B.A.S.S Copper Cotillion May 4th


Butte AIDS Support Services holds their Third Annual Copper Cotillion to benefit those living with HIV in Southwest Montana. Check out their Facebook event page here.


Impact of Affordable Care Act On HIV/STD Prevention

Wondering about the Supreme Court’s decision on HIV/STD prevention and care? Some help from The National Coalition Of STD Directors:

Sexually transmitted disease

As you consider the impact of today’s Supreme Court ruling on the Affordable Care Act on different populations, I would like to share with you the impact of today’s ruling on our fight to prevent and treat sexually transmitted diseases.

Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) remain a major epidemic in the United States.  Each year, there are approximately 19 million new cases of STDs, approximately half of which go undiagnosed and untreated[i], giving the  United States the highest STD rate in the industrialized world.[ii]

STDs cost the U.S. health care system $17 billion every year—and cost individuals even more in immediate and life-long health consequences, including infertility, higher risk of acquiring HIV, and certain cancers.[iii]

  • Young people will continue to have expanded coverage under their parent’s insurance.  Young people bear a disproportionate burden of STDs—those aged 15-25 make up half of the STDs contracted annually, but make up only one-fourth of the sexually active population.
  • Private insurance will continue to have to cover prevention services with no cost out-of pocket costs to patients.  Many of those who visit STD clinics are low-income and would not be able to receive prevention sexual health services without coverage by insurance.  While there is still work to be done for certain at-risk populations, such as men who have sex with men, expanded STD testing and  STI counseling will be covered by insurance under this expansion of preventative care in the law and it is a great start.
  •  The continued need for safety-net service providers is underscored.  With the narrowing of the Medicaid expansion provisions, the very real possibility exists that many low-income individuals will not have access to affordable health care coverage.  Patients at STD clinics are young, minority, and poor—populations that are bear a much higher burden of STD disease—and may be left without coverage in a state that may choose not to expand their Medicaid coverage.

HIV-specifics from Lambda Legal:

“This is a victory for all Americans, but in particular, the Court’s decision today will save the lives of many people living with HIV – as long as states do the right thing. The Affordable Care Act will finally allow people living with HIV to access medical advancements made years ago but that have so far remained out of reach of many. With continuing prevention education, early detection, and quality care for everyone living with HIV, we have the power to stem the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

“But this is not a complete victory, because today’s decision allows states to opt out of the Medicaid expansion that would provide insurance coverage for many low-income people who cannot otherwise afford it. Our continuing challenge will be to make sure that states opt to expand Medicaid so that more low-income people, and particularly those with HIV, can get the health care they urgently need.”

Related articles

FDA Panel Recommends Approval Of Preventative HIV Med

From CBS News:

In a landmark decision, an advisory panel to the Food and Drug Administration voted to recommend approval of Truvada to prevent HIV infection. The FDA is not required to the follow the panel of experts’ advice, though it typically does.

In a series of votes, a Food and Drug Administration advisory panel recommended approval of the daily pill Truvada for healthy people who are at high risk of contracting HIV, including gay and bisexual men and heterosexual couples with one HIV-positive partner.

A final decision on Truvada is expected by June 15, but the FDA doesn’t confirm such action dates and says the review of the application is ongoing, a spokesperson told CBS News.

“I think this is a huge milestone,” Dr. Robert Grant, associate director of the Center for AIDS Research at the University of California, San Francisco, who led the panel’s research, told CBS News medical correspondent Dr. Jon LaPook. “I think we are in an era for the first time when we can see the end of the AIDS epidemic.”

Gilead Sciences Inc., based in Foster City, Calif., has marketed Truvada since 2004 as a treatment for people who are infected with the virus. The medication is a combination of two older HIV drugs, Emtriva and Viread. Doctors usually prescribe it as part of a drug cocktail to repress the virus.

Since Truvada is already on the market to manage HIV, some doctors have prescribed it as a preventive measure. FDA approval would allow Gilead Sciences to formally market its drug for that use.

While panelists ultimately backed Truvada for prevention, Thursday’s 12-hour meeting highlighted concerns created by the first drug to prevent HIV. In particular, the panel debated whether Truvada might lead to reduced use of condoms, the most reliable defense against HIV. The experts also questioned the drug’s effectiveness in women, who have shown much lower rates of protection in studies.

The panel struggled to outline steps that would ensure patients take the pill every day. In clinical trials, patients who didn’t take their medication diligently were not protected, and patients in the real world are even more likely to forget than those in studies.

“The trouble is adherence, but I don’t think it’s our charge to judge whether people will take the medicine,” said Dr. Tom Giordano of Baylor College of Medicine, who voted in favor of the drug. “I think our charge is to judge whether it works when it’s taken and whether the risks outweigh the benefits.”

