Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Happy Holidays from the STI/HIV Prevention Team!

The blog will be on holiday break until the new year. We really appreciate your interest and contribution over the past few months. Happy Holidays!

Friday, December 20, 2013

HIV/AIDS Care and Treatment and Health Care Reform, Assumption 3

By Bob Bongiovanni

So far, we have covered two assumptions (assumption 1, and assumption 2) about people living with HIV or AIDS (PLWH/A) that are being shaken by the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Now we move to the last assumption that I will focus on, and the one that Ryan White providers and clients might find the hardest to challenge:

The Ryan White system will continue to operate “as-is” after health care reform is implemented.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

HIV/AIDS Care and Treatment and Health Care Reform, Assumption 2

By Bob Bongiovanni

In Part 1, I talked about an assumption that we need to shake, an assumption that people living with HIV or AIDS(PLWH/A) are shut out of mainstream health care.  Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) , we just can’t assume that is true any more.

Now let’s talk about that second assumption:

that most of the services needed by PLWH/A are not available from Medicaid, Medicare, or commercial health insurance.  

Monday, December 16, 2013

Understanding HIV/AIDS Care and Treatment and Health Care Reform

By Bob Bongiovanni

Back in 2010 when the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was signed into law by the president, people started talking about whether this was “good” for people living with HIV or AIDS (PLWH/A). And the basic conclusion was, “yes, it will be good.”  Since 1990, many uninsured, low income PLWH/A have depended on the Ryan White Care Act to get access to HIV care and treatments because there were no other options.  In 2014, many more PLWH/A will have many more options, thanks to the Affordable Care Act.  For nearly four years, people have been working through all the details on the ACA and trying to maximize the benefits for PLWH/A.  And now it is all coming together.

Change is hard.  It is hard for us as individuals, and it is hard for big systems.  The Ryan White system is no exception.  As I have thought about this, and worked to bring about the ACA changes, what I have come to realize is this:

We have built our whole Ryan White system on a set of assumptions, and those assumptions now have to be challenged.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Hepatitis B: Protect Your Baby for Life

By Kathy Gaines

The hepatitis B virus can cause severe liver disease. It is commonly spread from person to person when the blood or other bodily fluid of one person enters the body of another. It is estimated that 350 million people worldwide and 1.2 million people in the United States are infected with hepatitis B. If a pregnant woman is infected with the hepatitis B virus, she can easily pass the virus to her baby at birth.  Babies and young children can also get hepatitis B from contact with family members or others who carry the virus in their blood.

An infant infected with hepatitis B has a 90 percent chance of developing a lifelong, chronic infection and suffering from liver disease. For every 1,000 pregnant women that give birth each year, 1 to 2 of them has hepatitis B.  Worldwide, most people who are infected with hepatitis B are infected at birth or during early childhood. Fortunately, there is a vaccine to prevent babies from getting hepatitis B.

Two steps to protecting your child from hepatitis B: 

Step 1: Get prenatal care that includes testing for the hepatitis B virus. Hepatitis B may not make a woman feel sick, but she could still pass the virus to her baby. If a hepatitis B test detects the virus, the baby needs a hepatitis B vaccine and a hepatitis B immune globulin—a medication that contains antibodies to help strengthen the immune system—at birth. Otherwise, the baby may only receive the vaccine and leave the hospital without complete care.

Step 2: Protect your baby from the virus as early as possible. It is important that newborns get the first dose of the vaccine in the hospital at birth.  At the 1-2 month checkup, the baby will get a second dose.  A third dose at six months will assure long-term protection from the hepatitis B virus.

For more information about hepatitis or the services offered by CDPHE's Hepatitis Program contact Andres.Guerrero@state.co.us .
Thanks for reading!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Obama Administration Shifting $100 Million Into Research for HIV Cure

In his remarks during the White House's World AIDS Day event on Sunday, President Obama addressed the U.S.'s role in the World-wide fight against HIV and AIDS. He announced a $100 million shift in federal research funding for HIV efforts intended to enliven attempts to "eliminate it completely."

The President also announced that the U.S. is planning to contribute up to $5 billion to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria over the next two years by giving $1 of government funding for every $2 raised from private and public efforts. The U.S. is already the largest contributor to the global fight against AIDS with 59 percent of all international government assistance.

See the report on Politico, or check out the President's full remarks here.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Famous Landmarks Turn Red for World AIDS Day

From an article on Daily Mail's MailOnline.com --

"From the White House to the Sydney Opera House, famous landmarks around the world have turned red to honor World AIDS Day.

The global act of solidarity supports people living with HIV/AIDS, remembers those who have passed and raises awareness about prevention, transmission and treatment.

Rio de Janiero's Christ the Redeemer, the banks of the Ganges River in Kolkata and even the Fifth Avenue Apple store in Manhattan were among dozens of sites illuminated in red on December 1."

