Category Archives: HIV/AIDS

Seattle Children’s discovers lapse in sterilization at Bellevue clinic | Patients may need to be tested for Hep. B, C, HIV – Bellevue Reporter


Seattle Children's Whale LogoSeattle Children’s Hospital is working with the state health department and the Centers for Disease Control after it was revealed that the required procedures for cleaning and sterilizing surgical instruments at the hospital’s Bellevue Clinic and Surgery Center were not always followed.

“I understand that families will be concerned, and rightly so, but from a scientific perspective, the risk is low, which I hope that families find reassuring,’ Seattle and King County Public Health official Justin Duchin, M.D. said at a press conference on August 26.

As a result of the problems with sterilization, patients who had a surgical procedure at the Bellevue Clinic may need to be tested for hepatitis B and C, as well as HIV, the hospital said in a statement.

Source: Seattle Children’s discovers lapse in sterilization at Bellevue clinic | Patients may need to be tested for Hep. B, C, HIV – Bellevue Reporter


One in 8 with HIV do not know they are infected


hiv testing graphic

From the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

National HIV Testing Day is a reminder to get the facts, get tested, and get involved to take care of yourself and your partners.

An estimated 1.2 million people in the United States are living with HIV, and that number grows by almost 50,000 every year. One in eight people who have HIV don’t know it. That means they aren’t getting the medical care they need to stay healthy and avoid passing HIV to others.

CDC has found that more than 90 percent of new HIV infections in the United States could be prevented by testing and diagnosing people who have HIV and ensuring they receive prompt, ongoing care and treatment. Early linkage to and retention in HIV care is central to managing HIV and promoting health among all people living with HIV. HIV medicines can keep people with HIV healthy for many years, and greatly reduce the chance of transmitting HIV to their sex partners.

Get the Facts

Protecting yourself and others against HIV starts with knowledge. Knowing the facts about HIV will help you make informed decisions about sex, drug use, and other activities that may put you and your partners at risk for HIV.

  • Learn the basics about HIV, how to prevent HIV transmission, and the steps you can take to protect yourself and others.
  • Talk about what you learn with your friends and other people who are important to you.
  • Empower even more people via social media. Share your new knowledge with your friends online.
Find more information about HIV testing, and who should be tested, on CDC’s HIV Testing Basics web page.

Get Tested

The only way to know if you are infected with HIV is to get tested. Continue reading


Inside Indiana’s HIV rural epidemic


ProPublica Podcast

More than 150 people in southeast Indiana have been diagnosed with HIV, the largest outbreak in state history.

Even though the first reports trickled in to state health officials last December, they didn’t tell their local counterparts in Scott County for two months when it became a full-blown epidemic.

Investigative reporter Bob Segall has been looking into the outbreak for WTHR, NBC’s Indianapolis affiliate. He joins ProPublica senior health reporter Charles Ornstein on the podcast this week to discuss:

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Gonorrhea cases jump 40% in Washington state

Gonorrhea bacteria - Photo CDC

Gonorrhea bacteria – Photo CDC

Cases of the sexually transmitted infection gonorrhea continued to climb in Washington state last year, rising to 6,136 cases in 2014, up from 4,395 cases in 2013 – a jump of almost 40 percent.

The latest increase follows a 33 percent increase from 2012 to 2013, Washington state health officials said Wednesday.

The latest increase follows a 33 percent increase from 2012 to 2013. Rates of infection in Washington have more than doubled since 2009 rising from 34 cases per 100,000 people to a rate of 88 cases per 100,000 people in 2014. State and local health officials have yet to learn why the number of infections keeps climbing.

“The continued increase in cases is concerning,” said Zandt Bryan, infectious disease coordinator for the department. “We’re working closely with local health partners to monitor the situation, and to share information about the importance of routine screening, getting exposed partners treated quickly, and the need to practice safe sex.”

Increases in gonorrhea diagnoses have been seen in men and women of various age groups, but young adults continue to be the most affected. Most counties around the state saw an increase in cases of the disease. However, some have seen bigger spikes. Clark, Kitsap, Snohomish, Yakima, Grant, and Spokane counties all experienced outbreaks during 2014.

