black Americans without health insurance has been reduced by nearly half. This is the greatest improvement in health care coverage under ACA for any racial and ethnic group in the U.S. In its recent report, The State of healthcare Access in Black America, the Black AIDS Institute documents ACA-related gains in coverage among Black Americans and describes how the greatest benefits have accrued to people living with chronic illnesses, such as HIV infection. The Institute urges Congress to pursue a bipartisan approach to healthcare reform and calls for community education and advocacy to preserve and extend the coverage benefits achieved by ACA.
 
Disaster Relief
 
HIV Relief Fund Provides Assistance to HIV Organizations in Hurricane-Affected Areas
In September, AIDS United announced creation of the HIV Hurricane Relief Effort to support community-based organizations serving people in areas impacted by the recent Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria. As of October 12, the Fund had provided more than $190,000 to HIV organizations serving areas in Texas, Florida, Louisiana, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands that have been damaged by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria.
The relief fund has received generous donations from a range of national, corporate, and individual donors, according to AIDS United, which is managing the fund. Distributions from the fund are being used to support a range of services including housing, safe food and water, medicine, and care. “People living in the path of these storms have had their lives turned upside down. They have lost apartments, jobs, and medications and struggle in the midst of this crisis to take care of their health. These organizations have stepped forward to offer help and hope and we are proud to support them,” noted Jesse Milan Jr., president and chief executive officer of AIDS United.
Resources from AIDSinfo and CDC
 
New Fact Sheet and Infographic from AIDSinfo
The HHS’s AIDSinfo site has created a new fact sheet, HIV and Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs), which is also available in Spanish. The publication provides basic information about STDs, including their risk factors, symptoms, and treatment. It also describes how HIV and other STDs are connected.
The Who’s on Your Team? infographic emphasizes a team approach for staying healthy with HIV. It describes the roles of the various “team members” who provide guidance and support to people living with HIV, including health care providers, case managers, pharmacists, as well as partners, family members, and friends.
 
Updated CDC Fact Sheets Focus on HIV Among Hispanics/Latinos, MSM, and Black MSM
The CDC recently updated the following fact sheets with the most recent U.S. HIV surveillance data:
·        HIV Among Hispanics/Latinos
Each fact sheet includes a “fast facts” section that highlights important information about the impact of HIV on each group, as well as the latest available information on new HIV diagnoses, prevalence, deaths, and prevention challenges. A final section, “What CDC Is Doing,” describes CDC-supported programs that address HIV/AIDS in each population group.
Program Spotlight
 
Health Literacy Project for Black Men Who Have Sex with Men
Did you know that more than one-third (36%) of U.S. adults have a limited ability to obtain, process, and understand the basic health information and services they need to make health decisions?
To mark Health Literacy Month, which is observed in October, we are spotlighting In It Together – a health training initiative for health professionals serving Black/African American men who have sex with men (MSM). The In It Together program trains HIV leaders from communities that are heavily affected by HIV/AIDS to become health literacy trainers. Participants begin by completing an online train-the-trainers health literacy program. Once their training is complete, the In It Together trainers provide in-person training on request to health care organizations and individual health professionals who serve Black MSM. The In It Together training materials are available for any organization or individual to use. These include a training overview, a slide set for health professionals, and a 6-module trainers’ curriculum.

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