CDC Analysis: 4 out of 10 HIV-Diagnosed Not In Care

An analysis of epidemiological data by the Centers for Disease Control has arrived at a startling conclusion: as many as 4 out of 10 persons diagnosed with HIV do not remain in care.

Despite all the medical evidence which advocates early HIV treatment for a healthy life, people are still not accessing care. The specific reasons are unclear, but the National HIV Treatment Guidelines are very clear: Persons with HIV are to be tested for Viral Load and CD4 counts ever 3-4 months, unless they are considered “virus-suppressed” (usually with an undetectable viral load and normal CD4 count with no medication changes over a period of time), then it is every 6-12 months.

So, what’s happening?

In surveillance data from 13 regions, only 59% of people recently diagnosed with HIV had had a test for viral load or CD4-positive T-cell count within the previous year, according to Irene Hall, PhD, head of the CDC’s HIV incidence and case surveillance branch.

The finding implies that the remaining 41% are not under a physician’s continuing care, Hall said in a teleconference during the 2011 National HIV Prevention Conference in Atlanta.

The two tests are a “marker for being in care,” Hall told MedPage Today.

Maybe it’s time to start talking seriously about barriers to proper care, including discrimination, poverty, cultural issues and race.

At a time when we know treatment is prevention, it’s important that the members of our communities who are HIV infected receive the care they need.

I’m wondering if it’s about support. Many of the people in my HIV+ support groups help each other with their health care- talking honestly about issues, sharing resources- even giving each other rides to doc or lab visits. They stay on their meds, talk realistically about their health, exercise, pay closer attention to nutrition and reducing stress. They do it because they have people they can speak to honestly about their disease- people who know firsthand what it’s like. And, for the most part, they’re having incredible, fulfilling lives.

In my experience, it’s the people who are trying to deal with HIV on their own who don’t do so well.

Depression and fear can play an enormous part in healthcare apathy- and it’s a well-documented fact that fear and depression are alleviated by concern and compassion from family and friends- and involvement with others who share similar circumstances.

So, in the interest of trying to understand this better, I have a couple of questions:

Do you know anyone (maybe it’s you) with HIV who is not getting care for their disease? What can be done to get them into care?

I’d like to follow up with your responses- so feel free to contact me at Dgsma@hotmail.com if you are uncomfortable leaving a response in the thread.

Aristotle On Thoughts

Shut The (Bleep) Up

We watched a little bit of the VMA’s last night- just until the latest episode of Torchwood reran- and I was amazed at all the bleeps that were happening. It almost made the show unwatchable.

Not because I’m a prude, but because I have a hard time with interrupted continuity. I hate distractions.

Ask anybody who has ever sat next to me in a movie theater- or watched a movie with me in my living room; I hate talking, interruptions or distractions. Ken has learned to sit on the aisle, and, if he doesn’t remember, I remind him to use the restroom before the movie. I don’t like talking or noisy crowds in the theater, either. I paid my good money to watch a movie, not listen to your conversation and commentary. For me, a movie is like a roller coaster- I pay my money, I get in the car and I don’t get out until the ride is over.

And I don’t bring my colicky baby.

But when something is continually interrupted, it starts to concern me. I have a hard time tracking. Maybe it’s advancing age and/or deafness that’s making me less tolerant of distractions, but it seems to be having its own manifestation in politics. Candidates are actively interrupting scientific communication in this country. Blatantly standing up in the middle of the show and making factual inferences with fantastical statements. Distracting people from the reality hiding behind the curtain with a little folksy humor or superstitious nonsense.

And I’m annoyed.

Thank God that I’m not alone. Paul Krugman today has an excellent article about the trending GOP tendency to deny science, knowledge- and maybe, common sense- in favor of the popularly held beliefs of uneducated, superstitious people. My words, not his. These are his:

According to Public Policy Polling, only 21 percent of Republican voters in Iowa believe in global warming (and only 35 percent believe in evolution). Within the G.O.P., willful ignorance has become a litmus test for candidates, one that Mr. Romney is determined to pass at all costs.

So it’s now highly likely that the presidential candidate of one of our two major political parties will either be a man who believes what he wants to believe, even in the teeth of scientific evidence, or a man who pretends to believe whatever he thinks the party’s base wants him to believe.

