- December 2013- MRC Biostatistics Unit scientists to take part at ERCIM 2013
- November 2013- 2nd Clinical Trials Methodology Conference
- November 2013- Medical Research Council Centenary Community Celebration
- November 2013- Armitage Lecture and Workshop 2013
- November 2013- Dr Ian White invited Visiting Fellow at ViCBiostat
- October 2013- Linda Sharples new Director of the Comprehensive Health Research Division at Leeds Institute of Clinical Trials Research
- September 2013- MRC BSU Centenary Conference: Medical Research Council Conference on Biostatistics Call for Abstracts & Early Bird Registration
- July 2013- Dementia prevalence figures in the UK show decline over past 20 years
- June 2013- MRC BSU successfully joined Medical Research Council Open Week
- June 2013- 9th Conference on Bayesian Nonparametrics
- May 2013- Medical Research Council Centenary celebrations kick off at MRC Biostatistics Unit
- April 2013- Celebrating '100 years of life-changing discoveries'
- March 2013- MRC Biostatistics Unit joined 'the exploration' at Cambridge Science Festival 2013
- February 2013- HIV incidence in England and Wales among men who have sex with men
- January 2013- Sheila Bird appears on Ben Goldacre's "Bad Evidence" programme
- More News from the BSU please click here.
December 14th-16th 2013
MRC Biostatistics Unit scientists to take part at ERCIM 2013
Programme Leader Ian White and senior scientists Dan Jackson and Shaun Seaman from the MRC Biostatistics Unit will give invited talks at the 6th International Conference of the European Research Consortium for Informatics and Mathematics Working Group on Computational and Methodological Statistics (ERCIM 2013)
The prestigious conference will take place at the University of London, United Kingdom, 14-16 December 2013. This event is organised by the ERCIM Working Group on Computational and Methodological Statistics (CMStatistics), Birkbeck University of London and London School of Economics.
The ERCIM WG CMStatistics includes members in all areas of methodological statistics and those of computing that have an impact on statistical techniques. Applications of statistics in diverse disciplines are strongly represented. These areas include economics, medicine, epidemiology, biology, finance, physics, chemistry, climatology and communication. The range of topics addressed and the depth of coverage establish the WG as an essential research network in the interdisciplinary area of advanced computational and methodological statistics.
The ERCIM aims to foster collaborative work within the European research community and to increase co-operation with European industry. Leading European research institutes are members of ERCIM.
Session Methods for handling missing data (Monday 16.12.2013) Chair: Shaun Seaman
- R. Keogh, I. White. "Using multiple imputation to improve analysis of case-control studies nested within cohorts".
- S. Seaman, J. Bartlett, I. White. "Multiple imputation of missing covariates with non-linear effects and interactions: An evaluation of statistical methods".
- J. Bartlett, S. Seaman, I. White, J. Carpenter. "Multiple imputation of covariates by fully conditional specification: Accommodating the substantive model".
- D. Jackson. "Using the number of contact attempts to model non-ignorable missing outcome data".
See related material at: http://link.springer.com/article/10.1186%2F1471-2288-12-46
See related material at: http://missingdata.lshtm.ac.uk/preprints/main.pdf
Selection models are an established way of modelling missing outcome data. However using these models in practice is fraught with difficulties. In order to overcome these problems, Repeated Attempts Models ("RAM"s) have more recently been proposed. These computationally quite intensive models describe the probability that each contact attempt to obtain outcome data is successful. If only one contact attempt is made for each subject, then the RAM reduces to a conventional selection model.
In this talk Dan Jackson will describe the types of dataset that motivate the use of RAMs. He will also explain why we can generally expect RAMs to perform better than selection models, whilst emphasising the additional assumptions made by the RAM. He will however argue that each dataset with information about failed contact attempts can be expected to provide its own quirks and difficulties, and hence providing generic software for RAMs is a very challenging task. Despite this he will describe the software that is available and he will present some results for a dataset where a RAM was used.
