Background. Intravenous drug users (IVDUs) with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection and AIDS often have no health insurance or rely on public programs to finance their health care. We examined the independent contributions of HIV serostatus, clinical symptoms, CD4 cell counts, and health insurance to utilization of health services among 1881 intravenous drug users in Baltimore, Maryland. Methods. Participants in an ongoing natural history study of HIV were informed of HIV serostatus and seropositives were informed of CD4 cell counts; 6 months later, participants were administered a questionnaire concerning self-reported use of health services, insurance coverage, and HIV-related symptoms. Results. Of 1881 participants, 67% had health insurance (including Medicaid), 48% had at least one outpatient visit, and 12% had at least one inpatient visit within the prior 6 months. The proportion of the study population that was HIV-1 seropositive was 32%. In multivariate analysis, the single most important predictor of health care utilization was the presence of two or more HIV-related clinical symptoms. HIV positive serostatus alone or known low CD4 counts were not significantly associated with use of health care services. Conclusions. These data suggest that HIV seropositive IVDUs are not receiving recommended preventive care. Additional efforts will be needed to ensure that HIV-seropositive drug users participate in currently recommended protocols for early treatment of asymptomatic HIV-1 infection.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health