QUESTION UNDER STUDY: Can additional information be obtained from recently HIV diagnosed individuals? METHODS: A 1-year prospective Swiss study, including all newly diagnosed HIV-infected patients. Information on circumstances of HIV infection was collected through physician- and patient questionnaires and patient interviews. Information on timing of infection was linked with an HIV-antibody avidity assay. RESULTS: Of 710 newly HIV diagnosed patients, 543 (76%) physician questionnaires (PhyQ) and 145 (20%) patient questionnaires (PaQ) were returned. PhyQ required fewer reminders (57% vs 28% spontaneous return). Patients whose doctors had returned the PhyQ were comparable to total population group. In contrast, a strong bias towards well educated recently infected Swiss men having sex with men (MSM) was seen in patients returning PaQ or agreeing to an interview. 83% of patients claimed that they knew the infection source and 85% infection place. Unprotected sexual contact was the most frequently cited infection source (92%; n = 404). Men mainly claimed occasional (43%) and women steady (61%) partners as the most likely source of HIVinfection. Serum for timing of infection was available in 98% of patients. Recent infections (RI) were highest in MSM (51%) and intravenous drug users (IDU, 54%). Compared to women, heterosexual men were more than twice as likely to be diagnosed with a RI. CONCLUSION: Relevant additional information on circumstances of HIV infection in newly diagnosed patients can easily be collected from treating physicians. Collecting information from patients is not a feasible option, with the exception of qualitative interviews in a selected group of patients.