LONDON, November 30, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) - A report on HIV infection from the UK’s Health Protection Agency states that new diagnoses among men who have sex with men (MSM) reached an all-time high in 2011, with 3,010 new cases.
The report, which was published on Thursday, says a “worrying” trend has developed since 2007, with rates of new HIV infections rising rapidly among homosexual men.
Nearly one in 12 male homosexuals in London now has HIV. In the rest of the nation, one in 20 homosexual men is HIV-positive.
The highest rates of HIV were (47 per 1,000) reported among homosexual men, and the next highest rates (37 per 1,000) in the black African community.
Almost two-thirds of homosexual men newly diagnosed as HIV-infected at an STI clinic had not attended a clinic for testing in the previous three years.
The report says this “strongly suggests there is room for improvement in the frequency of testing by those at highest risk.”
The data state that approximately one quarter (22,600) of people infected with HIV were undiagnosed and unaware of their infection.
The report provides the usual advice of “safer sex,” that is, use of condoms, to reduce the risk of contracting or transmitting HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases, but adds that higher risk groups (homosexual men) should “avoid overlapping sexual relationships and reduce the number of sexual partners.”
“Partner reduction” and reducing promiscuity have proven to be significant in reducing the spread of HIV/AIDS, whereas promotion of condoms use has not.
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A study commissioned by the UNFPA and UNAIDS found that a dramatic drop in HIV infection in Zimbabwe was driven primarily by changes in sexual behavior, particularly a drop in casual, commercial, and extramarital sex.
“In Zimbabwe, as elsewhere, partner reduction appears to have played a crucial role in reversing the HIV epidemic,” wrote head researcher Daniel Halperin, PhD, of the Harvard School of Public Health.
Dr. Edward C. Green, president of the New Paradigm Fund and former director of the AIDS Prevention Research Project at the Harvard School of Health, concurred that this study added “further evidence” of his long-held position that “fidelity (sometimes called partner reduction) and to a lesser extent, by abstinence (or late sexual debut) is what works best in AIDS prevention, especially in Africa.”
Dr. Green has been a major critic of the AIDS-prevention establishment’s promotion of condoms. He made headlines in 2009 when he backed Pope Benedict XVI’s argument that condoms actually “increase the problem” of HIV/AIDS.
He said he also agrees with the study’s finding that “when people are afraid of getting AIDS, they tend to use their common sense and curb promiscuous tendencies.”
“There is a consistent association shown by our best studies, including the U.S.-funded ‘Demographic Health Surveys,’ between greater availability and use of condoms and higher (not lower) HIV-infection rates,” Dr. Green told National Review Online. “This may be due in part to a phenomenon known as risk compensation, meaning that when one uses a risk-reduction ‘technology’ such as condoms, one often loses the benefit (reduction in risk) by ‘compensating’ or taking greater chances than one would take without the risk-reduction technology.”
In 2011, an estimated 96,000 people were infected with HIV in the UK, an increase from the 91,500 people in 2010.
The overall prevalence of HIV infection among the UK population in 2011 was 1.5 per 1,000 population.
Rates of new HIV diagnoses and HIV prevalence continue to be significantly higher in London than elsewhere in the UK. The city contains 18 of the 20 local authorities with the highest prevalence of HIV infection.
The full text of the report “HIV in the UK: 2012” is available here.