Objective: A 'test and treat' strategy to reduce HIV transmission hinges on linking and retaining HIV patients in care to achieve the full benefit of antiretroviral therapy. We integrated empirical findings and estimated the percentage of HIV-positive persons in the United States who entered HIV medical care soon after their diagnosis; and were retained in care during specified assessment intervals.
Methods: We comprehensively searched databases and bibliographic lists to identify studies that collected data from May 1995 through 2009. Separate meta-analyses were conducted for entry into care and retention in care (having multiple HIV medical visits during specified assessment intervals) stratified by methodological variables. All analyses used random-effects models.
Results: Overall, 69% [95% confidence interval (CI) 66-71%, N = 53 323, 28 findings] of HIV-diagnosed persons in the United States entered HIV medical care averaged across time intervals in the studies. Seventy-two percent (95% CI 67-77%, N = 6586, 12 findings) entered care within 4 months of diagnosis. Seventy-six percent (95% CI 66-84%, N = 561, 15 findings) entered care after testing HIV-positive in emergency/urgent care departments and 67% (95% CI 64-70%, N = 52 762, 13 findings) entered care when testing was done in community locations. With respect to retention in care, 59% (95% CI 53-65%, N = 75 655, 28 findings) had multiple HIV medical care visits averaged across assessment intervals of 6 months to 3-5 years. Retention was lower during longer assessment intervals.
Conclusion: Entry and retention in HIV medical care in the United States are moderately high. Improvement in both outcomes will increase the success of a test and treat strategy.