Friday, March 25, 2011

March's Safety Net Message

Send out this month's message to your friends, take the quick survey to tell us you did it, and enter our drawing for a chance to win a $25 gift card to CVS this month!

You're not alone! Hartford Gay & Lesbian Health Collective has many social and support groups so you can stay connected, happy & healthy. Go to for info. --Safety Net Team member

Once you've sent this by text, email, or posted it on your Twitter or Facebook account, take this survey to let us know how many people this reached and to enter our monthly drawing for a great prize.

Create your free online surveys with SurveyMonkey, the world's leading questionnaire tool.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Are you lonesome tonight?

Hey guys! So my colleagues at HGLHC found a study that links HIV- risk behaviors with loneliness and a lack of social connectedness. Here are some excerpts:

“This article examines the Loneliness and Sexual Risk Model (LSRM) which postulates that loneliness is associated with sexual risk behavior and that this relationship is mediated by the influence of substance use and compulsive behavior. Therefore ,successfully addressing loneliness and its underlying causes likely to result in subsequent reductions in risk behaviors”.

“There is a growing body of research that focuses on sexual compulsivity and the use of the internet as a primary vehicle to act out sexually (Dew & Chaney, 2004). Because of the possible consequences of being exposed in public venues and the lack of alternative venues for socialization, the internet is an appealing method for some MSM to meet sexual partners (Brown, Maycock, & Burns, 2005). Internet use facilitates the process of identifying potential sex partners online and setting up sexual encounters among MSM, Model of Sexual Risk 69 which in turn have been associated with a rise of HIV infection in that population (Benotsch, Kalichman, & Cage, 2002). This is particularly true for those who feel a lack of social connectedness (Chaney & Dew, 2003).”

“An efficient and cost-effective way of incorporating social interaction and skill practice into therapy is to provide group interventions. Groups are a social microcosm that can provide individuals with the opportunity to practice social behaviors and interpersonal skills, as well as facilitate the generalization and application of the learned skills to real life in a safe environment.”

So, what do you guys think? We all get lonely, but there are some great alternatives so you can keep yourself surrounded with supportive people and make healthy choices for yourself. Have you checked out our social group for young gay and bisexual men, MPowerCT? Ever heard about our group for men called Living Soulfully, a group that supports the spiritual lives of gay/bi/questioning men?

You can even get out of your loneliness rut by texting or emailing or Facebooking the monthly Safety Net messages! Are you already on our Safety Net team? If not, email Jamie to get started (

The link to the article is here:

Compulsivity, Substance Use, and Loneliness: The Loneliness and Sexual Risk Model (LSRM)
Authors: Hctor L. Torresa; Cheryl Gore-Feltonb

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

News in HIV Treatment Research

From the March issue of the CT HIV/AIDS Planning Consortium News and Notes:

An HIV positive American living in Berlin has been cured from HIV. Reportedly, he has no detectable HIV in his blood after a stem cell transplant he underwent in 2007 to treat leukemia. The transplant was from a donor who carried a gene mutation that has a natural resistance to the virus.

It was by sheer coincidence that the “Berlin Patient” (as he has come to be known) was cured from HIV. The medical team deliberately chose a compatible donor who has a naturally occurring gene mutation that is resistant to the virus that causes AIDS. This type of mutation (known as CCR5delta32) is only found in between 1-3 percent of white poulations of European descendants. The people that have these wonderful genes have a natural protection to HIV.

Unfortunately, this treatment will not be able to help most people infected with HIV. Stem cell transplants are too dangerous and extreme to be used routinely, as many people die using stem cell transplants. The case of the “Berlin Patient”, however, paves a path for constructing a permanent cure for HIV through genetically-engineered stem cells.

I've heard this issue come up a few times at HIV counseling and testing sessions with our clients. While this is promising, it's a LONG ways away from a cure. The best we can do for now is to protect ourselves from HIV by choosing safer sex to prevent HIV infections and prevent the spread of this disease, to avoid contact with blood, and to avoid sharing needles with anyone else.

Stay safe!


Tuesday, March 1, 2011

New study says: Half of men may have HPV infections

CHICAGO (Reuters) – Half of men in the general population may be infected with human papillomavirus or HPV, the human wart virus that causes cervical and other cancers, strengthening the case for vaccinating boys against HPV, U.S. researchers said on Monday.

Yikes. Read the full story here:

Smart Phone Apps are Now Helping People Take Their Meds

Pretty cool--- smart phone apps are helping people to remember to take their medications (including HIV meds).

The Importance of Medication Adherence to People Living with HIV/AIDS:

When you take a drug, it gets processed by your body and enters into your blood stream. The HIV drugs need to stay in your blood at certain levels to fight HIV. If the level falls too low, the drugs cannot work well.

When you take your pills on schedule, you keep the right level of the drug in your body. By not taking your medicines on schedule, you risk letting drug levels drop. This may allow HIV to make copies of itself and even make changes (mutations). These mutations can help the virus survive, even when you do take your HIV medication. This is called resistance.

When HIV becomes resistant to a drug you are taking, that drug will probably stop working. This may lead to an increase in your viral load and a decrease in your CD4 cell count. At that point, you will probably have to switch to another HIV drug.

Resistance to one drug can sometimes cause resistance to other drugs you have not taken. (This is called cross-resistance.) Resistance can affect your treatment choices in the future because fewer drugs will work well against your virus.

The best way to prevent resistance is to stick closely to your medication schedule. Some studies suggest that 95 percent adherence may be needed to get the most benefit from HIV treatment. That means missing very few doses.

[from the Well Project: ]