Sexual Health Vol. 8; No. 3: P. 280-294 (08..11) - Friday,
Noting the ongoing discussion about increasing HIV testing and
initiating earlier antiretroviral therapy as a strategy to
prevent the spread of the virus, the authors explored the
expected epidemiological impact of this approach in a small
population where HIV transmission is predominantly confined to
men who have sex with men (MSM).
To investigate the impact of strategies that increase rates of
testing and treatment, and their likelihood of mitigating HIV
epidemics among MSM, a deterministic mathematical transmission
model was constructed. "Our novel model distinguishes men in
the population who are more easily accessible to prevention
campaigns through engagement with the gay community from men
who are not," the authors wrote. "This model is applied to the
population of MSM in South Australia."
Findings based on the model suggest that increasing testing
rates alone will have minimal impact on reducing the expected
number of HIV infections, compared to current conditions.
"However, in combination with increases in treatment coverage,
this strategy could lead to a 59 percent-68 percent reduction
in the number of HIV infections over the next five years," the
authors wrote. The majority of potential reductions in
incidence would result from targeting men who are socially
engaged in the gay community, "with only minor improvements
possible by reaching all other MSM."
"Investing in strategies that will achieve higher coverage and
earlier initiation of treatment to reduce infectiousness of
HIV-infected individuals could be an effective strategy for
reducing incidence in a population of MSM," the researchers