It is a cause of concern that homosexual men in Europe are throwing caution to the winds when it comes to having safe sex, new studies have revealed.
Overall incidence of HIV in France declined from 8,390 new infections in 2003 to 6,940 in 2008, said its lead author, Stephane le Vu of the National Institute for Public Health Surveillance.
But men who have sex with men accounted for 48 percent of new cases and have an infection rate that is 200 times higher than in the heterosexual population, despite a long-running campaign to promote safe sex, le Vu noted.
Separately, investigators at Ghent University in Belgium, publishing in the open-access journal BMC Infectious Diseases on Monday, found genetic evidence pointing to risky behaviour among young white gays.
They sequenced the strains of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) from more than 500 patients, male and female, heterosexual and homosexual, who had been newly diagnosed between 2001 and 2009.
Genetic profiling revealed "clusters" of closely-related variants among young white homosexual men, pointing to risky sex practises among this minority.
The concerns in Europe mirror those in the United States, where the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate that more than 55,000 new infections occur every year, of which more than half occur among gays.
"Data for other for other regions are often difficult to find, but the number of new infections in MSM is very high in most regions of the world," a commentary published in The Lancet's journal said.