The Secret Life of HIV
Early-capture testing can detect HIV infections before symptoms arise, offering opportunities to decrease transmission and improve treatment
Michael Schubert |
Every so often, a discovery in the world of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) research will prompt the use of the phrase “Holy Grail.” Usually, it’s a proposed treatment for the disease, or early-stage work on a possible preventative vaccine. But those may not be the only interventions deserving of a grand title. What if there were a way to detect HIV earlier than ever – during the acute phase of infection, when the disease is both most transmissible and potentially most treatable? A landmark study in the New England Journal of Medicine (1) details a cohort of high-risk individuals whose HIV status was tracked over time with twice-weekly nucleic acid testing, allowing researchers to detect the presence of the virus long before they became symptomatic or began secreting antibodies.
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