This month, find out about our Pharmacy program, learn about the Black Male Leadership Council and read about PATF in the news
PATF e-Perspectives
Issue 59/ June 2016
PATF's pharmacy helps clients achieve nearly 100 percent medication adherence
PATF's pharmacy continues our client-focused approach and offers clients an easy, confidential way to get the lifesaving medication they need. The program is so successful that clients who use our pharmacy have an HIV medication adherence rate of over 96 percent, compared to a national average of around 55 percent! This helps ensure they maintain good health and, through achieving viral suppression, significantly reduce the risk of spreading the infection to others.

Once enrolled in the pharmacy, clients receive one-on-one counseling about their medications, as well as follow-up calls to see if they are experiencing any side effects or difficulty taking their medication as prescribed. If difficulties in adherence do arise, pharmacists work with clients on strategies, including special dosage packaging and reminder calls or texts. One client even requested that their reminder text read "it's time for ice cream!" The strategy worked so well that the client has not missed a dose since!

The pharmacy delivers medication to patients directly via a package shipping company or courier. As each client's needs are different, the pharmacy works with clients to determine the best time and method to receive their medication refills, even delivering to a local business that the client may regularly frequent.

Finally, all clients enrolled in our pharmacy do not pay any copays! Since 75 percent of PATF's clients live below the poverty line, this removes a huge barrier to getting the essential drugs they need.

In addition to all the benefits that our pharmacy offers to clients, pharmacy revenues help fill funding gaps in client services and our prevention programming. PATF's pharmacy is accredited through a federal program that allows us to buy drugs at a reduced rate but bill insurance companies for the full price. The revenue that this provides allows us to stretch our funding dollars further and reach more people!

PATF's Black Male Leadership Council addresses alarming HIV infection rates
Anthony Williams and Duane Binion, members of the Black Male Leadership Council
In February, the CDC reported that, if current HIV infection rates continue, 1 in 2 black men who have sex with men (MSM) will be diagnosed with HIV during their lifetime. In light of this startling statistic, finding new ways to reach these communities and encourage testing has taken on a renewed urgency.

Initiated in March, PATF's Black Male Leadership Council (BMLC) brings together a dozen leaders and aspiring leaders to develop innovative ways to reach communities at high risk for HIV infection. Members include representatives from Persad Center, Kelly Strayhorn Theater, True T Entertainment, Project Silk, 412 Youth Zone, University of Pittsburgh, Carnegie Mellon University, and others.

One example of innovative outreach to address the needs of black MSM is a speed dating event, scheduled for September. Drawing on their personal experiences as part of this community, members of the BMLC discovered there was a common feeling that because the community is small, it is difficult to find men to date. This feeling has led some to stay in unhealthy relationships and others to turn to hook-up apps and websites, the users of which are more likely to engage in unsafe sex. The speed dating event will create a safe and fun way for men to meet one another, along with a natural forum to discuss healthy relationships, safer sex and the importance of HIV testing.

In addition to addressing the sexual health needs of those at high risk of HIV infection, the BMLC also considers the financial, social and mental health of these individuals, working to create supportive, healthy and happy communities. To help achieve this goal, the BMLC strives to bring together diverse members and organizations in the black community. At a networking event to be held in July at Social Status, an upscale urban clothing store, the BMLC will invite representatives from New Voices Pittsburgh, Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh, and others, to help foster dialogue and collaboration.

There's a lot more in the pipeline for the BMLC, so be sure to stayed tuned to our Facebook and Twitter accounts for updates! 

Save the date! 
Butterjoint fundraiser for PATF, July 12
Once a month, Butterjoint holds "Donations and Libations," an event started by the staff to give back to the community. On the second Tuesday of each month from 4:30pm to midnight, all cash-tips and sales from bar specials are donated to a local non-profit. We're grateful to the Butterjoint staff for choosing PATF as the organization they are supporting in July! Mark you calendars for good food and drinks and a great cause on July 12! We'll also be sharing the event on our Facebook page soon. 

PATF in the news
Free testing for hepatitis C stepped up
 
Soaring rates of hepatitis C deaths nationwide have pushed a local task force to redouble efforts to encourage people to get tested for the liver-ravaging disease.
"The country is in the middle of a heroin epidemic," said Jason Herring, the Pittsburgh AIDS Task Force's director of programs and communications. "This region has been hit hard along with the Midwest. We're seeing a lot of transmission via intravenous drug use."

The Pittsburgh AIDS Task Force offers free testing six days a week at its East Liberty office. The test is easy - a simple prick of the finger - and results are available within 20 minutes.
Read the full story from the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.
Boomers account for most hep C cases, young drug users increasingly infected

The number of Pennsylvanians infected with acute hepatitis C more than doubled from 2009 to 2013, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
 
The CDC report shows that after the infection rate leveled off for a few years, it jumped from 39 cases per every 100,000 Pennsylvanians in 2009 to 81 in 2013, the latest year data is available. That translates to about 10,000 Pennsylvanians currently living with the liver disease.
 
The health department offers testing at its clinic in Oakland Monday through Friday for $25. But, according to Andrew Ptaschinski at the Pittsburgh Aids Task Force, that organization is offering free testing at its East Liberty office six days a week.

Read the full story from WESA.

Join the conversation on social media with us!
June 27 is National HIV Testing Day. Help us spread the word that everyone should make HIV testing part of their routine health care with the hashtags  #PATF , #NHTD,   #MyTestingDay and #KnowYourStatus . More news is coming soon on PATF special outreach testing for National HIV Testing Day!
Pittsburgh AIDS Task Force  | 412-345-7456 |  patfinfo@patf.org | patf.org

Questions or comments about e-Perspectives? Please contact editor Andrew Ptaschinski at aptashinski@patf.org .