Late HIV presentation is still a health concern, even in industrialised countries. Data concerning this problem in Eastern Germany are scarce. We investigated associated factors in a cohort of HIV-infected patients in Dresden, Germany, including syphilis serology as a proxy for sexual risk behaviour.
A retrospective cohort study on 348 patients presenting for the first time in our treatment centre from 1986 to 2010 was undertaken. Risk factors of late (CD4 cells <350/μl) and very late (CD4 cells <200/μl) presentation either to care or to diagnosis were identified by means of logistic regression analyses.
Of 348 classifiable patients, 54 % were late and 33.9 % were very late presenters to care. In a subgroup of 260 patients with recent HIV diagnosis, 50.4 % were late and 31.2 % were very late presenters to diagnosis. Age >24 years was a significant independent factor associated with late or very late presentation, but not male gender, originating from high-prevalence countries (HPC) or years of presentation. Being MSM alone was not associated with early or late HIV presentation, but MSM with positive TPHA or TPPA showed a lower risk of late presentation, predominantly in those presenting late to diagnosis [odds ratio (OR) 0.42, p = 0.048].
A positive syphilis screening test seems to be a determinant for lower risk of late presentation to HIV care and diagnosis in MSM. The presence and awareness of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) such as syphilis may lead to earlier utilisation of HIV health care and, thus, promote earlier HIV diagnosis. HIV prevention strategies should focus more on STIs and not only on HIV.
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