Approximately a third of young people newly linked to HIV care in the United States have viral loads that indicate a high risk of onward transmission, according to research published in the online edition of AIDS. Young men who have sex with men (MSM) had a mean viral load of approximately 125,000 copies/ml, significantly higher than the average of 47,000 copies/ml recorded in their heterosexual peers.
Moreover, a potentially highly infectious viral load of 50,000 copies/ml or above was recorded in 30% of young MSM compared to 22% of young heterosexual people. “These viral load levels are associated with high rates of transmission,” comment the authors. “YMSM [young MSM] are well represented in these data…and they have the highest viral loads, which is consistent with the high rates of ongoing transmission in this population in the United States.”
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