News Round-Up: July 21, 2021

Some news items you might have missed:

Instinct Magazine: The Department of Labor and the Department of Treasury have released new guidance that mandates almost all insurance companies within the U.S. must make PrEP, the HIV prevention pill otherwise known as pre-exposure prophylaxis, free with no cost-sharing.

The Advocate: A federal judge in West Virginia issued an injunction Wednesday against the state’s law barring transgender athletes from competing on school sports teams for their gender identity. “At this point, I have been provided with scant evidence that this law addresses any problem at all, let alone an important problem,” the judge wrote.

YouTube: Texas real estate agent Kelci Cashman and her children were removed from a plane in Orlando heading to Dallas when she went on a homophobic rant and refused to wear her mask. The crowd cheered when she finally left the plane.

Reuters: Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban stepped up a culture war with the European Union today by announcing a referendum on legislation that bans the use of materials seen as promoting homosexuality and gender change at schools.

PBS: COVID-19 cases tripled in the U.S. over two weeks amid an onslaught of vaccine misinformation that is straining hospitals, exhausting doctors and pushing clergy into the fray. The seven-day rolling average for daily new COVID-19 cases rose over the past two weeks to more than 37,000 on Tuesday, up from less than 13,700 on July 6.

NPR: A couple whose gender reveal ceremony sparked a Southern California wildfire that killed a firefighter last year were charged with involuntary manslaughter on Monday. The charges included one felony count of involuntary manslaughter, along with other felony and misdemeanor counts related to the fire.

News Round-Up: July 20, 2021

International superstar Dolly Parton
International superstar Dolly Parton
International superstar Dolly Parton (via Twitter)

Some news items you might have missed:

NBC News: The federal government has announced that almost all health insurers must cover the HIV prevention pill, known as PrEP, or pre-exposure prophylaxis, with no cost sharing — including for the drug itself and, crucially, for clinic visits and lab tests.

Twitter: For the record, Dolly Parton is every kind of treasure we could want. Check out her little video about her birthday present for her husband.

Atlanta Blackstar: A Black woman has filed a lawsuit against the Delaware Division of state police after she was blockaded, had her back window bashed in, and held at gunpoint by plainclothes officers last month until they realized she was not the suspect they were looking for.

CNBC: White House chief medical advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci and Sen. Rand Paul got in a heated exchange at a Senate hearing Tuesday. “Sen. Paul, you do not know what you are talking about, quite frankly, and I would like to say that officially. You do not know what you are talking about.”

Washington Post: Fascinating read interviewing Capitol rioters and what they ‘thought’ they were doing on January 6.

Outsider: It was 30 years ago this week that Mark Wahlberg, then ‘Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch,’ dropped that iconic music video, “Good Vibrations.” And Calvin Klein underwear was never the same…

News Round-Up: March 9, 2021

A new once-a-month pill for PrEP is proving to be ‘extremely potent’ in testing

Some news items you might have missed:

Metro Weekly: Pharmaceutical company Merck has released data from the second phase of trials into its antiretroviral drug islatravir, a once-a-month pill to protect against HIV infection, which has proven to be “extremely potent.”

Billboard: Of the eight Grammy nominees for best new artist, three — CHIKA, Kaytranada and Phoebe Bridgers — openly identify as LGBTQ.

New York Daily News: South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem said on Monday that she’s “excited” to sign a bill banning transgender girls and women from participating in sports teams that correspond to their gender identity. South Dakota is the second U.S. state this year, after Mississippi, to pass legislation targeting transgender sports athletes.

Amazon Prime: “Love The One You’re With” (2021) is a dramatic comedy from award winning comedian and filmmaker Sampson McCormick that follows a couple, Miles and Avery as they navigate the possible ending of a long term relationship. The story offers surprise twists, lots of laughter and a mind stirring story line.

The Independent: The coronavirus vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech was able to combat a new variant that was rapidly circulating in Brazil, a new study has found.

Des Moines Register: Four months after Iowans voted in record numbers, Gov. Kim Reynolds has signed legislation cutting the state’s early voting period and closing the polls an hour earlier on Election Day. Every Republican present for debate in the House and Senate voted for the legislation. Every Democrat voted against it. #AndSoItBegins

Palm Beach Post: Despite his false claims about mail voting during the 2020 election cycle, Donald Trump requested a mail ballot on Friday for the third time in his Palm Beach County voter history.

