Mapping Pathways is a multi-national project to develop and nurture a research-driven, community-led global understanding of the emerging evidence base around the adoption of antiretroviral-based prevention strategies to end the HIV/AIDS epidemic. The evidence base is more than results from clinical trials - it must include stakeholder and community perspectives as well.

04 May 2012

Researchers Report Low Number of People Living with HIV That Adhere to HIV Treatment and Care

via, by Tim Horn

Only one in five people living with HIV meet the criteria for being established and retained in care, according to a new analysis involving 12 clinics across the United States to be published in a forthcoming issue of the Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes. Though the authors warn that the data involving nearly 23,000 people enrolled in the HIV Research Network are not representative of retention rates in the country, the results nevertheless underscore a need for improvements in keeping those living with the virus connected to care.

As John Fleishman, PhD, of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality in Rockville, MD, and his colleagues write: HIV care is a continuum. One end reflects the estimated 1.2 million people believed to be living with HIV in the United States; the opposite end reflects the low rate (28 percent) of people living with HIV in the country who are successfully engaged in HIV care, receiving antiretroviral therapy and maintaining undetectable viral loads.

Provision of care is problematic at intermediate points in this continuum. “An estimated 21 percent of persons living with HIV in the U.S. are unaware of their infection,” the authors note. “Among those aware of their HIV infection, initial linkage to care is often delayed. After patients have been linked with a provider and have made an initial visit, they must still remain in care, with regular visits over a long time period.”

The study conducted by Fleishman’s group examined these later, but essential, stages in the HIV care continuum, notably rates of establishment and retention in care. These rates were determined using three main measurements.

“Establishment” applied to patients who made follow-up visits for longer than six months after showing up once for HIV care. “Retention” applied to patients who had been seen at least twice at HIV Research Network clinics, with visits separated by 90 days, in each year following their initial visit. The researchers also considered the rate of patients lost to follow-up—those who stopped their HIV Research Network clinic visits without notifications.

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