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HIV Spread "Out of Control" Among French Gay Men

September 16, 2010

In France, HIV incidence decreased between 2003 and 2008 even as it remained high and stable among men who have sex with men (MSM), according to a new study. This suggests French officials need to revise and renew prevention strategies to ensure those most at risk of infection are targeted, said study authors with the French National Institute for Public Health Surveillance.

The findings are based in part on new diagnoses reported to the institute, with infections classified as recent or non-recent based on enzyme immunoassay for recent HIV-1 infections.

Overall, new HIV infections in France significantly declined from 8,930 in 2003 to an estimated 6,940 in 2008. Of the new infections in 2008, 3,320 (48 percent) were in MSM -- an incidence 200 times higher than that for heterosexuals. Non-nationals, mostly immigrants from sub-Saharan Africa, accounted for 45 percent of heterosexually transmitted infections, the study found. New infections among injection drug users were low and stable through the study, accounting for 1 percent to 2 percent annually.

"Our results provide a new perspective on the HIV epidemic in France," said study leader Stephanie le Vu. "HIV transmission disproportionately affects certain risk groups and seems to be out of control in the MSM population."

Data from France mirror the "unacceptably high" HIV incidence seen among MSM in the United States, Canada, Western Europe, and elsewhere, according to a commentary by Robert Hogg, of the British Columbia Center for Excellence in HIV/AIDS, and colleagues. Governments should incorporate condom promotion among MSM and expanded treatment access into their comprehensive prevention strategies, Hogg said.

The full report and editorial, "Population-Based HIV-1 Incidence in France, 2003-08: A Modeling Analysis" and "Reduction of HIV Incidence in Men Who Have Sex with Men," were published in Lancet Infectious Diseases (doi:10.1016/S1473-3099(10)70167-5 and 10.1016/S1473-3099(10)70200-0).

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Excerpted from:
Reuters
09.08.2010; Kate Kelland




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