Objective: To determine the effect of introduction of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) on survival following AIDS dementia complex (ADC).
Methods: Australian AIDS notification data in the period 1993-2000 were examined. In order to examine the impact of HAART, two periods of AIDS diagnoses were chosen: pre-HAART (1993-1995) and HAART (1996-2000). Median survival was based on Kaplan-Meier estimates, with examination of factors influencing survival in a Cox proportional hazards model.
Results: In the period 1993-2000 in Australia, 5017 initial AIDS illnesses were diagnosed among 4351 AIDS patients. The proportion of AIDS cases with ADC increased from 5.2% in 1993-1995 to 6.8% in 1996-2000 (P = 0.029). Median survival following AIDS increased from 19.6 months for those diagnosed with AIDS in 1993-1995 to 39.6 months for those diagnosed in 1996-2000 (P < 0.0005). Median survival following ADC increased to a greater extent than that for all other AIDS illnesses, from 11.9 months in 1993-1995 to 48.2 in 1996-2000 (P < 0.0005). Most striking was the increase in survival among those with ADC and a CD4 cell count < 100 x 10(6) cells/l at diagnosis; 5.1 months in 1993-1995 to 38.5 months in 1996-2000 (P < 0.0005).
Conclusion: Although there has been a proportional increase in ADC at AIDS diagnosis, survival following ADC has improved markedly in the era of HAART.