The Ryan White Care (RWC) program requires its programs to have local advisory bodies. South Florida AIDS Network (SFAN) acts as the advisory body for the RWC programs of the Florida Department of Health (FL-DOH) in Broward County. SFAN’s monthly meetings are open to the public.

While most SFAN meetings occur on Friday mornings, several times a year SFAN schedules its meetings on Thursday evenings. These meetings focus on reports to the community at-large. On October 5, Dr. Jeffrey Beal, Dr. Noah Lee, and Dr. Mark Schweizer spoke to the SFAN meeting. Beal spoke about the state “Test and Treat” program, Lee spoke about Hepatitis C, and Schweitzer spoke about oral health.

Dr. Beal reported that over half of Florida's county health departments are taking part in the “Test and Treat” program. This program can link people who test HIV positive to treatment within 24-hours. This program has linked 382 people to care this year. Of those 382 people, 200 had tested positive for HIV for the first time. The rest had previously dropped out of care.

In Broward County, the following seven agencies take part in in Broward’s Test and Treat Program: AIDS Healthcare Foundation; Annie L. Weaver Center; Broward Comprehensive Care; Broward Health Specialty Care; Care Resource; Children’s Diagnostic and Treatment Center; and Memorial Healthcare South Broward Community Health.

Hepatitis refers to infections of the liver. Several strains of hepatitis exist. Hep A, B, and C are the most common strains in the U.S. Between 2.7 to 3.9 million people in the US live with hepatitis C. Globally, 71 million people live with hepatitis C. Gay and bi men account for about 10 percent of all new hepatitis A cases and 20 percent of all new hepatitis B cases. Vaccines exist for hepatitis A and hepatitis B. While no vaccine exists for hepatitis C, effective treatments do exist.

People can transmit hepatitis A through rimming and fecal contamination. People can transmit hepatitis B in the same ways that they can transmit HIV. Hepatitis B, however, is 50 to 100 times easier to transmit than HIV is.

Dr. Lee reported that anal sex could transmit Hepatitis C. As the virus lives in rectal tissue, tops have a greater risk than bottoms. The CDC identifies “rough sex” as high risk for hepatitis C transmission. People can also transmit hepatitis C by sharing needles, razors, and toothbrushes as well as through unsafe tattoo practices. The CDC recommends that all baby boomers take the Hepatitis C test.

As with HIV infection, Hepatitis C infection takes years before symptoms develop. Unlike HIV, not everyone with Hepatitis C infection will develop serious health problems. Only some people living with hepatitis C will develop cirrhosis and liver cancer. About 20 percent of people living with HIV also have hepatitis C.

Dr. Schweitzer spoke about oral health for people living with HIV. He said that 90 percent of people living with HIV (PLWH) will have one major dental problem. According to Schweitzer, the oral problems associated with HIV have changed with time. Now, patients seldom have candidiasis, Kaposi’s sarcoma lesions, or oral hairy leukoplakia.

Currently, Schweitzer sees more cases of human papilloma virus (HPV) related oral cancers. One strain, HPV-16 causes anal, cervical, and oral cancers. People can transmit HPV sexually. Schweitzer argued that screening for oral cancer should be part of a regular dental exam. Note: Lesbians are also at risk for HPV-16 related cancers.

Next SFAN Meeting: Friday, November 3, 2017 at 9:30 a.m., at the Holy Cross Healthplex, 1000 NE 56th Street, Ft. Lauderdale. SFAN welcomes newcomers.

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