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Logo of bmjThe BMJ
BMJ. 1997 November 8; 315(7117): 1194–1199.
PMCID: PMC2127760

Impact of new antiretroviral combination therapies in HIV infected patients in Switzerland: prospective multicentre study. Swiss HIV Cohort Study.


OBJECTIVES: To examine trends in disease progression and survival among patients enrolled in the Swiss HIV cohort study during 1988-96 and to assess the influence of new antiretroviral combination therapies. DESIGN: Prospective multicentre study, with follow up visits planned at six monthly intervals. SETTING: Seven HIV units at university centres and cantonal hospitals in Switzerland. PATIENTS: 3785 men (mean age 35.0 years) and 1391 women (30.3 years) infected with HIV. 2023 participants had a history of intravenous drug misuse; 1764 were men who had sex with men; 1261 were infected heterosexually; and 164 had other or unknown modes of transmission. 601 participants had had an AIDS defining illness. RESULTS: During more than 15,000 years of follow up, there were 1456 first AIDS defining diagnoses and 1903 deaths. Compared with those enrolled during 1988-90, the risk of progression to a first AIDS diagnosis was reduced by 18% (relative risk 0.82 (95% confidence interval 0.73 to 0.93)) among participants enrolled in 1991-2, by 23% (0.77 (0.65 to 0.91)) among those enrolled in 1993-4, and by 73% (0.27 (0.18 to 0.39)) among those enrolled in 1995-6. Mortality was reduced by 19% (0.81 (0.73 to 0.90)), 26% (0.74 (0.63 to 0.87)), and 62% (0.38 (0.25 to 0.97)) respectively. Compared with no antiretroviral treatment, the risk of an initial AIDS diagnosis after CD4 lymphocyte counts fell to < 200 cells x 10(6)/1 was reduced by 16% (0.84 (0.73 to 0.97)) with monotherapy, 24% (0.76 (0.63 to 0.91)) with dual therapy, and 42% (0.58 (0.37 to 0.92)) with triple therapy. Mortality was reduced by 23% (0.77 (0.68 to 0.88)), 31% (0.69 (0.60 to 0.80)), and 65% (0.35 (0.20 to 0.60)) respectively. CONCLUSIONS: The introduction of antiretroviral combination therapies outside the selected patient groups included in clinical trials has led to comparable reductions in disease progression and mortality.

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