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Drug therapy has reduced hospitalization for HIV patients, but those hospitalized are getting older and sicker

Hospitalized patients living with HIV are getting older and sicker, although the average number of admissions per person living with HIV continues to fall, according to a new study. It compared use of hospital care by persons living with HIV residing in six States from 2000 to 2004. During this period, the average age of a hospitalized patient living with HIV rose from 41 to 44 years, and the proportion of patients covered by Medicare rose from 22 to 25 percent.

The older age of hospitalized HIV-infected patients reflects a similar aging trend among persons diagnosed with AIDS. In 2000, 19 percent of persons living with AIDS were 50 years or older compared to 23 percent in 2004, notes Fred J. Hellinger, Ph.D., of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. Overall, there was a 39 percent decrease in the average number of hospital admissions per person living with HIV across the six States between 2000 and 2004, despite a 28 percent increase in the number of persons living with HIV in these States.

The average number of admissions per person living with HIV ranged from a high of 0.51 in New York to a low of 0.17 in Washington State in 2000. Four years later, these averages fell to 0.26 in New York and 0.16 in Washington State.

During the study period, the average number of conditions each patient was diagnosed with rose from 6 to 7.4. However, the average length of an HIV-related hospital stay, the percentage of female patients, and the percentage of black patients remained the same. The State in which a person resided was a major determinant of the average number of hospital admissions, the average length of hospital stay, and the average hospital cost per person living with HIV.

See "The changing pattern of hospital care for persons living with HIV," by Dr. Hellinger, in the June 1, 2007 Journal of Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome 45(2), pp. 239-246.

Reprints (AHRQ Publication No. 07-R060) are available from the AHRQ Publications Clearinghouse.

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