Could Increased Testing Lead to a Significant Cut in New HIV Cases?

Researchers say testing, treating, and providing preventive drugs are crucial
Researchers say testing, treating, and providing preventive drugs are crucial

HealthDay News — As many as two-thirds of new HIV infections could be prevented in men having sex with men (MSM) if more men were tested for the virus, more were treated, and more who don't have HIV took medication to prevent infection, a new Dutch study estimates. The study is published in the January 6 issue of Science Translational Medicine.

To better understand why new infection rates aren't dropping, researchers looked at medical records and blood tests from 617 MSM from the Netherlands. The men had recently been infected with HIV. The researchers used this information to identify details about the men who had transmitted infections to those in the study.

The researchers estimated that 71% of the men were infected by HIV-positive men who hadn't yet been diagnosed. Forty-three percent of men who transmitted an infection were in their first year with HIV. If testing levels stayed the same but men immediately began taking medication to treat the virus, 19 percent of new cases could have been prevented.

The study authors also looked at another scenario: What if half of those at risk get tested each year, half of those who test negative take preventive drugs, and all of those diagnosed with HIV get treatment? In that case, the researchers estimated that 66% of the cases could have been prevented.

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