: The clinical spectrum of AIDS and changes of morbidity and mortality associated with HIV infection following initiation of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) are rarely described in the less developed countries in the Asia-Pacific region. We prospectively observed on a follow-up basis 309 HIV-infected patients (82.8% with AIDS) at National Taiwan University Hospital in Taiwan, where highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) has been provided to all patients at no charge at any stage of HIV infection since April 1, 1997, to describe the spectrum of HIV-associated opportunistic diseases and evaluate changes of morbidity and mortality from June 24, 1994 through June 23, 1999. Of the patients, 59.3% at study entry had a CD4+ lymphocyte count of <50 cells/[mu]l. The five leading HIV-associated opportunistic infections included oroesophageal candidiasis (195 patients), Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia (93), tuberculosis (77), mucocutaneous herpes simplex infection (74), and cytomegalovirus diseases (73). The incidence rates of seven major AIDS-defining opportunistic diseases were declining though the changes of the relative proportions varied. The median duration of hospitalization decreased from 36 days in 1995 to 12 days in 1999 (p = .0001). Overestimated mortality rate declined from 148.4 per 100 patient-years in 1995 to 7.4 per 100 patient-years in 1999 (p = .0001) whereas the underestimated mortality rate declined from 110.5 to 5.39 per 100 patient-years (p = .0001). Risk ratio (RR) for mortality in patients who received HAART compared with those who did not was 0.410 (95% confidence interval [CI], 0.249-0.674; p = .0004) and the RR was 0.250 (95% CI, 0.127-0.492; p = .0001) when the analysis was limited to patients with an initial CD4+ lymphocyte count <100 cells/[mu]l and follow-up duration >30 days after adjusting for their age, gender, type of risk behavior, and CD4+ lymphocyte count. Morbidity and mortality were declining with each study year even in a population consisting mainly of patients at the advanced stage of HIV infection in Taiwan. Earlier diagnosis, accumulation of clinical experience, and use of HAART were associated with lower mortality rates.
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