Serious Infections Tied to Suicide Risk

Study suggests biological basis for suicide among those with serious infections.

People hospitalized for serious infections may face an increased risk of dying by suicide, and researchers suspect there’s a biological reason for it.

In a study of over 7 million people, Danish researchers found that those who’d been hospitalized for infections were 42 percent more likely to die of suicide compared to people with no history of serious infection.

People hospitalized for HIV/AIDS or the liver infection hepatitis showed the highest risk — more than twice that of people without those diseases, the study found.

Although the study couldn’t prove a cause-and-effect link, the study authors and at least one other brain health expert think the increased risk of suicide after infection might not simply reflect the psychological impact of serious illness. Instead, infections might directly contribute to suicide risk by causing inflammation in the brain.

“We know that inflammation can cause depression symptoms,” said Dr. Lena Brundin. She’s an associate professor at the Van Andel Research Institute’s Center for Neurodegenerative Science in Grand Rapids, Mich.

That, she said, is based on evidence from both animals and humans. For example, the drug interferon revs up the immune system’s inflammatory response, and up to 45 percent of patients develop depression during treatment, according to Brundin. Interferon is used to treat certain infections and some cancers, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The new study is important, in part, because it’s huge, according to Brundin. She said it strengthens the case that smaller studies have made: Depression, and suicidal behavior, may be inflammatory disorders to some degree.

Brundin wrote an editorial published with the findings Aug. 10 in JAMA Psychiatry.
For the study, researchers used Denmark’s system of national registries to comb through data on over 7 million people who lived in the country between 1980 and 2011. During that time, over 800,000 — or 11 percent — were hospitalized for an infection, including HIV, hepatitis or infections of the lungs, digestive system, skin or blood.

Based on death certificates, nearly 32,700 people died of suicide during the 32-year study period. Almost one-quarter of them had ever been hospitalized for an infection, the study showed.

When the researchers dug further, they found that people hospitalized for most kinds of infection had an elevated rate of suicide — pregnancy-related infections being the only exception.

And the more infections people had contracted, or the longer their treatment course, the higher their suicide risk.

“There are many potential mechanisms that might link infections to death by suicide,” said lead researcher Helene Lund-Sorensen. She’s from the Mental Health Center Copenhagen in Denmark.

Lund-Sorensen said her team tried to account for as many as possible — including whether people with infections had additional health conditions, were lower-income or had ever been diagnosed with depression or substance abuse.

Even then, there was a statistical link between infections and increased suicide risk. That, according to Lund-Sorensen, implies that psychiatric disorders “may only explain parts of the association.”
She agreed that there could be a biological connection between serious infections and suicide, including the effects of inflammation.

Inflammation is part of the immune system’s response to injury and infection. But when those inflammatory chemicals build up, there can be negative effects, too. If they infiltrate the central nervous system, there can be “profound effects on brain chemistry,” Brundin said.

Studies have found that people who are clinically depressed or have attempted suicide tend to have heightened levels of inflammatory immune-system chemicals in their blood, spinal fluid and brain, according to Brundin.

Still, none of that proves that infections, or inflammation, directly contribute to suicide. Brundin said more definitive evidence could come from treatment trials testing the effects of anti-inflammatory medications.

There are already such studies underway, she noted.

One trial is looking at whether adding an anti-inflammatory drug called sirukumab to antidepressant treatment helps ease symptoms of major depression.

Lund-Sorensen said her team is also planning to study whether less-serious infections are related to suicide risk, too.

“Our research, [along with] others’, will hopefully in time clarify the role of infections and inflammatory diseases in suicide,” Lund-Sorensen said.

If infections do raise suicide risk, she said, “we believe that early identification and treatment of infections could be explored as a public health measure for suicide prevention.”

In this study, Lund-Sorensen’s team said, about 10 percent of suicides could be attributed to severe infections.

For people living with chronic infections such as HIV or hepatitis C, Brundin said she thinks there is some positive news in the findings.

If they do suffer from depression, she said, there is mounting evidence that there could be a “biological basis” for it.