  • Gonorrhea is the second most common sexually transmitted disease in the state after chlamydia.
  • The disease is spread through unprotected sex with an infected partner.
  • The infection often has no symptoms, particularly among women.If symptoms are present, they may include discharge or painful urination.
  • Serious long-term health issues can occur if the disease isn’t treated, including pelvic inflammatory disease, infertility, and increased chances of HIV transmission.
  • Drugs that are currently available are effective against the disease, but gonorrhea can become resistant to medications.

The Department of Health urges anyone who is experiencing symptoms, or has a partner that has been diagnosed, to be tested. Sexually active individuals with multiple partners are encouraged to have routine screenings. Prevention methods include consistent and correct use of condoms, prompt treatment of partners, mutual monogamy, and abstinence. Continue reading


Washington scores four out of 10 on key indicators related to preventing and responding to infectious disease outbreaks


From Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation 

Washington scored only four out of 10 on key indicators related to preventing, detecting, diagnosing and responding to outbreaks, like Ebola, Enterovirus and antibiotic-resistant Superbugs.

Some key Washington findings include:

No. Indicator Washington Number of States Receiving Points
A “Y” means the state received a point for that indicator
1 Public Health Funding: Increased or maintained level of funding for public health services from FY 2012-13 to FY 2013-14. N 28
2 Preparing for Emerging Threats: State scored equal to or higher than the national average on the Incident & Information Management domain of the National Health Security Preparedness Index. Y 27 + D.C.
3 Vaccinations: Met the Healthy People 2020 target of 90 percent of children ages 19-35 months receiving recommended ≥3 doses of HBV vaccine. N 35 + D.C.
4 Vaccinations: Vaccinated at least half of their population (ages 6 months and older) for the seasonal flu for fall 2013 to spring 2014. N 14
5 Climate Change: State currently has completed climate change adaption plans – including the impact on human health. Y 15
6 Healthcare-acquired Infections: State performed better than the national standardized infection ratio (SIR) for central line-associated bloodstream infections. N 16
7 Healthcare-acquired Infections: Between 2011 and 2012, state reduced the number of central line-associated blood stream infections. N 10
8 Preparing for Emerging Threats: From July 1, 2013 to June 30, 2014, public health lab reports conducting an exercise or utilizing a real event to evaluate the time for sentinel clinical laboratories to acknowledge receipt of an urgent message from laboratory. N 47 + D.C.
9 HIV/AIDS: State requires reporting of all CD4 and HIV viral load data to their state HIV surveillance program. Y 37 + D.C.
10 Food Safety: State met the national performance target of testing 90 percent of reported Escherichia coli (E. coli) O157 cases within four days. Y 38 + D.C.
Total  4

 Read the full report here.


HIV clinic in Federal Way to increase treatment access for patients


UW Federal WayFrom the Washington State Department of Health

The Department of Health is funding a new HIV satellite clinic in Federal Way.

It’s the fourth department-funded satellite clinic aimed at improving access to primary medical care for HIV-positive people in Puget Sound.

The satellite clinic operates through a partnership with Harborview Medical Center’s Madison Clinic.

A Harborview physician will be available every Thursday at the UW-Neighborhood Clinic in Federal Way to provide care to HIV patients living in Federal Way and nearby communities.

The department is giving Harborview $42,000 to cover the physician’s time and the costs of administering the services. The clinic opened Oct. 9, 2014.

Earlier satellite clinics opened in Everett, Bremerton and Olympia (in partnership with SeaMar Community Health Center).

The state health department estimates that there are as many as 2,365 people living with HIV in the southern King County and Pierce County areas. Continue reading


Gay, bisexual men complacent about HIV testing, study finds – SFGate


aids-ribbonFewer than 20 percent of gay and bisexual men have been tested for HIV in the previous six months — as recommended by national public health agencies — and almost a third have never been tested at all, according to a survey conducted in the summer by the Kaiser Family Foundation. The same survey found that gay and bisexual men were largely uninformed about drug therapies to prevent HIV and that most of them rarely, if ever, talk to their doctors about the virus.

via Gay, bisexual men complacent about HIV testing, study finds – SFGate.


