Majority of Inner-City HIV Patients Never Reach Undetectable Viral Levels
Only one in 10 inner-city HIV-positive individuals achieves an "undetectable" viral load, a "major" goal of treatment, according to a study conducted by Dr. Carlos del Rio of Emory University, Reuters Health reports. Rio followed 135 newly diagnosed HIV patients at Atlanta's downtown Grady Memorial Hospital who, after testing positive, were referred to the hospital's infectious diseases outpatient clinic and social work services. Rio found that within a year of diagnosis, 55 had visited the clinic (40% of these dropped out within the year) and 30 were prescribed antiretroviral therapy. One year after diagnosis, 24 patients had died, 23 were still on treatment and 12 (of the original 135) had undetectable viral loads. "It's very depressing; things are not rosy," Rio said, adding, "At this meeting we're talking a lot about treatment toxicities and side effects of therapy ... but the majority of HIV-infected people out there are not even getting to this point." Rio said that the "tough part" of the epidemic -- treating "more marginalized populations, more minorities and more people with" the "terrible triad of mental illness, drug abuse and HIV infection" -- is "coming up" (Mitchell, Reuters Health, 2/7).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.