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J Infect Dis. 2009 Dec 1;200(11):1729-35. doi: 10.1086/648096.

CD4(+) T cell count decreases by ethnicity among untreated patients with HIV infection in South Africa and Switzerland.

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  • 1Department of Social Medicine, University of Bristol, United Kingdom.



Estimates of the decrease in CD4(+) cell counts in untreated patients with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection are important for patient care and public health. We analyzed CD4(+) cell count decreases in the Cape Town AIDS Cohort and the Swiss HIV Cohort Study.


We used mixed-effects models and joint models that allowed for the correlation between CD4(+) cell count decreases and survival and stratified analyses by the initial cell count (50-199, 200-349, 350-499, and 500-750 cells/microL). Results are presented as the mean decrease in CD4(+) cell count with 95% confidence intervals (CIs) during the first year after the initial CD4(+) cell count.


A total of 784 South African (629 nonwhite) and 2030 Swiss (218 nonwhite) patients with HIV infection contributed 13,388 CD4(+) cell counts. Decreases in CD4(+) cell count were steeper in white patients, patients with higher initial CD4(+) cell counts, and older patients. Decreases ranged from a mean of 38 cells/microL (95% CI, 24-54 cells/microL) in nonwhite patients from the Swiss HIV Cohort Study 15-39 years of age with an initial CD4(+) cell count of 200-349 cells/microL to a mean of 210 cells/microL (95% CI, 143-268 cells/microL) in white patients in the Cape Town AIDS Cohort > or =40 years of age with an initial CD4(+) cell count of 500-750 cells/microL.


Among both patients from Switzerland and patients from South Africa, CD4(+) cell count decreases were greater in white patients with HIV infection than they were in nonwhite patients with HIV infection.

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