Early diagnosis and primary infection

Early HIV is when you test HIV positive within six months of infection.

A special HIV test called STARHS or RITA can help confirm this. This test has been recommended for all new diagnoses since 2011, but you still might need to ask your clinic to do this.

Also, the results only give a rough guide, so are interpreted with your recent risks.

There are several reasons why very early treatment might be important.

  • To minimise damage to your immune system. See: What about a cure?
  • To reduce the risk of transmission when viral load is very high.
  • To perhaps benefit from cure-related research in the future.
  • To have a smaller reservoir of infected resting cells.

If you are starting ART during primary infection, the earlier you start the better. Every week earlier might be important.

This includes the option to start on the first day that you see your HIV doctor.

Last updated: 1 June 2022.