By David Vandygriff
With revised legislation unveiled by Senate Republicans, this page has been updated to reflect the differences between the House and Senate attempts to roll back the Affordable Care Act. These updates do not include a Congressional Budget Office analysis of the revised bill. The latest CBO report focused on a "repeal-only" Senate plan. A previous version of this comparison erroneously included the "repeal-only" report.
Key changes in the revised Senate plan:
The House of Representatives has passed a new healthcare bill, meaning that President Donald Trump is one step closer to repealing Obamacare, otherwise known as the Affordable Care Act. Here is a breakdown of how Mr. Trump’s healthcare plan differs from former President Barack Obama’s.
Number of people left uninsured
Obamacare: The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated that if the ACA continues to be the law of the land, the number of uninsured Americans – currently 28 million – would remain stable for the next decade.
Trumpcare: The CBO did not have time to predict the potential effects of the latest version of the American Health Care Act (AHCA). In an analysis of an earlier version of the bill, the office found that a total of 54 million could be uninsured by 2026 if the AHCA becomes law.
Obamacare: All Americans must have health insurance or pay a tax penalty.
Trumpcare: The AHCA repeals the mandate, but those who go without health insurance for more than 63 days must pay a 30 per cent surcharge on their insurance premiums for a year.
Obamacare: Companies with more than 50 employees are required to provide health insurance or pay a penalty.
Trumpcare: The AHCA repeals the employer mandate.
Obamacare: To pay for the new system, the ACA raised Medicare taxes on those with incomes above $250,000. It also imposed new taxes on makers of medical devices, health insurers, drug companies, investment income, tanning salons and high-end health insurance plans. The legislation gave some tax credits to middle-income earners to help them pay out-of-pocket health expenses.
Trumpcare: The AHCA repeals most Obamacare taxes.
Essential health benefits
Obamacare: Mandates that all insurance plans cover certain health conditions and services, such as annual physical exams, prescription drug costs, mental health counselling and women's health services.
Trumpcare: Enables states to waive requirements set forth in the ACA.
Obamacare: Expanded Medicaid health insurance for low-income individuals.
Trumpcare: Cuts federal funding for Medicaid expansion starting in 2020.
Obamacare: Prevents health insurers from denying coverage or charging more to individuals who have pre-existing medical conditions, such as asthma or heart disease.
Trumpcare: Allows states to waive rules that currently stop insurers from charging new customers more because of their medical history. States can opt out of the ACA requirements if they set up high-risk insurance plans, known as high-risk pools, for individuals who cannot afford traditional insurance. A new amendment provides an extra $8 billion to subsidize the cost of insuring those with pre-existing conditions.
What would not change
Both the ACA and the Republican bill allow children to be covered by their parents’ insurance policies until they are 26.
Insurers would still not be allowed to set annual and lifetime limits on how much they will reimburse individuals for “essential health benefits”, such as doctors’ services, inpatient and outpatient hospital care, prescription drug coverage, pregnancy and childbirth, and mental health services.
The world’s largest study on HIV transmission has proved HIV+ men with undetectable viral loads cannot transmit HIV to their sexual partners.
The results from the Kirby Institute’s Opposites Attract study were presented today at the IAS Conference on HIV Science in Paris.
Couples who participated in the study had different HIV statues – one of the men was living with HIV, while the other was HIV negative.
During the study, participated 17,000 acts of anal sex without a condom, and none of those acts resulted in HIV transmission.
The Opposites Attract study was carried out by the University of New South Wales’ The Kirby Institute.
‘Undetectable virus level effectively prevents HIV transmission among gay couples,’ said the Kirby Institute’s Professor Andrew Grulich and the study’s chief investigator.
‘Opposites Attract is the first study to show that these results apply in both high and middle income countries.
‘Our research adds to the evidence from a small number of other international studies of heterosexual and homosexual couples and means that we can say, with confidence, that effectively treated HIV blocks transmission in couples of differing HIV status.’
HIV treatment works by suppressing the level of virus in a person living with HIV’s body, so that immune system damage is halted and even reversed.
When treatment is consistently taken daily, the virus levels become so low that they become undetectable in the blood.
The results of Opposites Attract show that when an undetectable viral load is maintained, the risk of HIV transmission is negligible.
‘This is life-changing news for couples of differing HIV status,’ said Grulich.
‘But it is important that the HIV positive partner is under regular medical care and does not miss any of their anti-retroviral medication in order to ensure they maintain an undetectable viral load.’
Opposites Attract involved 358 gay couples from Thailand, Brazil and Australia over four years from 2012–2016.
Stakeholders in the study included HIV/AIDS organizations in the countries where the couples lived. They argued this conclusive evidence will help end stigma for people living with HIV.
‘The results of the Opposites Attract study have important implications for serodiscordant couples in Brazil, and all around the world,’ said Dr Beatriz Grinsztejn from Brazil’s Evandro Chagas Clinical Research Institute.
‘Opposites Attract has shown us that maintaining undetectable viral load prevents HIV transmission – an important finding that will help to break down stigma associated with living with HIV.