To find out more about the ERCIM 2013 please visit http://www.cmstatistics.org/ERCIM2013/
November 18th-19th 2013
2nd Clinical Trials Methodology Conference
Following on from their successful Bristol conference held in 2011, which attracted over 450 delegates, the Network of Hubs for Trials Methodology Research (HTMR Network) is preparing to welcome up to 800 delegates to Edinburgh.
The second Clinical Trials Methodology Conference, to be held at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre (EICC) on 18 and 19 November 2013, will provide a forum for the exchange of new ideas amongst all individuals with an interest in clinical trials.
The conference themes will include trial recruitment and retention, trial conduct, adaptive trial designs, stratified medicine, trial outcomes, and evidence synthesis.
This conference is supported by the HTMR Network. The Hubs were established by the Medical Research Council to create a UK-wide regionally distributed research resource to improve the design, conduct, analysis, interpretation, and reporting of clinical trials.
The eight Hubs have a variety of methodological expertise and close links with clinical trials units and other methodological groups in universities, industry and relevant professional bodies and organisations. The Hubs were linked together to enhance their individual activities, strengthen the methodological research further, and aid dissemination and education relating to good methods in clinical trials.
The MRC Biostatistics Hub for Trials Methodology Research based in Cambridge is part of this network, and Adrian Mander, its director, is also a member of the conference Scientific Committee and will be chairing the Session "Current Issues: Adaptive clinical trials" on Monday 18th Nov.
Statistical analysis: Techniques to increase trial efficiency. Chair: Gordon Murray
- James Wason: "Using continuous data on tumour measurements to improve inference in phase II cancer studies".
- Martin Law: "Comparing active treatments at Phase II: Using multiple criteria to find the optimal treatment to take forward to Phase III".
Translational research: Making the process more efficient. Chair: Peter Sandercock
- Simon Bond: "Adaptive dose-finding designs to identify multiple doses that achieve multiple response targets".
Choosing interventions: Difficult decisions. Chair: Peter Davidson
- Deepak Parashar: "Adaptive Enrichment in biomarker-stratified clinical trial design".
Other scientists from the MRC BSU will also be showing their research work on the Poster Session.
- For conference details please visit http://www.methodologyconference2013.org.uk/
- To find out more about the Network, other events in methodology, or the individual Hubs please see: www.methodologyhubs.mrc.ac.uk/
14th November 2013
Medical Research Council Centenary Community Celebration
To celebrate 100 years of life-saving science, MRC research units and centres across the UK have taken part in Open Week throwing open their doors - inviting the public in or bringing their science out to local communities to showcase the fruits of their labour through a range of different events, talks, experiments and exhibitions.
It is now the turn of the Medical Research Council staff in Cambridge to be merry. Sir John Savill and the MRC Management Board have invited the LMB and MRC units in Cambridge to the MRC Centenary celebration hosted by the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology to mark the end of the MRC Centenary year.
There will be a Photograph/ Art Competition "My Life and the MRC", where MRC staff will unleash their creative talents and show the world what the MRC means to them. The first ten runners will see their art exhibited on the day and across the MRC.
The 'Cambridge MRC Centenary Team Challenge' will also be held. Several MRC Units entered their teams and will pit their knowledge and wits against the best of the rest (and the quizmaster) in this very special quiz.
Food and drinks will be provided. The events will be accompanied by live music performed by MRC staff.
Date: Thursday 14th November 2013
Time: 12.00 - 2.30pm and again at 4.30pm - 7.00pm
Where: MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Francis Crick Avenue, Cambridge Biomedical Campus, Cambridge CB2 0QH
Admission by ticket only!
To find out more about the MRC Centenary please visit http://www.centenary.mrc.ac.uk/
Thursday 7th November 2013
Armitage Lecture and Workshop 2013
November welcomed a new edition of the Annual Armitage Lecture and Workshop. This year event was hosted at the Kaetsu Educational and Cultural Centre, Murray Edwards College in Cambridge.