“And it’s possible that in the near future, we’ll have better treatments for it,” Brundin said.

SOURCES: Helene Lund-Sorensen, B.M., Mental Health Center Copenhagen, Denmark; Lena Brundin, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor, Center for Neurodegenerative Science, Van Andel Research Institute, Grand Rapids, Mich.; Aug. 10, 2016, JAMA Psychiatry, online


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More funding desperately needed for Ryan White Program

, by Emily Newman

funding moneyTwenty-six years ago, on August 18, 1990, the Ryan White Program was established in the U.S. to fund programs and services for people living with HIV. Since that time, it has been—and continues to be—and important safety net for people living with HIV who either don’t have insurance or have inadequate insurance coverage. Although there’s little risk of seeing the Ryan White Program go away any time soon, experts say that even more funding will be needed now and in the coming years to truly meet the needs of a growing caseload.

Currently, over half of all people living with HIV in the U.S. (600,000 people) are supported by the Ryan White Program in some way. Ryan White funds go to things such as the AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP), which helps people afford medications, to health centers who care for people living with HIV, and for services such as case management, transportation and housing support for people living with HIV.

Who is Ryan White? In the late 1980s, young man named Ryan White became an HIV advocate for the rights of people living with HIV and AIDS after being expelled from his school in Indiana because of his infection. Ryan was diagnosed with AIDS when he was 13 after a blood transfusion in the early 80s. Ryan passed away in April of 1990—only a few months before Congress passed the Ryan White Comprehensive AIDS Resources Emergency (CARE) Act.

Sean Cahill, PhD, director of health policy research at Fenway Health, said that funding for the Ryan White Program has not increased significantly since the early 2000s, although the number of people in HIV care has risen. Over the next ten years, the number of people living with HIV is expected to increase by more than 25%.

“The federal government has really prioritized trying to find everyone with HIV in the U.S. and get them connected to treatment,” said Cahill. “We know that the number of people living with HIV who’ve been coming into Ryan White care has grown a lot in the last 15 years. The HIV caseload has more than doubled at this point, but the funding has basically been flat and has actually declined by about 20% in inflation-adjusted dollars.”

The budget for the Ryan White Program was 2.323 billion in 2016. Cahill shared that a 6% increase, of $142 million, would be appropriate to keep pace with the growing number of people in HIV care and to adjust for inflation. This increase, to $2.465 billion, was the request made by the AIDS Budget and Appropriations Coalition for the 2017 fiscal year.

“This [increase] is pretty modest, but it would really go a long way to address unmet needs,” said Cahill.

Even the expansion of healthcare access, through Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act, will not be enough to meet the needs of many people living with HIV, said Cahill.

“There are gaps,” he said. “People living with HIV are now getting private insurance because of the end of discrimination on the basis of having a preexisting condition, but this insurance doesn’t cover all of their medical needs. It certainly doesn’t cover all of the support services that people need, in addition to medical care.”

People who receive Ryan White Program-funded care have documented better health outcomes compared to people living with HIV who receive care elsewhere. People in Ryan White-funded care are more likely to be in continuous care and more likely to have suppressed viral loads. That’s because, compared to other HIV care providers, Ryan White-funded care facilities are more likely to provide other support services that help people with complicated health and medical needs—such as mental health concerns and substance use.

“People getting Ryan White services may have really complex health care needs,” said Cahill. “That includes medical needs but also behavioral health needs and socioeconomic drivers of vulnerability. The Ryan White Program can assist with those as well. Like housing support, meals, and legal assistance to help with an eviction. It’s really successful at treating people who have a lot of challenges in their lives, and that’s a great record of achievement to point to. If the program has more resources, I think it it’s logical to assume that we would expect it to improve the HIV care continuum.”

More information about Ryan White HIV/AIDS Services, Medicaid expansion, and fact sheets on policies affecting people living with HIV are available from the Federal AIDS Policy Partnership here and here.

Global Female Condom Day!!



Get excited! Global Female Condom Day is quickly approaching!


