Open Access Research article

Late presenters among persons with a new HIV diagnosis in Italy, 2010–2011

Laura Camoni*, Mariangela Raimondo, Vincenza Regine, Maria Cristina Salfa, Barbara Suligoi and the regional representatives of the HIV Surveillance System

Author Affiliations

AIDS Unit, Department of Infectious, Parasitic and Immunomediated Diseases, National Institute of Health, Viale Regina Elena 299, 00161, Rome, Italy

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BMC Public Health 2013, 13:281  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-13-281

Published: 27 March 2013



In Western Europe, about 50% of newly diagnosed HIV-positive individuals are diagnosed at a late stage disease and enter in care late (i.e. with a CD4 count ≤350 μL/μL). The aim of the present study is to analyze the characteristics and the factors associated with being diagnosed late or at an advanced stage of disease among persons with a new HIV diagnosis in Italy, in the period 2010–2011.


We used individual data on new HIV diagnoses reported by the HIV surveillance system in 2010 and in 2011. Persons with CD4 ≤350 cells/μL or diagnosed with AIDS (regardless of the CD4 cell count) were defined as late presenters (LP); persons with CD4 ≤ 200 cells/μL or AIDS (regardless of the CD4 cell count) were defined as presenting with advanced HIV disease (AHD).


Of the 7,300 new diagnoses reported in 2010–2011 by the included regions, 55.2% were LP; among these, 37.9% was diagnosed with AIDS. Persons presenting with AHD were 37.8%.

The median age of LP was 40 years (IQR 33–48), significantly higher (p < 0.001) than that of non-LP (35 years); 73.9% were males; 30.7% were non-nationals. The median age of AHD was 42 years (IQR 35–50), 74.5% were males; 31.1% were non-nationals.

The proportion of LP among IDUs was 59.8%, among heterosexuals (HET) 61.1% and among MSM 44.3%. The proportion of AHD among IDUs was 43.6%, among HET 43.2% and among MSM 27.4%.

Factors significantly associated with being LP were: age older than 50 years (OR = 4.6 [95% CI 3.8-5.6]); having been diagnosed in Southern Italy (Southern vs Northern Italy OR = 1.5 [95% CI 1.3-1.7]) having been diagnosed in Central Italy (Central vs Northern Italy OR = 1.3 [95% CI 1.1-1.6]); being HET (HET vs MSM, OR = 1.7 [95% CI 1.5-2.0]), being non-national (Non-national vs Italian, OR 1.7 (95% CI 1.5-2.0); being IDU (IDU vs MSM, OR = 1.6 [95% CI 1.2-2.1]). The same factors were significantly associated with being AHD.


Older people, people diagnosed in Central and Southern Italy, non nationals, and persons who acquired the infection through injecting drug use or heterosexual contact showed a higher risk of being diagnosed late. A more active offer of HIV testing and targeted interventions focussed on these populations are needed to optimize early access to care and treatment.

HIV; Surveillance; Late presenters; Epidemiology; Italy