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J Infect Dis. 2008 Sep 1;198(5):687-93. doi: 10.1086/590501.

HIV-1 transmission, by stage of infection.

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Department of Infectious Disease Epidemiology, Faculty of Medicine, Imperial College London, London, United Kingdom.



The epidemiological impact of public health interventions targeted at reducing transmission of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) during early or late-stage infection depends on the contribution of these disease stages to transmission within a particular epidemic.


Transmission hazards and durations of periods of high infectivity during primary, asymptomatic, and late-stage infection were estimated for HIV-1-serodiscordant heterosexual couples in Rakai, Uganda, by use of a robust probabilistic framework.


Primary infection and late-stage infection were estimated to be 26 and 7 times, respectively, more infectious than asymptomatic infection. High infectiousness during primary infection was estimated to last for approximately 3 months after seroconversion, whereas high infectiousness during late-stage infection was estimated to be concentrated between 19 months and 10 months before death.


Primary and late-stage HIV-1 infection are more infectious than previously estimated, but for shorter periods. In a homogeneous population, the asymptomatic stage of infection will typically contribute more to the net transmission of HIV-1 over the lifetime of an infected individual, because of its longer duration. The dependence of the relative contribution of infectious stages on patterns of sexual behavior and the phase of epidemics is discussed.

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