Email updates

Keep up to date with the latest news and content from BMC Public Health and BioMed Central.

Open Access Research article

Increasing late diagnosis in HIV infection in South Korea: 2000-2007

Jin-Hee Lee1, Gab Jung Kim1, Byeong-Sun Choi1, Kee-Jong Hong13, Mi-Kyung Heo2, Sung Soon Kim1 and Mee-Kyung Kee1*

Author Affiliations

1 Division of AIDS, Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Seoul, Korea

2 Division of HIV and TB Control, the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Seoul, Korea

3 Division of Influenza Viruses, Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Seoul, Korea

For all author emails, please log on.

BMC Public Health 2010, 10:411  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-10-411

Published: 13 July 2010



The number of Koreans diagnosed with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infections is increasing annually; however, CD4+ T-cell counts at diagnosis have decreased. The purpose of the present study was to identify clinical and epidemiologic associations with low CD4+ T-cell counts at the time of HIV diagnosis in a Korean population.


Data from 2,299 HIV-infected individuals with initial CD4+ T-cell counts measured within 6 months of HIV diagnosis and reason for HIV testing were recorded and measured from 2000 to 2007. Data were selected from the database of the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Late diagnosis was defined by CD4+ T-cell counts <200 cells/mm3. Reasons for HIV testing were analyzed using logistic regression including epidemiologic variables.


A total of 858 individuals (37.3%) were included in the late diagnosis group. Individuals with a late diagnosis were older, exposed through heterosexual contact, and demonstrated clinical manifestations of acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). The primary reason for HIV testing was a routine health check-up (41%) followed by clinical manifestations (31%) of AIDS. The proportion of individuals with a late diagnosis was higher in individuals tested due to clinical symptoms in public health centers (adjusted odds ratio [AOR], 17.3; 95% CI, 1.7-175) and hospitals (AOR, 4.9; 95% CI, 3.4-7.2) compared to general health check-up. Late diagnosis annually increased in individuals diagnosed by voluntary testing both in public health centers (PHCs, P = 0.017) and in hospitals (P = 0.063). Routine testing due to risky behaviors resulted in earlier detection than testing secondary to health check-ups, although this difference was not statistically significant (AOR, 0.7; P = 0.187). Individuals identified as part of hospital health check-ups more frequently had a late diagnosis (P = 0.001)


HIV infection was primarily detected by voluntary testing with identification in PHCs and by testing due to clinical symptoms in hospitals. However, early detection was not influenced by either voluntary testing or general health check-up. It is important to encourage voluntary testing for early detection to decrease the prevalence of HIV infection and AIDS progression.