LAS VEGAS – Rates of intravenous drug use-associated HIV transmission decreased dramatically among patients at an inner-city community health center in Connecticut, suggesting that routine provider-initiated HIV screening is effectively reducing disease burden in this community.

Gerald Kayingo, PhD, MMSc, PA-C, of the Cornell Scott Hill Health Center in New Haven, Conn., analyzed the effect of federally funded HIV testing at his clinic to determine the effect on HIV prevalence in IV drug users, a group traditionally at high risk for transmitting the disease in Western countries.

A total of 2,526 individuals were screened at the clinic from 2003 to 2008, of which 30 were HIV positive, Kayingo reported during a poster presentation at the 39th American Academy of Physician Assistant Annual meeting.

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Of all patients screened, 375 reported IV drug use year in the year prior to screening, but only three of these patients tested positive for HIV – a major decline compared with rates in 2000 that suggest that injection drug use was the mode of transmission in 53% of reported  AIDS cases.

The majority of IV-drug users were young white males aged 20 to 29 years. Despite this finding, data indicate that the greatest prevalence of HIV drug use for the entire sample occurred in ethnic minorities aged 30 to 49 years.

“Taken together, the data suggest a decline in HIV prevalence among injection drug users in this community compared to previous estimates,” Kayingo said. “Routine provider-initiated HIV screening is possible and beneficial to this community with a prevalence of HIV infection greater than one percent.”

Kayingo G. “Declining prevalence of HIV infection among intravenous drug users tested for HIV at an inner-city health center in Connecticut.” Presented at: 39th American Academy of Physician Assistants Annual Meeting. 2011; Las Vegas, Nevada.