‘These results strengthen the argument for treatment as prevention and provide couples with options when it comes to negotiating safe sex.’
Anxiety is something that can feel as if it does nothing but damage, however, that is not always the case. Anxiety in itself comes with some ‘superpowers’ depending on how you look at it.
If you have anxiety try looking at the good aspects rather than the bad. With anxiety comes a heightened sense of perception. Do you have these superpowers?
1. An ability to sense the energy of others.
You can tell whether or not someone has a positive vibration or a negative vibration. Negative people make you uncomfortable while positive people are a bit easier to be around. Normal people often have trouble being able to tell when someone is overly negative.
2. An increased empathy.
People with anxiety are more concerned with the feelings of others than normal people. They have a heightened sense of empathy most people will not understand. People who deal with anxiety can also detect emotions better than others. Empathy is important, you have enough to make a difference in the lives of people that you may not even know.
3. A life-saving instinct.
Anxiety is something that can be traced back farther than you might imagine. This can be used as a survival mechanism and allow someone to be more aware of the things going on around them. You know what I mean, that bad feeling you get when you’re walking alone outside or when something bad is about to happen. A study published in the European Journal of Psychology found that people with high levels of anxiety were quicker to detect danger and respond to it.
4. An increased IQ.
People with anxiety were found to be smarter by researchers from SUNY Downstate Medical Centre in NY. This comes as no surprise considering the amount of over analyzing that people with anxiety do. They know every possible outcome to just about every single situation and then some.
5. An ability to see through lies.
People with anxiety are especially careful, they can see right through lies most of the time and are actually much braver than you might think. If someone says something that doesn’t quite make sense or match up they will be the first to point it out, though it takes a minute for them to get the courage up they are quite capable.
People with anxiety are much more special than you might think, while they are overly anxious and overthinking things they are also able to achieve greatness all the while. People with anxiety are prepared for just about anything and are some of the strongest people you will ever come across. For information on understanding, anxiety, check out the video below.
By David Vandygriff
Rates of gonorrhea infection are on the rise among gay men – partly due to an increase in condomless sex. Scientists have found that a meningitis vaccine also offers some protection against gonorrhea.
In many countries, rates of gonorrhea have increased dramatically in recent years. Public Health England reported a 53% rise in the infection in England between 2012-2015. Doctors are particularly concerned about the emergence of antibiotic-resistant strains of the bacteria. They fear that soon untreatable variations of the infection may spread worldwide.
Some of this rise in infections has been driven by gay and bisexual men who decided to ditch condoms with the advent of PrEP medication. PrEP is taken daily to prevent HIV infection. HIV positive men having condomless sex with other HIV positive men is also thought to be partly to blame for a rise in both gonorrhea and syphilis in the UK.
The Lancet has published the results of a study from New Zealand that raises hopes of a potential vaccine against gonorrhea. Until now, it was believed that there was no vaccine on the horizon.
The researchers found a meningitis vaccine, MeNZB, given to 15-30 year olds, resulted in a 31% drop in cases of gonorrhea. They did a retrospective study of over 14,000 individuals who had received MeNZB when younger.
First time any vaccine has shown effectiveness against gonorrhea. ‘Effective vaccine development has been unsuccessful, but surveillance data suggest that outer membrane vesicle meningococcal group B vaccines affect the incidence of gonorrhea,’ said researchers. ‘These results provide a proof of principle that can inform prospective vaccine development not only for gonorrhea but also for meningococcal vaccines.’
They hope the study will point a way forward for future vaccine development. Until then, the advice remains the same: sexually-active gay and bisexual men are advised to have a regular sexual health check-up. They should do this even if they have no symptoms. This is particularly the case if they have had several sexual partners in recent weeks or months.
By Tia Hearn
Six members of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS have angrily resigned, saying that President Trump doesn’t care about HIV.
Scott Schoettes, Lucy Bradley-Springer, Gina Brown, Ulysses Burley III, Michelle Ogle and Grissel Granados publicly announced their resignations in a joint letter published in Newsweek titled, “Trump doesn’t care about HIV. We’re outta here.”
The group said that the administration “has no strategy” to address HIV/AIDS, doesn’t consult experts when working on policy and “pushes legislation that will harm people living with HIV and halt or reverse important gains made in the fight against this disease.”
“As advocates for people living with HIV, we have dedicated our lives to combating this disease and no longer feel we can do so effectively within the confines of an advisory body to a president who simply does not care,” they wrote.
The group noted that Trump took down the Office of National AIDS Policy website when he took office and hasn’t appointed anyone to lead the White House Office of National AIDS Policy.
They also said that the GOP’s ObamaCare repeal bill will dramatically hurt those with HIV/AIDS, making it the “final straw for us — more like a two-by-four than a straw” in deciding to leave the council.
“We will be more effective from the outside, advocating for change and protesting policies that will hurt the health of the communities we serve and the country as a whole if this administration continues down the current path,” they wrote.
“We hope the members of Congress who have the power to affect healthcare reform will engage with us and other advocates in a way that the Trump Administration apparently will not.”