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Background and aims

Late HIV diagnosis is associated with onward HIV transmission, higher morbidity, mortality and healthcare costs. In Italy, more than half of people living with HIV were diagnosed late during the last decade, with a CD4 count < 350 cells/mm3 at diagnosis. We aimed to determine the number and characteristics of people living with undiagnosed HIV infection and low CD4 counts in Italy. Data on newly reported HIV diagnoses from 2012 –2014 were obtained from the national HIV surveillance system. We used the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control HIV modelling tool to calculate the undiagnosed prevalence and yearly diagnosed fraction (YDF) in people with low CD4 count. The estimated annual number undiagnosed HIV infections with low CD4 count was on average 6,028 (95% confidence interval (CI): 4,954–8,043) from 2012–2014. In 2014, most of the undiagnosed people with low CD4 count were men (82.8%), a third acquired HIV through sex between men (MSM) (35.0%), and heterosexual transmission (33.4%), respectively. The prevalence of undiagnosed HIV infection was 11.3 (95% CI: 9.3–14.9) per 100,000 residents ranging from 0.7 to 20.8 between Italian regions. Nationally the prevalence rate was 280.4 (95% CI: 173.3–450.2) per 100,000 MSM, 8.3 (95% CI: 4.9–13.6) per 100,000 heterosexual men, and 3.0 (95% CI: 1.4–5.6) per 100,000 women. The YDF was highest among heterosexual women (27.1%; 95% CI: 16.9–45.2%). These findings highlight the importance of improving efforts to identify undiagnosed HIV infections primarily among men, both MSM and heterosexual men.


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