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1.  Food Insecurity and Health: Data from the Veterans Aging Cohort Study 
Public Health Reports  2015;130(3):261-268.
Objective
Food insecurity may be a modifiable and independent risk factor for worse control of medical conditions, but it has not been explored among veterans. We determined the prevalence of, and factors independently associated with, food insecurity among veterans in the Veterans Aging Cohort Study (VACS).
Methods
Using data from VACS from 2002–2008, we determined the prevalence of food insecurity among veterans who have accessed health care in the Veterans Health Administration (VA) as defined by “concern about having enough food for you or your family in the past month.” We used multivariable logistic regression to determine factors independently associated with food insecurity and tests of trend to measure the association between food insecurity and control of hypertension, diabetes, HIV, and depression.
Results
Of the 6,709 veterans enrolled in VACS, 1,624 (24%) reported being food insecure. Food insecurity was independently associated with being African American, earning <$25,000/year, recent homelessness, marijuana use, and depression. Being food insecure was also associated with worse control of hypertension, diabetes, HIV, and depression (p<0.001).
Conclusion
Food insecurity is prevalent and associated with worse control of medical conditions among veterans who have accessed care in the VA.
PMCID: PMC4388224  PMID: 25931630
2.  HIV Infection and the Risk of Acute Myocardial Infarction 
JAMA internal medicine  2013;173(8):614-622.
Importance
Whether people infected with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) are at an increased risk of acute myocardial infarction (AMI) compared with uninfected people is not clear. Without demographically and behaviorally similar uninfected comparators and without uniformly measured clinical data on risk factors and fatal and nonfatal AMI events, any potential association between HIV status and AMI may be confounded.
Objective
To investigate whether HIV is associated with an increased risk of AMI after adjustment for all standard Framingham risk factors among a large cohort of HIV-positive and demographically and behaviorally similar (ie, similar prevalence of smoking, alcohol, and cocaine use) uninfected veterans in care.
Design and Setting
Participants in the Veterans Aging Cohort Study Virtual Cohort from April 1, 2003, through December 31, 2009.
Participants
After eliminating those with baseline cardiovascular disease, we analyzed data on HIV status, age, sex, race/ethnicity, hypertension, diabetes mellitus, dyslipidemia, smoking, hepatitis C infection, body mass index, renal disease, anemia, substance use, CD4 cell count, HIV-1 RNA, antiretroviral therapy, and incidence of AMI.
Main Outcome Measure
Acute myocardial infarction.
Results
We analyzed data on 82 459 participants. During a median follow-up of 5.9 years, there were 871 AMI events. Across 3 decades of age, the mean (95% CI) AMI events per 1000 person-years was consistently and significantly higher for HIV-positive compared with uninfected veterans: for those aged 40 to 49 years, 2.0 (1.6-2.4) vs 1.5 (1.3-1.7); for those aged 50 to 59 years, 3.9 (3.3-4.5) vs 2.2 (1.9-2.5); and for those aged 60 to 69 years, 5.0 (3.8-6.7) vs 3.3 (2.6-4.2) (P < .05 for all). After adjusting for Framingham risk factors, comorbidities, and substance use, HIV-positive veterans had an increased risk of incident AMI compared with uninfected veterans (hazard ratio, 1.48; 95% CI, 1.27-1.72). An excess risk remained among those achieving an HIV-1 RNA level less than 500 copies/mL compared with uninfected veterans in time-updated analyses (hazard ratio, 1.39; 95% CI, 1.17-1.66).
Conclusions and Relevance
Infection with HIV is associated with a 50% increased risk of AMI beyond that explained by recognized risk factors.
doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2013.3728
PMCID: PMC4766798  PMID: 23459863
3.  Prevalence and correlates of obstructive sleep apnea among patients with and without HIV infection 
HIV medicine  2014;16(2):105-113.
Objectives
In HIV-uninfected populations, obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is commonly associated with cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome, and cognitive impairment. These comorbidities are common in HIV-infected patients, but there are scarce data regarding OSA in HIV-infected patients. Therefore, we examined the prevalence and correlates of OSA in a cohort of HIV-infected and uninfected patients.
Design
Observational cohort study.
Methods
Electronic medical record and self-report data were examined in patients enrolled in the Veterans Aging Cohort Study (VACS) between 2002-2008 and followed through 2010. The primary outcome was OSA diagnosis, determined using ICD-9 codes, in HIV-infected compared with uninfected. We used regression analyses to determine the association between OSA diagnosis, symptoms and comorbidities in adjusted models.
Results
Of 3,683 HIV-infected and 3,641 uninfected patients, 143 (3.9%) and 453 (12.4%) had a diagnosis of OSA (p<0.0001), respectively. HIV-infected patients were more likely to report symptoms associated with sleep and OSA such as tiredness and fatigue. Compared with uninfected patients with OSA, HIV-infected patients with OSA were younger, had lower BMIs, and were less likely to have hypertension. In models adjusting for these traditional OSA risk factors, HIV infection was associated with markedly reduced odds of OSA diagnosis (odds ratio=0.48; 95% confidence interval 0.39—0.60).
Conclusions
HIV-infected patients are less likely to receive a diagnosis of OSA. Future studies are needed to determine whether the lower prevalence of OSA diagnoses in HIV-infected patients is due to decreased screening and detection or due to a truly decreased likelihood of OSA in the setting of HIV.
doi:10.1111/hiv.12182
PMCID: PMC4300288  PMID: 25230851
HIV; Sleep apnea obstructive; Sleep apnea syndromes; Fatigue; Obesity
4.  Human immunodeficiency virus infection, cardiovascular risk factor profile and risk for acute myocardial infarction 
Background
Traditional cardiovascular disease risk factors (CVDRFs) increase the risk of acute myocardial infarction (AMI) among HIV infected (HIV+) patients. We assessed the association between HIV and incident AMI within CVDRF strata.
