Are white homosexual men still taking too many HIV risks?

September 7, 2010

Risky sexual behavior among members of a subset of the gay community is still adding to the spread of HIV. Research published in the open access journal BMC Infectious Diseases has found that young white homosexual men have an important contribution in the local spread of HIV.

Despite increased education and awareness of HIV in the Western world, the number of new infections continues to rise each year. To try and understand this phenomenon, researchers from Ghent University in Belgium compared the of viruses isolated from more than 500 patients - male and female, gay and straight, Caucasian and non-Caucasian - who were newly diagnosed at an clinic between 2001 and 2009. Their aim was to pinpoint factors contributing to the local spread of HIV in order to inform the development of regional prevention strategies.

"Using genetic profiling techniques we were able to group viruses into 'clusters' of highly related variants", lead researcher Dr. Chris Verhofstede explains. "Clusters of viruses are indicative for the local onward transmission of this particular viral strain. We defined more and larger clusters amongst the HIV subtype B viruses compared to the non-B viruses. We also found that clustered viruses are more frequently isolated from young who have sex with men and who have a high prevalence of other sexually transmitted diseases". In other words, it appears that a significant number of new HIV infections in the region occur as a result of high-risk behavior between young white .

This finding confirms the results of epidemiological studies. Verhofstede and co-workers suggest further research to allow the design of more targeted prevention programs focused on this group.

More information: Epidemiological study of phylogenetic transmission clusters in a local HIV-1 epidemic reveals distinct differences between subtype B and non-B infections, Kristen Chalmet, Delfien Staelens, Stijn Blot, Sylvie Dinakis, Jolanda Pelgrom, Jean Plum, Dirk Vogelaers, Linos Vandekerckhove and Chris Verhofstede, BMC Infectious Diseases (in press), www.biomedcentral.com/bmcinfectdis/

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Scientists find where HIV 'hides' to evade detection by the immune system

October 19, 2017
In a decades-long game of hide and seek, scientists from Sydney's Westmead Institute for Medical Research have confirmed for the very first time the specific immune memory T-cells where infectious HIV 'hides' in the human ...

National roll-out of PrEP HIV prevention drug would be cost-effective

October 18, 2017
Providing pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) medication to men who have sex with men who are at high risk of HIV infection (equivalent to less than 5% of men who have sex with men at any point in time) in England would be cost-effective, ...

Regulatory T cells harbor HIV/SIV virus during antiviral drug treatment

October 17, 2017
Scientists at Yerkes National Primate Research Center, Emory University have identified an additional part of the HIV reservoir, immune cells that survive and harbor the virus despite long-term treatment with antiviral drugs.

New research opens the door to 'functional cure' for HIV

October 17, 2017
In findings that open the door to a completely different approach to curing HIV infections, scientists from the Florida campus of The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) have for the first time shown that a novel compound effectively ...

Researchers create molecule that could 'kick and kill' HIV

October 5, 2017
Current anti-AIDS drugs are highly effective at making HIV undetectable and allowing people with the virus to live longer, healthier lives. The treatments, a class of medications called antiretroviral therapy, also greatly ...

A sixth of new HIV patients in Europe 50 or older: study

September 27, 2017
People aged 50 and older comprise a growing percentage of HIV patients in Europe, accounting for one in six new cases in 2015, researchers said Wednesday.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.