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AIDS. 1993 Feb;7(2):183-8.

HIV wasting syndrome in the United States.

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Division of HIV/AIDS, Centers for Disease Control, Atlanta, Georgia 30333.



To describe the characteristics of individuals > or = 13 years of age with HIV wasting syndrome in the United States and US territories.


Retrospective review of national AIDS case surveillance data.


Data for the 147,225 individuals with AIDS reported to the Centers for Disease Control from 1 September 1987 to 31 August 1991 were reviewed. The frequency of HIV wasting syndrome and its association with demographic and exposure category variables and with other AIDS-indicator diseases were assessed.


A total of 10,525 (7.1%) had wasting syndrome as the only AIDS-indicator condition, and 15,726 (10.7%) had wasting syndrome plus at least one other AIDS-indicator condition. Patients with wasting syndrome as the only AIDS diagnosis were more likely to be female, to be black or Hispanic, and to have a mode of HIV exposure reported as injecting drug use, heterosexual contact, or transfusion/hemophilia. The proportion of AIDS patients reported with wasting syndrome varied by geographic distribution, ranging from 11% in the northeastern United States to 47% in Puerto Rico. The association between HIV wasting syndrome and Hispanic ethnicity was due to the much higher prevalence of wasting syndrome reported in Puerto Rican AIDS patients. The other AIDS-indicator conditions most strongly associated with wasting syndrome were isosporiasis, pulmonary candidiasis, esophageal candidiasis, HIV encephalopathy, chronic mucocutaneous herpes simplex, and coccidioidomycosis.


The association between HIV wasting syndrome and injecting drug use, and the significant racial/ethnic and geographic differences in prevalence of this AIDS diagnosis may reflect differences in diagnostic and reporting practices and/or access to medical care.

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