Survival with AIDS in Massachusetts, 1979 to 1989

Am J Public Health. 1993 Jan;83(1):72-8. doi: 10.2105/ajph.83.1.72.


Objectives: The goal of the study was to determine survival time after diagnosis of acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) and to identify predictors of survival.

Methods: We conducted a population-based prospective survival analysis of all Massachusetts-resident adult AIDS patients diagnosed from January 1, 1979, through December 31, 1988.

Results: Median survival was 406 days, with a 5-year survival rate of 3%. Age older than 40 years (P = .001), a diagnosis other than Kaposi's sarcoma (P = .001), and a history of intravenous drug use (P < or = .01) were associated with shorter survival after confounding was controlled. Survival increased as year of diagnosis became more recent (P < .0001). This temporal effect was strongest for patients with Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia. Individuals with Kaposi's sarcoma, Hispanics, homosexual men who were concurrent intravenous drug users, and residents of the greater Boston standard metropolitan statistical area, excluding the city of Boston, did not experience increases in survival over time.

Conclusions: With the exception of cases initially defined by Kaposi's sarcoma, recently diagnosed AIDS case subjects survive longer than those diagnosed earlier in the epidemic. Further work is needed to determine whether this effect is due to lead-time bias or better treatment after diagnosis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome / complications
  • Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome / ethnology
  • Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome / mortality*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Massachusetts / epidemiology
  • Mortality / trends
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Survival Analysis
  • Time Factors