New Data Show AIDS Patients Less Likely to be Hospitalized

For Release: June 9, 1999

Contact: NCHS Press Office (301) 436-7551,

The latest data on hospitalization in the United States show decreasing hospital use for patients with HIV and longer hospital stays for childbirth, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS).

The findings, which reflect medical advances as well as changes in health policy and health care delivery, appear in the first issue of NCHS Health E-Stats, a new series of Internet data releases on topics of current interest and importance.

According to data from NCHS’s National Hospital Discharge Survey, patients with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) had 71,000 fewer hospitalizations in 1997 than in 1995, for a 30 percent drop in the rate of hospitalization. Those patients who were hospitalized had shorter stays, resulting in almost 900,000 fewer total days of hospital care for HIV in 1997 compared to 1995.

The data release includes an analysis by age, sex and region of the country and shows the largest drop in hospital days–50 percent–for those 30-34 years of age. Comparing regions of the country, the decline was especially notable in the West where hospitalization was cut in half and days of care dropped by 60 percent.

The reduction in hospitalization for AIDS patients from 1995 to 1997 is consistent with the dramatic 62 percent decline in the AIDS death rate during the same period. The use of intensive antiretroviral therapies and continued AIDS prevention efforts were credited with the drop in the death rate and appear to have had a major impact on the need for hospital care for the treatment of HIV. “Decreasing Hospital Use for HIV,” NCHS Health E-Stats, No. 1 is available exclusively on the NCHS Home Page.

In another analysis of data from National Hospital Discharge Survey, a survey of patients discharged from a sample of the nation’s non-Federal short-stay hospitals, NCHS researchers monitored hospital care for childbirth–an aspect of health care under public and legislative scrutiny in recent years. Declining hospital stays for childbirth received widespread attention and questions were raised as to whether short stays, especially stays of 24 hours or less, were endangering the health of mothers or their babies. Many states and the Federal government have enacted legislation to require insurance plans to cover minimum stays of 2 days for uncomplicated deliveries.

NCHS Health E-Stats, No. 2 reports an increase from 1995 to 1997 in the average length of hospital stay for childbirth in the United States, after a long period of increasingly shorter stays over the past two decades. The average hospital stay for all women who delivered was 2.4 days in 1997 compared to 2.1 days in 1995; in 1980 the average stay was 3.8 days. The number of women hospitalized for 1 day or less for childbirth dropped from 1.4 million in 1995 to 951,000 in 1997.

Check the NCHS Home Page to view or download these reports, for trend and additional data, and for background information on the National Hospital Discharge Survey.