Understanding causes of hospitalization and access to care among newly diagnosed HIV patients in Houston, TX

Lokesh Shahani, The University of Texas School of Public Health


More than a quarter of patients with HIV in the United States are diagnosed in hospital settings most often with advanced HIV related conditions.(1) There has been little research done on the causes of hospitalization when the patients are first diagnosed with HIV. The aim of this study was to determine if the patients are hospitalized due to an HIV related cause or due to some other co-morbidity. Reduced access to care could be one possible reason why patients are diagnosed late in the course of the disease. This study compared the access to care of patients diagnosed with HIV in hospital and outpatient setting. The data used for the study was a part of the ongoing study “Attitudes and Beliefs and Steps of HIV Care”. The participants in the study were newly diagnosed with HIV and recruited from both inpatient and outpatient settings. The primary and the secondary diagnoses from hospital discharge reports were extracted and a primary reason for hospitalization was ascertained. These were classified as HIV-related, other infectious causes, non–infectious causes, other systemic causes, and miscellaneous causes. Access to care was determined by a score based on responses to a set of questions derived from the HIV Cost and Services Utilization Study (HCSUS) on a 6 point scale. The mean score of the hospitalized patients and mean score of the patients diagnosed in an outpatient setting was compared. We used multiple linear regressions to compare mean differences in the two groups after adjusting for age, sex, race, household income educational level and health insurance at the time of diagnosis. There were 185 participants in the study, including 78 who were diagnosed in hospital settings and 107 who were diagnosed in outpatient settings. We found that HIV-related conditions were the leading cause of hospitalization, accounting for 60% of admissions, followed by non-infectious causes (20%) and then other infectious causes (17%). The inpatient diagnosed group did not have greater perceived access-to-care as compared to the outpatient group. Regression analysis demonstrated a statistically significant improvement in access-to-care with advancing education level (p=0.04) and with better health insurance (p=0.004). HIV-related causes account for many hospitalizations when patients are first diagnosed with HIV. Many of these HIV-related hospitalizations could have been prevented if patients were diagnosed early and linked to medical care. Programs to increase HIV awareness need to be an integral part of activities aimed at control of spread of HIV in the community. Routine testing for HIV infection to promote early HIV diagnosis can prevent significant morbidity and mortality.

Subject Area

Public health

Recommended Citation

Shahani, Lokesh, "Understanding causes of hospitalization and access to care among newly diagnosed HIV patients in Houston, TX" (2009). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI1467111.