HIV testing and clinical status upon admission to a specialized health care unit in Pará, Brazil

<div><p>OBJECTIVE To analyze the clinical and laboratory characteristics of HIV-infected individuals upon admission to a reference health care center.METHODS This cross-sectional study was conducted between 1999 and 2010 on 527 individuals with confirmed serological diagnosis of HIV infection who were enrolled in an outpatient health care service in Santarém, PA, Northern Brazil. Data were collected from medical records and included the reason for HIV testing, clinical status, and count of peripheral CD4+ T lymphocytes upon enrollment. The data were divided into three groups, according to the patient’s year of admission – P1 (1999-2002), P2 (2003-2006), and P3 (2007-2010) – for comparative analysis of the variables of interest.RESULTS In the study group, 62.0% of the patients were assigned to the P3 group. The reason for undergoing HIV testing differed between genders. In the male population, most tests were conducted because of the presence of symptoms suggesting infection. Among women, tests were the result of knowledge of the partner’s seropositive status in groups P1 and P2. Higher proportion of women undergoing testing because of symptoms of HIV/AIDS infection abolished the difference between genders in the most recent period. A higher percentage of patients enrolling at a more advanced stage of the disease was observed in P3.CONCLUSIONS Despite the increased awareness of the number of HIV/AIDS cases, these patients have identified their serological status late and were admitted to health care units with active disease. The HIV/AIDS epidemic in Pará presents specificities in its progression that indicate the complex characteristics of the epidemic in the Northern region of Brazil and across the country.</p></div>