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J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr. 2015 May 1;69(1):68-74. doi: 10.1097/QAI.0000000000000552.

HIV Infection Is Associated With Increased Risk for Acute Exacerbation of COPD.

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*Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care, Department of Medicine, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD; †Division of Infectious Diseases, Department of Medicine, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD; and ‡Department of Epidemiology, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD.



Poorly controlled HIV infection is associated with increased risk for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Acute exacerbations of COPD (AECOPD) are major contributors to morbidity and mortality. Little is known about the association between HIV infection and AECOPD.


We identified 167 individuals with spirometry-confirmed COPD from a longitudinal study of current or former injection drug users at risk or with HIV infection. AECOPD, defined as self-report of worsening breathing requiring treatment with antibiotics or steroids, was assessed at 6-month study visits. Multivariable logistic regression identified factors associated with AECOPD.


Of 167 participants, the mean age was 52 years; 89% were black, 30% female, and 32% HIV infected (median CD4 count: 312 cells per milliliter, 46% with detectable HIV RNA). After adjusting for age, gender, smoking history, comorbidity treatment, and airflow obstruction severity, HIV was independently associated with a 2.47 increased odds of AECOPD [95% confidence interval (CI): 1.22 to 5.00]. Compared with HIV-uninfected persons, HIV-infected persons with undetectable (<50 copies/mL) HIV RNA levels and those with a CD4 count ≥350 cells per cubic millimeter demonstrated increased AECOPD (odds ratio, 2.91; 95% CI: 1.26 to 6.71; odds ratio, 4.16; 95% CI: 1.87 to 9.27, respectively). Higher AECOPD risk was observed with higher CD4 counts irrespective of treatment for comorbid diseases.


HIV infection is independently associated with increased odds of AECOPD, potentially due to differences in treatment access and to variable disease manifestation by immune status. Providers should be aware that HIV infection may increase risk for AECOPD and that symptom may be more discernible with intact immune function.

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