PATF's new PrEP for Wellness program and how Pittsburgh celebrates World AIDS Day
PATF e-Perspectives
Issue 65/ December 2016
PrEP for Wellness program offers HIV preventative medication to those most at risk

As part of our new medical services, PATF is excited to now offer Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP), a powerful new tool in the fight to halt the spread of HIV! PrEP involves taking a daily medication, called Truvada, and is over 90 percent effective at reducing the risk of HIV transmission for HIV-negative individuals.
 
Expanding access to PrEP is a main component of the national HIV strategy, which has a goal of eliminating new HIV infections. Despite best efforts at HIV prevention, including encouraging condom use, the number of new HIV infections per year in Pittsburgh and the surrounding area has remained stable in the last few years. PrEP empowers individuals with a critical new method to help prevent HIV and is an especially important tool for those who are disproportionately affected by the virus including men who have sex with men and transgender women.

While any medical doctor is able to prescribe PrEP, many are unaware of the regimen or are uncomfortable prescribing it. Furthermore, many individuals may not be comfortable discussing HIV risk factors, like sexual practice or drug use, with primary care physicians. We're proud to now be part of a small group of clinics and practitioners in Pittsburgh who regularly offer PrEP and who provide a stigma-free zone to discuss HIV risk factors openly and honestly.

PATF's PrEP for Wellness program takes a holistic approach to sexual health care. Individuals who enroll in the program come into PATF every three months for HIV and STI testing and have a clinical check up every six months. Trained Health Advocates lead clients through the process, answer questions, and help devise strategies to adhere to the medication.
 
Individuals in our PrEP program are also able to use PATF's pharmacy, which delivers medications directly to clients at their home or location of their choosing. Though side effects from Truvada are rare and are generally very mild, pharmacy staff is available on-call to answer any questions related to the medication, drug interactions or side effects.
 
Most insurance covers PrEP, and our pharmacy is specially trained to help with drug assistance programs, including those that cover co-pays and deductibles. Assistance is also available for those without insurance.

For more information on our PrEP for Wellness program, visit patf.org/prep or call 412-248-0550.

Pittsburgh commemorates World AIDS Day 
In recognition of World AIDS Day, organizations across Pittsburgh, including PATF, held events to remember those lost to HIV/AIDS and honor those living with the virus, reflect on the history of the epidemic, discuss current and future developments in HIV prevention and treatment, and to get tested for HIV. Below are just a few highlights from the week!

PATF teamed up with Reel Q: Pittsburgh's LBGT Film Festival and the GLCC to screen United in Anger, a documentary on ACT UP.
Pittsburgh City Council unanimously passed a Will of Council urging the state to require all doctors to offer HIV testing at all routine medical appointments. Pictured, Councilman Corey O'Connor discusses the importance of the measure at a press conference.


AIDS Free Pittsburgh produced a video with Pittsburgh celebrities, including Mayor Peduto, Alaska 500 and Tamara Tumie, about the importance of HIV testing. 
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PATF in the news
$1M project expands reach of Pittsburgh AIDS Task Force
A recently completed $1 million renovation and expansion of the Pittsburgh AIDS Task Force in East Liberty has made Sean DeYoung's vision a reality.

The project, which took about a year to complete and included a medical clinic expansion, is a step toward PATF's goal to transition to a fully integrated medical and social-service care organization for people with HIV.

The renovated PATF center, unveiled at a ribbon-cutting last Tuesday, offers a food pantry, an on-site pharmacy, legal aid, programs for medical case management and federal housing assistance. It also offers an adherence program designed to help patients who struggle to remember to take their medications through personalized texts or phone calls.

Read the full story at the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (published November 1)
You should know: Alan Jones
Do you have a client story that sticks out as the most memorable? 
I remember a woman who had never accepted her son being gay ... her son was dying of a disease she was ashamed of ... Months later, after he died, she called me and thanked me for taking care of him. She said to me, "I learned a horrible lesson. I learned you should always love people for just who they are and be happy with just the way life is."

Read the full interview at Pittsburgh Magazine (published in the November supplement "Give Pittsburgh")
City council to consider resolution to push routine HIV tests
The specter of HIV was once tantamount to a death sentence, but medical advances over the last two decades have reduced it to a manageable and treatable condition - so long as infected people know they have the virus.

To that end, and in anticipation of 28th annual World AIDS Day on Dec. 1, Pittsburgh City Council will take up a Will of Council on Tuesday urging the state to require health care providers in Pennsylvania to offer HIV testing during routine checkups.

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Health's Annual HIV Surveillance Summary Report, there are 2,830 people living with HIV in Allegheny County. The number of annual new cases has remained consistent, at roughly 150 per year, Andrew Ptaschinski of the Pittsburgh AIDS Task Force said, although he added that 20 percent of residents countywide who are HIV-positive do not know that they have the disease.

Read the full story in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (published November 25).
Pittsburgh City Council supports effort to encourage HIV testing during doctor visits
Testing for HIV is simple, quick and affordable, yet 20 percent of Allegheny County residents infected with the disease are unaware they have it.
 
In an effort to help solve that problem, Pittsburgh City Council on Tuesday introduced a resolution urging health care providers to encourage HIV testing during routine doctor visits. The non-biding measure was introduced with the Pittsburgh AIDS Task Force in conjunction with World AIDS Day, which is Thursday.

Read the full story at the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (published November 29)
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Questions or comments about e-Perspectives? Please contact editor Andrew Ptaschinski at aptashinski@patf.org .