The MRC Biostatistics Unit established the Armitage Lectureship in the autumn of 2003. This is an annual event during which an eminent medical statistician visits for a week and works with members of the Unit. The highlight is the delivery of the Armitage Lecture, named to honour the immense contributions of Professor Peter Armitage to medical statistics. Peter Armitage's work is recognized throughout the world as achieving a successful balance between methodological rigour and applied commonsense, to which all statisticians aspire.
The MRC Biostatistics Unit 11th Annual Armitage Lecture, titled "Cross-study Reproducibility of Predictions, with Application to Genomics", was given by Professor Giovanni Parmigiani, Professor of Biostatistics at Harvard School of Public Health, Chairman of the Department of Biostatistics and Computational Biology at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, and Associate Director for Population Sciences of the Dana-Farber / Harvard Cancer Center.
The lecture was the keynote speech in a workshop on Statistical Methods for Emerging Applications to Genomics Workshop.
Attendance at the Armitage Lecture and Workshop was free and more than 100 participants registered in advance. For further details, including the programme of the event please click here.
Venue: Kaetsu Centre, Murray Edwards College. Huntingdon Road. Cambridge CB3 0SH.
Time: 11:00 - 17:30
Lunch and refreshments will be provided and free car parking is available on site (please use the Huntingdon Road entrance to Murray Edwards College).
Dr Ian White invited Visiting Fellow at ViCBiostat
MRC Biostatistics Unit is pleased to announce that Programme Leader Dr Ian White has accepted an invitation to be a Visiting Fellow of the Victorian Centre of Biostatistics (ViCBiostat), in Melbourne, Australia, from 28th October until the 22nd of November 2013.
Dr White's main biostatistics research areas are statistical methods for handling missing data and heterogeneity in meta-analyses.
Dr White will speak on the 29th of October at the Statistical Society of Australia's Annual Belz Lecture and present a ViCBiostat seminar on October 31st at Murdoch Childrens Research Institute.
Dr White will also present a two day workshop titled 'Handling Missing Outcome Data in Randomised Trials' on 14-15th November at the Department of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine (DEPM), School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, in Monash University.
This course will equip analysts with the necessary practical skills to handle missing data in their analyses, and in particular to move beyond the use of complete-case analysis and last observation carried forward analysis. The course will focus on trials with quantitative outcomes, and also consider binary outcomes but not time-to-event outcomes and is targeted towards statisticians and researchers with experience performing statistical analysis of clinical trials with missing outcome data.
- Ian White's webpage: http://www.mrc-bsu.cam.ac.uk/People/IWhite.html
- VicBiostat website: http://www.vicbiostat.org.au/
- DEPM website: http://www.med.monash.edu.au/epidemiology/
Linda Sharples new Director of the Comprehensive Health Research Division at Leeds Institute of Clinical Trials Research
September saw a sad farewell to the MRC Biostatistics Unit's Programme Leader, Dr Linda Sharples.
Linda has been with the Unit for more than 20 years and will be missed.
Working jointly with Papworth Hospital her research focused on clinical epidemiology with applications to cardiothoracic transplantation. Major contributions to statistics from this work centred on the evaluation of surgical procedures in the absence of clinical trials and multistate models for describing the natural history of chronic diseases. More recently she has been involved in the design and promotion of randomised controlled trials in non-traditional areas (surgery, imaging, professional development) and in general evidence synthesis for policy development, particularly through health economic modelling.
Dr Linda Sharples will be joining Leeds Institute of Clinical Trials Research on late September as Professor of Statistics and Director of the Comprehensive Health Research Division.
To celebrate her achievements the MRC Biostatistics Unit threw a farewell ceilidh in her honour. She will certainly be missed by all her colleagues at BSU.
