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Measuring HIV-1 incidence in northern Thailand: prospective cohort results and estimates based on early diagnostic tests.

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Johns Hopkins University, USA.


Measuring the incidence of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is of vital importance but can be difficult and costly. We compared HIV-1 incidence measured directly from prospective cohort studies with rates derived from a method using the prevalence of HIV-1 antibody-negative, p24-antigen-positive individuals. Male and female commercial sex workers (CSWs) were enrolled and followed in separate cohort studies in northern Thailand between 1989 and 1994, and HIV incidence was measured by prospective follow-up of individuals seronegative at baseline. In 1991-1992 cross-sectional serosurveys were done among male and female CSWs in the same region; all HIV-1 antibody-negative subjects in these surveys were tested for p24 antigenemia. HIV incidence was estimated using the prevalence of p24 antigen and a model based on the mean duration of p24 antigenemia before HIV antibody detection. The cohort studies showed high initial incidence rates-23.8/100 person-years (PY) among female CSWs and 11.9/100 PY among male CSWs-but poor compliance with prospective follow-up. Subjects lost to follow-up appeared to be at greater risk of HIV seroconversion than those retained. The p24 antigen method estimate among female CSWs, 25.4%/year, was quite similar to the initial incidence rate found in the cohort. The estimate by the p24 antigen method was higher, 19.9%/year, among male CSWs than that measured prospectively. In populations with high rates of HIV transmission and in whom long-term follow-up is incomplete, estimates of incidence using p24 antigen prevalence among antibody-negative subjects can give useful and economical estimates of HIV incidence and allow for estimates of whether the incidence rates are similar in subjects successfully followed and those lost to follow-up.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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