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High-risk populations should seek HIV testing at the first sign of symptoms, study suggests

Category: HIV

Seeking HIV testing at the moment symptoms begin to emerge could help high-risk individuals get diagnosed early and prevent the spread of the infection, according to a new study published in the journal AIDS. The virus often causes flu-like symptoms shortly after it is contracted.

Initiating HIV testing at this early point is particularly important for men who have sex with men (MSM), the researchers said, as this group of individuals is known to be at a much higher risk of becoming infected with HIV.

After running simulations of various scenarios, the researchers found that HIV testing at the moment symptoms begin to emerge would be the most cost-effective way to prevent the spread of the infection among high-risk populations than simply testing everyone.

"Use of HIV viral load testing in MSM with influenza-like illness prevents more infections than does annual antibody screening alone and is cost-effective," said Jessie L. Juusola, who led the investigation.

Juusola added that only testing people who show symptoms provides about 80 percent of the benefit of screening everyone at risk for contracting HIV at roughly half the cost.

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