Background: Early treatment of acute HIV-1 infection (AHI) is beneficial for patients and could reduce onward transmission. However, guidelines on whom to test for AHI with HIV-1 RNA testing are lacking.
Methods: A risk score for possible AHI based on literature and expert opinion - including symptoms associated with AHI and early HIV-1 - was evaluated using data from the Amsterdam Cohort Studies among men who have sex with men (MSM). Subsequently, we optimized the risk score by constructing two multivariable logistic regression models: one including only symptoms and one combining symptoms with known risk factors for HIV-1 seroconversion, using generalized estimating equations. Several risk scores were generated from these models and the optimal risk score was validated using data from the Multicenter AIDS Cohort Study.
Results: Using data from 1562 MSM with 175 HIV-1 seroconversion visits and 17,271 seronegative visits in the Amsterdam Cohort Studies, the optimal risk score included four symptoms (oral thrush, fever, lymphadenopathy, weight loss) and three risk factors (self-reported gonorrhea, receptive condomless anal intercourse, more than five sexual partners, all in the preceding six months) and yielded an AUC of 0.82. Sensitivity was 76.3% and specificity 76.3%. Validation in the Multicenter AIDS Cohort Study resulted in an AUC of 0.78, sensitivity of 56.2% and specificity of 88.8%.
Conclusions: The optimal risk score had good overall performance in the Amsterdam Cohort Studies and performed comparable (but showed lower sensitivity) in the validation study. Screening for AHI with four symptoms and three risk factors would increase the efficiency of AHI testing and potentially enhance early diagnosis and immediate treatment.
Keywords: Acute HIV-1 infection; Diagnosis; MSM; Risk score; Screening tool.