HIV care continuum among newly diagnosed student and non-student youths between 2012 and 2016 in Hangzhou, China

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Background:Youths are disproportionally affected by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection. We aimed to assess anti-retroviral therapy (ART) initiation and viral suppression rates among student and non-student youths in Hangzhou, China.Methods:Data were taken from the Chinese HIV/acquired immune deficiency syndrome Comprehensive Response Information Management System. Youths aged 15 to 24 years who were newly diagnosed with HIV between 2012 and 2016 and were living in Hangzhou were included in the study. Comparisons between student and non-student youths were made for ART initiation within 30 days, 90 days, and 12 months of HIV diagnosis, and the viral suppression rate at 12 months of HIV diagnosis and at 12 months of ART initiation.Results:A total of 707 cases met inclusion criteria, 29.6% of which were students and 70.4% were non-student youths. The student group had a higher proportion of ART initiation compared with the non-student group within 30 days of diagnosis (45.5% vs. 37.0%, P = 0.044), and a slightly higher but not statistically significant proportion at 90 days (67.0% vs. 62.7%), and 12 months (83.7% vs. 78.5%) of HIV diagnosis. ART initiation within 30 days improved from <15% in 2012 to over 65% in 2016 in both groups, and ART initiation within 90 days improved from <30% in 2012 to >90% in 2016. A smaller proportion of students experienced viral suppression compared with the non-student group (9.6% vs. 17.1%, P = 0.011) at 12 months after HIV diagnosis, but the suppression rate was similar at 12 months of ART initiation (69.9% vs. 71.1%, P = 0.743).Conclusions:ART initiation in both student and non-student youths has significantly improved between 2012 and 2016. However, the viral suppression rate remained unacceptably low at 12 months of HIV diagnosis in both student and non-student groups. Specific intervention strategies must be taken to address this challenge.

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