County health officials get court order to stop HIV-infected man | Local News | The Seattle Times


Niaid-hiv-virion-mod_2To stop a man with HIV who has infected eight other people in the last four years, public health officials have sought court enforcement of its order requiring him to attend counseling and treatment sessions.

via County health officials get court order to stop HIV-infected man | Local News | The Seattle Times.




Women’s health – Week 45: Sexually transmitted infections


tacuin womenFrom the Office of Research on Women’s HealthSexually

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs): also commonly called sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), are infections you can get by having sex with someone who has an infection. Continue reading


Some plans skew drug benefits to drive away patients, advocates warn


The insurers say they’re in compliance with the law.

Four Florida insurers allegedly discriminate against people with HIV/AIDS by structuring their prescription drug benefits so that patients are discouraged from enrolling, according to a recent complaint filed with federal officials. Continue reading


Women’s health — Week 27: HIV/AIDS


tacuin womenFrom the Office of Research on Women’s Health

The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is the virus that causes AIDS.

HIV attacks the immune system by destroying CD4 positive (CD4+) T cells, a type of white blood cell that helps fight infections.

If you are HIV infected, you are at risk for infections and other conditions because the HIV virus destroys your T cells.  Continue reading


Snohomish to mark World AIDS Day with events, memorial walk, screenings


From the Snohomish Health District


Shared responsibilities: Celebrate World AIDS Day in Everett, Dec. 1

Events in Everett Sunday afternoon; free HIV tests by appointment for at-risk people Dec.2, 4, & 6

The public is welcome to free events in downtown Everett to commemorate World AIDS Day 2013 on Sunday, Dec. 1.

Three community partners will sponsor a memorial walk and program that afternoon to build awareness of the impact HIV/AIDS has on our community.

All activities take place at the Snohomish Health District, 3020 Rucker Ave., Everett, Wash. Testing opportunities are available at the Health District Dec. 2-6.

Sunday, Dec. 1

1 p.m. Remembrance walk leaves the Snohomish Health District, 3020 Rucker Ave., goes to AIDS Memorial of Snohomish County at 3021 Wetmore Ave., Everett

2 p.m. Return to the Health District for a program, music, and light refreshments

The afternoon program includes remarks by Rev. Julie Montague from Everett Unity Church, and comments from Snohomish County residents living with HIV/AIDS. The program also features music by local musicians Terri Anson and Savannah Woods. The program is free and open to the public.

Local sponsors include Snohomish Health District, Snohomish County Gay Men’s Task Force, and AIDS Project Snohomish County. For information about AIDS Project Snohomish County, please contact Jeannine Fosca at 425.923.7656 or

World AIDS Day events remember those lost to AIDS, support those living with the disease, reinforce the need to combat stigma, discrimination and intolerance, and underscore the need for routine HIV screening.

“The medical community has made great advances in treating HIV/AIDS in recent years,” said Dr. Gary Goldbaum, Health Officer and Director of the Snohomish Health District. “However, there still is no cure. Early treatment is critical to both help those who are infected and to prevent spread to others. Screening is key”

An estimated one in five Americans infected with HIV is unaware of itAccording to the Washington State Department of Health, 1,130 people in Snohomish County have been diagnosed with HIV since 1982. Screening for tuberculosis is also recommended for HIV-positive people.

Monday, Dec. 2

9 a.m.-noon, 1-5 p.m. — Free rapid-tests for HIV offered to anyone at risk of the disease, the Health District, 3020 Rucker Ave., Suite 108.Call for appointment: 425.339.5298.

Tuesday, Dec. 3

3-6 p.m., special health event for gay and bisexual men – tests available for HIV, Hepatitis C, and syphilis; also vaccinations for Hepatitis A and B. Come to the Health District, 3020 Rucker Ave., Suite 106, Everett. No appointment needed.

