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To better target HIV prevention, identify people whose social contacts have high viral loads
Roger Pebody, 2017-11-23 07:20:00
Rather than relying on assessment of an individual’s sexual
behaviour or of ‘community viral load’, targeting of pre-exposure prophylaxis
(PrEP) and other prevention interventions could in part be based on the
proportion of a person’s social contacts who have unsuppressed HIV. There is a
correlation between young gay men having HIV and their ‘network viral load’,
according to a study published online ahead of print in the Journal
of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes.
Britt Skaathun and
colleagues at the University of Chicago believe that the concept could
eventually be used by public health departments in the US, by combining data
from partner services (contact tracing) with viral load data from individuals
in care. “NVL [network viral load] could have substantial public health
implications for persons most at risk for HIV infection given that this novel
metric avoids overreliance on individual level behavior or broad community
indices,” they write.
current study only provides proof of principle and the authors acknowledge that
their data would need to be replicated in larger, longitudinal studies.