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Tests for recent infection (TRIs), such as the BED assay, provide a convenient way to estimate HIV incidence rates from cross-sectional survey data. Controversy has arisen over how the imperfect performance of a TRI should be characterised and taken into account. Recent theoretical work is providing a unified framework within which to work with a variety of TRI- and epidemic-specific assumptions in order to estimate incidence using imperfect TRIs, but suggests that larger survey sample sizes will be required than previously thought. This paper reviews the framework qualitatively and provides examples of estimator performance, identifying the characteristics required by a TRI to estimate incidence reliably that should guide the future development of TRIs.


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