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Ugandans delay to test for HIV - Study

By Vision Reporter

Added 18th July 2009 03:00 AM

ANTI-Retro Viral drugs (ARVs) in Uganda are not having maximum health benefits because many patients test for HIV late and therefore start taking the drugs late, medical researchers have said.

ANTI-Retro Viral drugs (ARVs) in Uganda are not having maximum health benefits because many patients test for HIV late and therefore start taking the drugs late, medical researchers have said.

By Lydia Namubiru

ANTI-Retro Viral drugs (ARVs) in Uganda are not having maximum health benefits because many patients test for HIV late and therefore start taking the drugs late, medical researchers have said.

“In an era when highly active anti retroviral therapy is not only free but also widely available, we found that 40% of patients in a large HIV clinic had late-stage HIV disease at their initial clinic visit,” the researchers, who surveyed 2,311 patients at the Mbarara University Teaching Hospital, said.

Individuals who initiate antiretroviral treatment when they have a very low CD4 cell count or are severely unwell because of HIV often have a poor outcome.

Amongst the individuals surveyed between 2007 and 2008, it was found that men were more likely to be diagnosed late than women (a ratio of 50% to 36%), as were non-pregnant women compared to pregnant women (36% to 15%).

People above 46 years, those with low education levels and those who live very far from a health centre were also found to test late for HIV.

The same applied to unmarried people and those who did not have an HIV positive person in their household other than themselves.

Surprisingly people who reported alcohol use also tested earlier than those who said they did not drink.

HIV treatment in Uganda is free for patients who categorised under WHO stage 3 or 4 HIV disease (AIDS) and those whose CD4 cell count is below 200 cells/mm3.

This selective method of providing ARVs only to those with low CD4 count or late-stage disease has often been criticised as the reason why people start taking the drugs late.

However, this research now shows that late testing on the part of the patients has a bigger impact on late uptake of the drugs

Ugandans delay to test for HIV - Study

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