Introduction: This study identifies measurable factors at the time of diagnosis that predict the progression to Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) among Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)-infected patients in Singapore.
Materials and methods: We carried out a retrospective study of 790 HIV-infected patients from 16 May 1985 to 31 December 2001. The end-point was the onset of AIDS-defining illness listed in the 1987 and 1991 revised Centers for Disease Control and Prevention criteria, but excluded CD4 cell counts as a criterion. Using the Kaplan-Meier method, AIDS-free survival curves were plotted for age groups at diagnosis, baseline CD4 counts and periods for utilisation of antiretroviral treatment. A Cox regression model was constructed to determine independent predictors of disease progression.
Results: Univariate analysis showed that patients of older age at diagnosis had a significantly higher risk of progression compared to younger patients, and patients with higher baseline CD4 cell counts had a lower risk of progression to AIDS. Adjusting for the simultaneous influence of several covariates on the rate of HIV progression to AIDS, multivariate analysis using the Cox model showed a significantly higher risk of progression for older patients at diagnosis, and the progressive lowering of risk with increasing baseline CD4 cell counts.
Conclusions: This study found older age at diagnosis and baseline CD4 cell counts to be measurable predictors for HIV progression to AIDS at time of diagnosis. Identification of these risk factors enables physicians to provide counselling and advice, and to start appropriate treatment early. This could lower the risk of progression and improve survival.