Objective: Evaluation of prognostic significance of the type of AIDS-defining illness (ADI) and performance status in a cohort of AIDS patients.
Design, setting, subjects, outcome measures: A retrospective analysis of 280 patients with AIDS, as defined by the proposed World Health Organisation (WHO) clinical staging system, who attended two Cape Town-based HIV clinics between 1984 and 1997. Patients were stratified according to the type of initial ADI. Survival associated with each opportunistic event was determined by Kaplan-Meier analysis. Cox proportional hazard analysis was used to determine relative risk for death associated with three strata of ADI.
Results: Median survival associated with various initial ADIs varied from less than 3 months (encephalopathy and wasting), to over 2 years (extrapulmonary tuberculosis and herpes simplex virus infection). This effect of ADI on outcome was most striking in patients with relatively preserved CD4 counts (CD4 > 50/microliter). A performance status score 4 predicted 50% mortality at 1 month, irrespective of co-morbidity.
Conclusion: The type of ADI is an important determinant of survival, particularly in patients with preserved CD4 counts. The stratification of patients by type of ADI and performance status may be useful in the management of patients with advanced HIV infection in resource-limited environments.