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J Infect Dis. 2005 Sep 1;192(5):739-48. Epub 2005 Jul 22.

Low CD4 T cell counts before HIV-1 seroconversion do not affect disease progression in Ethiopian factory workers.

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Ethio-Netherlands AIDS Research Project, Ethiopian Health and Nutrition Research Institute, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.



Human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1)-uninfected Ethiopians have lower CD4 T cell counts than do other populations in Africa and industrialized countries. We studied whether this unique immunological profile results in shorter survival times in HIV-1-infected Ethiopians.


Data from an open cohort study of 149 HIV-1-infected factory workers in Ethiopia for 1997-2002 were used. To estimate survival times, a continuous-time Markov model was designed on the basis of CD4 T cell counts and World Health Organization clinical staging. By use of a random-effects model, decline in CD4 T cell counts was compared between HIV-1-infected Ethiopian and Dutch individuals.


Median survival times were in the range of 9.1-13.7 years, depending on the approach used. This range is similar to that for populations in industrialized countries before the advent of antiretroviral therapy. Ethiopians had a lower annual decline in CD4 T cell counts than did Dutch individuals, which remained when groups with similar CD4 T cell count categories were compared. Moreover, the slower decline in CD4 T cell counts was not due merely to lower HIV-1 RNA loads or an absence of syncytium-inducing/X4 HIV-1 subtype C strains in Ethiopians.


Low baseline CD4 T cell counts do not imply shorter survival times in Ethiopians than in other populations, presumably because of a slower decline in CD4 T cell counts.

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