Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Original article
Replacement of conventional HIV testing with rapid testing: mathematical modelling to predict the impact on further HIV transmission between men
  1. David P Wilson1,
  2. Christopher K Fairley2,3,
  3. Daniel Sankar2,3,
  4. Henrietta Williams2,3,
  5. Phillip Keen4,
  6. Tim R H Read2,3,
  7. Marcus Y Chen2,3
  1. 1National Centre in HIV Epidemiology and Clinical Research, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia
  2. 2Melbourne Sexual Health Centre, Melbourne, Australia
  3. 3School of Population Health, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia
  4. 4Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations, Sydney, Australia
  1. Correspondence to Dr Marcus Y Chen, Melbourne Sexual Health Centre, The Alfred Hospital, 580 Swanston Street, Carlton, Victoria 3053, Australia; mchen{at}


Background Rapid HIV testing is not permitted in Australia at the point of care. The authors evaluate the expected net effect of rapid HIV testing compared with standard serology diagnostic tests in terms of onward HIV transmission.

Methods The authors used data for 174 men who had sex with men testing HIV-positive at the Melbourne Sexual Health Centre, Australia, in an agent-based mathematical model. Time of diagnosis is simulated according to conventional enzyme immunoassays or rapid HIV tests, with different window periods. The authors calculated the expected number of additional/averted transmissions due to missed or earlier diagnoses.

Results Fourth generation rapid tests were simulated to miss ∼2–3% of diagnoses compared with conventional fourth generation enzyme immunoassay tests. However, in the remaining 97–98% of cases the rapid test would result in earlier detection of HIV. Overall, the rapid test would reduce time to patients receiving results by a median of ∼12 days. Assuming no changes in testing rates, the introduction of rapid testing diagnostic technologies would prevent one in every 2000–5000 HIV transmissions compared with the conventional diagnostic test.

Conclusions Rapid tests would have a marginal benefit in reducing HIV transmission between men compared with conventional tests under assumptions of no changes in testing frequencies.

  • Rapid test
  • HIV
  • gay men
  • Australia
  • mathematical model
  • public health
  • surveillance
  • Chlamydia
  • anogenital cancer
  • AIDS
  • bacterial vaginosis
  • epidemiology (clinical)
  • NSU
  • HIV testing
  • HPV
  • epidemiology
  • case reports
  • PID
  • STD services
  • STD surveillance
View Full Text

Statistics from


  • Funding The authors acknowledge funding from the Australian Research Council. The National Centre in HIV Epidemiology and Clinical Research is funded by the Australian Government, Department of Health and Ageing.

  • Competing interests None.

  • Ethics approval Ethical approval for this study was granted by the Alfred Hospital Research Ethics Committee.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.