Nearly half of teenagers and young adults with HIV delay treatment until their disease has advanced, according to recent study findings published in a research letter in JAMA Pediatrics.
“These are decidedly disappointing findings that underscore the need to develop better ways to diagnose teens sooner and, just as importantly, to get them into care and on therapy sooner,” Allison L. Agwu, MD, an assistant professor of pediatrics who specializes in HIV at the Johns Hopkins Children’s Center, said in a press release.
Allison L. Agwu
Agwu and colleagues, working on behalf of the HIV Research Network, evaluated the records of 1,497 adolescents and young adults aged 12 to 24 years with HIV to determine whether nonperinatally HIV-infected youth are presenting for care at lower CD4 counts.
Between 30% and 45% of patients sought treatment after their disease had reached the advanced stage (<350 CD4 cells/mm3).
Patients in the study who were male, black or Hispanic were more likely to seek treatment at advanced disease stages. Black patients were more than twice as likely as white patients to seek care at advanced disease stages.
“In our study, heterosexual males emerged as this fall-through-the-cracks group,” Agwu said. “We’ve put a lot of emphasis on men who have sex with men in our screening and outreach, but one side effect of this may be that straight males perceive themselves at low risk.”
Disclosure: The researchers report no relevant financial disclosures.