Recent observations from several groups suggest that individuals with acute (antibody negative) HIV infections (AHI) may present for "routine" HIV testing in unanticipated numbers. Most of these papers have highlighted the use of group testing strategies to screen antibody negative testing sera for HIV RNA using nucleic acid amplification tests. At the same time, accumulating evidence indicates that AHI is a time of briefly, but substantially elevated risk for transmission of HIV. In this paper, we review these new data with attention to their implications for HIV prevention strategies. By calling attention to a subset of patients that are both recently infected and at transiently very high risk of transmitting their new infection to partners, AHI detection makes it possible to use traditional, network notification-based public health strategies effectively in the fight against HIV.
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