In less than a month, we will celebrate the 5th annual Global Female Condom Day! In years past, we shared stories through the “Female Condoms Are …” film festival and showed the need for female condoms by Dancing for Demand. Now in 2016, even as the prevention landscape evolves to include the HIV prevention pill PrEP, the need for multi-purpose technology continues. We want you to share your vision for the future of female condoms.

What is the next step for female condoms? Where can this tool fit in the future of HIV and pregnancy prevention? On September 16, advocates across the globe will tweet and text responses to these questions. Stay tuned for specifics about how to take part in our worldwide vision for the future on September 16. In the meantime, here’s what you can do right now to prepare:

  • Sign on to officially endorse GFCD as an organization or an individual
  • Lend your support to a campaign to make female condoms easier to access to the United states
  • Tell us how you promote FCs all year long
  • Let your networks on social media know that GFCD 2016 is coming September 16 by using the hashtags #FemaleCondoms and #GFCD2016
  • Become inspired by fellow advocates who champion female condoms as a prevention option in their communities

Watch your inbox next week for more ways to participate in our online day of action on September 16 and for a full social media toolkit. We can’t wait to hear your vision for the future!


MSM EVENT “Let’s Go To The Beach” Men only event!


                                                                                                                                                           By invitation only!!! Please call for your  reservation!

HIV/AIDS Advocates Praise Clinton AIDS Platform, Push for Global Commitment


HIV/AIDS Advocates Praise Clinton AIDS Platform, Push for Global Commitment

Secretary Hillary Clinton, during her meeting this past May with HIV/AIDS advocates and service providers from across the country


Contacts: Mikola De Roo, Housing Works, 347-585-6051,; Hilary McQuie, HealthGap, 202-629-7222

HIV/AIDS Advocates Praise Clinton AIDS Platform, Push for Global Commitment

The Ad Hoc National Coalition to End the AIDS Epidemic made up of over 70 AIDS advocates and service providers from around the country praise Secretary Hillary Clinton for honoring her commitment in the fight against AIDS.

Just last week, the Democratic National Convention (DNC) made history by featuring Atlanta-based activist Daniel Driffin, the first HIV-positive speaker to address the convention in over a decade. And on August 2, the Clinton Campaign announced Secretary Clinton would build upon her HIV/AIDS agenda by convening an “End the Epidemic” working group to adopt aggressive and attainable timelines for ending AIDS as an epidemic in the United States and globally, working to fully implement and strengthen the National HIV/AIDS Strategy to meet these timelines, and by launching a campaign to end the stigma and discrimination associated with HIV and AIDS. These commitments, as well as that of having an HIV positive speaker at the DNC, are the outcome of policy recommendations made by this coalition during meetings with the Clinton campaign over the past two months—a preliminary May meeting with Secretary Clinton and a June follow-up meeting with key Clinton policy staff.

These additions are critical steps toward ending the domestic AIDS epidemic and build on Secretary Clinton’s existing HIV/AIDS platform, which includes expanding affordable care, lowering the cost of prescription drugs, and removing disparities and barriers to accessing care. The coalition expresses deep gratitude for these significant steps that represent real progress and looks forward to continuing to build on this momentum with Secretary Clinton and her campaign in the months to come.

Secretary Clinton also has long been dedicated to and involved in the global effort to fight HIV/AIDS. At the International AIDS Conference in South Africa last week, however, we heard that global funding of HIV/AIDS has dropped by over $1 billion, thus seriously threatening the possibility of ending AIDS globally by the year 2030. The United States has always been a leader and a model for other nations when it comes to milestones and progress on HIV/AIDS during the four decades this epidemic has plagued the globe. Clearly, an increase in the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) is needed now more than ever to reverse this trend and fulfill our commitment to universal access to HIV treatment and care.

While Secretary Clinton has voiced a commitment to the global fight against HIV/AIDS, it is also crucial for her to model that leadership for other nations by committing a specific dollar amount to PEPFAR. This coalition continues to urge Secretary Clinton to support the same funding proposal presented to her by the group in May, by increasing funding to the global PEPFAR program by at least $2 billion per year by 2020. That level of commitment would double the number of people on treatment as part of leading a global plan to treat over 30 million people by 2020 and would provide additional funding for an initiative to address poverty and inequality, the social and economic drivers of HIV.

