Early HIV Diagnosis: New Opportunities for State Health Departments

By Liisa Randall, Consultant, NASTAD

National HIV Testing Day 2013Each year on June 27th, we mark National HIV Testing Day (NHTD) as an opportunity to further promote HIV testing as an important HIV prevention tool and as the critical first step to linking individuals living with HIV with medical care and support services that can help them stay healthy and improve their quality of life.

Missing an opportunity to diagnose acute HIV infection has important public health implications. Health departments play an important role in HIV testing in that health department HIV prevention programs conduct more than three million tests each year. During the acute phase of HIV infection, individuals are highly infectious and research has demonstrated that acute infection contributes disproportionately to HIV transmission. Research also suggests that treatment of early HIV infection with antiretroviral therapy (ART) may delay disease progression and may also decrease the severity of acute disease.
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