New Tool Helps Clinicians Detect Acute HIV Infection

A new tool is now available to help physicians and other health care providers identify patients in the earliest, highly infectious stages of HIV infection.

"Learn to Recognize Acute HIV Infection," a poster and fact sheet from the HIV Medicine Association, is designed to help clinicians identify the symptoms most strongly associated with acute HIV infection and to assess a patient's risk for HIV to determine whether diagnostic laboratory tests are warranted. 

Acute HIV infection is the period shortly following acquisition of HIV when persons experiencing HIV infection are highly infectious and often sick enough to seek medical care. As many as 90 percent of HIV patients experience symptoms of acute HIV infection within one to four weeks of exposure.

"This new tool will help physicians recognize the key signs and symptoms that should prompt consideration of acute HIV, and the suggested risk behavior questions can help physicians perform this important part of the patient history," said Daniel R. Kuritzkes, MD, FIDSA, chair of the HIVMA Board of Directors.

"Despite the importance of recognizing acute HIV, most cases go undiagnosed, even when patients come for medical care," said Frederick Hecht, MD, member of the HIVMA Board. "Recognizing cases of acute HIV infection offers important opportunities to interrupt HIV transmission and provide patients with treatment options."

Identifying individuals during acute HIV infection is a worthwhile public health goal. Awareness of HIV infection has been shown to reduce transmission risk behaviors substantially.

Source: HIVMA and the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA)