Indexed on: 22 Jul '18Published on: 22 Jul '18Published in: Acta clinica Belgica
Background Antiretroviral treatment has turned HIV infection into a chronic condition with a near normal life expectancy and an ageing patient population. For a well-defined proportion of these patients, HIV-care could pass from specialty care to primary care, especially for prevention and treatment of additional chronic diseases. A better understanding of the complex health needs of this particular proportion is needed to determine the optimal way to integrate specialist and primary care. Objectives Our objective was to examine the health-seeking behaviour of ageing HIV patients. We investigated which physicians they consulted and the reasons for encounter. We also explored patients' participation in preventive healthcare activities. Methods We conducted a retrospective descriptive cohort study among adults, 60 years of age or older living with HIV, who came for a routine consultation visit at the HIV clinic of the Institute of Tropical Medicine (ITM) over a period of 9 months. Those who met the inclusion criteria were offered a self-administered questionnaire. The responses were manually coded, exported into Excel and subsequently imported into SPSS for descriptive statistical analysis. Results We analysed questionnaires from 74 patients, 11 women and 63 men. Since their last consultation visit at the ITM, 48 patients consulted their general practitioner (GP), 35 patients consulted a specialist and 7 went to the emergency department over a period of 6 months. Forty-nine patients (66%) had done a faecal occult blood test and 8 women (73% of female patients) had a screening mammography in the past 2 years, 8 women (73% of female patients) had a PAP smear in the past 3 years. Sixty-three participants (85%) declared that their vaccinations were up-to-date. Thirty-eight patients (51%) take antihypertensive medication, 35 patients (47%) cholesterol medication and 9 participants (12%) are on oral antihyperglycemic medication. Conclusions A large proportion of patients are seeking healthcare from their GP and specialists, other than the HIV specialist. They do so both for curative and preventive health needs. This calls for a more structured collaboration between the various care providers, whereby communication plays a pivotal role.