Law and Crime: In their bid to get him out of the Grady County Jail in Oklahoma, attorneys for an 18-year-old defendant in the U.S. Capitol siege said another inmate attacked him. They also said their client caught COVID-19 while behind bars. He allegedly assaulted a police officer and was armed with a baton.

Once-A-Month Injection Approved For HIV

The FDA has approved Cabenuva, a once-a-month injection to control HIV infection
(image via Depositphotos)

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved a long-acting once a month injection that can replace the daily pills now used to control HIV infection.

This is the first FDA-approved injectable, complete regimen for HIV-infected adults that is administered once a month.

Medical researchers expect the two-shot combo called Cabenuva will make it easier for HIV+ people to stay on schedule with their HIV medications.

Cabenuva consists of two drugs packaged together – rilpivirine and cabotegravir – but given as separate shots once a month. Cabenuva is administered as two intramuscular injections in the buttocks by a healthcare professional.

The drug makers are also testing the effectiveness of taking the injection every 8 weeks.

The FDA approved Cabenuva for use in adults who have had their disease well controlled by conventional HIV medicines and who have not exhibited signs of viral resistance to the two drugs in Cabenuva.

The FDA also approved Vocabria (a tablet form of cabotegravir), which should be taken in combination with oral rilpivirine for one month prior to starting treatment with Cabenuva to ensure the medications are well-tolerated before switching to the extended-release injectable formulation.

Dr. Steven Deeks, an HIV specialist at the University of California, told ABC News that a once-a-month treatment “will enhance quality of life” for those on HIV medications. “People don’t want those daily reminders that they’re HIV infected.”

Deeks also believes a monthly dose may be easier for some who have a difficult time staying on a daily schedule like those with mental illness or substance abuse issues.

In addition to treating those living with HIV, ViiV Healthcare (the maker of cabotegravir) hopes to make their drug available as PrEP for HIV prevention.

Two studies have shown an injection of cabotegravir every two months was more effective than taking Truvada on a daily basis.

News Round-Up: October 12, 2020

Rob Gronkowski of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers joins fellow NFL players in letting closeted players "When you're ready, so are we."

Rob Gronkowski of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers joins fellow NFL players in letting closeted players "When you're ready, so are we."

Some news items you might have missed:

Pink News: The pharmacy chain Superdrug has launched the UK’s first-ever PrEP service and it will be fully remote (utilizing online doctors) in an effort to make it accessible to as many people as possible. Superdrug will, however, require that people accessing PrEP through its new service adhere to blood monitoring tests to ensure that they can safely take the HIV-preventing drug.

Back2Stonewall: It has been confirmed that the new HBO Max reboot series of the Green Lantern will feature the first Green Lantern character, Alan Scott – and, like in the Earth-2 comics, the character will be openly gay.

Instinct Magazine: Current and former pro football players (Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ Rob Gronkowski above) took part in this terrific PSA for National Coming Out Day. “Today, on National Coming Out Day, we come together with one clear message,” say the athletes direct to camera. “To all current players who are thinking of coming out, when you are ready, so are we. It takes all of us and you deserve to be all of you.”

Politico: South Carolina Democrat Jaime Harrison raised a staggering $57 million in the third quarter of this year, shattering the previous record for a Senate candidate as he seeks to unseat GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham. Graham, who has not released his third-quarter fundraising totals, raised $8.4 million in the second quarter and had $15 million in the bank as of June 30.

AP News: Here’s a bit of a warning sign for Donald Trump who won the 65+ vote by 9 points in 2016. The Villages, the nation’s largest retirement community located in battleground state Florida, recently held a 300+ golf cart parade in support of Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden.

The Hill: Donald Trump’s son Eric told ABC News’s Jon Karl on Sunday his father’s treatment for COVID-19 a “vaccine” that he further claimed the president helped create from “day one.”

Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Eager Georgia voters swarmed to polling places Monday morning for the start of three weeks of early voting before Election Day. Voters filled parking lots and waited in lines to lock in their choices in advance of November 3. As the tweet below notes, 410,000 absentee ballots have already been returned versus a total of just over 200K in 2016.

