Summary: To further characterize the natural history of HIV infection in women in the antiretroviral era, we performed a longitudinal, descriptive analysis of demographic features, clinical characteristics, patterns of antiretroviral and prophylactic therapy, disease progression, and survival in a cohort of women followed at a university medical center from 1986 to 1992. Eighty-two women (39 white [non-Hispanic], 33 African-American, 10 Hispanic) were followed for a median of 13 months (range 3-61 months). Sixty-two women received antiretroviral therapy, 34 through participation in a clinical trial. Candida esophagitis and Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia were the most common AIDS-defining conditions, accounting for 77% of all initial AIDS-defining diagnoses. Gynecologic complications affected 34 women (41%) and included recurrent Candida vaginitis in 26, abnormal PAP smears/cervical intraepithelial neoplasia in 10, and recurrent genital herpes simplex virus disease in seven. Median survival (Kaplan-Meier) from the time of HIV serodiagnosis was >59 months; median survival following an AIDS diagnosis was 27 months. No survival differences were detected based on race, insurance status, or mode of HIV transmission. Women who participated in antiretroviral therapy clinical trials had a statistically significantly longer duration of survival compared with nonparticipants. Candida infections and gynecologic diseases were common in this population. Overall survival was similar to that reported for men.
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