HIV Transmission Risk Increases If You Have Sex With People At High Risk for Transmitting HIV

“In several U.S. urban areas, the HIV prevalence among men who have sex with men is as high as 30%—as compared with a general-population prevalence of 7.8% in Kenya and 16.9% in South Africa.” Well isn’t that quite the sobering statistic, New England Journal of Medicine? For all this talk about circumcision cutting down on AIDS rates in African nations, the problem right here at home is staggering. But at least researchers are going after a solution in a “new” way, where air quotes represent our cynicism.

By focusing on a person’s social network as a greater indicator of HIV infection risk, rather than just the way a person has sex, relays Newsweek.

What’s interesting is that the research shows that a person’s sexual network, more than just his or her lifestyle choices, defines the risk of getting HIV in America. So, black and Hispanic women are at increased risk due to the instability of their sexual relationships —which is attributed to the high rate of incarceration of men in their networks—and their vulnerable or dependent economic situation, which may cause them to be fearful of suggesting safer-sex options to their companions. And black men who have sex with men are at high risk because of the likelihood of their choosing to engage in sexual activity with someone who is racially similar, and because of the prevalence of HIV within their sexual networks.

The methodology is easily transportable. Middle-aged white men who engage in group bareback sex with other middle-aged white men might be at greater risk, because they are all engaged in group bareback sex. Sorry, is this really a new way of thinking about transmission?