HIV

Efrem Lukatsky / AP

A University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine researcher has received a $3 million grant from the National Institutes of Health for a pilot program to help HIV patients manage their chronic pain.

Bill Sikes / AP

Health insurer Aetna has agreed to pay $17 million to settle claims that it breached the privacy of thousands of customers who take HIV medications.

Attorneys for the plaintiffs announced the settlement Wednesday in Philadelphia.

Court documents say the Hartford, Connecticut-based company sent a mailing in envelopes with large, clear display windows that revealed confidential HIV information. The mailing was sent to about 12,000 customers in at least 23 states.

Dr. E. Arum, Dr. N. Jacobs / CDC via AP

The national rate of sexually transmitted diseases is at an all-time high, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and 2016 statistics from Allegheny County reveal a similar trend.

U.S. Department of Agriculture / Flickr

People living with HIV are living longer lives, thanks to medical advancements and wider availability of antiretroviral drugs. This means age-related diseases are now manifesting in these patients with previously unknown effects.

University of Pittsburgh researcher Ivona Pandrea said people living with HIV are twice as likely to develop heart disease, due to a protein that triggers blood clotting and inflammation even after the HIV is treated.

Bill Sikes / AP

Two legal organizations say health insurer Aetna revealed the HIV status of patients in several states by mailing envelopes with a large, clear window that showed information on purchasing HIV prescriptions.

The Legal Action Center and the AIDS Law Project of Pennsylvania say some patients' relatives and neighbors learned of their HIV status as a result.

Aetna says that "this type of mistake is unacceptable" and that the company is reviewing processes to ensure it never happens again.

Virginia Alvino Young / 90.5 WESA

One afternoon nearly three years ago, Masedi Thata Kewamodimo walked to the radio station near her university in Botswana and said she wanted to go public about being HIV positive. Now she is visiting Duquesne University through the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders.

Back home, she focuses on HIV advocacy and helping people cope with the daily challenges of the stigmatizing status by speaking on government-owned radio stations, which reach everyone in the country. 

Cynthia Goldsmith/Dr. A. Harrison/Dr. P. Feorino/CDC / AP

Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh have developed a new test that can detect dormant HIV in patients’ cells that is cheaper and more efficient than the current test used by clinics.

Pitt scientists announced their discovery last week in Nature, a national scientific journal that focuses on immunology and biotechnology.

Department Of Aging Gets Training To Better Provide For LGBT Seniors

Apr 14, 2017
Annette John-Hall / WHYY

Senior citizen Harry Adamson is 67 and lives in the part of center city Philadelphia known as the “gayborhood." He came out at age 25 when “anything gay was either suspect or terrifying.”

Adamson has also lived with HIV for 32 years. So he thinks the recent training that the Pennsylvania Department of Aging and other state agencies received to better respond to the needs of LGBT adults, including those living with HIV/AIDS, is a good idea.

“But you have to discern how you can engage people so they can tell you what they need,” Adamson said.

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence is in the spotlight this week as the man Donald Trump has picked to be his running mate. Pence's decisions about health and health care in Indiana have drawn attention from within and outside the state. His record could be important in November, because Trump doesn't have a legislative record at all.

Here's a quick look at the governor's history in terms of health policy in Indiana.

Medicaid Expansion

Bridget Coila / flickr

For couples living with mixed HIV status, risk and stigma are unavoidable.  The infected partner carries the medical burden associated with their positive status and the uninfected partner must take precautions to prevent transmission. For couples wanting to conceive a child, however, these issues present greater challenges.  Fortunately for two families, the parent’s serodiscordant status didn’t stop them from having a healthy, uninfected baby.  The stories of these couples are chronicled by author and journalist Heather Boerner in “Positively Negative: Love, Pregnancy, and Science’s Surprising Victory Over HIV.”

Spreading Awareness About HIV Treatment Options

Dec 4, 2015
Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

Last month, actor Charlie Sheen revealed that he is HIV-positive, opening up a conversation about the virus and the progress that’s been made in treatment and prevention.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are working to inform patients and health care providers of a new, anti-viral pill that they estimate can drastically reduce the risk of infection.  Here to tell us more about this treatment and discuss why it hasn’t been adopted by clinicians in the region are Dr. Ken Ho, an HIV specialist at the University of Pittsburgh and Jason Herring, director of programs and communications at the Pittsburgh AIDS Task Force.

Auntie P. / Flickr

The City of Pittsburgh, Allegheny County and area health and services organizations are collaborating on AIDS Free Pittsburgh, a three-pronged public health initiative.

“We’re going to normalize HIV testing," said Karen Hacker, director of the Allegheny County Health Department. "We’re going to make improvements in standardizing our linkages to care for those that are diagnosed, and we’re going to improve access to a variety of prevention tools.” 

Sham Hardy / Flickr

An AIDS education center housed at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health secured a $10.7 million federal grant that will fund the group for the next four years. 

Pennsylvania is 10th on the list of the states with the most diagnoses of HIV and AIDS in the U.S., according to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Though infection rates have declined since the disease’s peak in the late 80s and early 90s, data show rates are starting to creep upwards, especially in specific groups.

In 2014, an estimated 1.4 million people in sub-Saharan Africa became newly infected with HIV, according to the foundation for AIDS research (amfAR). A University of Pittsburgh research team is studying ways to prevent these numbers from rising.

Infectious diseases researchers at Pitt are leading a five-year, $5 million initiative to monitor drug resistance during the large-scale rollout of HIV prevention drugs in sub-Saharan Africa, focusing in South Africa, Zimbabwe, Kenya and Uganda because the epidemic is large in these areas.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in seven people currently living with HIV is unaware they have the virus.

The Pennsylvania Department of Health would like to see that change, and it's urging all people between the ages of 13 and 64 to get tested for the disease.

“The HIV rates in Pennsylvania continue to be a significant and serious health problem,” said Pennsylvania Physician General Dr. Rachel Levine.

Members of the Allegheny County HIV/AIDS Commission delivered an annual update to Pittsburgh City Council members Tuesday afternoon.

They recapped efforts they have made in the last year, spoke of partnerships and spoke of their plans for this coming year.

Commission member Betty Hill, who is also director of the Persad Center, said the awareness level of routine HIV testing is low, and the commission wants to change that.

Fifth (Pittsburgh)Red Celebrates AIDS Awareness

Dec 2, 2013
Tim Camerato/90.5 WESA

County officials, HIV/AIDS advocates, and survivors gathered in downtown Pittsburgh Monday to mark International World AIDS Day and to blow up a 30-foot balloon ribbon onto Fifth Ave. Place.

Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald noted it’s been more than 30 years since the first AIDS cases were reported.