Delayed linkage to HIV care among asylum seekers

Kronfli, N., Linthwaite, B., Sheehan, N. et al. Delayed linkage to HIV care among asylum seekers in Quebec, CanadaBMC Public Health 191683 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12889-019-8052-y

Abstract:

Background

Migrants represent an increasing proportion of people living with HIV in many developed countries. We aimed to describe the HIV care cascade and baseline genotypic resistance for newly diagnosed asylum seekers referred to the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

Methods

We conducted a retrospective cohort study of patients linked to the MUHC from June 1, 2017 to October 31, 2018. We calculated the median time (days; interquartile range (IQR)) from: 1) entry into Canada to immigration medical examination (IME) (i.e. HIV screening); 2) IME to patient notification of diagnosis; 3) notification to linkage to HIV care (defined as a CD4 or viral load (VL) measure); 4) linkage to HIV care to combination antiretroviral therapy (cART) prescription; and 5) cART prescription to viral suppression (defined as a VL < 20 copies/mL). We reviewed baseline genotypes and interpreted mutations using the Stanford University HIV Drug Resistance Database. We calculated the proportion with full resistance to > 1 antiretroviral.

Results

Overall, 43% (60/139) of asylum seekers were newly diagnosed in Canada. Among these, 62% were late presenters (CD4 < 350 cells/μl), 22% presented with advanced HIV (CD4 < 200 cells/μl), and 25% with high-level viremia (VL > 100,000 copies/ml). Median time from entry to IME: 27 days [IQR:13;55]; IME to notification: 28 days [IQR:21;49]; notification to linkage: 6 days [IQR:2;19]; linkage to cART prescription: 11 days [IQR:6;17]; and cART to viral suppression: 42 days [IQR:31;88]; 45% were linked to HIV care within 30 days. One-fifth (21%) had baseline resistance to at least one antiretroviral agent; the K103 N/S mutation was the most common mutation.

Conclusions

While the majority of newly diagnosed asylum seekers were late presenters, only 45% were linked to care within 30 days. Once linked, care and viral suppression were rapid. Delays in screening and linkage to care present increased risk for onward transmission, and in the context of 21% baseline resistance, consideration of point-of-care testing and immediate referral at IME screening should be made.

Gonorrhoea: Drug Resistance in Australia

Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations (AFAO), 26 June 2018

There has long been concern globally about the potential emergence of drug resistant STIs. In response, the World Health Organisation released new treatment guidelines for three common STIs – chlamydia, gonorrhoea and syphilis – in 2016.

At present, strains resistant to first line treatment of syphilis and chlamydia are not common and not a concern in Australia. There is, however, a growing level of concern about gonorrhoea. This paper therefore focuses on the likelihood and implications of the emergence of drug resistant cases of gonorrhoea in Australia. It also highlights treatment options in Australia and current and emerging strategies for preventing drug resistant gonorrhoea.

Download paper: AFAO Brief – Gonorrhoea – Drug Resistance in Australia – 26 June 2018

Scientists warn that antibiotic-resistant gonorrhoea is on the rise

WHO, 07 July 2017

Every day, more than 1 million sexually transmitted infections are acquired worldwide, and each year an estimated 78 million people are infected with gonorrhoea. New data from 77 countries show that antibiotic resistance is making gonorrhoea much harder – and sometimes impossible – to treat.

The data has been published in PLOS, in two new scientific articles.

HIV Point of Care Testing (Rapid Testing) in SA

SA Health, July 2016

Point of care (POC) testing for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is quick and convenient, providing results in 20 minutes rather than the next day. Some people refer to point of care testing as ‘rapid testing’.

HIV POC testing is now available in South Australia through a 12 month, Commonwealth funded demonstration project.

  • To find out details of where & when rapid tests are available, click here

Barriers to HIV testing and characteristics associated with never testing among gay & bisexual men …

Barriers to HIV testing and characteristics associated with never testing among gay and bisexual men attending sexual health clinics in Sydney

Conway DP et al. Journal of the International AIDS Society 2015, 18:20221

Abstract

Introduction: HIV diagnoses among gay and bisexual men have increased over the past decade in Australia. HIV point-of-care testing (POCT) was introduced in Australia in 2011 as a strategy to increase HIV testing by making the testing process more convenient. We surveyed gay and bisexual men undergoing POCT to assess barriers to HIV testing and characteristics associated with not having previously tested for HIV (never testing).

Methods: During 2011 and 2012, gay and bisexual men who were undergoing POCT at four Sydney sexual health clinics self-completed questionnaires assessing testing history and psychological and structural barriers to HIV testing. Bivariate and multivariate logistic regression was used to assess associations between patient characteristics and never testing.

Results: Of 1093 participants, 981 (89.9%) reported ever testing for HIV and 110 (10.1%) never testing. At least one barrier to testing was reported by 1046 men (95.7%), with only 47 men (4.3%) not reporting any barrier to testing. The most commonly reported barriers to testing were annoyance at having to return for results (30.2%), not having done anything risky (29.6%), stress in waiting for results (28.4%), being afraid of testing positive (27.5%) and having tested recently (23.2%). Never testing was independently associated with being non-gay-identified (adjusted odds ratio [AOR]: 1.9; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.1–3.2), being aged less than 25 years (AOR: 2.4; 95% CI: 1.6–3.8), living in a suburb with few gay couples (AOR: 1.9; 95% CI: 1.2–3.0), being afraid of testing HIV-positive (AOR: 1.6; 95% CI: 1.0–2.4), not knowing where to test (AOR: 3.8; 95% CI: 1.3–11.2) and reporting one or no sexual partners in the last six months (AOR: 2.7; 95% CI: 1.2–6.2).

Conclusions: Barriers to HIV testing were commonly reported among the clinic-based gay and bisexual men in this study. Our findings suggest further health promotion and prevention strategies are needed to address the knowledge, attitudes and behavioural factors associated with never testing.

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