FRIDAY, Feb. 28, 2020 (HealthDay News) — Youth newly diagnosed with HIV are linked to care at similar rates as adults but achieve disproportionately lower rates of viral suppression, according to a study published online Jan. 28 in the Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome.

Bill G. Kapogiannis, M.D., from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development in Bethesda, Maryland, and colleagues evaluated the Strategic Multisite Initiative for the Identification, Linkage and Engagement in Care of HIV-infected youth to determine the effectiveness of youth referral, linkage to care, and engagement.

The researchers found that among 1,411 HIV-infected youth (aged 12 to 24 years), 75 percent were linked, 59 percent were engaged, and 34 percent were retained in care at adolescent health care sites. Only one-third (34 percent) initiated antiretroviral therapy (ART), and 12 percent achieved viral suppression. Viral suppression was predicted by lower viral load at baseline (adjusted hazard ratio [aHR], 1.56), recent ART receipt (aHR, 3.10), and shorter time from HIV testing until referral to a linkage coordinator (aHRs, 2.52 for seven days to six weeks and 2.08 for six weeks to three months versus more than three months).

“Our findings indicate an urgency for research on how best to tailor HIV intervention services to the needs of youth,” Kapogiannis said in a statement.

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