February 12, 2016
This week, we read a study looking at how perception of HIV criminalization laws affects rates of condomless sex. We also look at a study that shows states with higher spending on social and public health services have lower rates of HIV and AIDS-related deaths. To beat HIV, you have to follow the science!
HIV criminalization laws have little effect on sexual behavior -- and may even increase condomless sex -- among men who have sex with men (MSM), according to a study published in the journal AIDS and Behavior.
About three-quarters of participants were unsure of their state's HIV criminalization laws; of those, 66% reported condomless sex within the past three months.
For participants who believed their state does not have any HIV criminalization laws, 70% reported condomless sex.
For participants who believed their state does have HIV criminalization laws, 75% reported condomless sex.
Being correct about their state's laws did not have any effect on rates of condomless sex among the participants.
"Overall, laws which promote public health through the curtailment of freedom can be justified only if they effectively achieve the desired goal," the authors stated. "If the evidence from studies of [people living with HIV] suggest that HIV criminal laws have minimal effect on disclosure, the evidence from this study shows that they may have counter-productive effects on a sample of primarily HIV-negative or serostatus unknown MSM; thus, the benefit of such laws is called into doubt."
Read Last Week in HIV Research: Smoking Associated With Poor HIV Outcomes.
States with higher spending on social and public health services for persons in poverty had significantly lower cases of HIV and AIDS, as well as fewer AIDS-related deaths, according to a study published in AIDS.
The study reviewed data from all 50 states between 2000 and 2009, comparing rates of HIV and AIDS-related deaths with state-level spending on social services and public health. The researchers found that more spending services -- such as education, income support, food and housing benefits, and health care programs -- was associated with significantly lower cases of HIV and AIDS-related deaths, both one and five years after spending.
"Our findings highlight the potentially critical importance of spending on social services as an element of HIV prevention and treatment to reduce HIV/AIDS diagnoses and AIDS deaths," said lead study author Kristina Talbert-Slagle, Ph.D., in the study press release. "It is interesting to see how much HIV, a virus, is affected by social determinants. We know heart disease and diabetes can be influenced, but we don't often recognize how much rates of infectious disease can be influenced by social factors."
Johns Hopkins will become the first hospital in the U.S. to perform organ transplants between HIV-positive individuals, after receiving approval from the United Network for Organ Sharing (the governing body that oversees organ transplants and waiting lists in the U.S.). This will be the first HIV-positive transplant since the passing of the HOPE Act in 2013, which allowed for HIV-positive individuals to donate organs.
"This is an unbelievably exciting day for our hospital and our team, but more importantly for patients living with HIV and end-stage organ disease. For these individuals, this means a new chance at life," said Dorry Segev, associate professor of surgery at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, according to the JHU Hub report.
Warren Tong is the senior science editor for TheBody.com and TheBodyPRO.com.
Follow Warren on Twitter: @WarrenAtTheBody.
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