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J Infect Dis. 2008 Feb 1;197(3):398-404. doi: 10.1086/524686.

Current CD4 cell count and the short-term risk of AIDS and death before the availability of effective antiretroviral therapy in HIV-infected children and adults.

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Medical Research Council Clinical Trials Unit, London, United Kingdom.



Currently, there are no comparable estimates of the short-term risk of disease progression in the absence of effective antiretroviral therapy for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-infected adults and children.


A joint analysis of 2 large studies of children with vertically acquired HIV infection (the HIV Paediatric Prognostic Markers Collaborative Study) and adults with seroconversion (the CASCADE [Concerted Action on Sero-Conversion to AIDS and Death in Europe] collaboration) was conducted. Follow-up was censored at the end of 1995, before the introduction of combination antiretroviral therapy. The incidence rates of death and AIDS or death (AIDS/death) were estimated on the basis of age and current CD4 cell count.


A total of 1260 deaths (over 20,500 person-years of follow-up) and 1894 initial AIDS events (over 17,200 person-years of follow-up) were observed among 6741 patients (3244 children [i.e., patients < or =15 years of age] and 3497 adults). Young children (age, <5 years) experienced high morbidity and mortality rates. After adjustment for the CD4 cell count, the effect of age on disease progression was not significant among older children, whereas the risk increased markedly in association with increasing age among adults. Death rates were similar among older children and adults aged approximately 20 years, as were the rates of progression to AIDS/death when cases of serious recurrent bacterial infection, which has a more restrictive case definition in adults, were excluded.


Similar CD4 cell count criteria for initiation of antiretroviral therapy can be applied to adults and children > or = 5 years of age.

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