To gain insight into reasons for a late diagnosis of ‘HIV infection’, to reduce the number of HIV patients with a late diagnosis and to be able to optimise treatment.
Participants were HIV patients with a late diagnosis of ‘HIV infection’. The experiences of 34 patients were systematically explored through in-depth interviews. We paid particular attention to the effects of late diagnosis on participation in the work process.
Analysis of the interviews showed that HIV patients with late diagnosis could be classified into four groups, characterized by two dimensions: (a) awareness or unawareness of the risk of HIV-infection; and (b) presence or no presence of symptoms preceding diagnosis. This gave rise to a unique combination of reasons for late diagnosis within each of the four groups. Recommendations were made for ways in which to reduce the number of late diagnoses in each group.
Healthcare providers should offer HIV tests to groups at risk, and be alert for clinical HIV indicator conditions. It is recommended to increase awareness of HIV transmission routes, symptoms, and the benefits of early testing and early entry to HIV care. The principal effects of late diagnosis of HIV infection on participation in the work process are: increased sick leave, loss of productivity due to health-related problems and increased problems with concealing HIV status at work.
Conflict of interest and financial support: none declared.