Though HIV-infected patients optimally benefit from indefinite, periodic outpatient care, the initial establishment of HIV care and subsequent care retention are problematic. The study authors examined establishment, retention, and loss to follow-up (LTFU) in patients receiving care at 12 clinics in the HIV Research Network.
Medical records were reviewed for 22,984 adult HIV patients who were treated between 2001 and 2009. Three dichotomous outcome measures were based on each patient's outpatient visit history. Establishment indicated whether the patient made outpatient visits for longer than six months after initial enrollment. Retention reflected whether the patient had at least two outpatient visits separated by 90 days in each year in care. Patients who had no outpatient visits for more than 12 months without returning were classified as LTFU. The demographic and clinical correlates of each outcome and the combined outcome of meeting all three measures were examined using multiple logistic regression.
"Overall, 21.7 percent of patients never established HIV care after an initial visit. Among established patients, 57.4 percent did not meet the retention criterion in all years, and 34.9 percent were LTFU. Only 20.4 percent of all patients met all three criteria," according to the study results, which noted the odds of successfully meeting all three criteria were higher for women, older patients, Hispanics compared with whites, and those with CD4 levels =50 cells per cubic millimeter.
The authors concluded that the data "highlight the need to improve establishment and retention in HIV care."
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