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Sunday July 24th 2016

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HIV vaccine trial exceeds expectations

hvtn-100-x750Drew Kiser posts on The Advocate: This week researchers at the 2016 International AIDS Conference in Durban, South Africa, revealed that the interim results for HVTN 100, a HIV-vaccine trail that began January 2015, have already comfortably outperformed those of previous vaccine trials. This paves the way for a much larger study to begin this November.

Only the seventh trial of a vaccine for the most deadly pandemic of the modern world, HVTN 702 will enroll over 5,000 HIV-negative men and women in South Africa over the course of two years to determine whether the drug is as safe and effective as the smaller studies suggest.

The precursor of HVTN 100, the Thailand-based study RV144, became the first trial for an HIV vaccine to show any efficacy when it was completed in 2009, though the results were so faint as to flirt with insignificance. After modifying the dosage and tuning the vaccine to protect against HIV’s Clade C subtype more common to sub-Saharan Africa, researchers began conducting HVTN 100 in South Africa in 2015. Though the primary results are yet to be gathered, the vaccine has surpassed requirements of secondary criteria. These secondary criteria include benchmarks for antibody and white blood cell response — all of which criteria the vaccine has passed with flying colors, opening the door for further research.

-Read the full story on TheAdvocate.com

Travel: Road Trip to Annapolis

By Merle Exit

We checked into the Westin Annapolis Hotel at 100 Westgate Circle and West Street. I must congratulate myself for choosing such a perfect location. The lobby is bright and inviting with many “stations” including the check in and business. The atmosphere spews tranquility.

I had requested an accessible room, having taken both my rollator and cane. Pretty spacious. Entering the bathroom, a long shower stall with a shower chair is right there. The shower chair is attached to the wall and folds up. This is smart as it allows me to close the shower curtain. One can opt to stand. The water automatically comes out from a portable shower head.

I requested a refrigerator just in case there were leftovers, although there is a cupboard that does have an area of refrigeration that doesn’t seem as cold. Microwave included.

Westin has a Green program with a reward. If you choose not to use the facilities of the maid service, you are rewarded with a card that allows you $5 voucher for food or non-alcoholic drinks served at the hotel. The lobby has a snack bar called Grab and Go, located just outside the restaurant. They sell the basic coffee, tea, juice, bagels and pastry.

Westin also a program for runners. They rent the gear that comes from New Balance. Shoes that comes with socks (you keep them) and workout clothing such as shorts, long shorts, and sports bra. I had trouble with getting the shoes as I have a very wide width.

You can saunter to the other end of West Street over at the Docks as the distance is just less than a mile. Needless to say, I had no intention of running… especially in the rain. Neither of us made use of the indoor pool, workout gym, or spa. When you return from exploring, fresh towels and free bottled water await you near the entrance.

New to the hotel is the Rooftop Beehive. They have installed rooftop honey beehives, which can host up to 35,000 honeybees. It hopes to be a haven for the depleted honeybee population. Chef Barnett plans to use the honey in a wide variety of signature dishes once it is harvested. Not sure but I think you can buy a jar.

Baltimore has its crab art. Annapolis has Chicks along West Street. We were hoping to get a photo of all 13 if it weren’t for the rain and figuring out where they are. You can get a map from tourism, and would have been easier doing “rainless”. We got a total of four, two of which were near the hotel.

What’s with the chicks? Gavin Buckley was heading an art project as part of a newly created art district. Going to City Hall he sat in on a heavy debate about people having live chickens in their backyard and if so, how many. It appeared that some people had been fined for doing so. This debate went on for about two years before the decision back in 2012. Gavin thought that the whole thing was ridiculous to spend so much time with. That’s when the idea came up for this project that involved both schools and artists. Due to vandalism and some in total disrepair, not all of the original chicks are around. Tourism has a map of their location and “author”.

Report: HIV infection higher for gay, bi teens

lgbt-teens-at-higher-risk-for-hiv-x750Drew Kiser posts on The Advocate: As part of the International AIDS Conference in Durban, South Africa, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention presented a report today analyzing the sexual risk behavior of American males in high school. These risk behaviors included having sex without condoms and having multiple sexual partners.

The new study, which compiled data from ninth- through 12th-grade males identifying as gay, bisexual, or heterosexual, found “no significant differences” in the HIV-related risk behaviors between these groups.

But despite the very little difference between the HIV-related risk behaviors of gay youth and that of straight youth, the data show that the rate of HIV transmission is still much higher among men who have sex with men. MSM have an HIV diagnosis rate at 57 times that of heterosexual men. In 2014, for example, MSM represented a full 80 percent of new infections

So why does HIV infection disproportionately affect gay and bisexual men if they don’t engage in risky sexual behavior more often than their heterosexual peers? A huge factor is the increased prevalence of HIV in the sexual networks of gay and bisexual men. And one must also keep in mind that, when it comes to HIV transmission, not all sex acts are created equal. According to Dr. Laura Kann, chief of the CDC’s School-Based Surveillance Branch, MSM are at higher risk because “the transmission risk for receptive anal sex is 17 times higher than [for] vaginal sex.”

Also contributing to this difference is increased drug use among gay and bisexual men, which “compounds their risk for HIV infection.” The study found that young MSM were five times as likely to try injection drugs, with 10 percent reporting having ever tried them. They were also much more likely to have tried heroin, methamphetamines, and cocaine. The use of these drugs — which encourage risky behavior — put them at an increased risk of HIV compared with their heterosexual counterparts.

Dr. Kann said that simply being gay or bisexual can cause stress that may lead to drug use. “Social isolation, stress from self-concealment and coming out — and even hatred that can occur at home or school or within communities — may all contribute to risk,” she told The Advocate. In other words, the act of gay sex is only one factor; simply being gay or bi also increase the risk of infection.

As far as solutions go, the CDC proposes a multipronged approach: increased testing, more comprehensive education, better community support, and continued treatment for those living with HIV. Proper education is paramount. Currently, only 20 states require that their HIV education be medically accurate, and in four states — Alabama, South Carolina, Texas, and Utah — cannot show nonheterosexual orientations in a positive light.

-Read the full article on The Advocate.com

 

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