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HIV could be picked up earlier in primary care

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Nurses should be on the look out for patients co-presenting with sore throat, fever and rash as these individuals might have HIV infection, says the National AIDS Trust.

Its report, Primary HIV Infection, says many GPs and other health professionals are missing these early stage symptoms that usually occur within two to six weeks of infection with the virus.

Seventy to 90 per cent of people infected will show symptoms at this stage but if this is missed, may be symptomless for many years. If left undiagnosed they may go on to infect partners, the charity warned. Between 30 and 50% of new HIV infections are estimated to be passed on when people have just become infected themselves and are unaware of the infection.

The report highlights cases of people with symptoms being sent away by doctors with comments such as: ‘Probably glandular fever’; ‘It’s a viral illness’; or ‘Come back in two weeks if you’re not feeling better’, and not being offered HIV tests.

Deborah Jack, chief executive of the National AIDS Trust, said: ‘It is very worrying that GPs and other healthcare professionals are often missing the signs and symptoms of HIV infection. HIV diagnoses are increasing across the UK and all doctors need to be aware of the symptoms of recent infection and latest testing options.’

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