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Epidemiology of late presentation of HIV infection in Western Australia

Gillieatt, S.J., Mallal, S.A., French, M.A. and Dawkins, R.L. (1992) Epidemiology of late presentation of HIV infection in Western Australia. The Medical Journal of Australia, 157 (2). pp. 117-118.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE
To determine the incidence of and reasons for late presentation of patients infected with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), and the demographic characteristics of these late presenters, who first seek medical attention when they have an illness that defines the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS).

DESIGN
Retrospective analysis of clinical and demographic data relating to 106 sequential AIDS diagnoses in Western Australia. Surviving patients were questioned during routine medical and social work interviews to identify the reasons for late presentation.

SETTING
Royal Perth Hospital, the sole specialist referral centre for the management of infection with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) in Western Australia.

PARTICIPANTS
All patients presenting or referred to Royal Perth Hospital with an AIDS-defining condition between 1 January 1988 and 1 July 1991.

RESULTS
Forty-one of 106 (39%) patients presenting with an AIDS-defining condition had known of their HIV status for eight weeks or less (late presenters). The proportion of late presenters decreased from 61% in 1988 to 34% in 1989 (P less than 0.05). Six of the 41 late presenters died during their initial admission compared with only one of the 65 early presenters (P less than 0.02). Sixty-six per cent of late presenters compared with only 35% of early presenters had pneumocystis pneumonia as their AIDS-defining condition (P less than 0.01). There was no significant difference in age at diagnosis of AIDS, martial status, sex or risk factors between the early and late presentation groups. Reasons given for late presentation included lack of knowledge of advances in the treatment of HIV infection, concerns about confidentiality and beliefs that sexual behaviour had been relatively "safe" from risk of HIV infection.

CONCLUSIONS
While the proportion of patients presenting late is decreasing, late presentation continues to be a problem. Reasons for delayed presentation are not entirely clear, but can be explained in terms of psychosocial and physiological influences. How and to what degree each of these contribute to timing of presentation is yet to be determined.

Publication Type: Journal Article
Publisher: Australasian Medical Publishing Company
Publishers Website: https://www.mja.com.au/
URI: http://researchrepository.murdoch.edu.au/id/eprint/14972
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