AIDS-related death and disease rates have declined in the highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) era and remain low; however, current causes of death in HAART-treated patients remain ill defined.
To describe mortality trends and causes of death among HIV-infected patients in the HAART era.
Prospective, multicenter, observational cohort study of participants in the HIV Outpatient Study who were treated from January 1996 through December 2004.
Rates of death, opportunistic disease, and other non-AIDS-defining illnesses (NADIs) determined to be primary or secondary causes of death.
Among 6945 HIV-infected patients followed for a median of 39.2 months, death rates fell from 7.0 deaths/100 person-years of observation in 1996 to 1.3 deaths/100 person-years in 2004 (P = 0.008 for trend). Deaths that included AIDS-related causes decreased from 3.79/100 person-years in 1996 to 0.32/100 person-years in 2004 (P = 0.008). Proportional increases in deaths involving liver disease, bacteremia/sepsis, gastrointestinal disease, non-AIDS malignancies, and renal disease also occurred (P = <0.001, 0.017, 0.006, <0.001, and 0.037, respectively.) Hepatic disease was the only reported cause of death for which absolute rates increased over time, albeit not significantly, from 0.09/100 person-years in 1996 to 0.16/100 person-years in 2004 (P = 0.10). The percentage of deaths due exclusively to NADI rose from 13.1% in 1996 to 42.5% in 2004 (P < 0.001 for trend), the most frequent of which were cardiovascular, hepatic, and pulmonary disease, and non-AIDS malignancies in 2004. Mean CD4 cell counts closest to death (n = 486 deaths) increased from 59 cells/μL in 1996 to 287 cells/μL in 2004 (P < 0.001 for trend). Patients dying of NADI causes were more HAART experienced and initiated HAART at higher CD4 cell counts than those who died with AIDS (34.5% vs 16.8%, respectively, received HAART for 4 of more years, P < 0.0001; 22.4% vs 7.8%, respectively, initiated HAART with CD4 cell counts of more than 350 cells/μL, P < 0.001).
Although overall death rates remained low through 2004, the proportion of deaths attributable to non-AIDS diseases increased and prominently included hepatic, cardiovascular, and pulmonary diseases, as well as non-AIDS malignancies. Longer time spent receiving HAART and higher CD4 cell counts at HAART initiation were associated with death from non-AIDS causes. CD4 cell count at time of death increased over time.
From the *Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University, Chicago, IL; †Cerner Corporation, Vienna, VA; and ‡Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention, National Center for HIV, STD, and TB Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA.
Received for publication January 20, 2006; accepted June 9, 2006.
This work was supported by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The HIV Outpatient Study investigators are listed in Appendix A.
Reprints: Frank Palella, Jr., MD, Division of Infectious Diseases, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Suite 200, 676 North Saint Clair, Chicago, IL 60611 (e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org).