Objective: We sought to validate a case-finding algorithm for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection using administrative health databases in Ontario, Canada.
Methods: We constructed 48 case-finding algorithms using combinations of physician billing claims, hospital and emergency room separations and prescription drug claims. We determined the test characteristics of each algorithm over various time frames for identifying HIV infection, using data abstracted from the charts of 2,040 randomly selected patients receiving care at two medical practices in Toronto, Ontario as the reference standard.
Results: With the exception of algorithms using only a single physician claim, the specificity of all algorithms exceeded 99%. An algorithm consisting of three physician claims over a three year period had a sensitivity and specificity of 96.2% (95% CI 95.2%-97.9%) and 99.6% (95% CI 99.1%-99.8%), respectively. Application of the algorithm to the province of Ontario identified 12,179 HIV-infected patients in care for the period spanning April 1, 2007 to March 31, 2009.
Conclusions: Case-finding algorithms generated from administrative data can accurately identify adults living with HIV. A relatively simple "3 claims in 3 years" definition can be used for assembling a population-based cohort and facilitating future research examining trends in health service use and outcomes among HIV-infected adults in Ontario.