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AIDS. 1999 Feb 25;13(3):381-9.

Evaluation of the World Health Organization staging system for HIV infection and disease in Ethiopia: association between clinical stages and laboratory markers.

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Ethiopian-Netherlands AIDS Research Project, Ethiopian Health and Nutrition Research Institute, Addis Abeba.



To study the association between the clinical axis of the World Health Organization (WHO) staging system of HIV infection and disease and laboratory markers in HIV-infected Ethiopians.


Cross-sectional study.


Clinical manifestations and stage of HIV-positive individuals participating in a cohort study of HIV infection progression, and of HIV-positive patients hospitalized with suspicion of AIDS, were compared to CD4+ T-cell count and viral load.


Of the 86 HIV-positive participants of the cohort study, 53 (62%), 16 (19%), 16 (19%), and one (1.2%) were in stage 1, 2, 3 and 4, respectively. Minor weight loss (n = 15) and pulmonary tuberculosis (n = 9) were the most commonly diagnosed conditions among the 38 (44%) symptomatic HIV-positive individuals. Although 23 (27%) HIV-positive participants had CD4+ T-cell counts less than 200 x 10(6)/l, only one was in clinical stage 4. Among 79 hospitalized HIV-positive patients, 15 (19%) and 64 (81%) were in stage 3 and 4, respectively. The majority (83.5%) had CD4+ T-cell counts < 200 x 10(6)/l. Individuals at stage 3 had lower CD4+ T-cell counts and higher viral loads when seen in hospital as compared to cohort participants (P = 0.06 and 0.008, respectively). When grouping the two study populations, the median CD4+ T-cell count decreased (337, 262, 225, 126, and 78 x 10(6)/l, P< 0.01), and the median viral load increased (4.08, 3.89, 4.47, 5.65, and 5.65 log10 copies/ml, P < 0.01), with increasing clinical stage of HIV infection (1, 2, 3 cohort, 3 hospital, and 4, respectively). Median CD4+ T-cell counts were remarkably low in HIV-negative participants (749 x 10(6)/l), and in HIV-positive participants at stage 1 and 2 (337 and 262 x 10(6)/l, respectively).


There was a good correlation between WHO clinical stages and biological markers. CD4+ T-cell counts were low in Ethiopians, particularly during early stages of HIV-1 infection, and preliminary reference values at different stages of HIV-1 infection were determined. In HIV-infected Ethiopians, lymphocyte counts less than 1,000 x 10(6)/l in non-hospitalized individuals, and less than 2,000 x 10(6)/l in hospitalized patients, had high positive predictive value, but low sensitivity, in identifying subjects with low CD4+ T-cell counts (< 200 x 10(6)/l) who would benefit from chemoprophylaxis of opportunistic infections. The on-going longitudinal study will be useful to confirm the prognostic value of the WHO staging system.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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