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BACKGROUND: Testing for HIV infection and entry to care are the first steps in the continuum of care that benefit individual health and may reduce onward transmission of HIV. We determined the percentage of people with HIV who were diagnosed late and the percentage linked into care overall and by demographic and risk characteristics by country. METHODS: Data were analyzed from national HIV surveillance systems. Six countries, where available, provided data on two late diagnosis indicators (AIDS diagnosis within 3 months of HIV diagnosis, and AIDS diagnosis within 12 months before HIV diagnosis) and linkage to care (>/= 1 CD4 or viral load test result within 3 months of HIV diagnosis) for people diagnosed with HIV in 2009 or 2010 (most recent year data were available). PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: The percentage of people presenting with late stage disease at HIV diagnosis varied by country, overall with a range from 28.7% (United States) to 8.8% (Canada), and by transmission categories. The percentage of people diagnosed with AIDS who had their initial HIV diagnosis within 12 months before AIDS diagnosis varied little among countries, except the percentages were somewhat lower in Spain and the United States. Overall, the majority of people diagnosed with HIV were linked to HIV care within 3 months of diagnosis (more than 70%), but varied by age and transmission category. CONCLUSIONS: Differences in patterns of late presentation at HIV diagnosis among countries may reflect differences in screening practices by providers, public health agencies, and people with HIV. The percentage of people who received assessments of immune status and viral load within 3 months of diagnosis was generally high.