HIV infection in young people in Australia has thus far not been well characterized. In the ‘Trials, Treatment and Toxicity’ session, Dr Carly Hughes from Monash Medical Centre in Melbourne used the Australian HIV observational database (AHOD) to compare demographics between adolescents/young adults (13-24yo) to those over 25years. She described the need to further characterize the population of young adults who are newly diagnosed, given the complexity adolescence and young adulthood places on management of chronic diseases. This has been experienced in other sectors such as patients with type 1 diabetes. Main points from the presentation:
- 223 new diagnoses of HIV were made in those <25 years of age since 1997
- A significantly higher proportion if females are represented in new diagnoses made in young adults (<25years) compared to over 25
- The <25yo group had higher CD4 counts and lower VL at diagnosis, but this difference was lost at time of treatment initiation
- There was significantly higher loss-to-follow up in the <25yo group compared to >25yo (incidence rate of 8.8 vs 4.68 per 100 person years)
- There were significantly higher rates of treatment interruption in the <25yo group
Data from this study highlights the challenges of managing adolescents and young adults with newly diagnosed HIV and the need for additional methods to engage younger adults in medical care. Social support networks could play a role here - the opening plenary talk by Nic Holas on ‘Living with HIV online’ discussed the growing role of online support networks for people living with HIV. He described the role his online support network , 'The Institute of Many' (TIM), has played over the last few years in providing another avenue for people living with HIV to obtain information and find additional support. Clinicians could play an increasing role in this space to help engage younger individuals.