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HIV still spreads among gay men

13th September 2010

AIDS is spreading rapidly among certain groups of French men, although the number of new HIV cases in the country has fallen overall.

hiv bacteria infecting blood

French authorities may need to update their prevention strategies, which may be off-target for at-risk groups, a new study has shown.

About half of all men infected with HIV in 2008 were gay men and men who have sex with men (MSM), and infection rates among these groups were 200 times higher than corresponding rates among heterosexuals.

The study also found that new HIV infections in France fell to 6,940 in 2008, a significant drop compared with the 8,930 new infections the year before.

But during that period, the number of new HIV infections among gay men did not decline, and accounted for 48% of all new cases.

The rate of new infections among injecting drug users did not increase, even though HIV is spreading rapidly among such groups in other parts of Europe.

Stephane Le Vu, who led the research, said that her team's results provided a new perspective on the epidemic as a whole.

She said that HIV was spreading disproportionately, and seemed to be out of control in the MSM population.

Nationals of sub-Saharan African countries accounted for about 23% of all the new infections in France in 2008, as well as for 45% of heterosexually transmitted infections.

Worldwide, about 60 million cases of HIV have been recorded since doctors first noticed the disease in the 1980s.

Robert Hogg, health sciences professor at the British Colombia Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS in Vancouver, Canada, who was not involved in the study, said that the data revealed unacceptably high levels of transmission among gay men around the world.

Hogg said that health authorities should mix and match prevention approaches, like encouraging condom use and expanding access to medical facilities.

People who have AIDS can also extend their lives with potent drug cocktails, according to recent studies.


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