Study: PrEP Users See Decrease In Sex Addiction & Party Drug Use

(image via Depositphotos)

A new study reveals gay and bi men who use PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) report lower levels of sexual addiction (“sexual compulsivity”) and notably lower use of so-called ‘party drugs.’

Researchers at the largest STI clinic in Amsterdam tracked PrEP users over a three year period to assess how longtime use might impact mental health and addiction issues.

Those who took part in the study answered questions regarding levels of depression and/or anxiety, alcohol and drug use, and the levels (if any) they felt unable to control their sexual behavior.

While levels of alcohol use and depression remained statistically the same, PrEP users reported a significant decline (from 38 percent at baseline to 31 percent at last visit) in the use of two specific drugs: ecstasy (MDMA) and nitrates (poppers).

Sexual compulsivity also showed a notable decrease  – from 23 percent to 10 percent at last visit.

The term refers to sexual fantasies or behaviors that cause folks to act out in ways that can be damaging to multiple aspects of life like work, friendships, and personal health.

The researchers remarked that “the simultaneous decrease in drug use disorder and sexual compulsivity was unexpected.”

Gus Cairns of AIDSMAP writes: “They hypothesise that PrEP relieved its users of the anxiety of catching HIV and that, in turn, this made them feel more in charge of their sexual behaviour (so less compulsive) and less in need of drugs to counteract the inhibiting effect of anxiety.”

The researchers take care not to say that PrEP was specifically the cause of improvements in addiction and mental health. Rather, they note that just being a part of the study, and therefore paying attention to these indicators, probably impacted the participants’ outlook.

(Source: AIDSMAP)

News Round-Up: August 18, 2020

(image via Facebook)

Some news items you might have missed:

FOX13Now: A waiter at an Ogden restaurant is sharing his story after finding a bigoted message written on a cash tip that was left for him. Even though the transaction was all-electronic, the customers specifically asked for a pen. The $5 bill (above) was marked with the words, “Get out of America, Fag!”

Pink News: HIV activists are cheering that China has finally approved the drug Truvada for Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) which can prevent people from contracting HIV through condomless sex. According to the United Nations, 44 percent of new HIV infections in Asia and the Pacific region last year were in queer men.

YouTube: I loved this rundown of Top 20 Best Gay Romance Movies (with a happy ending). Lots of my favorite films here.

Out: A federal judge in Boise has temporarily blocked a controversial law in Idaho that banned trans athletes from participation in school sports. The bill, which Governor Brad Little signed into law this past March, allowed for internal and external verification of a disputed athlete’s reproductive system.

Washington Blade: A gay former assistant superintendent and contracting liaison for the Catholic Archdiocese of Washington has been charged with fraudulently obtaining more than $2.1 million in funds for personal use from two federal coronavirus relief programs. Kenneth P. Gaughan, 41, reportedly used the funds to purchase a $300,000 yacht, a $1.13 million townhouse in D.C., and a $46,000 luxury sports car.

Democratic National Convention: I meant to get around to sharing my thoughts on the first night of the convention, but…the day got away from me.

As the second night is about to begin, I have to share this one-two knockout punch from Night One – Michelle Obama’s pitch-perfect keynote speech, followed by Billy Porter and Stephen Stills performing the iconic anti-war protest song, “For What It’s Worth.” #Bam

Podcast: NYC Pride’s Big 2020 Plans, Uganda, Albania, Daytime Emmys, PrEP

In this episode: the NFL's homophobic email scandal, Pete Buttigieg claps back, and new music from out singer/songwriter Michael Lazar.

The Randy Report podcast delivers the week's top stories in a quick, convenient podcast - 'the 60 Minutes of gay news - only shorter'

In this week’s podcast:

• Prosecutors in Uganda have dropped charges against 19 LGBTQ people held in jail for 49 days

• A ‘once every two months’ injectable version of PrEP has shown very positive results in clinical trials

• Albania bans so-called ‘conversion therapy’

• NYC Pride has announced a huge 50th anniversary Pride television special featuring Billy Porter, Dan Levy, Janelle Monae, and more.

