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Newly Diagnosed

8th January 2014

People newly diagnosed with HIV/STIs often have individuals with undiagnosed HIV in their social network

Asking people who are newly diagnosed with HIV or a sexually transmitted infection (STI) to recruit contacts in their social network for HIV/STI screening is an effective way of detecting previously undiagnosed infections, investigators report in the online edition of the Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes. The study was conducted in Malawi. Patients were asked to recruit up to five individuals from their social or sexual network for testing.

“Asking STI patients to recruit their social contacts was a feasible, effective and efficient way of diagnosing new HIV cases in a generalized epidemic,” write the authors. “To identify one new case of HIV infection only 8-10 contacts of clinic seeds needed to be tested for HIV, much better efficacy than random testing in the population.”

Approximately 11% of adults in Malawi are HIV positive. But up to a third of HIV cases are undiagnosed. Reducing the proportion of undiagnosed infections is a public health priority. An international team of investigators wanted to see if social network recruitment by people newly diagnosed with HIV/STIs was an efficient and effective way of reaching people with previously undiagnosed infections.

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