Estimating HIV Prevalence and the Impact of HIV/AIDS on a Ugandan Hospital by Combining Serosurvey Data and Hospital Discharge Records

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To estimate the disease-specific HIV prevalence in a northern Ugandan hospital and to evaluate the impact of HIV/AIDS on hospital services.


HIV serosurvey and analysis of routinely compiled hospital records.


The serosurvey was conducted among all 352 patients admitted to the medical ward of the Lacor Hospital in March 1999 (this ward consists of 3 units: general medicine, tuberculosis, and cancer). The impact on hospital services was estimated using the hospital discharge records for all 3447 patients admitted in 1999, in combination with serosurvey data, and was expressed as the percentage of bed-days attributable to HIV-positive patients.


The overall HIV prevalence was 42.0% (52.6, 44.6, and 13.2% in the general medicine, tuberculosis, and cancer units, respectively). The disease-specific prevalence ranged from 45–65% for patients with tuberculosis, pneumonia, malaria, and enteritis. HIV-positive patients, compared with HIV-negative patients, had a higher in-hospital mortality (14.6 vs. 3.0%) and a lower average length of stay (41.4 vs. 48.9 days). AIDS cases accounted for 5.0% of hospital admissions, 4.1% of bed-days, and 11.5% of deaths. When considering all HIV-positive patients, these accounted for 37.2% of the bed-days.


Knowledge of disease-specific HIV prevalence and of the patterns of HIV-related diseases is crucial for early case management. The impact of HIV-positive patients on hospital services is quite high, accounting for >1/3 of the bed-days in 1999. Providing a continuum of care through inpatient, outpatient, and outreach home care services probably represents the only means of relieving the pressure on overloaded hospitals.

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