Sep 21, 2010
HIV ‘out of control’ among French gay men
Doctors in France have described HIV among gay men in France as “out of control” after a study into the latest HIV infection rates.
Scientists from the French National Institute for Public Health found that while new cases of HIV had dropped dramatically in the general population, there was no drop in cases among gay men. Their findings were published in the September 9 Lancet Infectious Diseases journal.
In 2003 8,930 new infections were diagnosed but in 2008 that number had reduced to 6,940.
Almost half (48%) of the 6,940 new cases in 2008 were among gay men, with the scientists concluding that the incidence of HIV among gay men is 200 times higher than in the general population. Non-French nationals made up 23% of all infections in 2008, with most of them thought to be from sub-Saharan Africa. HIV infection among injecting drug users, despite rising in other countries, stayed low between 2003 and 2008 at around 1 or 2 percent.
“Our results provide a new perspective on the HIV epidemic in France,” said Dr Stephane Le Vu, “HIV transmission disproportionately affects certain risk groups and seems to be out of control in the MSM (men who have sex with men) population.”
The study has prompted experts to warn that new HIV prevention strategies are needed and must be targeted at the groups most at risk. There is also a warning that the French figures reflect similar rates of HIV infection among gay men worldwide, which Dr Robert Hoff from the British Colombia Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS described as “unacceptably high” and added his voice to calls for new prevention strategies.
“This approach should include targeted structural interventions directed at specific populations, behavioural interventions directed at individuals, and new biomedical interventions, including expanded coverage of anti-retroviral therapy to all HIV infected individuals who meet eligibility criteria for treatment,” said Dr Hoff.