Objectives: To investigate delayed HIV diagnosis and late initiation of antiretroviral therapy (ART) in the Swiss HIV Cohort Study.
Methods: Two sub-populations were included: 1915 patients with HIV diagnosis from 1998 to 2007 and within 3 months of cohort registration (group A), and 1730 treatment-naïve patients with CD4>or=200 cells/microL before their second cohort visit (group B). In group A, predictors for low initial CD4 cell counts were examined with a median regression. In group B, we studied predictors for CD4<200 cells/microL without ART despite cohort follow-up.
Results: Median initial CD4 cell count in group A was 331 cells/microL; 31% and 10% were <200 and <50 cells/microL, respectively. Risk factors for low CD4 count were age and non-White race. Homosexual transmission, intravenous drug use and living alone were protective. In group B, 30% initiated ART with CD4>or=200 cells/microL; 18% and 2% dropped to CD4 <200 and <50 cells/microL without ART, respectively. Sub-Saharan origin was associated with lower probability of CD4 <200 cells/microL without ART during follow-up. Median CD4 count at ART initiation was 207 and 253 cells/microL in groups A and B, respectively.
Conclusions: CD4<200 cells/microL and, particularly, CD4<50 cells/microL before starting ART are predominantly caused by late presentation. Earlier HIV diagnosis is paramount.