See More Photos

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

World AIDS Day messages, events and resources

The World Health Organization named Dec. 1 World AIDS day 25 years ago to remember the lives lost to AIDS, raise awareness of a health threat ravaging the world, and unite us in a global war on AIDS. Since then, we have made tremendous progress. The number of people worldwide who are newly diagnosed with HIV has steadily decreased since 1997 and the number of AIDS-related deaths has plunged since 2005. People diagnosed with HIV today are living relatively healthier lives.

Despite this progress, 12,000 Coloradans live with HIV or AIDS. And many of those most at risk for AIDS remain unaware that they have the disease, thereby putting more Coloradans at risk. As a state that values health, all of Colorado must come together to remove the stigma associated with these discussions. Let’s encourage those we love to prevent sexually transmitted infections like AIDS by wearing condoms. Let’s urge those at risk to get tested and, if they find they have the disease, support them through treatment. And let’s tear down the taboo that keeps us from talking about AIDS and face the fear this disease generates with open, honest discussions about health and accountability.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment wants to increase the proportion of Coloradans who know their HIV/AIDS status from 80 percent to 90 percent and reduce the number of new HIV infections in Colorado 25 percent by 2017. Please join us as we forge new partnerships in the ongoing efforts to make Colorado free from AIDS.
Dr. Larry Wolk
Executive Director and Chief Medical Officer
Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment

We would like to share the following World AIDS Day resources and events:


  • Dec. 1 - Denver Colorado AIDS Project - Red Ball, a "Runway Experience" at the EXDO Event Center
  • Dec. 2 - 12:00 pm -- Denver Public Health - Free Webinar - Open to the public, media and healthcare professionals. Info and Registration


Fort Collins

Colorado Springs

  • Dec. 1 – World AIDS Day Cantata - All Souls Unitarian Church 9 & 10:45 a.m. services – 730 North Tejon.
  • Dec. 1 – World AIDS Day Memorial Service – Colorado College, Shove Chapel, 4:30 p.m.
  • Dec. 2-5 – AIDS Memorial Quilt Display – Several Panels from the Names Project will be on display on the campus of the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs.
  • Dec. 3 - Screening & Discussion – “Endgame.” Colorado College 7 p.m. Cornerstone Screening Room.
  • Dec. 4 – “Living with HIV” Speakers Panel – University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, 1420 Austin Bluff Parkway - 7 p.m.
  • Dec. 4 -- Free HIV Testing - Southern Colorado AIDS Project, 11am - 3pm 
  • Dec. 5 – “World AIDS Day Panel” – Colorado College – Cornerstone Screening Room – 12:30 p.m.


  • Dec. 1 – Speakers – Displays of Pueblo Quilts - World AIDS Day Service – Pueblo – Rawlings Library 2-4 p.m.
  • Dec. 2 – 6 p.m. - How to survive a Plague - Candlelight Vigil sponsored by the Southern Colorado Equality Alliance.


  • Dec. 5 – Free HIV testing and educational programs – Adams State University


  • Dec. 4 - First United Methodist Church in Boulder, 1421 Spruce St - Holiday concert commemorating World AIDS Day. 

Federal Resources

If you have an event you would like to see shared here, send it to benjamin.hammett@state.co.us

-- Thank you to Prevention Services Division's blog COPrevent.org --

Monday, November 25, 2013

Teaming Up with the Viral Hepatitis Program

by Andrés Guerrero

Recently, the Viral Hepatitis Program at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment joined the STI/HIV Section to better serve people with risk factors for hepatitis, HIV, and sexually transmitted infections (STI). By bringing our programs together we will be able to:

  • Share resources 
  • Combine awareness efforts 
  • Offer more testing
  • Be more effective at preventing the spread of these viruses in Colorado. 

Friday, November 22, 2013

Fact Sheets for Colorado

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By Megan Duffy

We are always looking for new ways to present our data, and have, in the past, been asked if we publish facts sheets.  Fact sheets are a great way to make data easy to understand, so we have put together the first of many sexually transmitted infection/HIV data fact sheets for Colorado.  These will be for people in the public health field, physicians, community planners, and anyone who wants to use this data to start a conversation, who wants to ask questions, or who is curious about their community’s STI/HIV status.  This first fact sheet covers the state of Colorado. Future fact sheets will feature sub-populations of Colorado and will be compared to this initial fact sheet.

We encourage you to check them out on our Surveillance Program page. Tell us what is helpful and what data you need. Tell us what you think could help to prevent STIs and HIV in Colorado. We hope you can use this information to make a difference in your life and in your community!