Methods
Cohort
81322 participants (33% HIV+) without prevalent CVD from the Veterans Aging Cohort Study-Virtual Cohort (prospective study of HIV+ and matched HIV− veterans). Veterans were followed from first clinical encounter on/after 4/1/2003 until AMI/death/last follow-up date (12/31/2009).
Predictors
HIV, CVDRFs (total cholesterol, cholesterol-lowering agents, blood-pressure (BP), BP medication, smoking, diabetes) used to create 6 mutually exclusive profiles: all CVDRFs optimal, 1+ non-optimal CVDRFs, 1+ elevated CVDRFs, and 1, 2, 3+ major CVDRFs.
Outcome
Incident AMI (defined using enzyme, EKG clinical data, 410 inpatient ICD-9 (Medicare), and/or death certificates). Statistics: Cox models adjusted for demographics, comorbidity, and substance use.
Results
858 AMIs (42% HIV+) occurred over 5.9 years (median). Prevalence of optimal cardiac health was <2%. Optimal CVDRF profile was associated with the lowest adjusted AMI rates. Compared to HIV− veterans, AMI rates among HIV+ veterans with similar CVDRF profiles were higher. Compared to HIV− veterans without major CVDRFs, HIV+ veterans without major CVDRFs had a 2-fold increased risk of AMI (HR: 2.0 95%CI: 1.0–3.9, p=0.044).
Conclusion
The prevalence of optimal cardiac health is low in this cohort. Among those without major CVDRFs, HIV+ veterans have twice the AMI risk. Compared to HIV− veterans with high CVDRF burden, AMI rates were still higher in HIV+ veterans. Preventing/reducing CVDRF burden may reduce excess AMI risk among HIV+ people.
doi:10.1097/QAI.0000000000000419
PMCID: PMC4441201  PMID: 25588033
HIV; optimal cardiovascular health; myocardial infarction
5.  Disparities in Rates of Spine Surgery for Degenerative Spine Disease Between HIV Infected and Uninfected Veterans 
Spine  2012;37(7):612-622.
Study Design
Retrospective analysis of nationwide Veterans Health Administration (VA) clinical and administrative data.
Objective
Examine the association between HIV infection and the rate of spine surgery for degenerative spine disease.
Summary of Background Data
Combination anti-retroviral therapy (cART) has prolonged survival in patients with HIV/AIDS, increasing the prevalence of chronic conditions such as degenerative spine disease that may require spine surgery.
Methods
We studied all HIV infected patients under care in the VA from 1996–2008 (n=40,038) and uninfected comparator patients (n=79,039) matched on age, gender, race, year, and geographic region. The primary outcome was spine surgery for degenerative spine disease defined by ICD-9 procedure and diagnosis codes. We used a multivariate Poisson regression to model spine surgery rates by HIV infection status, adjusting for factors that might affect suitability for surgery (demographics, year, comorbidities, body mass index, cART, and laboratory values).
Results
Two-hundred twenty eight HIV infected and 784 uninfected patients underwent spine surgery for degenerative spine disease during 700,731 patient-years of follow-up (1.44 surgeries per 1,000 patient-years). The most common procedures were spinal decompression (50%), and decompression and fusion (33%); the most common surgical sites were the lumbosacral (50%), and cervical (40%) spine. Adjusted rates of surgery were lower for HIV infected patients (0.86 per 1,000 patient-years of follow-up) than for uninfected patients (1.41 per 1,000 patient-years; IRR 0.61, 95% CI: 0.51, 0.74, P<0.001). Among HIV infected patients, there was a trend towards lower rates of spine surgery in patients with detectable viral loads levels (IRR 0.76, 95% CI: 0.55, 1.05, P=0.099).
Conclusion
In the VA, HIV infected patients experience significantly reduced rates of surgery for degenerative spine disease. Possible explanations include disease prevalence, emphasis on treatment of non-spine HIV-related symptoms, surgical referral patterns, impact of HIV on surgery risk-benefit ratio, patient preferences, and surgeon bias.
doi:10.1097/BRS.0b013e318228f32d
PMCID: PMC4507821  PMID: 21697770
disparities; HIV/AIDS; spine; surgery; outcomes
6.  Predicting Risk of End-Stage Liver Disease in Antiretroviral-Treated Human Immunodeficiency Virus/Hepatitis C Virus-Coinfected Patients 
Open Forum Infectious Diseases  2015;2(3):ofv109.
Background. End-stage liver disease (ESLD) is an important cause of morbidity among human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)/hepatitis C virus (HCV)-coinfected patients. Quantifying the risk of this outcome over time could help determine which coinfected patients should be targeted for risk factor modification and HCV treatment. We evaluated demographic, clinical, and laboratory variables to predict risk of ESLD in HIV/HCV-coinfected patients receiving antiretroviral therapy (ART).
Methods. We conducted a retrospective cohort study among 6016 HIV/HCV-coinfected patients who received ART within the Veterans Health Administration between 1997 and 2010. The main outcome was incident ESLD, defined by hepatic decompensation, hepatocellular carcinoma, or liver-related death. Cox regression was used to develop prognostic models based on baseline demographic, clinical, and laboratory variables, including FIB-4 and aspartate aminotransferase-to-platelet ratio index, previously validated markers of hepatic fibrosis. Model performance was assessed by discrimination and decision curve analysis.
Results. Among 6016 HIV/HCV patients, 532 (8.8%) developed ESLD over a median of 6.6 years. A model comprising FIB-4 and race had modest discrimination for ESLD (c-statistic, 0.73) and higher net benefit than alternative strategies of treating no or all coinfected patients at relevant risk thresholds. For FIB-4 >3.25, ESLD risk ranged from 7.9% at 1 year to 26.0% at 5 years among non-blacks and from 2.4% at 1 year to 14.0% at 5 years among blacks.
