Objective: To examine the effects of antiretroviral therapy (ART) and opportunistic illness chemoprophylaxis on the survival of persons with AIDS and survival time based on year of AIDS diagnosis.
Design: Longitudinal medical record review.
Setting: Ninety-three hospitals and clinics in nine cities in the USA.
Patients: We observed 19,565 persons with AIDS from 1990 through January 1998.
Interventions: Prescribed use of antiretroviral monotherapy, dual- and triple-combination therapies, primary prophylaxis against Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia and Mycobacterium avium complex, and pneumococcal vaccine.
Main outcome measures: Time from AIDS diagnosis to death in the presence and absence of ART. Survival curves were compared of AIDS cases diagnosed during 1990-1992 and 1993-1995.
Results: Triple ART had the greatest effect on the risk of death [relative risk (RR), 0.15; 95% confidence limit (CL), 0.12, 0.17], followed by dual ART (RR, 0.24; 95% CL, 0.22, 0.26), and monotherapy (RR, 0.38; 95% CL, 0.36, 0.40). Risk of death was decreased among persons receiving Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia prophylaxis (RR, 0.79; 95% CL, 0.70, 0.89) and Mycobacterium avium complex prophylaxis (RR, 0.76; 95% CL, 0.68, 0.86). Median survival increased from 31 months [95% confidence interval (CI), 30-32 months] for AIDS cases diagnosed during 1990-1992 to 35 months (95% CI, 35-38 months) for cases diagnosed during 1993-1995.
Conclusions: The risk of death was decreased for persons receiving triple ART compared with persons receiving dual therapy and persons receiving monotherapy. Increased use of ART and improved ART regimens probably contributed to prolonged survival of persons whose diagnosis was made during 1993-1995 compared with persons whose diagnosis was made during 1990-1992.