• The 2020 Daytime Emmy nominations are out with big love for LGBTQ actors and shows

Here’s the link to my recent interview with the Emmy Award-winning creators of the Amazon series ‘After Forever’

• Out singer/songwriter Clinton John’s new single “Cry” taps into those frustrating times when you realize you’re really not over that lost love. Link to download “Cry.”

All that in this episode of The Randy Report.

Study Shows Injectable PrEP Taken Every Two Months As Effective As Truvada

(image via Depositphotos)

Could this be PrEP 2.0?

A large-scale clinical trial found that the injectable antiretroviral drug cabotegravir administered once every 8 weeks resulted in fewer new cases of HIV than daily doses of Truvada taken as pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP).

Begun in December 2016, the study involved more than 4,500 participants around the world.

All were deemed to be at risk of contracting HIV and randomly assigned to receive either a daily dose of Truvada or an injection every eight weeks. Those in the injectable group also were given a placebo pill, and those given Truvada received placebo injections.

After conducting an interim review of the trial, the study’s results clearly showed cabotegravir actually reduced HIV infection rates more than daily oral doses of Truvada.

According to Science Magazine, 12 infections occurred in the cabotegravir group versus 38 in the group that received Truvada. Both control groups were of the same size.

Statistically, that represents a 0.38% incidence in the cabotegravir group versus 1.21% in the Truvada one, a 69% difference in new infection rates.

The results were deemed so impressive that all participants, including those receiving placebos, will be offered the injections beginning this week.

Science Magazine reports the apparent success (the results of the study haven’t been published in a peer-reviewed journal yet) could be a more attractive alternative than a daily regimen of pills which has proved difficult for many people.

One drawback to the daily oral dose of Truvada has been the difficulty for some people to stay on schedule. A missed dose here or there can reduce the regimen’s effectiveness. On the flip-side of that equation, though, those who choose to use the long-acting injectable medication might miss a scheduled clinic visit which could reduce its effectiveness.

(source: ScienceMag.org)

Trump Policy Proposal Would Cost HIV+ Americans At The Pharmacy

A new policy proposal from the Trump administration could affect a lot of LGBTQ Americans in terms of healthcare and their wallets.

The Washington Blade reports the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services issued a draft rule last month that would allow insurance companies to ignore ‘co-pay coupons’ for prescription drugs in regard to computing a patient’s out-of-pocket spending.

In the past, insurance companies have allowed copay coupons (which reduce prices at checkout) to count towards a patient’s deductible and out-of-pocket limits.

For instance, if you are a gay man who takes PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) as protection against HIV infection, you may be acquainted with Gilead’s Advancing Access co-pay coupon card which pays up to $7,200 annually towards your copay and/or deductible if you have health insurance.

As many have found, when used to cover your PrEP prescription, within one or two months many patients find their deductible or out-of-pocket maximums have been met because the co-pay coupon counts towards those limits. From that point on, you might have low or zero out-of-pocket medical expenses.

But if the proposed rule is adopted, insurance companies could block those coupon payments from being applied towards a patient’s deductible and out-of-pocket maximums – even though the insurance company isn’t having to pay.

Why does an insurance company care where the funds come from as long as the bill gets paid???

In those cases, you would have to pay much more in regard to out-of-pocket spending before reaching your deductible.

And it’s not just HIV medications in play here.

The new policy could affect Americans with hepatitis B or C, who need daily medications to stay healthy in the case of hepatitis B, and for medications to cure hepatitis C which requires treatment for up to 12 weeks.

Donald Trump has said in the past he wants to lower the cost of prescription drugs, but this certainly won’t do the trick.

As the Blade notes, some patients with limited funds often skip a dose of medications here or there to stretch out the drugs they have. But studies have shown that missing just two days of HIV meds can increase an individual’s viral load.

It’s not just HIV or hepatitis patients that could be affected.

A study from the IQVIA Institute for Human Data Science shows in 2017 69 percent of insured Americans did not fill their new prescriptions when they had to pay more than $250 out of pocket. Such non-adherence leads to tens of thousands of preventable deaths each year.

In the end, while Trump may profess to want to help the American people with their healthcare costs, this new policy would only favor insurance companies.

Here’s hoping the new policy proposal is rejected.

(source: Washington Blade)