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Testing delays cause severe AIDS complications, Einstein researchers find
Date:11/2/2007

November 2, 2007 (BRONX, NY) Despite the availability of life-saving antiretroviral treatment, people infected with HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) continue to die and suffer from complications of AIDS, mainly due to delayed diagnosis and initiation of treatment. A researcher at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University and colleagues at Yale University have shed light on why this problem persists. They report their findings in the November issue of the journal Medical Care.

Led by Dr. Neel Gandhi, assistant professor of medicine and of epidemiology and population health at Einstein, the researchers examined 4,368 patients presenting for AIDS treatment to Veterans Administration (VA) Medical Centers nationwide for the first time between 1998 and 2002. Their aim was to determine whether patients who had received medical care in the VA healthcare system were diagnosed with the HIV infection that causes AIDS earlier than patients outside the VA or those who were accessing the VA system for the first time.

Half of all the patients in the study had AIDS at the time of presentationa high rate that nevertheless was similar to studies conducted outside the VA healthcare system. What was particularly astounding to us was the fact that 40 percent of these patients with AIDS had previously received medical care at the VA for other illnesses, but had not been diagnosed with HIV infections and treated earlier, explains Dr. Gandhi. This occurred even though they had an average of six physician visits over three-and-a-half years. Even more concerning was that those patients who already interacted with the healthcare system for several years suffered the end-stage complications of AIDS at the same rate as those who were new to the VA healthcare system.

One explanation for why this may occur is that patients with HIV infection remain asymptomatic until very late in the disease, providing few clues to doctors of the patients
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Contact: Karen Gardner
kgardner@aecom.yu.edu
718-430-3101
Albert Einstein College of Medicine
Source:Eurekalert

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