Conclusions. Race and FIB-4 provided important predictive information on ESLD risk among HIV/HCV patients. Estimating risk of ESLD using these variables could help direct HCV treatment decisions among HIV/HCV-coinfected patients.
doi:10.1093/ofid/ofv109
PMCID: PMC4536329  PMID: 26284259
end-stage liver disease; hepatic decompensation; HIV; hepatitis C; HIV/HCV coinfection
7.  HIV Infection, Antiretroviral Therapy Initiation and Longitudinal Changes in Biomarkers of Organ Function§ 
Current HIV research  2014;12(1):50-59.
Background
HIV is associated with end-organ diseases of aging via unclear mechanisms. Longitudinally assessing how HIV infection and ART initiation affect biomarkers of end organ function/disease could clarify these mechanisms. We investigated longitudinal changes in clinical biomarkers following 1) HIV infection and 2) ART initiation with evidence of viral suppression.
Methods
Cohort: Veterans Aging Cohort Study Virtual Cohort (VACS VC). VACS VC is a longitudinal cohort of HIV infected (HIV+) and race-ethnicity, sex, age, and clinical site-matched uninfected Veterans enrolled in the same calendar year. Inclusion criteria: a negative and successively positive (>six months) HIV antibody test. We used Wilcoxon signed-rank tests to analyze 1) the effect of HIV infection on lipids, renal, hepatic and hematologic/cardiovascular biomarkers and 2)whether ART initiation with HIV-1 RNA<500 cpm reverts any changes back to pre-HIV levels
Results
422 Veterans had at least 1 biomarker measurement available prior to HIV infection and prior to ART initiation. 297 had at least 1 biomarker measurement available prior to HIV infection and after ART initiation with evidence of viral suppression. Mean age prior to HIV infection was 43 years. HIV infection was associated with reduction in total cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, serum albumin, ALT, platelet count, hemoglobin and elevation of FIB-4 score and triglycerides. These changes occurred without significant changes in BMI. ART initiation (with HIV-1 RNA<500cpm) did not reverse alteration in triglycerides, LDL cholesterol, hemoglobin, or FIB-4 to pre-HIV infection levels.
Conclusions
HIV infection is associated with longitudinal changes in serum levels of several biomarkers of end-organ function/disease and mortality. Multiple biomarkers (triglycerides, LDL cholesterol, hemoglobin, and FIB-4) remain altered from levels prior to HIV infection levels even following inititiation of ART and evidence of viral suppression. These results give insights into underlying mechanisms of increased risk for aging-related chronic diseases in the context of HIV infection.
PMCID: PMC4495647  PMID: 25034208
Clinical biomarkers; chronic diseases of aging; HIV infection; lipids
8.  Relationship Between Alcohol Use Categories and Noninvasive Markers of Advanced Hepatic Fibrosis in HIV-Infected, Chronic Hepatitis C Virus–Infected, and Uninfected Patients 
Advanced hepatic fibrosis was present with nonhazardous alcohol consumption and increased with higher alcohol use categories across groups stratified by HIV and chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) status. All alcohol use categories were strongly associated with advanced hepatic fibrosis in HIV/HCV-coinfected patients.
Background. It is unclear if the risk of liver disease associated with different levels of alcohol consumption is higher for patients infected with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) or chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV). We evaluated associations between alcohol use categories and advanced hepatic fibrosis, by HIV and chronic HCV status.
Methods. We performed a cross-sectional study among participants in the Veterans Aging Cohort Study who reported alcohol consumption at enrollment (701 HIV/HCV-coinfected; 1410 HIV-monoinfected; 296 HCV-monoinfected; 1158 HIV/HCV-uninfected). Alcohol use category was determined by the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test–Consumption (AUDIT-C) questionnaire and alcohol-related diagnoses and was classified as nonhazardous drinking, hazardous/binge drinking, or alcohol-related diagnosis. Advanced hepatic fibrosis was defined by FIB-4 index >3.25.
Results. Within each HIV/HCV group, the prevalence of advanced hepatic fibrosis increased as alcohol use category increased. For each alcohol use category, advanced hepatic fibrosis was more common among HIV-infected than uninfected (nonhazardous: 6.7% vs 1.4%; hazardous/binge: 9.5% vs 3.0%; alcohol-related diagnosis: 19.0% vs 8.6%; P < .01) and chronic HCV-infected than uninfected (nonhazardous: 13.6% vs 2.5%; hazardous/binge: 18.2% vs 3.1%; alcohol-related diagnosis: 22.1% vs 6.5%; P < .01) participants. Strong associations with advanced hepatic fibrosis (adjusted odds ratio [95% confidence interval]) were observed among HIV/HCV-coinfected patients with nonhazardous drinking (14.2 [5.91–34.0]), hazardous/binge drinking (18.9 [7.98–44.8]), and alcohol-related diagnoses (25.2 [10.6–59.7]) compared with uninfected nonhazardous drinkers.
Conclusions. Advanced hepatic fibrosis was present at low levels of alcohol consumption, increased with higher alcohol use categories, and was more prevalent among HIV-infected and chronic HCV-infected patients than uninfected individuals. All alcohol use categories were strongly associated with advanced hepatic fibrosis in HIV/HCV-coinfected patients.
doi:10.1093/cid/ciu097
PMCID: PMC4001286  PMID: 24569533
alcohol; liver fibrosis; HIV; hepatitis C; FIB-4
9.  CD8+ T-Cells Count in Acute Myocardial Infarction in HIV Disease in a Predominantly Male Cohort 
BioMed Research International  2015;2015:246870.
