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Serological methods exist that allow differentiating between recent and long-standing infections in persons infected with HIV. During a pilot study in Berlin between 2005 and 2007 methodologies have been evaluated. In a cross-sectional study blood samples, demographic, laboratory, clinical and behavioural data based on a KABP survey were collected from patients with newly diagnosed HIV infections. The BED-CEIA was used to determine recency of infection. Recent HIV infections contributed 54% (CI [95%]: 45; 64) in MSM and 16% (CI [95%]: 0; 39) in patients with other transmission risks (p=0.041). Proportions of recent infections were significantly higher in MSM ≤30 years (p=0.019). The mean age was 33.9 (median 34 years) in recent compared with 38.6 years (median: 38 years) in long-standing infections (p=0.011). High-risk behaviour indicated through very low condom use in recently HIV infected MSM could be identified. The results of the pilot study support expectations that the modified application of the method may contribute to improving HIV prevention efforts in Germany. On this basis the Robert Koch Institute implemented a countrywide HIV incidence study to complement HIV surveillance in early 2008. The study is funded by the German Ministry of Health. Data on recent HIV infections and current HIV transmission risks are collected. Design, methods and impact are described in detail.


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