By committing to using U.S. power, visibility, and political will to leverage more donor funds, Secretary Clinton will be underscoring the United States’ position as an international leader and a model for other nations to follow. We encourage her to demonstrate leadership on this global issue now, as a clear statement that under her command the U.S. will not back away from its commitments and that we will lead the world toward ensuring the end of AIDS by 2030. Should she be elected, we look forward to working with Secretary Clinton and her administration to implement and expand to secure necessary funding, and to set a timeline and targets to achieve an AIDS-free generation.


The Ad Hoc National Coalition to End the AIDS Epidemic:
Jose Abrigo, Staff Attorney, LGBTQ/HIV Advocacy Project, Queens Legal Services
ACT UP New York
African Services Committee
AIDS Action Baltimore
AIDS Alabama
AIDS Foundation of Chicago
AIDS Research Consortium of Atlanta
Albany Damien Center
Amida Care
Bailey House
John Barry, LMSW, Executive Director, Southern Tier AIDS Program
BOOM! Health
Rebecca Botting
Bronx Parent Housing Network
Reginald T. Brown, M. Ed., Unity Fellowship of Christ Church, VOCAL-NY Community Leader
Central New York HIV Care Network
Coalition for Homeless Youth
JD Davids,
Sharen I. Duke, Executive Director and CEO, AIDS Service Center NYC (ASCNYC)
End AIDS Now
Sergio Farfan, Louisiana Latino Health Coalition for HIV/AIDS
Ingrid Floyd, Executive Director, Iris House
Miasha Forbes, Human Rights Activist and Founder, Just for Us: Gender Diversity Project
Health GAP
Health People
Hispanic Health Network
HIV Prevention Justice Alliance
Housing Works
Brian Hujdich, Pozitively Health Coalition
Human Rights Campaign
Hyacinth AIDS Foundation
Carine Jocelyn, CEO, Diaspora Community Services, Brooklyn, NY
Marsha Jones, the Afiya Center
Howard Josepher, LCSW, President & CEO, Exponents
Jacquelyn Kilmer, CEO, Harlem United
Lambda Independent Democrats of Brooklyn
Latino Commission on AIDS
Latinos in the Deep South
Legacy Community Health
LGBT Bar Association of Greater New York
Matthew McMorrow, former Director of Government Affairs, Empire State Pride Agenda
David Ernesto Munar, CEO, Howard Brown Health
National Black Justice Coalition
National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS
NMAC (formerly known as the National Minority AIDS Council)
OASIS-Latino LGBTS Wellness Center
Chuck Peterson, Executive Director, Clare Housing, Minneapolis, MN
Positively Trans Advisory Board of Transgender Law Center
Michael Emanuel Rajner, Wilton Manors, FL
Kyle Rapinon, Esq., Director of Survival and Self-Determination, Sylvia Rivera Law Project
Elana Redfield, Attorney and LGBTQI Activist
Dr. Margaret S. Reneau, Director of Programs, National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS
Bamby Salcedo, TransLatin@ Coalition
Eric Sawyer, Founding Member—ACT UP, Co-Founder Housing Works, Inc. & Health GAP, Inc.
Virginia Shubert, Shubert Botein Policy Associates
SisterLove Inc.
Southern Tier AIDS Program
Peter Staley
Rev. Moonhawk River Stone, M.S., LMHC, RiverStone Consulting, Schenectady, NY
Daniel W. Tietz, Chief Special Services Officer, NYC Human Resources Administration/Department of Social Services
Treatment Action Group
Trillium Health/Rochester
Peter Twyman, CEO, Keep a Child Alive
Andrew Velez, ACT UP New York
Tom Viola, Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS
VOCAL New York
Washington Heights CORNER Project
David W. Webber, Attorney
John Wikiera, Central NY HIV Care Network
Terri L. Wilder, MSW
Doug Wirth, President/CEO, Amida Care
Young Black Gay Leadership Initiative (YBGLI)

Posted on August 3, 2016 at 3:15 p