Florida International University researchers study predictors of retention in care and viral suppression among Florida youth

A study conducted by researchers at FIU’s Robert Stempel College of Public Health & Social Work aimed to assess predictors of retention in HIV care and viral suppression among youth diagnosed with HIV between 1993 and 2014 in Florida.

“We wanted to examine Florida youth, because youth people tend to have more challenges with HIV care retention and viral suppression than older age groups,” said Merhawi Gebrezgi, a Ph.D. student in epidemiology, who led this study.

Among the 2,872 youth, 65.4 percent were retained in care, and among those in care, 65 percent were virally suppressed, meaning the person’s viral load was low enough so that their infection was not communicable. 

 “We found that older youth, between the ages of 18‒24 years old, and non-Hispanic Blacks were less likely to be retained in care, and those diagnosed with AIDS before 2016 and non-Hispanic blacks were less likely to be virally suppressed.” said Gebrezgi.

The study highlights the need for better outreach to increase retention and education about the virus, which will ultimately help lower the risk that individuals will further spread the virus.

“Given the low percentage of youth retained in care and virally suppressed, it is important to explore these reasons and develop targeted retention and viral suppression interventions to help improve the health of youth living with HIV in Florida and the health of their communities,” said Mary Jo Trepka, professor in the Department of Epidemiology, who supervised Gebrezgi’s work. 

To read the full study, click here.

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