My view: This also allows sero-discordant couples- one HIV+, one not- an extra layer of protection. It may also help adherence if two persons are taking the same meds (or at least having to share a daily regimen) in the same household. That in itself is worth it….

 Full story here

HIV Is In Montana- It’s No Bull

The second video in the Montana social marketing campaign for HIV Awareness:

This HIV prevention animation targeting the MSM population is a playful look at a young bull elk that is looking for a relationship in Montana. As the party music plays he searches the herd for another bull who has been “Checked” (tested) for HIV. This is a creative project that was created by Laura Dybdal and Amber Bushnell as a part of Montana’s HIV Prevention Social Marketing Campaign. It also directs viewers to getcheckedmt.org, a resource to find the nearest HIV testing location in Montana.

The first one was posted yesterday….

ADAP Watch 12/19/11


President Obama called for the end of AIDS on World AIDS Day. But achieving that in America requires more public sector funding than Congress has provided to date, and the political climate for more funding is brutal.


We could make a classic business Republican argument for more funds: the increases would be trivial in the context of a $3.5 trillion federal budget, and the rate of return on investment would be as high as it gets – reduced public sector health care costs in future years, and improved private sector productivity. It cost next to nothing (in context) this year, and it pays back big for years to come. 


With recent additional federal money, ADAP waiting list numbers have come down some over the past month, but more than 4,000 Americans are still on wait lists. Ninety percent of them are in four Southern states, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, and Virginia. All four are having financial difficulties in this economy, but the millions of dollars they would have to spend to eliminate their waiting lists are insignificant in multibillion dollar budgets, and spending the millions or not will not make their difficult positions materially any worse or any better.


Here are the latest numbers from our friends at NASTAD:

New Microbicide May Block HIV From Entering Cells


More good news on the HIV research front.

From Science Daily:

University of Utah researchers have discovered a new class of compounds that stick to the sugary coating of the AIDS virus and inhibit it from infecting cells — an early step toward a new treatment to prevent sexual transmission of the virus. 

Development and laboratory testing of the potential new microbicide to prevent human immunodeficiency virus infection is outlined in a study set for online publication in the journal Molecular Pharmaceutics.

…”Most of the anti-HIV drugs in clinical trials target the machinery involved in viral replication,” says the study’s senior author, Patrick F. Kiser, associate professor of bioengineering and adjunct associate professor of pharmaceutics and pharmaceutical chemistry at the University of Utah.

“There is a gap in the HIV treatment pipeline for cost-effective and mass-producible viral entry inhibitors that can inactivate the virus before it has a chance to interact with target cells,” he says.

As scientists learn more about how HIV attaches to CD4 cells, there will be more and possibly less problematic ways to treat and prevent HIV infection.

Full story here.

HIV: Treatment is Prevention

Today’s New England Journal of Medicine has an excellent research study on HIV, entitled Preventing HIV-1 Infection with Antiretroviral Therapy.

Scott Hammer,MD, in an editorial for the journal, gives a brief overview of the study:

In this issue of the Journal, Cohen et al. describe the results of the HIV Prevention Trials Network (HPTN) 052 study, which has now provided definitive proof that (as suggested by the findings of previous cohort studies) antiretroviral treatment reduces the rate of sexual transmission of HIV-1.

Did you hear that? Definitive proof.

Early antiretroviral treatment not only significantly lowers the risk of transmitting the virus, it also shows increased health benefits for the HIV infected. The conclusions by the research team in the article:

In conclusion, the biologic plausibility of the use of antiretroviral therapy for the prevention of HIV-1 infection has been carefully examined during the past two decades. The idea of HIV-1 treatment as prevention has garnered tremendous interest and hope and inspired a series of population-level HIV-1 treatment-as-prevention studies that are now in the pilot or planning stages. Such interventions are based on the hypothesis that the use of antiretroviral therapy reliably prevents HIV-1 transmission over an extended period of time. In this trial, we found that early antiretroviral therapy had a clinical benefit for both HIV-1–infected persons and their uninfected sexual partners. These results support the use of antiretroviral treatment as a part of a public health strategy to reduce the spread of HIV-1 infection. (emphasis mine)

This is science at work. Get tested. If you’re HIV-positive, get into care and take your meds. We can slow this thing down.

Money quote from Dr Hammer:

Antiretroviral therapy is by no means perfect and is not the ultimate answer to controlling and ending the HIV epidemic. Adverse events, emergence of drug-resistant viral strains, maintenance of adherence, sustainability, and cost are just some of the concerns. However, this is precisely the wrong time to limit access to antiretroviral therapy in resource-limited settings, since we have the tools in hand to maintain or restore health in infected persons and reduce transmission to their sexual partners.

So now that we know, will anything happen?

(PS- the picture above is of my morning pills)