Changing presentation and survival, service utilization and costs for AIDS patients: insights from a London referral centre

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To describe the use of services and associated costs for HIV-infected patients by stage of infection in the context of changing patterns of presentation and survival.


A retrospective analysis of inpatient and outpatient case-notes of 335 AIDS patients and a survey of HIV-related care provided by 37 departments at St Mary's Hospital, London. Survival from time of diagnosis of AIDS, time from diagnosis of HIV infection to AIDS, and use and costs of services per patient-year were outcome measures.


During the study period 1 January 1982 to 30 September 1989, 152 AIDS patients were diagnosed before 1987 (group 1) and 183 since 1987 (group 2), most of whom were homosexual men. The median interval of first HIV-related visit to diagnosis of AIDS increased from 0 (group 1) to 264 days (group 2; P < 0.0001). Median survival from AIDS diagnosis increased from 14.6 (group 1) to 21.0 months (group 2; P < 0.02). Group 2 patients used fewer inpatient services than group 1 patients irrespective of disease stage. Symptomatic patients in group 2 used more outpatient services than group 1 patients. Total HIV-related expenditure was lower for patients without AIDS in group 2 than in group 1, while expenditure for AIDS patients remained similar.


Earlier patient presentation, a shift from inpatient- to outpatient-based clinical care and increased survival from time of AIDS diagnosis has occurred. Increased drug expenditure-was offset by reduced inpatient expenditure. Total expenditure per patient-year was stable; increased survival and introduction of new drugs will increase future lifetime use of resources.

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