Incidence and causes of death in HIV-infected persons receiving highly active antiretroviral therapy compared with estimates for the general population of similar age and from the same geographical area


Dr Esteban Martínez, Infectious Diseases Unit, Hospital Clínic, C/Villarroel 170, 08036 Barcelona, Spain. Tel:+34 93 2275430; fax:+34 93 4514438; e-mail:



Since the introduction of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART), the incidence of death in HIV-infected patients has dramatically decreased, and causes of death other than those related to HIV infection have increased, although it is unclear how these parameters compare with those in the age-matched general population living in the same geographical region.


Consecutive HIV-infected adults who were prescribed HAART in our hospital were prospectively followed from January 1997 to December 2004 or until death, loss to follow-up or discontinuation of HAART. Estimations of the annual incidence and causes of death in the general population of similar age in Catalonia per calendar year in the study period were obtained and compared with those in the HIV-infected cohort.


There were 235 deaths among the 4471 patients on HAART (5%). The incidence of mortality decreased over time in HIV-infected patients (P<0.001; χ2 test for trend), although it has remained approximately five times higher than that for the age-matched general population. AIDS-related events were the most common cause of death (n=95; 40%), although they significantly decreased over time (P<0.001; χ2 test for trend), whereas liver diseases (P<0.001; χ2 test for trend) and non-AIDS-defining infections (P=0.008; χ2 test for trend) significantly increased over time. Infections in general (33 times higher), liver diseases (11 times higher) and non-Hodgkin lymphoma (5 times higher) were overrepresented as causes of death in the HIV-infected cohort compared with the age-matched general population.


Non-AIDS-defining infectious diseases, liver diseases, and non-Hodgkin lymphoma represent specific targets for efforts to further decrease mortality in HIV-infected patients receiving HAART.