We wish her all the success in this new challenge.
MRC BSU Centenary Conference: 24th - 26th March 2014 | Queens' College, Cambridge, UK
Medical Research Council Conference on Biostatistics
Call for Abstracts and Early Bird Registration
The MRC Biostatistics Unit, also know as BSU, celebrates its centenary during October 2013 and August 2014, 100 years on from the decision of the Medical Research Committee to establish a statistical unit and appointment of its first Director: John Brownlee.
As part of their programme of celebratory events the BSU is pleased to announce the dates of its forthcoming International Conference which will take place at the Queens' College, Cambridge, UK.
The main four conference themes are:
- Evidence Synthesis to Inform Health
- Statistical Genomics
- Complex Observational and Longitudinal Data
- Design and Analysis of Randomised Trials
We have an exciting line-up of prestigious invited visiting speakers: Tony Ades, Per Kragh Andersen, Nicola G. Best, Leonardo Bottolo, Norman Breslow, Nicholas E. Day, Peter Diggle, Arnoldo Frigessi, Andy Grieve, Robin Henderson, Chris Holmes, Dirk Husmeier, Mahesh Parmar, Adrian E. Raftery, Duncan C. Thomas, and Simon G. Thompson.
For the conference programme please visit
Abstracts are invited for contributed papers or conference-posters. Abstracts Submission guidelines and forms are available at http://www.mrc-bsu.cam.ac.uk/mrccob2014/abstracts_submission.html.
Conference booking and abstract submission key dates:
- 8th August 2013: Early Bird Registration opens: Early Bird preferential rates apply for limited numbers of places
- 28th October 2013: Deadline for Submission of Contributed Paper Abstracts and for Poster Abstracts
- 8th November 2013: Email notification to contributors of selected Contributed Papers and Posters
- 25th November 2013: Deadline for receipt of registration fees from contributors of selected Contributed Papers
- 20th January 2013: Registration with accommodation closes
Registration is OPEN. Please click here for online registration.
For further details please visit the conference website
Please also see link to the conference poster
For answers to conference queries, please email to email@example.com
Press release, 16-07-2013
Dementia prevalence figures in the UK show decline over past 20 years
Results from two major cohort studies, supported by the Medical Research Council, reveal that the number of people with dementia in the UK is substantially lower than expected because overall prevalence in the 65 and over age group has dropped.
The two studies provide the first estimate of the change in the number of people live with dementia in the UK, and the new figures give a more accurate picture for those developing policies and planning healthcare services for dementia patients.
The results indicate that overall prevalence has gone down by 1.8 per cent to an estimated 6.5 per cent of the population. Using the current age profiles of the UK this corresponds to an estimated 670,000 people over the age of 65 living with dementia, a reduction of more than 20 per cent in the number of people projected to have dementia today compared with 20 years ago.
Three geographical areas in Newcastle, Nottingham and Cambridgeshire from the initial MRC Cognitive Function and Ageing Study (CFAS) examined levels of dementia in the population. The latest figures from the follow up study, CFAS II, show that there is variation in the proportion of people with dementia across differing areas of deprivation, suggesting that health inequalities during life may influence a person’s likelihood of developing dementia.
Prevalence of dementia in women remains higher than men, with 7.7 per cent of women over 65 estimated to have dementia, compared with 4.9 per cent of men. Although the overall prevalence of dementia has fallen, the prevalence of dementia among people living in care homes has increased, from 56 per cent of care home residents twenty years ago, to 70 per cent today.
The study was led by Professor Carol Brayne from the Cambridge Institute of Public Health at Cambridge University. She said:
“This study provides compelling evidence of a reduction in the prevalence of dementia in the older population over two decades. Whether or not these gains for the current older population will be borne out in later generations would seem to depend on whether further improvements in primary prevention and effective health care for conditions which increase dementia risk can be achieved, including addressing inequalities.”
