Late Diagnosis of HIV Frequent

LONDON-A new study shows that HIV patients are often diagnosed years after their infection, taking away valuable treatment time.

In the United Kingdom, more than one third of HIV patients were diagnosed having a CD4+ cell count of less than 200 cells/µl. This late of a diagnosis puts the patient at an increased risk of infection and limits the chance of successful antiretroviral therapy.

Researchers from the Royal Sussex County Hospital and the Sussex Beacon looked at whether healthcare workers were missing HIV infections when examining patients. After looking at the treatment histories of 49 patients with newly diagnosed HIV from 1997 to 2000, they found 25 patients had been to hospital clinics before being diagnosed. There were five patients who had actually been admitted and treated prior to their diagnosis. Within this group, the average time between the first hospital visit and HIV diagnosis was 995 days. Their mean CD4+ cell count at diagnosis was 76 cells/µl. There were 17 HIV-related deaths in this group between 1997 and 2000, 13 of those patients being in the late diagnosis group.

With these findings, the researchers announced there is an increased need to educate non-HIV specialists about HIV infection. Hospitals and other healthcare organizations should give healthcare workers more information about the virus and how they should test for the disease.

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