Lack of Understanding of Acute HIV Infection among Newly-Infected Persons—Implications for Prevention and Public Health: The NIMH Multisite Acute HIV Infection Study: II
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Acute/early HIV infection is a period of high HIV transmission. Consequently, early detection of HIV infection and targeted HIV prevention could prevent a significant proportion of new transmissions. As part of an NIMH-funded multisite study, we used in-depth interviews to explore understandings of acute HIV infection (AHI) among 34 individuals diagnosed with acute/early HIV infection in six US cities. We found a marked lack of awareness of AHI-related acute retroviral symptoms and a lack of clarity about AHI testing methods. Most participants knew little about the meaning and/or consequences of AHI, particularly that it is a period of elevated infectiousness. Over time and after the acute stage of infection, many participants acquired understanding of AHI from varied sources, including the Internet, HIV-infected friends, and health clinic employees. There is a need to promote targeted education about AHI to reduce the rapid spread of HIV associated with acute/early infection within communities at risk for HIV.
KeywordsHIV/AIDS Awareness Acute HIV HIV prevention
Primary funding for this study was provided by the National Institute of Mental Health as supplements to the following AIDS Research Centers: P30MH062246, Center for AIDS Prevention Studies, University of California San Francisco; P30MH043520, HIV Center for Clinical and Behavioral Research, New York State Psychiatric Institute and Columbia University; P30MH062512, HIV Neurobehavioral Research Center, University of California San Diego; P30MH052776, Center for AIDS Intervention Research, Medical College of Wisconsin; P30MH058107, Center for HIV Identification, Prevention and Treatment Services, University of California Los Angeles; and P30MH062294, Center for Interdisciplinary Research on AIDS, Yale University. Additional funding was provided by: P30AI42853, Lifespan/Tufts/Brown Center for AIDS Research and AI43638, Acute Infection and Early Disease Research Program, University of California San Diego. Complete details about funding, the study Steering Committee, co-investigators, collaborating scientists, and project staff are presented in the first paper of this series (Kerndt et al. 2009).
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