HIV rates spark concern
A SHARP increase in HIV diagnoses has prompted a call to fast track the approval and funding of antiretroviral treatment to reduce the risk of infection in high risk individuals, the Medical Observer reports.
The Melbourne Declaration, delivered today at the Australasian HIV/AIDS Conference, also called for approval of rapid testing to be expedited and funded to make it widely available.
Testing for HIV has become less common among gay men who also report rising cases of unprotected sex with casual partners, the conference was told. Specifically, the proportion of gay men who reported having an HIV test in the previous 12 months dropped from 66% in 2008 to 58.9% in 2010, the conference was due to be told.
Earlier this year the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the pill Truvada for people at high risk of acquiring HIV through sexual activity. Truvada is the first drug shown to reduce the risk of HIV infection, a milestone in the 30-year battle against AIDS.
The US approval was based on studies that found daily doses of Truvada cut the risk of infection in healthy gay and bisexual men by 42% when accompanied by condoms and counselling. Another study found Truvada reduced infection by 75% in heterosexual couples where one individual was infected with HIV.
“We feel the evidence is there that it works. Those studies were very tightly managed randomised controlled trials,” said Dr Edwina Light, president of the Australasian Society for HIV Medicine (ASHM).