Introduction: Although AIDS-related deaths have had significant economic and social impact following an increased disease burden internationally, few studies have evaluated the cause of AIDS-related deaths among patients with AIDS on combination anti-retroviral therapy (cART) in China. This study examines the causes of death among AIDS-patients in China and uses a methodology to increase data accuracy compared to the previous studies on AIDS-related mortality in China, that have taken the reported cause of death in the National HIV Registry at face-value.
Methods: Death certificates/medical records were examined and a cross-sectional survey was conducted in three provinces to verify the causes of death among AIDS patients who died between January 1, 2010 and June 30, 2011. Chi-square analysis was conducted to examine the categorical variables by causes of death and by ART status. Univariate and multivariate logistic regression were used to evaluate factors associated with AIDS-related death versus non-AIDS related death.
Results: This study used a sample of 1,109 subjects. The average age at death was 44.5 years. AIDS-related deaths were significantly higher than non-AIDS and injury-related deaths. In the sample, 41.9% (465/1109) were deceased within a year of HIV diagnosis and 52.7% (584/1109) of the deceased AIDS patients were not on cART. For AIDS-related deaths (n = 798), statistically significant factors included CD4 count <200 cells/mm3 at the time of cART initiation (AOR 1.94, 95%CI 1.24-3.05), ART naïve (AOR 1.69, 95%CI 1.09-2.61; p = 0.019) and age <39 years (AOR 2.96, 95%CI 1.77-4.96).
Conclusion: For the AIDS patients that were deceased, only those who initiated cART while at a CD4 count ≥200 cells/mm3 were less likely to die from AIDS-related causes compared to those who didn't initiate ART at all.