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BACKGROUND: Acute HIV-1 infection (AHI) may present with symptoms for which urgent healthcare is sought. However, little is known about healthcare seeking around the time of HIV-1 seroconversion in sub-Saharan Africa. METHODS: Review of clinical, counselling, treatment and laboratory records of previously HIV-1 seronegative at-risk adults, followed at monthly or 3-monthly visits, who seroconverted and enrolled in an AHI cohort. All HIV-seronegative plasma samples were tested for p24 antigen (p24) and stored preseroconversion samples for HIV-1 RNA (RNA). Factors associated with malaria treatment while acquiring HIV-1 were evaluated in multiple logistic regression. RESULTS: Sixty men and 12 women (95% of 75 seroconverters) were evaluated, including 43 (60%) with either p24-positive or RNA-positive or HIV-1 discordant rapid antibodies prior to seroconversion. Prior to diagnosis, 54 patients (75%) reported fever and 50 (69%) sought urgent care for symptomatic illness, including 23 (32%) who sought care in a nonresearch setting. Twenty-nine patients (40%) received presumptive malaria treatment. Only 24% of febrile patients were tested for malaria parasites. All documented smear results were negative. Malaria treatment was strongly associated with fever [adjusted odds ratio (aOR): 46, 95% confidence interval (CI): 3-725] and nonresearch setting (aOR: 5, 95% CI: 3-64). AHI was suspected in six (12%) patients who presented for urgent care during research evaluation. CONCLUSIONS: The majority of adults with AHI seek urgent healthcare. These individuals are often presumptively treated for malaria. Improved recognition of AHI in adults presenting for care may offer opportunities for optimizing HIV prevention strategies.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





1219 - 1224


Adolescent, Adult, Antimalarials, Female, Fever, HIV Seropositivity, HIV-1, Health Care Surveys, Homosexuality, Humans, Kenya, Male, Middle Aged, Patient Acceptance of Health Care, Prospective Studies, Sex Work, Treatment Outcome, Young Adult