Individuals developing an HIV seroconversion illness may experience rapid disease progression. Information on seroconversion illness is rarely collected in most cohort studies; thus the aim of this study was to assess the value of the HIV test interval (the time between last negative and first positive HIV tests) as a proxy for seroconversion illness. Among 8229 seroconverters, test intervals ranged from 0–5282 days, and varied by gender, risk group, age and calendar year of seroconversion. Those with intervals [les ] 31 days had an increased hazard of AIDS (RH 1·42, P = 0·07), which was reduced slightly after adjusting for baseline factors, calendar year of follow-up, treatment and the declining CD4 count, but there was no effect on survival. Thus, it appears that if information on acute seroconversion illness is not available, then analyses of progression to AIDS in seroconverter studies could use a short test interval as a proxy measure.
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