Record 83 Million Adults Newly Tested for HIV in 2009

The number of adults tested for HIV reached a record high in 2009, according to an analysis of national survey data released today in a CDC Vital Signs report.

Last year 82.9 million adults between 18 and 64 reported having been tested for HIV. This number represents an increase of 11.4 million people since 2006, when CDC recommended that HIV testing become a routine part of medical care for adults and adolescents, and that people at high risk of infection be tested at least once a year.

Despite this progress, 55 percent of adults—and 28.3 percent of adults with a risk factor for HIV—have not been tested. [Read more…]

Party Drugs Likely Help Spread HIV Infections

A recent survey in the US has revealed that the increasing use of party drugs such as the stimulant “ice” (a methamphetamine) may be the cause behind escalating HIV-infections among gay men.

Although the study does not confirm that these party drugs are the direct causes of HIV infections, constantly increasing trends cannot be ignored.
Methamphetamine that is used in these drugs stimulates the male libido and enables them to stay awake for hours and have marathon sex sessions. And, a higher rate of risky sexual behavior is likely to lead to higher HIV infection rates.

In addition to drug use, many infected men have also confirmed that they either met their sex partners in a club or used the services provided on the Internet to arrange for anonymous sex partners. This also increases the risk of HIV infection.

Source: AAP (7/24/07)

HIV Infection Risk Much Lower for Circumcised Men

Uncircumcised men are more than twice as likely to to contract HIV from an infected female partner, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), because the skin cells in the foreskin are particularly susceptible to the HIV virus.

Circumcision reduced the risk of contracting HIV by about 60 percent, a far greater result than the 30% reduction targeted by an AIDS vaccine.

At an AIDS conference in Sidney, Australia, Robert Bailey, an epidemiology professor at the University of Illinois, urged international health agencies to promote male circumcision as an effective means to lower the rate of HIV infections.

In March, 2007, the World Health Organization issued a statement urging males to get circumcised for health reasons.

However, the organization stressed that circumcision does not protect from HIV, and says that “men should still use condoms and take other precautions such as abstinence, delaying the start of sexual activity and reducing the number of sexual partners.”

References: AP (7/24/07)

Setback in “Female-Controlled” AIDS Prevention

Researchers have been studying ways in which women can better protect themselves against HIV/AIDS. In a 3-year multi-million dollar study of African women who used a latex diaphragm, it was found that women who used the diaphragm had the same infection rates as women who did not.

The study concludes that a latex diaphragm is not an effective method for women to protect themselves against HIV.

Another trial run in 2000 that had tested whether contraceptive jelly Nonoxynol-9 might be used by women for HIV prevention also failed, concluding that the women who used the Nonoxynol-9 were in fact more likely to be infected by the HIV virus than women who were given a placebo gel.

Source: San Francisco Chronicle (7/12/07)