The HIV treatment cascade in acutely infected people: informing global guidelines

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Purpose of reviewAcute and early HIV (AHI) is a pivotal time during HIV infection, yet there remain major shortfalls in diagnosis, linkage to care, and antiretroviral therapy (ART) initiation during AHI. We introduce an AHI-specific cascade, review recent evidence pertaining to the unique challenges of AHI, and discuss strategies for improving individual and public health outcomes.Recent findingsPresentation during AHI is common. Expanding use of fourth-generation testing and pooled nucleic acid amplification testing has led to improved AHI detection in resource-wealthy settings. Technologies capable of AHI diagnosis are rare in resource-limited settings; further development of point-of-care devices and utilization of targeted screening is needed. Rapid ART initiation during AHI limits reservoir seeding, preserves immunity, and prevents transmission. Reporting of AHI cascade outcomes is limited, but new evidence suggests that impressive rates of diagnosis, linkage to care, rapid ART initiation, and viral suppression can be achieved.SummaryWith advancements in AHI diagnostics and strong evidence for the therapeutic and prevention benefits of ART initiated during AHI, improving AHI cascade outcomes is both crucial and feasible. HIV guidelines should recommend diagnostic algorithms capable of detecting AHI and prescribe rapid, universal ART initiation during AHI.

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