For more information, questions or comments about the STI/HIV Fact Sheets, contact Megan.Duffy@state.co.us

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Health and Human Services Releases the 2012 National HIV/AIDS Strategy Implementation Progress Report

"This progress report, prepared by the Office of HIV/AIDS and Infectious Disease Policy with input from Health and Human Services(HHS) agencies and offices, highlights some of the Department’s key accomplishments during calendar year 2012...

These selected highlights include many actions specifically detailed in the National HIV/AIDS Strategy(NHAS) Federal Implementation Plan and the HHS NHAS Operational Plan. In several instances, they also reflect significant achievements that go beyond actions detailed in the Strategy, its Federal Implementation Plan, and the HHS NHAS Operational Plan."

The Progress Report

Monday, November 18, 2013

New Faces on the Disease Intervention Specialist Team, Continued


Jesse brings significant experience to the DIS team with twelve years of HIV/AIDS outreach and volunteering along with testing for Denver Colorado AIDS Project and five years of outreach testing and prevention with Denver Health. It is this progression of work with the HIV/AIDS community that has led him to his role as a DIS with the Department. And it was through his extracurricular work and volunteering that Jesse found himself in the sexually transmitted infection/HIV Care and Treatment field before he even graduated from high school.

Jesse is originally from Texas, spent some time in Southern California, and has lived in Colorado for about eight years. At home he likes to cook, he loves music and plays the cello, but spends most of his time on school work. He is currently in school for Social Work to continue working in his field but wants to specialize with the LGBTQ adolescent population. 

He is happy with the DIS team he’s become a part of. “I think they did a really good job making sure we spent enough time with each other before we really started working.” One challenge for him so far is the juggling of multiple cases at the same time, but it’s something he’s been doing for a while in his field. And like Jessica, he finds the new perspective—working for the State Health Department—very different. “Before, these people were coming to me for services, looking for me, and now I’m looking for them."


Though Lindsay is relatively new to the field of STI/HIV Care and Treatment, she is well versed in counseling and interviewing. After her undergrad she worked as a research assistant for the University of Colorado doing neurobiological research with schizophrenia patients, including drug studies and MRI work. When the grant for that work expired she moved to New Zealand for some time. She eventually returned to work on a master’s degree in Public Health at the University of Colorado Denver. She decided she needed some professional experience before finishing her degree and ended up as a DIS for the Department. 

Lindsay is great with people and is already getting comfortable with this new field of work. The biggest challenge for her so far is being unfamiliar with STIs and HIV, but she is learning fast. Being from Colorado she likes “the normal Colorado things.” She says, “I like to hike, bike, I like to run, spend time with my dog, and spend time in the mountains.” But, like Jesse, a big portion of her time is devoted to school. She is about one year from finishing her master’s, and eventually wants to work in chronic disease control epidemiology. But she is happy to be getting such rewarding experience as part of the DIS team.


Theo was raised in Ghana and has lived in Colorado since 2003. He began his career as an at-risk youth counselor and supervisor and even taught basic Italian and Spanish for sixth thru 10th graders for Denver Public Schools. Before 2003 he worked as an at-home care provider for disabled children in London where he lived for two years. He says it was his desire to help people that led him into public service, and it was the HIV trends where he was raised that led him to partner services. He has his master’s degree in public health from the University of Colorado Denver. He has three young boys whom he spends most of his time with, that is when he isn't watching or playing soccer. But they seem to appreciate the sport too--his oldest just scored his first goal recently.

At this point, Theo is finding the biggest challenge as a DIS is balancing all of the cases and the steps that each one requires. But he says, “I like it. I don’t like just doing one thing all of the time, so it’s good that I get to stop sometimes and work on something else." He is really happy he is establishing himself in disease intervention and he would like to work internationally someday. Like the rest of the new DIS employees, he loves working with his new team members. 

For more information about Disease Intervention Specialists or Partner Services, please contact Tom Deem at thomas.deem@state.co.us  .
Thanks for reading!

Friday, November 15, 2013

New Faces on the Disease Intervention Specialist Team

The Sexually Transmitted Infections/HIV section here at the Department has recently brought on five new Disease Intervention Specialists(DIS) to help with Partner Services. The new team, having started in July, has gone through months of training and brings in a wealth of experience and talent. We would like to take the next few posts here to introduce them.


Lisa is a native of Colorado, born in Denver, and was 18 when she entered public health as a clerk for the Tuberculosis Clinic at Denver Health. There she was trained to draw blood and perform skin tests. She was quickly promoted to a Senior Clinical Care Associate at Denver Health’s Sexually Transmitted Disease Clinic, a position she held for 7 years, screening, diagnosing and counseling for STDs. During her time at Denver Health she worked closely with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s Disease Intervention Specialists. When a DIS position opened up she knew it would be a good career step for her.

