About the Study

The Observational Study:

The Acute HIV Infection Research Program at MGH brings together HIV researchers, patients and their providers with a joint mission to better understand the earliest events during HIV infection and the importance of these events in subsequent disease progression. 

For the past 15 years, our efforts to understand the immunologic and virologic events related to acute HIV infection have been both exciting and productive.  We have been recruiting patients identified during the acute and early stages of infection since 1996 and currently have over 250 patients enrolled in our Observational Study.

Specifically, our Observational Study aims to:

  1. Define the role of the innate immune system in the initial defense against HIV, and the role innate immunity has in shaping the adaptive immune response.
  2. Define the role of the acute phase adaptive immune response.
  3. Identify acute phase CD8+ T cell escape mutations and their impact on HIV fitness.
  4. Analyze the alteration of dendritic cell function by early HIV CD8+ T cell escape mutations.

The Clinical Trial: Treatment vs. No Treatment during the Acute Phase of HIV Infection

The Randomized Clinical Trial is designed to determine whether treatment of acute HIV infection is better than no treatment.

HIV medications are usually initiated later in the course of infection, when an individual's CD4 count is below 350 cells/mm3.  However, it is not definitively known whether or not there is an immunological benefit to earlier treatment. This Clinical Trial will help determine whether treatment during the earliest stages of HIV infection improves the immune system's ability to better control HIV. 

This Trial also serves to increase awareness and diagnosis of acute infection in the greater Boston area.  Since the acute period of HIV infection is the highest period of infectivity, thought to contribute to over 40% of "unknowing" transmissions, simply increasing vigilance to make the diagnosis and provide early education and counseling may have an important effect on reducing transmissions.

To learn more about our Observational Study and Clinical Trial, please visit Enrolling in the Study.