The full results of the study are published online in The Lancet on Tuesday 16 July. Please click here.
Co-author Dr Fiona Matthews from the MRC Biostatistics Unit presented the findings at the Alzheimer's Association International Conference in Boston on that same day.Notes to editors:
- For more information or to arrange an interview with the researchers,
please contact Cathy Beveridge at the MRC press office on 0207 395 2276
or email firstname.lastname@example.org
1. The first part of the study, CFAS I, took place between 1989 and 1994, with over 7000 people interviewed on lifestyle, health, socioeconomic factors, medication, social care, and other factors, with around 1500 participants going on to be diagnostically assessed to determine whether they had dementia.
2. The second part of the study, CFAS II, used identical methods to survey 7796 randomly selected people aged over 65 in the same regions between 2008 and 2011. The data collected in both parts of the study allowed researchers to estimate the prevalence of dementia in people aged over 65 (ie, the percentage of the population with dementia) two decades ago (based on CFAS I data) and in 2008 – 2011 (CFAS II).
3. Dementia was defined using a standardised computer algorithm that has not changed over the two study time periods.
MRC BSU successfully joined Medical Research Council Open Week
To celebrate the MRC's 100th birthday, scientists from the MRC Biostatistics Unit (BSU) have taken part in Open Week, throwing open their doors to give visitors an insight to some of the awe-inspiring science that goes on in our establishments.
On Thursday 20th June 2013, members of the public were able to explore the work of the MRC Biostatistics Unit for themselves. Our Unit was open with scientists on hand to talk about their research, an exhibition about the history, pioneers and discoveries of the MRC Biostatistics Unit -one of the MRC's four foundation units- and Café Scientifique discussions which brought into focus the depth and breadth of the life-changing work of the BSU.
This is what one of the members of the audience had to say:“Simply brilliant! Have enjoyed listening to the relaxed talks and reading the enormous achievements of the MRC BSU scientists over 100 years. Keep up the good work in engaging scientific thoughts and solutions.” Stephen
The MRC BSU Open Day ended in the evening with a Public Lecture given by David Spiegelhalter, Winton Professor for the Public Understanding of Risk, University of Cambridge, who discussed Putting life into numbers- how statistical science has transformed health care.
This event was sold out and more than 250 people attended, concluding as well an exceptional series of Public Lectures co-hosted by the MRC Biostatistics Unit and the Cambridge Statistical Laboratory to celebrate the MRC Centenary and 2013 as the International Year of Statistics.
MRC Biostatistics Unit celebrates its centenary during October 2013 and August 2014, 100 years on from the decision of the Medical Research Committee to establish a statistical unit and appointment of its first Director: John Brownlee.
Our programme of celebratory events begins with the Armitage Lecture in November 2013, and includes our Centenary Conference (24-26 March 2014) and our co-hosting of the Bradford Hill Lecture with the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.
- To stay informed of the latest developments, please check our website
http://www.mrc-bsu.cam.ac.uk/ regularly for the latest updates
Amsterdam, June 10-14, 2013
9th Conference on Bayesian Nonparametrics
June saw Marian Farah of the MRC Biostatistics Unit (BSU) giving a talk as invited speaker at the 9th Conference on Bayesian Nonparametrics.
Her talk, titled “Bayesian nonparametric modelling of HIV biomarker trajectories for the estimation of infection recency”, made part of the Session “Applications in biostatistics and beyond”, organised and chaired by Peter Müller, Professor of Statistics within the Division of Statistics + Scientific Computation at UT Austin, and Fellow of the American Statistical Association.
The Bayesian nonparametrics (BNP) conference is a bi-annual international meeting bringing together leading experts and talented young researchers working on applications and theory of nonparametric Bayesian statistics. It is an official section meeting of the Bayesian nonparametrics section of the International Society for Bayesian Analysis (ISBA) and is co-sponsored by the Institute of Mathematical Statistics (IMS).
- For further information about the conference please click here.