Wednesday, Dec, 4

9 a.m.-noon, 1-5 p.m. — Free rapid-tests for HIV offered to anyone at risk of the disease, the Health District, 3020 Rucker Ave., Suite 108.Call for appointment: 425.339.5298.

Friday, Dec. 6

9 a.m.-noon, 1-5 p.m. — Free rapid-tests for HIV offered to anyone at risk of the disease, the Health District, 3020 Rucker Ave., Suite 108.Call for appointment: 425.339.5298.

tacuin women

Women’s Health — Week 12: Contraception


From the Office of Research on Women’s Health

Contraception, also known as birth control, is used to prevent pregnancy. A woman should talk to her health care provider about her choice of birth control method. Her choice to use birth control and her choice of method depends on factors such as her general health, age, frequency of sexual activity, number of sexual partners, desire to have children in the future, and family history of certain diseases.

There are several general methods of birth control, including:

  • Barrier methods used to prevent sperm from entering the uterus. Condoms, the diaphragm, and the cervical cap are all barrier methods.
  • The intrauterine device, or IUD, is a small device that a health care provider inserts into a woman’s uterus. An IUD can stay in the uterus for up to 10 years until it is removed by a health care provider.
  • Hormonal birth control releases hormones into a woman’s body to prevent ovulation. The birth control pill, injections, skin patches, and vaginal rings are all hormonal forms of birth control.
  • Sterilization is a method that permanently prevents a woman from getting pregnant or a man from being able to get a woman pregnant. A health care provider performs a surgical procedure to sterilize a woman or man. Sterilization usually cannot be reversed.

It is important to remember – even though all these methods can prevent pregnancy – condoms are the only method that can protect against sexually transmitted infections or HIV.

For more information on sexually transmitted infections, see Week 45. For more information on HIV, see Week 27.

For more information:


How healthcare reform will affect people with HIV and AIDS


ACA health reform logoBy Christine Vestal
Stateline Staff Writer

The Affordable Care Act will broaden health care coverage for many of the 1.1 million Americans infected with HIV, especially those who live in the 25 states and the District of Columbia that have opted to expand Medicaid.

In those states, the larger Medicaid programs will cover about 60 percent of the mostly uninsured patients currently receiving help from federal-state HIV programs.

Medicaid will cover all of their health needs, not just their AIDS/HIV treatments.

Nationwide, another 30 percent of the people receiving HIV services now will qualify for tax subsidies to help them purchase insurance on exchanges, according to data from the National Alliance of State & Territorial AIDS Directors.

As a result, state officials who run so-called Ryan White programs that provide health care and other services for HIV-infected residents are preparing for a major shift in the type of benefits they offer and possibly the level of future investment.

What are the biggest ACA benefits for people with HIV?

In addition to expanding Medicaid, the ACA prevents insurance companies — whether they are on the exchanges or not — from dropping or denying coverage or charging higher rates for people with pre-existing conditions such as HIV/AIDS.

Currently, at least 30 percent of HIV infected people are uninsured. That compares to 15 percent in the general population, according to a study from the Kaiser Family Foundation. Until the ACA was enacted, private insurers often dropped people diagnosed with HIV, and it was difficult for people with the virus to purchase health insurance at an affordable price.

When the federal health law was signed in 2010, high-risk insurance backed by states and the federal government became available for people with pre-existing conditions, including HIV. Starting Jan. 1, 2014, all insurance carriers will be required to offer coverage to people with conditions such as HIV/AIDS, making high-risk insurance no longer necessary.

Top 10 States and Territories by Concentration of HIV Diagnoses
Diagnoses Per 100,000 People

  1. D.C. — 178
  2. Virgin Islands — 40
  3. Louisiana — 37
  4. Maryland — 36
  5. Florida — 33
  6. Georgia — 31
  7. New York — 30
  8. Puerto Rico — 29
  9. Mississippi — 25
  10. Texas — 25

Source: U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

How do HIV/AIDS programs work now?

