Serum Albumin as a Prognostic Marker for Serious Non-AIDS Endpoints in the Strategic Timing of Antiretroviral Treatment (START) Study

J Infect Dis. 2018 Jan 17;217(3):405-412. doi: 10.1093/infdis/jix350.


Background: Serum albumin may be used to stratify human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-infected persons with high CD4 count according to their risk of serious non-AIDS endpoints.

Methods: Cox proportional hazards models were used to analyze the risk of serious non-AIDS events in the Strategic Timing of Antiretroviral Treatment (START) study (NCT00867048) with serum albumin as a fixed and time-updated predictor. Models with exclusion of events during initial follow-up years were built to assess the ability of serum albumin to predict beyond shorter periods of time. Secondarily, we considered hospitalizations and AIDS events.

Results: Among 4576 participants, 71 developed a serious non-AIDS event, 788 were hospitalized, and 63 experienced an AIDS event. After adjusting for a range of variables associated with hypoalbuminemia, higher baseline serum albumin (per 1 g/dL) was associated with a decreased risk of serious non-AIDS events (hazard ratio, 0.37 [95% confidence interval, .20-.71]; P = .002). Similar results were obtained in a time-updated model, after controlling for interleukin 6, and after excluding initial follow-up years. Serum albumin was independently associated with hospitalization but not with risk of AIDS.

Conclusions: A low serum albumin level is a predictor for short- and long-term serious non-AIDS events, and may be a useful marker of risk of noncommunicable diseases, particularly in resource-limited settings.

Keywords: HIV; albumin; biomarker; non-AIDS comorbidity; non-communicable disease.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Biomarkers / blood*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • HIV Infections / complications*
  • Hospitalization
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Noncommunicable Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Prognosis
  • Risk Assessment
  • Serum Albumin, Human / analysis*


  • Biomarkers
  • Serum Albumin, Human

Associated data