Higher Mortality Seen Among HIV-Positive People Who Miss Clinic Appointments, Study Says
People living with HIV who do not go to scheduled clinical appointments during their first year of treatment are more likely to die over the long term than people with perfect attendance, according to a study conducted by researchers at the University of Alabama-Birmingham and recently published in Clinical Infectious Diseases, Reuters reports. The study involved 543 HIV-positive people who began outpatient care between 2000 and 2005, of whom 60% missed scheduled office visits during the first year. After controlling for initial immune system function and drug therapy during the first year of care, the study found that the mortality rate for people who missed visits in the first year was 2.3 deaths per 100 people annually, compared with one death per 100 people annually for those who attended all scheduled visits. A similar increased risk of death occurred whether people missed only one or two or more visits.
Michael Mugavero, lead study author, said that missed visits shortly after beginning outpatient care can give providers a "marker indentifying patients at higher risk for poor clinical outcomes -- patients who may require closer monitoring." He also said the "extrapolation of our findings to the general population level has profound public health implications," particularly when considering the number of annual new HIV infections in the U.S. (Douglas, Reuters, 2/11).
An abstract of the study is available online.