- To access the weblink to the conference programme please click here.
Medical Research Council Centenary celebrations kick off at MRC Biostatistics Unit
This year the Medical Research Council is celebrating a hundred years of life-changing discoveries and taking time to reflect on our achievements in medical research, acknowledging those who have supported us along the way and looking forward to what medical research will deliver in the future.
As one of the Medical Research Council's four foundation units, the MRC Biostatistics Unit is playing a key role putting together an exceptional series of Free Public Lectures, co-hosted with the Cambridge Statistical Laboratory.
The first of the four celebratory lectures was held on April 29th, with Professor Sir Michael Rawlins, former Chair of Advisory Council of Misuse of Drugs 1998-2008, Chair of NICE (the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) 1999-2013, as speaker.
In his lecture Sir Michael Rawlins talked about how evidence affects health policy, and considered the respective places of experimentation and observation in deciding whether therapeutic interventions are fit for purpose. Around 150 people attended and many members of the audience had their say.
The next talks will see Tim Harford, host of Radio 4's More or Less programme, presenting 'a self-defence guide for the statistical battlefield'. Meanwhile Professor Sir John Beddington, former Chief Scientific Advisor to the UK government, will address the question: What's happening to the world? And Professor David Spiegelhalter of the Statistical Laboratory will discuss how statistical science has transformed healthcare.
These lectures are particularly suited for sixth-formers and adults, researchers and community members. All welcome!
The event programme with further details, dates and venues is available here.
For a pdf copy of the programme please click here.
For more information on the MRC Centenary visit the microsite: http://www.centenary.mrc.ac.uk/
Celebrating '100 years of life-changing discoveries'
As one of the Medical Research Council's four foundation units, the MRC Biostatistics Unit will be playing a key role in helping to celebrate the MRC Centenary this year.
Commemorative events will be taking place across the UK and in Africa for people of all ages and all levels of scientific knowledge programme. Together, these activities will celebrate and explain the MRC's greatest achievements as well as illustrating some of the current projects that are likely to contribute to the UK's continuing success as one of the world's leading nations in medical research.
Exceptional series of Free Public Lectures co-hosted by the MRC Biostatistics Unit and the Statistical Laboratory will be held between April and June to celebrate the wonders of Statistics.
Starting on 29 April, the talks will discuss from a variety of perspectives how the use of statistical evidence in health, media, science and policy affects our world. And there will be plenty of time for questions from the audience to have its say!
The former chair of NICE (the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence), Sir Michael Rawlins, will talk about how evidence affects health policy, while Tim Harford, presenter of Radio 4's More or Less programme, will present 'a self-defence guide for the statistical battlefield'.
Sir John Beddington, former chief scientific advisor to the UK government, will address the question: What's happening to the world? And Professor David Spiegelhalter of Cambridge's Statistical Laboratory will discuss how statistical science has transformed healthcare.
The talks are particularly suited for sixth-formers and adults, although all are welcome.
The event programme with further details, dates and venues is available here.
For a pdf copy of the programme please click here.
For more information on the MRC Centenary visit the microsite: http://www.centenary.mrc.ac.uk/
MRC Biostatistics Unit joined 'the exploration' at Cambridge Science Festival 2013
The exhibit showed how statistics has changed over the last century
“During the two-week extravaganza, the doors to the science world were opened wide and visitors were offered the best that Cambridge has to offer; a staggering 200-plus events, from walks and workshops to exhibitions and debates. There really was something for everyone – adults and children, researchers and community members.” (Taken form CSF website)
It took many months of preparation to put on the exhibit the MRC Biostatistics Unit showed this year at the Biology Zone. 'The wonders of biostatistics – how biostatistics can impact on health', had visitors trying different activities to test their creativity and thinking abilities as a way to explore how biostatistics has met the challenges of the different health priorities and new technologies over the last 100 years.