Human Immunodeficiency Virus- (HIV-) infected persons have a higher risk for acute myocardial infarction (AMI) than HIV-uninfected persons. Earlier studies suggest that HIV viral load, CD4+ T-cell count, and antiretroviral therapy are associated with cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk. Whether CD8+ T-cell count is associated with CVD risk is not clear. We investigated the association between CD8+ T-cell count and incident AMI in a cohort of 73,398 people (of which 97.3% were men) enrolled in the U.S. Veterans Aging Cohort Study-Virtual Cohort (VACS-VC). Compared to uninfected people, HIV-infected people with high baseline CD8+ T-cell counts (>1065 cells/mm3) had increased AMI risk (adjusted HR = 1.82, P < 0.001, 95% CI: 1.46 to 2.28). There was evidence that the effect of CD8+ T-cell tertiles on AMI risk differed by CD4+ T-cell level: compared to uninfected people, HIV-infected people with CD4+ T-cell counts ≥200 cells/mm3 had increased AMI risk with high CD8+ T-cell count, while those with CD4+ T-cell counts <200 cells/mm3 had increased AMI risk with low CD8+ T-cell count. CD8+ T-cell counts may add additional AMI risk stratification information beyond that provided by CD4+ T-cell counts alone.
doi:10.1155/2015/246870
PMCID: PMC4320893  PMID: 25688354
10.  Cancer Incidence in HIV-Infected Versus Uninfected Veterans: Comparison of Cancer Registry and ICD-9 Code Diagnoses 
Background
Given the growing interest in the cancer burden in persons living with HIV/AIDS, we examined the validity of data sources for cancer diagnoses (cancer registry versus International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision [ICD-9 codes]) and compared the association between HIV status and cancer risk using each data source in the Veterans Aging Cohort Study (VACS), a prospective cohort of HIV-infected and uninfected veterans from 1996 to 2008.
Methods
We reviewed charts to confirm potential incident cancers at four VACS sites. In the entire cohort, we calculated cancer-type-specific age-, sex-, race/ethnicity-, and calendar-period-standardized incidence rates and incidence rate ratios (IRR) (HIV-infected versus uninfected). We calculated standardized incidence ratios (SIR) to compare VACS and Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results rates.
Results
Compared to chart review, both Veterans Affairs Central Cancer Registry (VACCR) and ICD-9 diagnoses had approximately 90% sensitivity; however, VACCR had higher positive predictive value (96% versus 63%). There were 6,010 VACCR and 13,386 ICD-9 incident cancers among 116,072 veterans. Although ICD-9 rates tended to be double VACCR rates, most IRRs were in the same direction and of similar magnitude, regardless of data source. Using either source, all cancers combined, most viral-infection-related cancers, lung cancer, melanoma, and leukemia had significantly elevated IRRs. Using ICD-9, eight additional IRRs were significantly elevated, most likely due to false positive diagnoses. Most ICD-9 SIRs were significantly elevated and all were higher than the corresponding VACCR SIR.
Conclusions
ICD-9 may be used with caution for estimating IRRs, but should be avoided when estimating incidence or SIRs. Elevated cancer risk based on VACCR diagnoses among HIV-infected veterans was consistent with other studies.
doi:10.4172/2155-6113.1000318
PMCID: PMC4285627  PMID: 25580366
Neoplasms; Registries; International Classification of Diseases; HIV Infections
11.  Medical ICU Admission Diagnoses and Outcomes in Human Immunodeficiency Virus–Infected and Virus–Uninfected Veterans in the Combination Antiretroviral Era 
Critical care medicine  2013;41(6):1458-1467.
Objectives
Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)–infected (HIV+) patients on combination antiretroviral therapy are living longer but have increased risk for aging-associated disease which may lead to increasing critical care requirements. We compare medical ICU admission characteristics and outcomes among HIV infected and demographically similar uninfected patients (uninfected) and considered whether an index which combines routine clinical biomarkers (the Veterans Aging Cohort Study Index) predicts 30-day medical ICU mortality.
Design
Observational data analyses (Veterans Aging Cohort Study).
Setting
Eight Veterans Affairs medical centers nationwide.
Patients
HIV infected and uninfected with a medical ICU admission between 2002 and 2010.
Intervention
None.
Measurements and Main Results
Medical ICU admission was determined using bedsection (Veterans Affairs) and revenue center codes (Medicare). For Veterans Affairs admissions, we used clinical data to calculate Veterans Aging Cohort Study Index scores and multivariable logistic regression to determine factors associated with 30-day mortality. Overall, 539 of 3,620 (15%) HIV infected and 375 of 3,639 (10%) uninfected had a medical ICU admission; 72% and 78%, respectively, were Veterans Affairs based. HIV+ patients were younger at admission (p < 0.0001). Although most HIV+ patients were on antiretroviral therapy (71%) with undetectable HIV-1 RNA (54%), compared with uninfected they were more commonly admitted with respiratory diagnoses or infections (21% vs. 12%), were more likely to require mechanical ventilation (17% vs. 9%; p = 0.001), and had a higher mortality rate (18.6% vs. 11.2%, p = 0.003). Cardiovascular diagnoses were less common among HIV infected (18% vs. 29%; p < 0.0001). In logistic regression (c-statistic 0.87), a 5-point increment in Veterans Aging Cohort Study Index was associated with an odds ratio of death of 1.22 (95% confidence interval 1.14–1.30) among HIV infected and of 1.50 (95% confidence interval 1.29–1.76) among uninfected; infection/sepsis and respiratory diagnoses were also associated with mortality.
