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AIDS Patient Care STDS. 2011 Aug;25 Suppl 1:S31-8. doi: 10.1089/apc.2011.9878. Epub 2011 Jun 28.

Early linkage and retention in care: findings from the outreach, linkage, and retention in care initiative among young men of color who have sex with men.

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  • 1University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA.


Early linkage and retention in HIV clinical care is essential for optimal disease management, promotion of health, and receipt of secondary prevention messages to decrease onward transmission of HIV. Youth, specifically racial/ethnic minority young men who have sex with men (YMSM), continue to acquire new HIV infections and have been shown to be less likely to engage in regular HIV care and adhere to scheduled medical visits. The goal of the current study was to evaluate the characteristics of participants and program delivery that were associated with early linkage and retention in HIV care among HIV-infected YMSM of color enrolled in an outreach, linkage, and retention study. Of the 334 patients included in the linkage analysis, 72% were linked to care within 30 days of diagnosis, 81% within 60 days, and 87% within 90 days. While no patient-level characteristics were associated with early linkage, having the person who provided the positive HIV test result refer the patient to HIV care (p=0.048), specifically calling to make the appointment (p=0.009), was associated with earlier linkage. Retention of Latino participants (96.2%) was significantly higher than for the African-American (79.9%) youth (p=0.006). Overall, 221 participants had at least 1 year of possible follow-up and 82.8% of these participants were retained at 1 year. While unique challenges exist in the care of adolescents infected with HIV from identification to engagement and retention in clinical care, programs that are responsive and dedicated to the needs of these youth can be successful in retaining them in care.

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