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PLoS One. 2009;4(2):e4445. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0004445. Epub 2009 Feb 13.

Late HIV diagnosis and determinants of progression to AIDS or death after HIV diagnosis among injection drug users, 33 US States, 1996-2004.

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Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia, United States of America.



The timeliness of HIV diagnosis and the initiation of antiretroviral treatment are major determinants of survival for HIV-infected people. Injection drug users (IDUs) are less likely than persons in other transmission categories to seek early HIV counseling, testing, and treatment. Our objective was to estimate the proportion of IDUs with a late HIV diagnosis (AIDS diagnosis within 12 months of HIV diagnosis) and determine the factors associated with disease progression after HIV diagnosis.


Using data from 33 states with confidential name-based HIV reporting, we determined the proportion of IDUs aged >or=13 years who received a late HIV diagnosis during 1996-2004. We used standardized Kaplan-Meier survival methods to determine differences in time of progression from HIV to AIDS and death, by race/ethnicity, sex, age group, CD4(+) T-cell count, metropolitan residence, and diagnosis year. We compared the survival of IDUs with the survival of persons in other transmission categories. During 1996-2004, 42.2% (11,635) of 27,572 IDUs were diagnosed late. For IDUs, the risk for progression from HIV to AIDS 3 years after HIV diagnosis was greater for nonwhites, males and older persons. Three-year survival after HIV diagnosis was lower for IDU males (87.3%, 95% confidence interval (CI), 87.1-87.4) compared with males exposed through male-to-male sexual contact (91.6%, 95% CI, 91.6-91.7) and males exposed through high-risk heterosexual contact (HRHC) (91.9%, 95% CI, 91.8-91.9). Survival was also lower for IDU females (89.5%, 95% CI, 89.4-89.6) compared to HRHC females (93.3%, 95% CI, 93.3-93.4).


A substantial proportion of IDUs living with HIV received their HIV diagnosis late. To improve survival of IDUs, HIV prevention efforts must ensure early access to HIV testing and care, as well as encourage adherence to antiretroviral treatment to slow disease progression.

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