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No time to wait: how many HIV-infected homosexual men are diagnosed late and consequently die? (England and Wales, 1993–2002)

Chadborn, Timothy Ra; Baster, Kathleena; Delpech, Valerie Ca; Sabin, Caroline Ab; Sinka, Katya; Rice, Brian Da; Evans, Barry Ga

Epidemiology and Social

Objectives: To present national trends of the estimated number and proportion of late HIV diagnoses and short-term mortality following diagnosis among men who have had sex with men (MSM). To determine separately risk factors for late diagnosis and short-term mortality.

Methods: Analysis of national HIV/AIDS case reports of new diagnoses linked to CD4 cell counts from the CD4 Surveillance Scheme. Inverse probability weighting adjusted for individuals with no CD4 cell count at diagnosis. Outcomes were late diagnosis (CD4 cell count <200 × 106 cells/l at diagnosis) and short-term mortality (death within 1 year of diagnosis).

Results: Of 14 158 new diagnoses, 31% were estimated as late diagnoses. Despite a decreasing trend (P trend <0.01) an estimated 430 (25%) MSM were still diagnosed late in 2001. Late diagnosis disproportionately affected individuals diagnosed outside London, of non-white ethnicity, and of older age. There were 710 (5.0% of 14 158) deaths within a year of HIV diagnosis. Estimated short-term mortality was 14% for MSM diagnosed late and 1% for other MSM (adjusted odds ratio, 10.8; 95% confidence interval, 7.7–15.9). Short-term mortality declined concurrently with availability of highly active antiretroviral therapy and was independently associated with age and diagnosis outside London but not ethnicity.

Conclusions: The continued late diagnosis of one in four MSM means these individuals lose the option to start therapy early, miss opportunities to prevent further transmission and are approximately 10 times more likely to die within a year of diagnosis. Early diagnosis of all MSM in 2001 could have reduced short-term mortality by 84% and all mortality in that year by 22%.

From the aHIV/STI Department, Communicable Disease Surveillance Centre, Health Protection Agency's, Centre for Infections London

bDepartment of Primary Care and Population Sciences, Royal Free and University College Medical School, London, UK.

Received 16 September, 2004

Revised 26 November, 2004

Accepted 16 December, 2004

Correspondence to Tim Chadborn, HIV/STI Department, Communicable Disease Surveillance Centre, Health Protection Agency's, Centre for Infections 61 Colindale Avenue, London NW9 5EQ, UK. E-mail: tim.chadborn@hpa.org.uk

© 2005 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.