Commenting on the 2013 Cambridge Science Festival, visitors said:
“The Biology Zone was amazing! I am an aspiring doctor and I learnt so much, which has further inspired me to start a career in medicine. I will definitely be returning next year.”
The Science Festival Co-ordinator, Dr Lucinda Spokes, said:
“This hard work is all worthwhile when we see so many people enjoying and being inspired by the science and engineering undertaken here in Cambridge. And if Cambridge Science Festival encourages people to consider a career in science or engineering, or see how important these subjects are to all our lives, we know the Festival is serving a useful purpose.” (Taken form CSF website)
We would like to say a big thank you and congratulations to everyone involved including the volunteers, scientists, activity leaders, festival team, and most of all the visitors.
The Festival team will soon start working on the 2014 Science Festival. Next year marks the MRC Biostatistics Unit’s centenary, as one of the Medical Research Council's four foundation units. In the meantime, keep an eye on this site for the MRC Centenary events we will hold this spring/summer 2013.For details please visit http://www.mrc-bsu.cam.ac.uk/NewsandEvents/events.html
HIV incidence in England and Wales among men who have sex with men not falling
Despite a significant increase in HIV testing and treatment, the number of new HIV infections in men who have sex with men (MSM) has remained unchanged over the last 10 years in England and Wales, according to a new study by the Medical Research Council (MRC) and Health Protection Agency (HPA). The research also reports undiagnosed HIV infections remained high and annual new diagnoses rose steadily from 2001-2010. These results show that HIV transmission amongst MSM remains a significant public health issue.
Dr Daniela De Angelis, lead investigator at the MRC Biostatistics Unit, comments:“Unlike previous publications, our modelling approach was used to disentangle the competing contributions of increased rates of diagnosis of existing HIV infections and of HIV incidence (new infections) to observed HIV diagnoses in MSM. By applying the model to the latest surveillance data we were able to provide a comprehensive picture of the HIV epidemic amongst MSM in England and Wales over the past 10 years.”
Published in Lancet Infectious Diseases, the research found no evidence of a decline in levels of HIV over the last decade, with new infections plateauing at 2,300-2,500 annually from 2006 onwards. Undiagnosed HIV infections in MSM increased from 7,370 in 2001 to 7,690 in 2010. Despite a 20 per cent reduction in the average time between infection and diagnosis, from 4 years to 3.2 years, 38 per cent of infections in 2010 were still diagnosed after the time patients should have started antiretroviral (ARV) treatment.
Analysing additional HPA surveillance data from the same period, the authors found these trends occurred despite the fact that MSM HIV testing had increased by 3.7 times to 59,300 STI clinic tests per year in 2010, and that the proportion of MSM receiving HIV care had risen from 69 per cent to 80 per cent) with a greater proportion of MSM eligible for ARV treatment accessing it (from 75 per cent to 84 per cent).
Dr Valerie Delpech, HPA head of HIV surveillance, said:
“We are seriously concerned about the level of ongoing HIV transmission and the significant impact this is having within the MSM community. The most plausible explanation for these results is continuing unsafe sexual behaviour coupled with insufficient HIV testing, showing us just how vital safe sex programmes engaging MSM remain. ”
“MSM should get an HIV and STI screen at least annually, and every three months if having unprotected sex with new or casual partners– and we urge clinicians to take every opportunity to offer the test to this group. By coupling earlier and more frequent testing with programmes that reduce unsafe sexual behaviour in MSM, whilst maintaining high levels of treatment and retention in care, we could substantially reduce HIV transmission.”
Press coverage of this story:
Sheila Bird appears on Ben Goldacre's "Bad Evidence" Radio Programme
Sheila Bird joined Medic and author Ben Goldacre on his recent "Bad Evidence" Radio 4 programme. On the programme the idea of evidence-based policy was explored and the question of whether it can ever become a reality in the UK was discussed.
This programme is available on the BBC website here
More News from the BSU please click here