LONDON — About 30 percent of patients with HIV are diagnosed well after they should have begun treatment, according to the latest Australian data, suggesting early-testing initiatives have not worked, the Guardian reports.
Despite 88 percent of the country’s new infections occurring in gay men, unprotected sex in that group continues to be a key driver of infections, making falling HIV testing rates among young gay men a concern, the article said.
There were 1,235 new cases of HIV diagnosed in Australia last year — an increase of 70 percent since 1999 when diagnoses were at their lowest, figures from the annual HIV surveillance report by the University of NSW Kirby Institute show.
Many of those were not being diagnosed early enough, allowing their immune system to fail and potentially posing a risk to others, the report found.
The best indicator of how long a person has had HIV for is their CD4+ cell count per microlitre, which declines on average by 50–60 percent per year in people with HIV. The proportion of late diagnosis cases, defined by a CD4+ cell count of less than 350 cells per microlitre at diagnosis, had not improved in the three years to 2013, the report found. In people without HIV, the count is above 500, the Guardian article said.
“These data are suggestive of no substantial shift in the disease stage at which people are diagnosed despite recent initiatives to increase HIV testing,” the report said.