A considerable increase in the rate of suppression of HIV among men who have sex with men (MSM) living with the virus is needed to depress annual new infections among the population, according to a mathematical study based on MSM in Baltimore.

Researchers from the HPTN 078 study presented findings from their analysis at the HIV Research for Prevention (HIVR4P) 2016 conference in Chicago. The study began enrolling MSM earlier this year to study an intervention to reduce HIV infections among the population. The plan includes finding HIV-positive MSM in Baltimore who do not have an undetectable viral load, engaging them in medical care for the virus and helping them reach and maintain full viral suppression.

Recent studies have led scientists to estimate that HIV-positive individuals with an undetectable viral load, also known as full viral suppression, are virtually uninfectious.

An estimated 30 percent of MSM in Baltimore were living with HIV in 2014. Also, 2013 data suggested that only 37 percent of those men were virally suppressed.

The investigators’ modeling led them to project that to reduce new infections by 20 percent in five years among MSM in Baltimore, the rate of viral suppression among those MSM living with HIV would need to increase by 10 percentage points in five years. Reducing the HIV infection rate by 20 percent after 10 years would require an 8-percentage-point drop in the viral suppression rate.

To read a press release about the study, click here.