Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Call for urgent action over soaring HIV rates in gay men in Beijing

One in twenty gay men in Beijing developed HIV during a year
 by Michael Woodhead

Urgent action is needed to tackle skyrocketing rates of HIV infection among gay men in Beijing, Chinese experts say.
Researchers from the Chaoyang Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, assessed the HIV and STD infection incidence among 797 men who have sex with men in Beijing who were initial HIV-negative in 2009.
After about one year, they found that 48 men (6%) had developed HIV infection, equivalent to a rate of  8 cases per 100 person years. For syphilis, 30 of 666 (4%) gay men developed infection, and for herpes 46 of 760 men developed HSV-2 infection during the follow up period.
The risk of HIV infection was highest in younger men (under 25), those who had more than one sexual partner and men with a lower educational level.
The researchers say theirs is the first large study to measure the incidence of HIV among gay men in Beijing and the results "indicate that the HIV incidence rate among MSM has increased dramatically."
They say Beijing has an "extremely high rate" of HIV infection compared with other cities in both China and around the world.
"Explanations for the exceptionally high and steady rise in HIV incidence among Beijing [gay men] are not entirely clear, but one possibility may be that Beijing's relatively vibrant [gay] culture facilitates greater disassortative sexual mixing between gay groups, which in turn can increase HIV background prevalence. The high HIV incidence rate and prevalence among MSM in Beijing indicate that the epidemic in this group is extremely serious and that effective intervention services are urgently needed," says Dr Li Dongliang and co-researchers
They add: "Given the synergistic relationship between STD and HIV infection, interventions for high-risk behaviours and treatment and management for STDs should be combined with HIV control and prevention initiatives among MSM in China. We believe data from this study will help guide future research towards innovative STD/HIV interventions for MSM in China, and mobilise government, public health and non-governmental communities to control the rapid transmission of HIV and STDs among Chinese MSM. Comprehensive actions are urgently needed and the time is now."
Read more: BMJ Open

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