Testing men who have sex with men for HIV and immediately treating those who are HIV positive could greatly reduce new infections among the MSM population as a whole, at least in the Netherlands, Medscape reports. Publishing their findings in Science Translational Medicine, researchers analyzed medical records data as well as genetic information about the virus in 617 recently diagnosed Dutch MSM, in order to make estimates about the likely source of their infections.
An estimated 71 percent of the new HIV cases transmitted from undiagnosed men, 22 percent from men who were diagnosed but not on antiretrovirals (ARVs), 6 percent from men who had started treatment, and 1 percent of diagnosed men who had not been linked to medical care within 18 months. About 43 percent of the transmissions derived from men infected for less than a year.
The researchers estimated that 19 percent of the new HIV cases could have been averted if MSM tested annually for HIV and if those who tested positive were immediately provided treatment. (Half of the at-risk men tested at least annually.) Two-thirds of cases could have been averted if all men testing positive received ARVs and if Truvada (tenofovir/emtricitabine) as pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) was provided to half of all men testing negative.
The researchers concluded that their findings support making PrEP available worldwide.
To read the study abstract, click here.