HIV Trends in San Francisco and London: An AIDS 2014 Q&A
July 24, 2014
At AIDS 2014, underway this week in Melbourne, Australia, thousands of researchers, advocates, policymakers, and community members are gathered to learn the latest in HIV science and policy -- and, importantly, to share knowledge across borders, with the goal of "stepping up" the HIV/AIDS response.
To this end, on July 24 researchers presented findings from a comparison of HIV trends in two major cities: San Francisco and London. The team, hailing from community-based organizations, government agencies, universities, and public health departments, assessed how differences in HIV testing rates, risk behavior, and antiretroviral treatment coverage may be contributing to divergent HIV prevalence and incidence trends among gay and bisexual men and other men who have sex with men (MSM). (Read the study abstract here.)
The first AIDS cases appeared in San Francisco and London at roughly the same time and the two cities have similar numbers of gay and bi men living with HIV -- but there are some significant differences. For example, London has a much higher proportion of gay and bisexual men living with HIV who don't know it: Since 2006, an estimated 20% to 25% of HIV infections in this population in London have remained undiagnosed, whereas undiagnosed HIV infections among gay and bi men in San Francisco dropped from 21.7% to 7.5% in the same time period. Why?
Study co-author Jen Hecht, M.P.H., director of program development and operations at San Francisco AIDS Foundation, spoke with BETA about the study findings, what they mean for HIV prevention efforts moving forward, and what she and her colleagues hope to accomplish by sharing their data with the AIDS 2014 community.
What did you and your fellow researchers determine are the key factors contributing to divergent HIV incidence and prevalence trends in the London and San Francisco?
We found the most important factors are testing frequency among MSM in San Francisco, along with greater opportunity for positive-positive serosorting [choosing to have sex only with partners believed to share your HIV status] due to greater likelihood of disclosure and greater ease of finding partners of the same status, and also slightly greater risk-taking behavior -- higher rates of condomless anal sex -- among MSM in London.
This excerpt was cross-posted with the permission of BETAblog.org. Read the full article.
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