Conclusions
Medical ICU admission was frequent, 30-day mortality higher, and mechanical ventilation more common in HIV infected compared with uninfected. The Veterans Aging Cohort Study Index calculated at medical ICU admission predicted 30-day mortality for HIV infected and uninfected. As more individuals age with HIV, their requirements for medical ICU care may be greater than demographically similar uninfected individuals.
doi:10.1097/CCM.0b013e31827caa46
PMCID: PMC4283206  PMID: 23507717
30-day mortality; comorbidity; human immunodeficiency virus; medical ICU; Veterans Aging Cohort Study Index
12.  Prehypertension, Hypertension, and the Risk of Acute Myocardial Infarction in HIV-Infected and -Uninfected Veterans 
We found increased acute myocardial infarction risk among hypertensive and prehypertensive HIV-infected veterans compared to normotensive uninfected veterans, independent of confounding comorbidities.
Background. Compared to uninfected people, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)–infected individuals may have an increased risk of acute myocardial infarction (AMI). Currently, HIV-infected people are treated to the same blood pressure (BP) goals (<140/90 or <130/80 mm Hg) as their uninfected counterparts. Whether HIV-infected people with elevated BP have excess AMI risk compared to uninfected people is not known. This study examines whether the association between elevated BP and AMI risk differs by HIV status.
Methods. The Veterans Aging Cohort Study Virtual Cohort (VACS VC) consists of HIV-infected and -uninfected veterans matched 1:2 on age, sex, race/ethnicity, and clinical site. For this analysis, we analyzed 81 026 people with available BP data from VACS VC, who were free of cardiovascular disease at baseline. BP was the average of the 3 routine outpatient clinical measurements performed closest to baseline (first clinical visit after April 2003). BP categories used in the analyses were based on criteria of the Seventh Report of the Joint National Committee on Prevention, Detection, Evaluation, and Treatment of High Blood Pressure. Analyses were performed using Cox proportional hazards regression.
Results. Over 5.9 years (median), 860 incident AMIs occurred. Low/high prehypertensive and untreated/treated hypertensive HIV-infected individuals had increased AMI risk compared to uninfected, untreated normotensive individuals (hazard ratio [HR], 1.60 [95% confidence interval {CI}, 1.07–2.39]; HR, 1.81 [95% CI, 1.22–2.68]; HR, 2.57 [95% CI, 1.76–3.76]; and HR, 2.76 [95% CI, 1.90–4.02], respectively).
Conclusions. HIV, prehypertensive BP, and hypertensive BP were associated with an increased risk of AMI in a cohort of HIV-infected and -uninfected veterans. Future studies should prospectively investigate whether HIV interacts with BP to further increase AMI risk.
doi:10.1093/cid/cit652
PMCID: PMC3864500  PMID: 24065316
blood pressure; prehypertension; HIV; myocardial infarction
13.  Hepatic Decompensation in Antiretroviral-Treated HIV/Hepatitis C-Coinfected Compared to Hepatitis C-Monoinfected Patients: A Cohort Study 
Annals of internal medicine  2014;160(6):369-379.
Background
The incidence and determinants of hepatic decompensation have been incompletely examined among HIV/hepatitis C virus (HCV)-coinfected patients in the antiretroviral therapy (ART) era, and few studies have compared rates of outcomes to those of patients with chronic HCV alone.
Objectives
To compare the incidence of hepatic decompensation between antiretroviral-treated HIV/HCV-coinfected and HCV-monoinfected patients, and evaluate factors associated with decompensation among coinfected patients on ART.
Design
Retrospective cohort study.
Setting
Veterans Health Administration.
Patients
4,280 HIV/HCV-coinfected patients who initiated ART and 6,079 HCV-monoinfected patients receiving care between 1997 and 2010. All patients had detectable HCV RNA and were HCV treatment-naïve.
Measurements
Incident hepatic decompensation, determined by diagnoses of ascites, spontaneous bacterial peritonitis, or esophageal variceal hemorrhage.
Results
The incidence of hepatic decompensation was greater among coinfected than monoinfected patients (at 10 years: 7.4% versus 4.8%; p<0.001). Compared to HCV-monoinfected patients, antiretroviral-treated HIV/HCV-coinfected patients had a higher rate of hepatic decompensation (hazard ratio [HR] accounting for competing risks, 1.56 [95% confidence interval (CI), 1.31–1.86]). Coinfected patients who maintained HIV RNA levels <1,000 copies/mL still had higher rates of decompensation than HCV-monoinfected patients (HR, 1.44 [95% CI, 1.05–1.99]). Baseline advanced hepatic fibrosis (FIB-4 >3.25; HR, 5.45 [95% CI, 3.79–7.84]), baseline hemoglobin <10 g/dL (HR, 2.24 [CI, 1.20–4.20]), diabetes mellitus (HR, 1.88[95% CI, 1.38–2.56]), and non-black race (HR, 2.12 [95% CI, 1.65–2.72]) were each associated with higher rates of decompensation among coinfected patients on ART.
Limitations
Observational study of predominantly male patients.
Conclusions
Despite ART, HIV/HCV-coinfected patients had higher rates of hepatic decompensation than HCV-monoinfected individuals. Rates of decompensation were higher for coinfected patients with advanced liver fibrosis, severe anemia, diabetes, and non-black race.
doi:10.7326/M13-1829
PMCID: PMC4254786  PMID: 24723077
hepatic decompensation; end-stage liver disease; HIV/HCV coinfection; HIV; hepatitis C
14.  Risk factors for hospitalization and medical intensive care unit (MICU) admission among HIV infected Veterans 
Objective
With improved survival of HIV-infected persons on antiretroviral therapy and growing prevalence of non-AIDS diseases, we asked whether the VACS Index, a composite measure of HIV-associated and general organ dysfunction predictive of all-cause mortality, predicts hospitalization and medical intensive care unit (MICU) admission. We also asked whether AIDS and non-AIDS conditions increased risk after accounting for VACS Index score.
Methods
We analyzed data from the Veterans Aging Cohort Study (VACS), a prospective study of HIV-infected Veterans receiving care between 2002–2008. Data were obtained from the electronic medical record, VA administrative databases and patient questionnaires, and were used to identify comorbidities and calculate baseline VACS Index scores. The primary outcome was first hospitalization within 2 years of VACS enrollment. We used multivariable Cox regression to determine risk factors associated with hospitalization and logistic regression to determine risk factors for MICU admission, given hospitalization.
