Diagnosing HIV infection in patients presenting with glandular fever-like illness in primary care: are we missing primary HIV infection?

Friday, 11 May, 2012


Objectives The aim of the study was to examine the prevalence of HIV infection in patients presenting in primary care with glandular fever (GF)-like illness.

Methods Samples from primary care submitted for a GF screen between April 2009 and June 2010 were identified. Samples without an HIV request were anonymized and retrospectively tested using a 4th-generation HIV antigen/antibody screening test. Reactive samples were further confirmed by an HIV antibody only test, with or without a p24 antigen assay. Antibody avidity testing based on the Recent HIV Infection Testing Algorithm (RITA) was used to identify individuals with evidence of recent acquisition (within 4–5 months).

Results Of 1046 GF screening requests, concomitant HIV requests were made in 119 patients. Excluding one known positive patient, 2.5% (three of 118) tested HIV positive. Forty-five (4.3%) had a subsequent HIV test through another consultation within 1 year; of these, 4.4% (two of 45) tested positive. Of the remaining 882 patients, 694 (78.7%) had samples available for unlinked anonymous HIV testing, of which six (0.9%) tested positive. The overall HIV prevalence was 1.3% (11 of 857), with 72.7% (eight of 11) of cases missed at initial primary care presentation. Four of the nine (44.4%) available positive samples had evidence of recent acquisition, with three (75.0%) missed at initial primary care presentation.

Conclusion Low levels of HIV testing in patients presenting in primary care with GF-like illness are resulting in a significant number of missed HIV and seroconversion diagnoses. Local policy should consider adopting an opt-out strategy to include HIV testing routinely within the GF-screening investigation panel.

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Published: 2013 Jan;14(1):60-3. doi: 10.1111/j.1468-1293.2012.01023.x. Epub 2012 May 11.