Only 75 percent of HIV patients stay in careOnly 75 percent of HIV/AIDS patients in the United States remain in care consistently, according to a new study supported by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). The study, published in the February 29 issue of the journal AIDS, is the first to provide a comprehensive national estimate of HIV care retention and information about patients who are most likely to continue their care over time.
Researchers studied 17,425 adult patients cared for at 12 clinics within the AHRQ-supported HIV Research Network between 2001 and 2008. Only 42 percent of patients studied had what researchers defined as no "gap" in treatment (intervals of no more than 6 months in between outpatient visits) over the 7-year period. Nearly one-third, or 31 percent of patients, had one or more treatment gaps that extended between 7 and 12 months. What's more, about 28 percent of patients appeared to have gone without care for more than a year on one or more occasions. Women, white patients, older patients, male patients who were infected via sex with men, and patients who began treatment on Medicare (compared to those on private insurance) were more likely to remain in care more consistently.
Retention was also greater among patients whose CD4 cell counts were very low when they entered care (lower CD4 counts indicate more advanced HIV disease). The study was led by Baligh Yehia, M.D., a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine, and Kelly Gebo, M.D., an associate professor of medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.
You can access the study abstract on PubMed® at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22382143.