Results
1141/3410 (33.5%) patients were hospitalized within 2 years; 203/1141 (17.8%) included a MICU admission. Median VACS Index scores were 25 (no hospitalization), 34 (hospitalization only) and 51 (MICU). In adjusted analyses, a 5-point increment in VACS Index score was associated with 10% higher risk of hospitalization and MICU admission. In addition to VACS Index score, Hispanic ethnicity, current smoking, hazardous alcohol use, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, hypertension, diabetes and prior AIDS-defining event predicted hospitalization. Among those hospitalized, VACS Index score, cardiac disease and prior cancer predicted MICU admission.
Conclusions
The VACS Index predicted hospitalization and MICU admission as did current smoking, hazardous alcohol use, and AIDS and certain non-AIDS diagnoses.
doi:10.1097/QAI.0b013e318278f3fa
PMCID: PMC4182723  PMID: 23111572
HIV; hospitalization; medical intensive care unit (MICU); aging; VACS Index; comorbidity
15.  HIV Infection and Cardiovascular Disease in Women 
Background
HIV infection is associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) in men. Whether HIV is an independent risk factor for CVD in women has not yet been established.
Methods and Results
We analyzed data from the Veterans Aging Cohort Study on 2187 women (32% HIV infected [HIV+]) who were free of CVD at baseline. Participants were followed from their first clinical encounter on or after April 01, 2003 until a CVD event, death, or the last follow‐up date (December 31, 2009). The primary outcome was CVD (acute myocardial infarction [AMI], unstable angina, ischemic stroke, and heart failure). CVD events were defined using clinical data, International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision, Clinical Modification codes, and/or death certificate data. We used Cox proportional hazards models to assess the association between HIV and incident CVD, adjusting for age, race/ethnicity, lipids, smoking, blood pressure, diabetes, renal disease, obesity, hepatitis C, and substance use/abuse. Median follow‐up time was 6.0 years. Mean age at baseline of HIV+ and HIV uninfected (HIV−) women was 44.0 versus 43.2 years (P<0.05). Median time to CVD event was 3.1 versus 3.7 years (P=0.11). There were 86 incident CVD events (53%, HIV+): AMI, 13%; unstable angina, 8%; ischemic stroke, 22%; and heart failure, 57%. Incident CVD/1000 person‐years was significantly higher among HIV+ (13.5; 95% confidence interval [CI]=10.1, 18.1) than HIV− women (5.3; 95% CI=3.9, 7.3; P<0.001). HIV+ women had an increased risk of CVD, compared to HIV− (hazard ratio=2.8; 95% CI=1.7, 4.6; P<0.001).
Conclusions
HIV is associated with an increased risk of CVD in women.
doi:10.1161/JAHA.114.001035
PMCID: PMC4323817  PMID: 25324353
AIDS; CVD risk factors; Women
16.  Validation of an Algorithm to Identify Antiretroviral-Naïve Status at Time of Entry into a Large, Observational Cohort of HIV-infected Patients 
Pharmacoepidemiology and drug safety  2013;22(9):10.1002/pds.3476.
Purpose
Large, observational HIV cohorts play an important role in answering questions which are difficult to study in randomized trials; however, they often lack detailed information regarding previous antiretroviral treatment (ART). Knowledge of ART treatment history is important when ascertaining the long-term impact of medications, co-morbidities, or adverse reactions on HIV outcomes.
Methods
We performed a retrospective study to validate a prediction algorithm for identifying ART-naïve patients using the Veterans Aging Cohort Study’s Virtual Cohort—an observational cohort of 40,594 HIV-infected veterans nationwide. Medical records for 3070 HIV-infected patients were reviewed to determine history of combination ART treatment. An algorithm using Virtual Cohort laboratory data was used to predict ART treatment status and compared to medical record review.
Results
Among 3070 patients’ medical records reviewed, 1223 were eligible for analysis. Of these, 990 (81%) were ART naïve at cohort entry based on medical record review. The prediction algorithm’s sensitivity was 86%, specificity 47%, positive predictive value (PPV) 87% and negative predictive value 45%, using a viral load threshold of <400 copies/ml. Sensitivity analysis revealed that PPV would be maximized by increasing the viral load threshold, whereas sensitivity would be maximized by lowering the viral load threshold.
Conclusions
A prediction algorithm using available laboratory data can be used to accurately identify ART-naïve patients in large, observational HIV cohorts. Use of this algorithm will allow investigators to accurately limit analyses to ART-naïve patients when studying the contribution of ART to outcomes and adverse events.
doi:10.1002/pds.3476
PMCID: PMC3831617  PMID: 23836591
HIV-1; Antiretroviral Therapy, Highly Active; Cohort Studies; HIV infections/epidemiology; HIV infections/drug therapy
17.  Physiologic Frailty and Fragility Fracture in HIV-Infected Male Veterans 
Frailty, as measured by the Veterans Aging Cohort Study Index, is an important predictor of fragility fracture in the context of established fracture risk factors. Anemia and increasing age drive this association in a male veteran population.
Background. The Veterans Aging Cohort Study (VACS) Index is associated with all-cause mortality in individuals infected with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). It is also associated with markers of inflammation and may thus reflect physiologic frailty. This analysis explores the association between physiologic frailty, as assessed by the VACS Index, and fragility fracture.
Methods. HIV-infected men from VACS were included. We identified hip, vertebral, and upper arm fractures using ICD-9-CM codes. We used Cox regression models to assess fragility fracture risk factors including the VACS Index, its components (age, hepatitis C status, FIB-4 score, estimated glomerular filtration rate, hemoglobin, HIV RNA, CD4 count), and previously identified risk factors for fragility fractures.
