The HIV epidemic in Europe, including the UK, is being fuelled by the risky behaviour of young gay men, according to research published today.
Public messages and campaigns about the dangers of unsafe sex do not appear to be getting through to men who have sex with men, the researchers say – particularly the young ones.
By investigating the genetic profile of the virus in more than 500 newly screened patients over nine years, scientists in Belgium have identified clusters of people with type B virus – not the one that is most prevalent in Africa.
Those infected are almost all white, male, gay and young, they say. These men also tend to have other sexual diseases, such as syphillis, which suggests that they are involved in unsafe sexual behaviour and are not using condoms.
The research was carried out by scientists at Ghent University in Belgium, and there is every indication that their findings hold true for the UK. Nick Partridge, the chief executive of the Terrence Higgins Trust, said that gay men were the group most at risk of HIV infection in the UK. Read more