Objective: To describe gender-based differences in disease progression, treatment, and outcome among patients receiving highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) in South India.
Methods: Therapy-naïve patients initiating HAART between February 1996 and June 2006 at a tertiary HIV referral center in Chennai, South India, were analyzed using the YRG CARE HIV Observational Database. Patients with 1 year of follow-up after initiating HAART were examined to investigate immunological and clinical outcomes, including the development of adverse events to therapy and opportunistic infections.
Results: All previously therapy-naïve patients who initiated HAART with at least 1 year of follow-up (n = 1972) were analyzed. At enrollment into care, women had higher CD4 counts, lower hemoglobin, and higher body mass index (BMI) than their male counterparts (p < 0.05). At the time of initiating therapy, women had higher CD4 counts and lower hemoglobin (p < 0.05); women continued to have higher CD4 counts at 12 months (p < 0.05). After 1 year following HAART initiation, significantly more men developed tuberculosis and Pneumocystis jiroveci pneumonia (p < 0.05), more women experienced lactic acidosis and nausea, and more men developed immune reconstitution syndrome (p < 0.05).
Conclusions: Significant physiological, immunological, and clinical differences exist between men and women initiating HAART in a resource-limited setting in South India. Future studies should examine whether clinical management strategies should be different for men and women in resource-limited settings.