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One in five living with HIV undetected for 10 years

One in five people in Austria living with HIV carry the virus undetected for more than ten years, a survey by Graz researchers has shown.

The research carried out by Graz Medical University also found that 20% of people who are HIV+ in Austria would be diagnosed within a few months after they picked up the infection and 60% would not be diagnosed until after one year.

"In Austria, as in other Central European countries, many infections are not detected until much later than is possible and necessary," says Martin Hönigl, a researcher at the university.

Doctors and HIV researchers recommend that adults living with HIV should be treated with anti-retroviral drugs as soon as possible and not when the infection has already damaged the immune system. Early anti-retroviral treatment could prevent an infection from taking hold because it preserves a better immune response against HIV.

HIV is often detected quite late however, partly due to the fact that symptoms usually take a while to show and vulnerable populations are unaware of available services or do not seek testing.

Hönigl suggests that a structured intensive programme of HIV testing for vulnerable groups could help to improve the current situation, as well as a programme with repeated HIV testing and early access to medical care.

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