Sonnenberg P, Copas A, Glynn JR, Bester A, Nelson G, Shearer S, Murray J.
Occup Environ Med. 2010 Nov 28. [Epub Ahead Of Print]
Objectives To estimate the effect of HIV infection on time off work. To provide baseline estimates for economic and actuarial models, and for evaluations of ART and other workplace interventions. Methods A retrospective cohort study of gold miners with known dates of seroconversion to HIV, and an HIV-negative comparison group, used routinely collected data to estimate the proportion of time off work by calendar period (1992-2002, prior to the introduction of ART), age, time since seroconversion and period before death. The authors calculated ORs for overall time off work and RR ratios (RRR, using multinomial logistic regression) for reasons off work relative to being at work. Results 1703 HIV-positive and 4859 HIV-negative men were followed for 34 424 person-years. HIV-positive miners spent a higher proportion of time off work than negative miners (20.7% vs 16.1%) due to greater medical and unauthorised absence. Compared with HIV-negative miners, overall time off work increased in the first 2years after seroconversion (adjusted OR 1.40 (95% CI 1.36 to 1.45)) and then remained broadly stable for a number years, reaching 38.8% in the final year before death (adjusted OR 3.27, 95% CI 2.95 to 3.63). Absence for medical reasons showed the strongest link to HIV infection, increasing from an adjusted RRR of 2.66 (95% CI 2.45 to 2.90) for the first 2years since seroconversion to 13.6 (95% CI 11.8 to 15.6) in the year prior to death. Conclusions Time off work provides a quantifiable measure of the effect of HIV on overall morbidity. HIV/AIDS affects both labour supply (increased time off work) and demand for health services (increased medical absence). The effects occur soon after seroconversion and stabilise before reaching very high levels in the period prior to death. Occupational health services are an important setting to identify HIV-infected men early.