HIV infections, which declined in the 1990's have spiked by almost 500 percent, leaving researchers puzzled about the cause. In an effort to understand the rise in the number of new infections, Tel Aviv University scientists investigated characteristics of the HIV virus in newly diagnosed patients. They found a majority of cases are the result of transmission for partners already diagnosed with HIV.
Risky sexual behavior among men being treated for HIV blamed for surge in new cases
The researchers were disturbed to find that HIV/AIDS is on the rise because of risky sexual behavior among homosexual men already infected with the AIDS virus.
It’s difficult to get answers from patients using questionnaires or directly, so the scientists decided to study the virus itself to find how why HIV rates have increased so dramatically.
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 and colleagues accessed patient data to discover a high number of new cases of HIV are already resistant to drug therapy – meaning they came from partners already being treated for the disease.
Grossman says using epidemiological data to uncover why HIV cases are increasing is an approach that can help researchers identify the need for education within the gay community.
Awareness of HIV transmission from unprotected sex has advanced since the 1990’s, but the increase in new HIV cases indicates more homosexual men infected with the virus are engaging in unprotected sex.
Grossman says the need to educate people at risk for HIV is “as imperative as it has ever been.” The new study shows an almost 500% rise in new HIV infections in the last decade that is being spread by infected gay men being treated for the disease. In many cases, the researchers traced the virus to a common source.
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