Results. We included 40 115 HIV-infected male Veterans. They experienced 588 first fragility fractures over 6.0 ± 3.9 years. The VACS Index score (hazard ratio [HR], 1.15; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.11–1.19), white race (HR, 1.92; 95% CI, 1.63–2.28), body mass index (HR, 0.94; 95% CI, .92–.96), alcohol-related diagnoses (HR, 1.65; 95% CI, 1.26–2.17), cerebrovascular disease (HR, 1.95; 95% CI, 1.14–3.33), proton pump inhibitor use (HR, 1.87; 95% CI, 1.54–2.27), and protease inhibitor use (HR, 1.25; 95% CI, 1.04–1.50) were associated with fracture risk. Components of the VACS Index score most strongly associated with fracture risk were age (HR, 1.40; 95% CI, 1.27–1.54), log HIV RNA (HR, 0.91; 95% CI, .88–.94), and hemoglobin level (HR, 0.82; 95% CI, .78–.86).
Conclusions. Frailty, as measured by the VACS Index, is an important predictor of fragility fractures among HIV-infected male Veterans.
doi:10.1093/cid/cit056
PMCID: PMC3634308  PMID: 23378285
HIV; frailty; fragility fractures; Veterans
18.  Agreement Between Electronic Medical Record-based and Self-Administered Pain Numeric Rating Scale: Clinical and Research Implications 
Medical care  2013;51(3):245-250.
Background
Pain screening may improve the quality of care by identifying patients in need of further assessment and management. Many healthcare systems use the numeric rating scale (NRS) for pain screening, and record the score in the patients’ electronic medical record (EMR).
Objective
Determine level of agreement between EMR and patient survey NRS, and whether discrepancies vary by demographic and clinical characteristics.
Methods
We linked survey data from a sample of Veterans receiving care in eight Veterans Affairs (VA) medical facilities, to EMR data including an NRS collected on the day of the survey in order to compare responses to the NRS question from these two sources. We assessed correlation, agreement on clinical cut-points (e.g. severe), and, using the survey as the gold standard, whether patient characteristics were associated with a discrepancy on moderate-severe pain.
Results
A total of 1,643 participants had a survey and EMR NRS score on the same day. The correlation was 0.56 (95% CI 0.52/0.59), but the mean EMR score was significantly lower than the survey score (1.72 vs. 2.79; p<0.0001). Agreement was moderate (kappa=0.35). Characteristics associated with a increased odds of a discrepancy included: diabetes (adjusted odds ratio (AOR)=1.48), post traumatic stress disorder (AOR=1.59), major depressive disorder (AOR=1.81), other race vs. white (AOR=2.29), and facility in which care was received.
Conclusions
The underestimation of pain using EMR data, especially clinically actionable levels of pain, has important clinical and research implications. Improving the quality of pain care may require better screening.
doi:10.1097/MLR.0b013e318277f1ad
PMCID: PMC3572341  PMID: 23222528
Veterans; pain measurement; electronic medical records
19.  Unhealthy Alcohol and Illicit Drug Use are Associated with Decreased Quality of HIV Care 
Background
HIV-infected patients with substance use experience suboptimal health outcomes, possibly to due to variations in care.
Objectives
To assess the association between substance use and the quality of HIV care (QOC) received.
Research Design
Retrospective cohort study.
Subjects
HIV-infected patients enrolled in the Veterans Aging Cohort Study.
Measures
We collected self-report substance use data and abstracted 9 HIV quality indicators (QIs) from medical records. Independent variables were unhealthy alcohol use (AUDIT-C score ≥4) and illicit drug use (self-report of stimulants, opioids, or injection drug use in past year). Main outcome was the percentage of QIs received, if eligible. We estimated associations between substance use and QOC using multivariable linear regression.
Results
The majority of the 3,410 patients were male (97.4%) and Black (67.0%) with a mean age of 49.1 years (SD 8.8). Overall, 25.8% reported unhealthy alcohol use, 22% illicit drug use, and participants received 81.5% (SD=18.9) of QIs. The mean percentage of QIs received was lower for those with unhealthy alcohol use vs. not (59.3% vs. 70.0%, p<.001) and those using illicit drugs vs. not (57.8% vs. 70.7%, p<.001). In multivariable models, unhealthy alcohol use (adjusted β −2.74; 95% CI −4.23, −1.25) and illicit drug use (adjusted β −3.51 95% CI −4.99, −2.02) remained inversely associated with the percentage of QIs received.
Conclusions
Though the overall QOC for these HIV-infected Veteran patients was high, gaps persist for those with unhealthy alcohol and illicit drug use. Interventions that address substance use in HIV-infected patients may improve the QOC received.
doi:10.1097/QAI.0b013e31826741aa
PMCID: PMC3460799  PMID: 22820808
Alcohol; Quality of Health Care; HIV; Quality Indicators; Health Care; Opioid-Related Disorders
20.  Comorbid diabetes and the risk of progressive chronic kidney disease in HIV-infected adults: Data from the Veterans Aging Cohort Study 
Introduction
Approximately 15% of HIV-infected individuals have comorbid diabetes. Studies suggest that HIV and diabetes have an additive effect on chronic kidney (CKD) progression; however, this observation may be confounded by differences in traditional CKD risk factors.
Methods
We studied a national cohort of HIV-infected and matched HIV-uninfected individuals who received care through the Veterans Healthcare Administration. Subjects were divided into four groups based on baseline HIV and diabetes status, and the rate of progression to an estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) < 45ml/min/1.73m2 was compared using Cox-proportional hazards modeling to adjust for CKD risk factors.
