[ Back to EurekAlert! ] Public release date: 6-Sep-2010
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Contact: Graeme Baldwin
graeme.baldwin@biomedcentral.com
44-020-319-22165
BioMed Central

Are white homosexual men still taking too many HIV risks?

Risky sexual behavior among members of a subset of the gay community is still adding to the spread of HIV. Research published in the open access journal BMC Infectious Diseases has found that young white homosexual men have an important contribution in the local spread of HIV.

Despite increased education and awareness of HIV in the Western world, the number of new infections continues to rise each year. To try and understand this phenomenon, researchers from Ghent University in Belgium compared the genetic information of viruses isolated from more than 500 patients male and female, gay and straight, Caucasian and non-Caucasian who were newly diagnosed at an HIV screening clinic between 2001 and 2009. Their aim was to pinpoint factors contributing to the local spread of HIV in order to inform the development of regional prevention strategies.

"Using genetic profiling techniques we were able to group viruses into 'clusters' of highly related variants", lead researcher Dr. Chris Verhofstede explains. "Clusters of viruses are indicative for the local onward transmission of this particular viral strain. We defined more and larger clusters amongst the HIV subtype B viruses compared to the non-B viruses. We also found that clustered viruses are more frequently isolated from young Caucasian men who have sex with men and who have a high prevalence of other sexually transmitted diseases". In other words, it appears that a significant number of new HIV infections in the region occur as a result of high-risk behavior between young white homosexual men.

This finding confirms the results of epidemiological studies. Verhofstede and co-workers suggest further research to allow the design of more targeted prevention programs focused on this group.

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Notes to Editors

1. Epidemiological study of phylogenetic transmission clusters in a local HIV-1 epidemic reveals distinct differences between subtype B and non-B infections
Kristen Chalmet, Delfien Staelens, Stijn Blot, Sylvie Dinakis, Jolanda Pelgrom, Jean Plum, Dirk Vogelaers, Linos Vandekerckhove and Chris Verhofstede
BMC Infectious Diseases (in press)

During embargo, article available here: http://www.biomedcentral.com/imedia/5235947993458868_article.pdf?random=963326

After the embargo, article available at the journal website: http://www.biomedcentral.com/bmcinfectdis/

Please name the journal in any story you write. If you are writing for the web, please link to the article. All articles are available free of charge, according to BioMed Central's open access policy.

Article citation and URL available on request at press@biomedcentral.com on the day of publication.

2. BMC Infectious Diseases is an open access journal publishing original peer-reviewed research articles in all aspects of the prevention, diagnosis and management of infectious and sexually transmitted diseases in humans, as well as related molecular genetics, pathophysiology, and epidemiology. BMC Infectious Diseases (ISSN 1471-2334) is indexed/tracked/covered by PubMed, MEDLINE, CAS, EMBASE, Scopus, CABI, Thomson Reuters (ISI) and Google Scholar.

3. BioMed Central (http://www.biomedcentral.com/) is an STM (Science, Technology and Medicine) publisher which has pioneered the open access publishing model. All peer-reviewed research articles published by BioMed Central are made immediately and freely accessible online, and are licensed to allow redistribution and reuse. BioMed Central is part of Springer Science+Business Media, a leading global publisher in the STM sector.



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