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J Infect. 2001 Feb;42(2):134-9.

The changing pattern of AIDS-defining illnesses with the introduction of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART)in a London clinic.

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  • 1Academic Department of HIV/GU Medicine, The Guy's, King's and St. Thomas' School of Medicine, Weston Education Centre, King's College Hospital, Cutcombe Road, London, SE5 9RT, UK.



To quantify the progressive impact of combination antiretroviral therapy (ART) on the incidence of AIDS-defining illnesses (ADIs) over a 9-year period.


Retrospective cohort study. Eligible patients were 1538 AIDS-free, HIV-1-positive patients attending a large HIV clinic in west London who were at risk of developing AIDS because their CD4 count had declined to < or =350 x 10(6)/l cells during the period 1 January 1990 and 31 December 1998. Incidence rates for the 12 most frequent ADIs were compared for two time periods, 1990-1995 (pre-HAART) and 1996-1998 (post-HAART), using Poisson regression methods. Multivariate Poisson regression models were used to examine the contribution of ART and HAART to any observed temporal trends in incidence rates.


After a median follow-up of 35 months, 450 (29%) patients had developed AIDS. Between the two time periods there was a significant decrease in the incidence of Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia (PCP) by 35% (4.11 per 100 person-years in 1990-1995 vs. 2.67 in 1996-1998;P= 0.007), Kaposi's sarcoma by 34% (3.27 vs. 2.17;P= 0.022) and cryptosporidiosis by 60% (0.76 vs. 0.31;P= 0.029). A non-significant reduction in incidence was observed for cryptococcosis by 45% (0.81 vs. 0.45;P= 0.11), oesophageal candidiasis by 29% (3.34 vs. 2.39;P= 0.053) and mycobacterium avium complex by 18% (1.58 vs. 1.29;P= 0.4), and a non-significant increase was observed for tuberculosis by 17% (0.62 vs. 0.73;P= 0.66) and non-Hodgkins lymphoma (NHL) by 51% (0.43 vs. 0.65;P= 0.31). The incidence of cerebral toxoplasmosis, cytomegalovirus, recurrent bacterial chest infections and dementia remained stable. There was a clear stepwise reduction in the incidence of PCP, Kaposi's sarcoma and cryptosporidiosis with the use of non-H AART and HAART regimens relative to no ART. In a multivariate analysis, the use of ART and HAART explained the progressive decrease in incidence of PCP and Kaposi's sarcoma.


The incidence of most ADIs has decreased over the last 9 years. The striking reduction in the inci-dence of PCP and Kaposi's sarcoma since 1996 can be attributed to the use of combination ART and particularly HAART. The non-significant increase in the incidence of NHL and tuberculosis needs confirmation in other patient cohorts.

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