HIV increase in gay men because of fall in condom use
A fall within the proportion of gay and bisexual men using condoms is behind the upward push in HIV infections in those groups within the UK, say researchers.
Wider use of anti-retroviral drugs has helped to forestall a sharper rise, a study by the Health Protection Agency (HPA) and numerous universities found.
They found a 26% rise, from 1990-2010, within the proportion of fellows who’ve sex with men who didn’t use condoms.
The report said the figures showed it was vital to advertise safe sex.
Rates of HIV were rising lately with latest figures showing cases among men who’ve sex with men (MSM) within the UK reaching an all-time high.
A recent report from the HPA found that just about half the 6,280 people diagnosed inside the UK in 2011 were MSM.
Overall, one in 20 MSM are infected with HIV.
For this study, researchers analysed data from 1990 to 2010. They concluded that, without the introduction of anti-retroviral drugs to regard people with HIV, infections will be 68% higher in MSM.
Therapy with anti-retrovirals lowers the danger of individuals with HIV infecting others.
The report suggested the incidence of HIV might be 32% lower if all anti-retroviral treatment were prescribed from the instant of diagnosis as opposed to when health declined.
Further analysis showed that, if all MSM had stopped using condoms from 2000, rates of HIV on this group would now be 400% higher, the journal PLoS One reported.
The data also showed that the incidence of HIV may have dropped by 1 / 4 if more HIV testing have been done.
But the researchers said the outcomes showed that even a modest increase in unprotected sex was enough to erode some great benefits of other interventions.
Study leader Professor Andrew Phillips, from University College London, said: “By better understanding the driving forces behind the trends we have seen prior to now, it’s going to let us make informed choices to minimize new HIV infections someday.”
Co-author Dr Valerie Delpech, who’s head of HIV surveillance on the HPA, said: “Everyone should use a condom when having sex with new or casual partners, until all partners have had a sexual health screen.
“We also encourage men who’ve sex with men to get an HIV and STI screen in any case annually, and each three months if having condomless sex with new or casual partners – and clinicians to take every opportunity to recommend HIV testing to this group.”
Sir Nick Partridge, chief executive of the Terrence Higgins Trust, said condom use by gay men had played a key part in containing the spread of HIV within the UK.
“Without it, there would had been 80,000 more gay men with HIV between 2000 and 2010.”
He added that the study showed the impact of the combined HIV means of promoting condoms, increasing regular HIV testing and inspiring the sooner use of anti-HIV drug therapy.
He added: “At a time when funding for local HIV prevention programmes is under threat, this only reinforces the real role which local authorities can and must play in funding local HIV prevention.”