Introduction Acute HIV infection (AHI) is associated with high HIV viral load and therefore an important factor in onward transmission. Timely detection and treatment of AHI can contribute to a better HIV prognosis and help prevent further transmission.
Methods A media campaign directed men to an online intervention (hebikhiv.nl) where visitors were trained in recognising AHI-symptoms and offered an interactive risk-assessment questionnaire using a risk score algorithm comprising behaviour and symptoms. If found at risk, men were referred to the Amsterdam STI clinic for AHI testing including a point-of-care HIV RNA test. If diagnosed with AHI, counselling and referral for immediate treatment was offered. Participation was monitored using web-statistics, and men presented for testing were questioned regarding their referral source.
Results From Aug 2015 to Dec 2016, the intervention’s website was visited 1 50 035 times by 1 27 394 unique visitors. The online risk-assessment tool was started 96 756 times and was completed in 81% (77,949) of the cases. Of those, 10% (7733) received the advice to test for AHI, and of those, 21% (1609) downloaded the referral letter to the STI clinic. At the clinic, 209 men presented for AHI testing. Of those 57% (119) were confirmed to have arrived through the campaign. In total, 181 were eligible for testing, and in 7% (13) AHI was diagnosed. Of the 13 AHI cases, 2 were referred by the campaign, 5 by the STI clinic, 4 through own initiative, 1 by ‘others’, and none by a GP. All 13 were referred to start treatment within 24 hours.
Conclusion The AHI campaign succeeded in engaging a large number of MSM. The high numbers that completed the risk-assessment tool points at an in-depth engagement with the intervention’s material. While most men online were not found to be at risk for AHI, their engagement with the intervention could assist them to self-identify AHI in the future. The mix of referral sources among those diagnosed with AHI points at the added value of establishing a dedicated AHI testing service to attract risk cases in the community.