In her role as DIS, Lisa hopes to add case management to her skill set while continuing to work directly with HIV positive and at-risk populations. “I love the population that we work with,” she says. At home she enjoys her time with her son and daughter, and playing sports of all kinds, especially volleyball and indoor soccer. So far, she loves the DIS team she is working with and is taking the future as it comes. She has no set career goals on the horizon, but is very happy with the direction she is headed.


Jessica is also coming to the DIS team having been a Medical Assistant with the STD Clinic at Denver Health, where she worked for over 6 years. For her first few years in the health field Jessica worked part time for a family practice while training and working for Denver Health’s STD Clinic before moving to full time there. At the family practice, she worked with teens and developed an appreciation for sexual health advising and counseling. STI/HIV intervention was not a career path she chose so much as fell into, and she is happy she did.

In her time outside of work she is the mother of two boys who prove to be a handful. She was raised in Mexico, spent time in Texas and has lived in Colorado for 12 years. She is looking forward to having a chance to settle into her new position and develop her skills in intervention. The biggest change she is facing so far is the fear her clients sometimes have for being contacted by the CDPHE. “Being a DIS is really challenging and it’s a great direction for me,” she says. “It’s similar to what I’ve done, but it is a different perspective.”

Check back next week to see what Jesse, Lindsay and Theo are bringing to the team. Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Colorado's Disease Intervention Specialists: Contacting Partners to Help Stop Infection

By Tom Deem and Yesenia Mendez

Disease Intervention Specialists are highly skilled public health professionals who assist in protecting the health of Coloradans by interviewing individuals who have tested positive for HIV or a sexually transmitted infection (STI). We are always aware of the sensitive nature of our work and the confidentiality of our clients as we get those infected into treatment and prevent the spread of disease.

At the heart of what we do to prevent the spread of infection is “Partner Services”. This voluntary and highly effective practice allows us to keep up with STI/HIV exposure by helping infected individuals identify any of their sex or needle sharing partners and notifying them that they may be at risk.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

From TheBody.com: What Really Fuels the HIV/AIDS Epidemic in Black America?

TheBody.com has HIV advocates from around the nation weigh in on what they believe is contributing to the
high rates of HIV/AIDS in the country's black community. They share their thoughts on poverty, injection drug use and gender inequality, among other problems.

What Really Fuels the HIV/AIDS Epidemic in Black America?

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Colorado's HIV Care Continuum

By Elaine Daniloff

The HIV care continuum—also known as the HIV treatment cascade— visually shows the percentage of people living with HIV/AIDS at each stage of HIV care at a single point in time.  The HIV care continuum walks us from the percent of people who are diagnosed with HIV or AIDS, to the percent who are linked to care, then to the percent who have stayed in care, and finally the percent of people whose level of HIV is undetectable by routine blood tests.

Monday, November 4, 2013

CDC Releases STD Treatment Guide App for Providers

From the CDC-

The STD Treatment (Tx) Guide app is an easy-to-use reference that helps health care providers identify and treat patients for STDs. STD Tx Guide combines information from the STD Treatment Guidelines as well as MMWR updates, and features a streamlined interface so providers can access treatment and diagnostic information. The free app is available for Apple and Android devices.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Requesting Sexually Transmitted Infection/HIV Data

To request data from the STI/HIV Surveillance Program email your request to cdphe_stihivdatarequest@state.co.us . Please be as specific as you can in your requests, and include the date you need the information by.

This data is provided by the STI/HIV Surveillance Program, which tracks and characterizes sexually transmitted infections and HIV in Colorado. The program...

Monday, October 28, 2013

The Capacity Building Unit – Training for STI/HIV Prevention

By Regina Charter

The Capacity Building Unit and Mid-America STD/HIV Prevention Training Center is a part of the STI/HIV Prevention Program at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. Our mission is “to promote excellence in the provision of STI/HIV prevention services by strengthening the capacity of individuals, agencies and communities”.  We do this by providing training to staff from contracted agencies and non-contracted agencies from state and local health departments, hospitals, clinics, and community based organizations.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Linkage to Care: Removing Barriers for Coloradans Living with HIV and AIDS

By Maria Chaidez and A'ra Blair

To help keep persons living with HIV and AIDS (PLWHA) in care, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment has two linkage to care (LTC) coordinators: Maria Chaidez and Ceasar Montoya.  They identify and reduce barriers to care, as required by the National HIV/AIDS Strategy, often focusing on individuals with low income or mental and behavioral health issues. They are guides, helping HIV-positives and their care providers get through the health-care system successfully while getting the financial assistance they need.

Monday, October 21, 2013

New Communication for an Established Program

Thank you for checking out our blog! I am Ben Hammett, the Communications Specialist for the Sexually Transmitted Infections/HIV Program at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. My position is a new one and represents a new direction for the prevention program’s communication efforts. I am very excited to see how my background in multi-media communication—including web design, graphic design, photography, videography and social media—can be used to improve the way this program communicates with its community.