Why HIV infection rates are on the rise
Since HIV infection rates began to rise again around 2000, researchers have been grasping for answers on what could be causing this change, especially in the homosexual community. The rising numbers are a stark contrast to the 1990's, when infection rates dropped due to increased awareness of the virus. A new study in Israel reveals that the number of new HIV cases diagnosed each year in the last decade saw a startling increase of almost 500% compared to the previous decade, and similar trends have been reported in a number of other developed nations, including the U.S.
According to Prof. Zehava Grossman of Tel Aviv University's School of Public Health at the Sackler Faculty of Medicine and the Central Virology Laboratory of the Ministry of Health, a new approach to studying HIV transmission within a community has yielded a disturbing result. By cross-referencing several databases and performing a molecular analysis of the virus found in patients, an astonishingly high number of newly-diagnosed men with male sexual partners were found to have contracted the virus from infected, medicated partners who are already aware of their HIV-positive status.
Reported in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases, these findings indicate that the public health approach towards HIV counselling and education needs to be reconsidered, Prof. Grossman says.
Bypassing the questionnaires
Researchers had begun to suspect that the rise in infection rates was due to a change in social behavior, but hard evidence was lacking. The answers, Prof. Grossman says, were not easy to find by asking the patients themselves. Questionnaires and similar methods to gather information are hard to interpret because, in addition to the difficulty of recruiting an accurate cross-section of the population, people are often unwilling to be frank about risky sexual behavior.
To unravel the mystery, Prof. Grossman and her colleagues at the Central Virology Laboratory directed by Prof. Ella Mendelson and Israel's leading AIDS clinicians turned to the virus itself. Working with senior epidemiologists of the Public Health Services of Israel's Ministry of Health, they conducted a comprehensive analysis of laboratory, clinical, and epidemiological data, including information about patients' diagnosis and treatment, sexually transmitted diseases contracted along with HIV, and the molecular characteristics of the virus in different patients.
Prof. Grossman and her colleagues found that an overwhelming number of new cases were infected with HIV strains that had already developed resistance to existing HIV drug therapies. Because the virus can only become resistant if previously exposed to medication, this result indicates that new patients are often infected by an HIV-positive partner already receiving the therapies. More often than in the past, HIV found in different patients could be traced back to a common source.
Changing the educational approach
While people are now more knowledgeable about the virus and aware of the risks of unprotected sex, it appears that an increasing number of homosexual men, including those who are infected and treated for HIV, are likely to engage in risky sexual behaviour. Public health authorities, educators, and activists should be encouraged to find new ways of changing this attitude and of better imprinting the message about the risk and consequences of HIV transmission, particularly within the gay community.
Clearly, Prof. Grossman warns, the need to establish the values of safe sex within at-risk populations is as imperative as it has ever been.
Provided by Tel Aviv University
- Different HIV rates among gay men and straight people not fully explained by sexual behavior Sep 13, 2007 | not rated yet | 0
- Study offers new insight on HIV transmission risk of men who have sex with men Aug 07, 2008 | not rated yet | 0
- Hepatitis C is transmitted by unprotected sex between HIV-infected men Jul 21, 2011 | not rated yet | 0
- A dangerous precedent in HIV Jul 29, 2008 | not rated yet | 0
- Herpes drug inhibits HIV replication, but with a price Nov 06, 2008 | not rated yet | 0
- Motion perception revisited: High Phi effect challenges established motion perception assumptions Apr 23, 2013 | 3 / 5 (2) | 2
- Anything you can do I can do better: Neuromolecular foundations of the superiority illusion (Update) Apr 02, 2013 | 4.5 / 5 (11) | 5
- The visual system as economist: Neural resource allocation in visual adaptation Mar 30, 2013 | 5 / 5 (2) | 9
- Separate lives: Neuronal and organismal lifespans decoupled Mar 27, 2013 | 4.9 / 5 (8) | 0
- Sizing things up: The evolutionary neurobiology of scale invariance Feb 28, 2013 | 4.8 / 5 (10) | 14
Classical and Quantum Mechanics via Lie algebras
Apr 15, 2011 I'd like to open a discussion thread for version 2 of the draft of my book ''Classical and Quantum Mechanics via Lie algebras'', available online at http://lanl.arxiv.org/abs/0810.1019 , and for the...
- More from Physics Forums - Independent Research
More news stories
(AP)—The decade-old law that transformed the battle against HIV and AIDS in developing countries is at a crossroads. The dream of future generations freed from the epidemic is running up against an era ...
HIV & AIDS 1 hour ago | not rated yet | 0
The hunt for an HIV vaccine has gobbled up $8 billion in the past decade, and the failure of the most recent efficacy trial has delivered yet another setback to 26 years of efforts.
HIV & AIDS May 19, 2013 | 5 / 5 (1) | 0
Big names in medicine are set to give an upbeat assessment of the war on AIDS on Tuesday, 30 years after French researchers identified the virus that causes the disease.
HIV & AIDS May 18, 2013 | 5 / 5 (2) | 0
Researchers at the University of Cincinnati (UC) have found that incorporating a peer-referral program for HIV testing into emergency departments can reach new groups of high-risk patients and brings more patients into the ...
HIV & AIDS May 17, 2013 | not rated yet | 0
(HealthDay)—Liver transplants to treat a common type of liver cancer are a viable option for people infected with HIV, according to new research.
HIV & AIDS May 17, 2013 | not rated yet | 0
A Nobel prize-winning scientist Tuesday played down "shock-horror scenarios" that a new virus strain will emerge with the potential to kill millions of people.
23 minutes ago | 5 / 5 (1) | 0
No new human cases of the H7N9 virus have been recorded in China for a week, national health authorities said, for the first time since the outbreak began in March.
5 minutes ago | not rated yet | 0
Johns Hopkins researchers say they have discovered specific chemical alterations in two genes that, when present during pregnancy, reliably predict whether a woman will develop postpartum depression.
1 hour ago | not rated yet | 0 |
Children who have suffered maltreatment are 36% more likely to be obese in adulthood compared to non-maltreated children, according to a new study by King's College London. The authors estimate that the prevention or effective ...
1 hour ago | not rated yet | 0
(Medical Xpress)—A research team, led by Jeremy Barr, a biology post-doctoral fellow, unveils a new immune system that protects humans and animals from infection.
10 hours ago | 4.6 / 5 (13) | 5 |
New research suggests that a compound abundant in the Mediterranean diet takes away cancer cells' "superpower" to escape death. By altering a very specific step in gene regulation, this compound essentially re-educates cancer ...
13 hours ago | 4.8 / 5 (12) | 2 |