Because recently infected individuals disproportionately contribute to the spread of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), we evaluated the impact of a primary HIV screening program (the Early Test) implemented in San Diego.
The Early Test program used combined nucleic acid and serology testing to screen for primary infection targeting local high-risk individuals. Epidemiologic, HIV sequence, and geographic data were obtained from the San Diego County Department of Public Health and the Early Test program. Poisson regression analysis was performed to determine whether the Early Test program was temporally and geographically associated with changes in incident HIV diagnoses. Transmission chains were inferred by phylogenetic analysis of sequence data.
Over time, a decrease in incident HIV diagnoses was observed proportional to the number primary HIV infections diagnosed in each San Diego region (P < .001). Molecular network analyses also showed that transmission chains were more likely to terminate in regions where the program was marketed (P = .002). Although, individuals in these zip codes had infection diagnosed earlier (P = .08), they were not treated earlier (P = .83). CONCLUSIONS
These findings suggests that early HIV diagnoses by this primary infection screening program probably contributed to the observed decrease in new HIV diagnoses in San Diego, and they support the expansion and evaluation of similar programs.