And the deepening anti-intellectualism of the political right, both within and beyond the G.O.P., extends far beyond the issue of climate change.

Lately, for example, The Wall Street Journal’s editorial page has gone beyond its long-term preference for the economic ideas of “charlatans and cranks” — as one of former President George W. Bush’s chief economic advisers famously put it — to a general denigration of hard thinking about matters economic. Pay no attention to “fancy theories” that conflict with “common sense,” the Journal tells us. Because why should anyone imagine that you need more than gut feelings to analyze things like financial crises and recessions?

Now, we don’t know who will win next year’s presidential election. But the odds are that one of these years the world’s greatest nation will find itself ruled by a party that is aggressively anti-science, indeed anti-knowledge. And, in a time of severe challenges — environmental, economic, and more — that’s a terrifying prospect.

And if you want more proof that the GOP is pandering to the uneducated you don’t have to look much farther than Michele Bachmann. Her blind-to-the-facts manner is starting to leak holy water as well:

Speaking to a crowd in Florida over the weekend, Bachmann said the historic earthquake and massive hurricane that rocked the East Coast last week was a message that God is upset with the way politicians in Washington have been doing things. The interview with the St. Petersburg Times…:

She hailed the tea party as being common-sense Americans who understand government shouldn’t spend more than it takes in, know they’re taxed enough already and want government to abide by the Constitution.

I don’t know how much God has to do to get the attention of the politicians. We’ve had an earthquake; we’ve had a hurricane. He said, ‘Are you going to start listening to me here?’Listen to the American people because the American people are roaring right now. They know government is on a morbid obesity diet and we’ve got to rein in the spending.”

Emphasis added. Bachmann’s comments put her closer to Pat Robertson’s take on the week than her most prominent rivals for the Republican nomination.

Part of me wants to yell “Shut the (bleep) up!” The same part of me that was annoyed in the theater during Schindler’s List when that woman with the whimpering and complaining kids (kids around 5, 6 and/or 7 from what I could tell), who kept telling them loudly to sit still, be quiet and stop whining throughout the whole movie- instead of taking them out the door and across the hall to watch Beethoven’s 2nd. In my frustration, I threw a dirty look and a kernel or two of popcorn her way.

It’s how I feel when people, jockeying to be the most powerful person in the world, blatantly disregard science in favor of folksyisms that appease- and get votes. This guy/gal is just like me. They should be president.

Huh? Whatever happened to the drive to be intelligent in our culture? When did it become evil? Haven’t we learned our lesson about folksy presidents from Texas?

I guess not. Just like the lady in the theater didn’t know-or didn’t care- that bringing small children to Schindler’s List would wreck the movie for almost everyone else in the room. But this time, I’m not going to just sit there, fuming. I’m not keeping my mouth shut.

Consider this the opening salvo.

Buttered.

Top 10 Reasons Gay Marriage Is Un-American

Brilliant. From addictinginfo.com:

  1. Being gay is not natural. Real Americans always reject unnatural things like eyeglasses, polyester, and air conditioning.
  2. Gay marriage will encourage people to be gay, in the same way that hanging around tall people will make you tall.
  3. Legalizing gay marriage will open the door to all kinds of crazy behavior. People may even wish to marry their pets because a dog has legal standing and can sign a marriage contract.
  4. Straight marriage has been around a long time and hasn’t changed at all; women are still property, blacks still can’t marry whites, and divorce is still illegal.
  5. Straight marriage will be less meaningful if gay marriage were allowed; the sanctity of Britany Spears’ 55-hour just-for-fun marriage would be destroyed.
  6. Straight marriages are valid because they produce children. Gay couples, infertile couples, and old people shouldn’t be allowed to marry because our orphanages aren’t full yet, and the world needs more children.
  7. Obviously gay parents will raise gay children, since straight parents only raise straight children.
  8. Gay marriage is not supported by religion. In a theocracy like ours, the values of one religion are imposed on the entire country. That’s why we have only one religion in America.
  9. Children can never succeed without a male and a female role model at home. That’s why we as a society expressly forbid single parents to raise children.
  10. Gay marriage will change the foundation of society; we could never adapt to new social norms. Just like we haven’t adapted to cars, the service-sector economy, or longer life spans.

Bachmann Bucks Voters, Demonizes Environmentalists

Michele Bachmann yesterday called for the abolition of the ‘job killing’ Environmental Protection Agency- despite polls which show most Americans do not favor such a move.

