Background: The objective was to describe the causes of initial and overall AIDS-defining disease episodes among HIV patients in Singapore.
Methods: A retrospective observational cohort study was performed of all adult patients seen at the national HIV referral center between 1985 and 2001. Data were extracted from the patients' records by ten trained healthcare workers. AIDS-defining conditions were established using predefined criteria.
Results: Among 1504 patients, 834 had experienced one or more AIDS-defining diseases. The most frequent causes of the initial AIDS-defining episode were Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia (35.7%), Mycobacterium tuberculosis (22.7%) and herpes simplex (7.4%). In total 1742 AIDS-defining episodes occurred. The most frequent causes were Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia (25.1%), Mycobacterium tuberculosis (16.2%) and cytomegalovirus retinitis (9.5%).
Conclusions: The most frequent causes of AIDS-defining illnesses in Singapore are similar to those reported in the West, prior to the introduction of anti-retroviral therapy. Opportunistic infections remain the most frequent AIDS-defining illnesses.