(HealthDay News) – Between 71–75% of HIV-infected patients retain care consistently.

Baligh R. Yehia, MD, of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, and associates compared different measures of retention of care using data from a cohort of 17,425 HIV-infected adults treated at 12 HIV clinics between 2001–2008. Three measures of retention were compared for each patient and the effects of sociodemographic and clinical characteristics were assessed.

The researchers found that there was a moderate-to-strong correlation between the three measures of retention. Averaging across the participants, 71% of the time in care was not spent in a gap of more than six months between successive outpatient visits; the proportion of 91-day quarters with at least one visit was 73%; and, in 75% of all years, two or more visits separated by at least 90 days occurred. For older individuals, women, whites, and men who had sex with men-related transmission, and for those with an initial CD4 cell count of <50cell/µl, all measures of retention of care were significantly higher.

“This is the first study to provide a national estimate of retention in HIV care in the United States, which ranged from 71–75% using any of the accepted retention measures,” the authors write. “Future studies should assess how well different measures predict clinical outcomes and establish acceptable target levels for retention.”

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