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AIDS Care. 2013;25(2):202-6. doi: 10.1080/09540121.2012.689811. Epub 2012 Jun 18.

Centralization of HIV services in HIV-positive African-American and Hispanic youth improves retention in care.

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Michael E. DeBakey Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Houston, TX, USA.


African-American and Hispanic HIV-infected youth are a high risk group for not remaining in HIV care. We examined differences in retention in care among 174 HIV-infected African-American and Hispanic youth between 13 and 23 years old who presented for HIV primary care between 1 January 2002 and 31 August 2008. Patients were included in three service eras, based on when they entered the clinic: when no youth-specific services were available (the decentralized era), after formation of a youth clinic staffed by adolescent providers and a case-manager (the centralized era), and after educational activities and support groups were added and the social services staff were trained in the use of motivational interviewing (the centralized with supportive services era). Patient and attendance data for the 12-months following entry into care were captured. Retention in HIV care was examined using two different measures: adequate visit constancy (at least three quarters with at least one visit in each quarter) and having a gap in care (two consecutive medical visits ≥180 days apart). Adequate visit constancy improved by service era from 31% in the decentralized era to 57% in the centralized era and 65% in the centralized with supportive services era (p=0.01). The percent of patients with no gap in care remained stable at about 80% in the decentralized and centralized eras, but then increased to 96% in the centralized with supportive services era (p=0.04). Results suggest that centralizing youth-specific care and expanding youth services can improve retention in HIV care. These system changes should be considered when resources allow.

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