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HIV Med. 2002 Jul;3(3):195-9.

Causes of death among HIV-infected patients in the era of highly active antiretroviral therapy, Bordeaux, France, 1998-1999.

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Fédération de Médecine Interne, Maladies Infectieuses et Pathologie Tropicale, Hôpital Saint-André Bordeaux, France.



To describe the causes of death in HIV-infected patients in the era of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART).


A retrospective survey conducted in Bordeaux, France. Medical records of all deaths that had occurred in 1998 and 1999 amongst patients followed within the Aquitaine cohort were reviewed by the same physician. Immediate and underlying causes of death were described, taking into account the morbidity at the time of death.


Sixty-six deaths occurred in 1998, and 41 in 1999. Sixty-seven per cent of deceased patients were male. Median age at time of death was 43 years (range 25-71), median CD4 was 162 cells/microL (0-957); 28% of patients had a CD4 count > 200 cells/microL and 7% plasma viral load < 500 HIV-RNA copies/mL. Amongst morbidity present at the time of death, there were 23 bacterial infections, 16 non-Hodgkin's lymphomas, 16 cirrhoses, 15 non HIV-related malignancies, 13 central nervous system diseases and 10 myocardiopathies. The main immediate causes of death were: multiple organ failure (21%), coma (18%), septic shock (15%) and acute respiratory failure (14%). Underlying causes of death were AIDS-defining events (48%), non AIDS HIV-related infection (3%), hepatitis B- or C-associated cirrhosis (14%), non HIV-related malignancies (11%), cardiovascular events (10%), suicide and overdose (6%), treatment-related fatalities (4%), injury (2%) and unknown (2%). Patients dying from AIDS-related events were more often female, had a lower CD4 count, a higher level of HIV-RNA, a shorter history of HIV infection and were less often coinfected with hepatitis B and C viruses than those dying from other underlying causes.


AIDS-related events are no longer the major causes of death of HIV-infected patients in the era of HAART. This evolving mortality pattern justifies an adaptation of both the epidemiological surveillance and the clinical monitoring of HIV-infected patients.

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