Gay men who maintain a link to primary health care tend to diagnose HIV infections sooner after exposure and are more likely to suppress the virus within a year, aidsmap reports. Investigators at Fenway Health, which is a Boston clinic with about 20,000 patients, a quarter of whom are men who have sex with men (MSM), published the findings of their research in the journal AIDS Patient Care and STDs.

The team analyzed records of 754 new HIV diagnoses among MSM between 2000 and 2010, including 291 cases in which the man had already been under the clinic’s care. The study defined patients as previously engaged in care with Fenway if they had received either an HIV negative test result or a physical exam during the two years before they were diagnosed with HIV.

Engaged patients were more likely to be white and to have private health coverage. Twenty percent of those previously in care were diagnosed with HIV during acute, or early, infection, compared with 8 percent of new patients. Twenty-five percent of established patients tested positive as a result of a routine screen, compared with 11 percent of new patients.

Engaged patients were linked to an HIV specialist within a mere four days, compared with 64 days for those new to the clinic. A year after diagnosis, the engaged patients had an 86 percent rate of viral suppression while 79 percent of the new patients were virally suppressed.

About one in five of the men were diagnosed with AIDS at the time of testing HIV positive, with little difference in the rates between the two subsets of patients.

To read the aidsmap story, click here.

To read the study abstract, click here.