HIV incidence drops in Rakai

The annual rate of new HIV infections has fallen by 42 percent over the past four years ― from 1.17 percent to 0.66 percent ― in one of the most-studied groups of people in Africa, Aidsmap reports. Speaking at the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI 2017) in Seattle, Washington, USA, on 14 February, presenter Mary Grabowski confirmed that this is the first population-level decrease in HIV incidence observed in cohort studies in Rakai, Uganda, dating from 1994. (The Rakai Cohort Study enrolls all adults who wish to participate and are ages 15 to 49 in a 50-village territory.) Data from 12 surveys conducted in 30 villages in Rakai from 1999 to 2016 show that HIV incidence held steady for 10 years, then began to drop in 2011. Increases in the proportion of people living with HIV who are virally suppressed, in coverage of voluntary medical male circumcision, and in the delay of sexual debut among young people all appear to be contributing to the decline in new HIV infections (Aidsmap, 14 February 2017).