Under a 1990 law named after Ryan White, a California teenager who died of AIDS, the federal government gives block grants to states to provide a variety of services for people with HIV/AIDS. In 2012, federal funding totaled $900 million. States are not required to contribute, but many do. Total state funding in 2012 was $275 million.

The bulk of the money has traditionally gone to a program called the AIDS Drug Assistance Program, under which states purchase antiretroviral drugs for people with HIV who can’t afford them.

Over the last decade, however, states have used more of the money to purchase health coverage for uninsured HIV clients, instead of directly purchasing drugs.

This practice has saved money and resulted in better health outcomes, including fewer hospitalizations and longer lives.

The AIDS Drug Assistance Program is not intended to provide comprehensive health care in the way Medicaid or private insurance do.

Will the ACA cause major changes to HIV/AIDS programs?

The answer is not yet known. In calculating the budget implications of expanding Medicaid, many states assumed a reduction in state funding for a variety of adult health care programs, including Ryan White. Some even questioned whether the program would be necessary after 2014.

But those calculations were only theoretical.

When Massachusetts expanded its Medicaid program in 2000 to include low-income HIV-infected adults, it maintained its investment in existing HIV treatment programs.

It did the same when it implemented its health care reforms in 2006, resulting in nearly universal health care coverage. Instead of cutting back, Massachusetts was able to offer assistance to more people, precipitously reducing the spread of AIDS.

However, in the 23 years since the Ryan White program began, states have adopted widely varying approaches to the structure and funding of HIV programs.  A similar patchwork is expected in the future.

Is the federal government expected to maintain AIDS funding?

Yes. In 2011, the results of a randomized clinical trial showed that treatment of HIV/AIDS with a cocktail of antiretroviral drugs reduced the risk of sexually transmitting HIV by 96 percent.

In response to this landmark study, state and federal officials decided to redouble their efforts with the goal of stamping out the deadly disease altogether.

Historically, federal funding has kept pace with inflation, but not with the spread of the disease, advocates say. Congress’ most recent authorization of the Ryan White law expired Sept. 30, although the law will stay in force indefinitely.

The Obama administration, advocates and state officials have agreed to wait to see how much the ACA benefits people with HIV before making any major changes to the federal Ryan White law.

In 2012, total federal funding to combat AIDS totaled $28 billion, including Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security income for the disabled, medical research and the Ryan White program.

What about Medicaid expansion under the ACA?

Medicaid expansion is the top priority for AIDS advocates, said Ronald Johnson, vice president of policy for advocates AIDS United.  If more states decided to expand Medicaid, it would have a major impact on the overall health of people with HIV.

About half of all Americans with HIV live in the South, where GOP governors and lawmakers have almost uniformly opposed the expansion. Louisiana, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi and Texas are among the top 10 states and territories with the highest concentration of HIV diagnoses.

None of those states has agreed to expand Medicaid as part of the ACA.

In states that are expanding Medicaid, Johnson said his organization and others are urging states to provide an adequate transition period for Ryan White clients who become newly eligible for Medicaid. Advocates also want states to more closely integrate new Medicaid benefits with Ryan White services than they have in the past.

When are states expected to recalibrate Ryan White programs?

It remains to be seen. A lot will depend on how many states ultimately decide to expand Medicaid and how many HIV infected people enroll in the program.

Similarly, shifts in the program will hinge on how many HIV-infected people ultimately sign up for private insurance on the exchanges and whether they will be able to pay the relatively high deductibles and co-payments the policies will require of all customers.

Another unknown is exactly how well public and private insurance will cover the complex health care needs of those with HIV. For example, many insurers currently do not provide adequate coverage of the transportation, case management and dentistry needs of HIV-infected people, said Amy Killelea of the National Alliance of State & Territorial AIDS Directors.

It is not clear whether coverage gaps will improve as states interpret the ACA’s essential benefits requirements, she said. “The case is being made that Ryan White and other AIDS programs cannot be offset,” Killelea said. For now, states are trying to figure out where exchange coverage and Medicaid stops and where Ryan White should start.
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