“The United States is the number one country in the world for energy resources,” the Minnesota congresswoman told a central Florida town hall meeting, arguing that in shale deposits alone the U.S. easily outstrips the total oil supply of Saudi Arabia. “That doesn’t even include … all the oil in Alaska.”

But Bachmann said environmentalists were preventing resources from being exploited, leaving the U.S. dependent on energy imports.

“Instead of thinking we are beggars out here begging for oil and for energy, we are the king daddy dogs when it comes to energy,” she said.

“The radical environmentalists have demanded that we lock up all our energy resources,” she added. “President Bachmann will take that key out of the door. I will unlock it.”

The crowd at the upscale retirement community cheered wildly.

And Bachmann got a similar reception when she promised to eliminate the “job killing” Environmental Protection Agency, saying that she would close the agency down in a single trip. “We will turn out the lights and we’ll lock the doors,” she said.

Such rhetoric may seem to be a populist position- especially regarding the conservative base, but Bachmann hasn’t done her homework.

But a new poll from the conservative-leaning Rasmussen** finds that an overwhelming majority of likely voters, including more than two-thirds of independents, disagree with Rep. Bachmann. When asked whether they “favor or oppose abolishing the Environmental Protection Agency,” 61% of likely voters indicated that they are opposed:

Whoopsie.

Well, I’ve deeply suspected Bachmann of pandering to the wackos for a while now, but ignoring majority polls is just plain poor politics. But there is something worth remembering from this visit:

“…we are the king daddy dogs…”

Huh? I don’t claim to be a Freudian, but I think her fantasies are starting to invade her politics….

New Drug Targets Viral Infections- Hope for HIV?

Science Daily reports a dramatic breakthrough in drug treatment of viral infection:

Influenza Virus

Most bacterial infections can be treated with antibiotics such as penicillin, discovered decades ago. However, such drugs are useless against viral infections, including influenza, the common cold, and deadly hemorrhagic fevers such as Ebola.

Now, in a development that could transform how viral infections are treated, a team of researchers at MIT’s Lincoln Laboratory has designed a drug that can identify cells that have been infected by any type of virus, then kill those cells to terminate the infection.

Viruses are notoriously difficult to treat- technically, they aren’t “alive” so there’s not an effectively good way to “kill” them. Killing the specific cells in which they reside seems like a good place to start- and also has implications for the treatment of cancer, HIV- any disease which starts with an infected or mutated cell.

Read the full article here.

WSJ Profiles Dramatic Increase In Montana Same-Sex Couples

The Wall Street Journal profiles the statistical rise of same-sex couples in the United States- especially outside of the LGBT mainstream cities like New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Washington DC. This increase in same-sex couples is happening  extremely quickly in rural places- including Montana:

The Census Bureau doesn’t ask people about their sexual orientation. But since 1990, respondents have had the option to identify themselves as living with a same-sex partner. This group grew by half nationwide between 2000 and 2010, figures released this week show….The number of self-identified gay couples rose by nearly 90% in Montana, Nevada and West Virginia, for instance, while California, New York and Washington, D.C., saw increases of 40% or less, according to Mr. Gates’s analysis of the data. (emphasis mine)

Yep, looks like we’re here to stay. And there are increasingly more of us- probably due to more of us coming out earlier and feeling less threatened in our hometowns. All good news.

Polls suggest wider acceptance of gays nationwide. About 46% of people oppose gay marriage today, for instance, down from 65% in 1996, according to the Pew Research Center.

Montana native Ken Spencer, 46 years old, said he has seen the shift firsthand. Growing up, he said, he believed that “if you were gay, you had to leave Montana.” He kept his homosexuality a secret for years.

But gay people have become more visible in the state, with this year’s Montana Pride celebration in Bozeman drawing about 2,000 people, up from a few hundred in 2002.

Mr. Spencer said he identified himself as living with his same-sex partner for the first time in 2010. (My emphasis)

Yep, that’s my guy….

Ken and I made a conscious decision to stay in Montana and work for awareness and equality, just as many of you have chosen to do. We were born here, we like it here and we’re not going to be driven out by ignorance and fear. And neither should anyone else.

And, with these statistics, it’s looking like we’re all doing a fairly good job….