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AIDS Patient Care STDS. 2011 Oct;25(10):601-9. doi: 10.1089/apc.2010.0390.

A community-based study of barriers to HIV care initiation.

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Department of Medicine, Division of Global Public Health, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, California 92093-0927, USA.


Timely treatment of HIV infection is a public health priority, yet many HIV-positive persons delay treatment initiation. We conducted a community-based study comparing HIV-positive persons who received an HIV diagnosis at least 3 months ago but had not initiated care (n=100) with a reference population of HIV-positive persons currently in care (n=115) to identify potential barriers to treatment initiation. Study participants were mostly male (78.0%), and persons of color (54.9% Latino, 26.3% black), with median age 37.8 years. Median time since HIV diagnosis was 3.7 years. Univariate analysis revealed that those never in care differed substantially from those currently in care with regard to sociodemographics; HIV testing and counseling experiences; perceived barriers to care; and knowledge, attitudes, and beliefs regarding HIV. Factors independently associated with never initiating HIV care were younger age (adjusted odds ratio [AOR]=0.93; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.88, 0.99), shorter time since diagnosis (AOR=0.87; 95% CI: 0.77, 0.98), lacking insurance (AOR=0.11; 95% CI: 0.03, 0.35), not knowing someone with HIV/AIDS (AOR=0.09; 95% CI: 0.03, 0.30) not disclosing HIV status (AOR=0.13; 95% CI: 0.02, 0.70), not receiving help making an HIV care appointment after diagnosis (AOR=0.04; 95% CI: 0.01, 0.14), and not wanting to think about being HIV positive (AOR=3.57; 95% CI: 1.22, 10.46). Our findings suggest that isolation and stigma remain significant barriers to initiating HIV care in populations consisting primarily of persons of color, and that direct linkages to HIV care at the time of diagnosis are critical to promoting timely care initiation in these populations.

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