Good continuum of HIV care in Belgium despite weaknesses in retention and linkage to care among migrants

BMC Infect Dis. 2015 Nov 3;15:496. doi: 10.1186/s12879-015-1230-3.


Background: The Belgian HIV epidemic is largely concentrated among men who have sex with men and Sub-Saharan Africans. We studied the continuum of HIV care of those diagnosed with HIV living in Belgium and its associated factors.

Methods: Data on new HIV diagnoses 2007-2010 and HIV-infected patients in care in 2010-2011 were analysed. Proportions were estimated for each sequential stage of the continuum of HIV care and factors associated with attrition at each stage were studied.

Results: Of all HIV diagnosed patients living in Belgium in 2011, an estimated 98.2% were linked to HIV care, 90.8% were retained in care, 83.3% received antiretroviral therapy and 69.5% had an undetectable viral load (<50 copies/ml). After adjustment for sex, age at diagnosis, nationality and mode of transmission, we found lower entry into care in non-Belgians and after preoperative HIV diagnoses; lower retention in non-Belgians and injecting drug users; higher retention in men who have sex with men and among those on ART. Younger patients had lower antiretroviral therapy uptake and less viral suppression; those with longer time from diagnosis had higher ART uptake and more viral suppression; Sub-Saharan Africans on ART had slightly less viral suppression.

Conclusions: The continuum of HIV care in Belgium presents low attrition rates over all stages. The undiagnosed HIV-infected population, although not precisely estimated, but probably close to 20% based on available survey and surveillance results, could be the weakest stage of the continuum of HIV care. Its identification is a priority along with improving the HIV care continuum of migrants.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anti-Retroviral Agents / therapeutic use
  • Belgium / epidemiology
  • Belgium / ethnology
  • Black People
  • Continuity of Patient Care
  • Drug Users
  • Female
  • HIV Infections / diagnosis
  • HIV Infections / epidemiology*
  • HIV Infections / therapy*
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care / statistics & numerical data
  • Transients and Migrants
  • Viral Load


  • Anti-Retroviral Agents