A new study has shown that people with HIV are hospitalized "significantly" less than they were before the advent of antiretroviral drug therapy (cART). The study looked at HIV patients in Ontario, Canada, using data from the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences and has been published in the journal Open Medicine.
The study women with HIV are still being hospitalized more (15%) than men with HIV, and low-income people with HIV are still hospitalized more (21%) than high-income people with HIV. Hospital admissions directly attributable to HIV were 30% higher in low-income people with HIV than high-income people with HIV. Also, immigrants with HIV who had been in Ontario for three years or less were hospitalized less than immigrants who had been there longer or Canadian-born people with HIV.
"Although our study is overall a 'good news' story for persons with HIV in Ontario, the differences in rates of hospitalization over the past decade suggest that women and low-income individuals living with HIV may face challenges accessing medication and community-based care," said Dr. Tony Antoniou, lead author of the study and a researcher in the Department of Family Medicine at St. Michael's Hospital.
Antiretroviral drug therapy was introduced in 1996. It uses three or more drugs to lower HIV and prevent its progression toward AIDS. The new study showed that HIV patient hospital admissions fell 2% between 2002 and 2008. Antoniou suggested that universal access to anti-HIV treatments could help resolve the demographic treatment disparities uncovered by the study.
"We need to do more research to understand and address the root causes of these differences, to ensure that all persons with HIV are able to benefit equally from the advances that have been made in managing this illness," said Antoniou.