Objective: To assess the effect of combination antiretroviral therapy including HIV protease inhibitors on the survival of patients with cytomegalovirus retinitis (CMVR).
Design and participants: A longitudinal study of patients with CMVR diagnosed between October 1992 and May 1996 and followed to May 1997.
Setting: UK National Health Service specialist HIV medicine department.
Outcome measure: Time to death from first diagnosis of CMVR. Data were censored on 31 May 1997.
Results: Data were available on 147 patients with CMVR. Median survival of CMVR patients before December 1995 was 256 days [95% confidence interval (CI), 197-315]. Following the introduction of protease inhibitors in December 1995 this rose to 555 days (95% CI, 351-759). By 31 May 1996 median survival for the entire group of patients alive with CMVR had risen to 720 days (95% CI, 551-889). The mean survival after CMVR diagnosis was 224 days (n=89; 95% CI, 186-261; 1-year survival, 16%) in those who took no further antiretroviral therapy, 353 days in those who took nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors but no protease inhibitors (n=34; 95% CI, 289-418; 1 -year survival, 50%), and 914 days in those who took a protease inhibitor (n=24; 95% CI, 768-1059; 1-year survival, 83%; P < 0.0001). Multivariate analysis showed that the strongest independent predictor of improved survival was having ever received a protease inhibitor after CMVR (relative risk of death, 0.063; 95% CI, 0.027-0.149; P < 0.0001).
Conclusions: The use of HIV protease inhibitors in combination antiretroviral therapy has been associated with a marked increase in the survival of patients with CMVR.