The objective of this study was to investigate if patients diagnosed in community clinics have higher baseline CD4 cell counts than those diagnosed in Genitourinary medicine (GUM)/HIV clinics. We undertook a retrospective review of baseline CD4 cell counts for patients receiving a reactive HIV test in community-testing clinics. Eleven local HIV clinics were contacted to determine the baseline CD4 cell counts of these patients. Baseline CD4 cell counts of those diagnosed in the community were compared with mean local GUM/HIV clinic and median national baseline CD4 cell count for their year of diagnosis. Clients diagnosed in community settings had a mean baseline CD4 cell count of 481 cells/mm3 (SD 236 cells/mm3) and median baseline of 483 cells/mm3 (interquartile range 311-657 cells/mm3). This was significantly higher than those diagnosed in the GUM/HIV clinic local to the community-testing site (mean baseline CD4 397 cells/mm3, p = 0.014) and the national median for that year (336 cells/mm3, p < 0.001). HIV testing in community settings identifies patients at an earlier stage of infection than testing in clinical settings.
Keywords: AIDS; Europe; HIV; Screening; baseline CD4 count; diagnosis.