Results
31,072 veterans with baseline eGFR ≥ 45ml/min/1.73m2 (10,626 with HIV only, 5,088 with diabetes only, and 1,796 with both) were followed for a median of 5 years. Mean baseline eGFR was 94ml/min/1.73m2, and 7% progressed to an eGFR < 45ml/min/1.73m2. Compared to those without HIV or diabetes, the relative rate of progression was increased in individuals with diabetes only [adjusted hazard ratio (HR) 2.48; 95% confidence interval (CI) 2.19–2.80], HIV only [HR 2.80, 95% CI 2.50–3.15], and both HIV and diabetes [HR 4.47, 95% CI 3.87–5.17].
Discussion
Compared to patients with only HIV or diabetes, patients with both diagnoses are at significantly increased risk of progressive CKD even after adjusting for traditional CKD risk factors. Future studies should evaluate the relative contribution of complex comorbidities and accompanying polypharmacy to the risk of CKD in HIV-infected individuals, and prospectively investigate the use of cART, glycemic control, and adjunctive therapy to delay CKD progression.
doi:10.1097/QAI.0b013e31825b70d9
PMCID: PMC3392432  PMID: 22592587
non-AIDS complications; HIV; chronic kidney disease; diabetes; risk factors
21.  HIV Status, Burden of Comorbid Disease, and Biomarkers of Inflammation, Altered Coagulation, and Monocyte Activation 
We investigated the association between human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and prevalence of elevated biomarkers of inflammation, altered coagulation, and monocyte activation in a cohort of HIV-infected and uninfected veterans who had a comparable burden of comorbid conditions.
Background. Biomarkers of inflammation, altered coagulation, and monocyte activation are associated with mortality and cardiovascular disease (CVD) in the general population and among human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)–infected people. We compared biomarkers for inflammation, altered coagulation, and monocyte activation between HIV-infected and uninfected people in the Veterans Aging Cohort Study (VACS).
Methods. Biomarkers of inflammation (interleukin-6 [IL-6]), altered coagulation (d-dimer), and monocyte activation (soluble CD14 [sCD14]) were measured in blood samples from 1525 HIV-infected and 843 uninfected VACS participants. Logistic regression was used to determine the association between HIV infection and prevalence of elevated (>75th percentile) biomarkers, adjusting for confounding comorbidities.
Results. HIV-infected veterans had less prevalent CVD, hypertension, diabetes, obesity, hazardous drinking, and renal disease, but more dyslipidemia, hepatitis C, and current smoking than uninfected veterans. Compared to uninfected veterans, HIV-infected veterans with HIV-1 RNA ≥500 copies/mL or CD4 count <200 cells/µL had a significantly higher prevalence of elevated IL-6 (odds ratio [OR], 1.54; 95% confidence interval [CI],1.14–2.09; OR, 2.25; 95% CI, 1.60–3.16, respectively) and d-dimer (OR, 1.97; 95% CI, 1.44–2.71, OR, 1.68; 95% CI, 1.22–2.32, respectively) after adjusting for comorbidities. HIV-infected veterans with a CD4 cell count <200 cells/µL had significantly higher prevalence of elevated sCD14 compared to uninfected veterans (OR, 2.60; 95% CI, 1.64–4.14). These associations still persisted after restricting the analysis to veterans without known confounding comorbid conditions.
Conclusions. These data suggest that ongoing HIV replication and immune depletion significantly contribute to increased prevalence of elevated biomarkers of inflammation, altered coagulation, and monocyte activation. This contribution is independent of and in addition to the substantial contribution from comorbid conditions.
doi:10.1093/cid/cis406
PMCID: PMC3493182  PMID: 22534147
22.  Sex Disparities in Overall Burden of Disease Among HIV-Infected Individuals in the Veterans Affairs Healthcare System 
Journal of General Internal Medicine  2013;28(Suppl 2):577-582.
ABSTRACT
BACKGROUND
Whether sex disparities exist in overall burden of disease among human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-infected individuals in the Veterans Affairs healthcare system (VA) is unknown.
OBJECTIVE
To determine whether sex differences exist in overall burden of disease after 1 year of combined antiretroviral therapy (ART) among HIV-infected individuals in VA.
DESIGN
Retrospective cohort study.
PARTICIPANTS
Among patients in the Veterans Aging Cohort Study Virtual Cohort (VACS-VC), all ART-naïve HIV-infected Veterans who received VA-based HIV care between 1996 and 2009.
MAIN MEASURES
Overall burden of disease was measured using the VACS Index, an index that incorporates HIV (e.g. CD4 cell count) and non-HIV biomarkers (e.g. hemoglobin) and is highly predictive of all-cause mortality. Possible scores range from 0 to 164, although scores typically range from 0 to 50 for 80 % of patients in VACS-VC. A higher score indicates greater burden of disease (each additional five points indicates approximately 20 % increased 5-year mortality risk). ART adherence was measured using pharmacy data.
KEY RESULTS
Complete data were available for 227 women and 8,073 men. At ART initiation, compared with men, women were younger and more likely to be Black, less likely to have liver dysfunction, but more likely to have lower hemoglobin levels. Median VACS Index scores changed from ART initiation to 1 year after ART initiation: women’s scores went from 41 to 28 for women (13 point improvement) and men’s from 42 to 27 for men (15 point improvement). In multivariable regression, women had 3.6 point worse scores than men after 1 year on ART (p = 0.002); this difference decreased to 3.2 points after adjusting for adherence (p = 0.004).
CONCLUSIONS
In VA, compared to men, women experienced less improvement in overall burden of disease after 1 year of HIV treatment. Further study is needed to elucidate the modifiable factors that may explain this disparity.
doi:10.1007/s11606-013-2346-z
PMCID: PMC3695278  PMID: 23807068
women; Veterans; HIV; health care disparities; burden of illness
23.  Risk of Heart Failure With Human Immunodeficiency Virus in the Absence of Prior Diagnosis of Coronary Heart Disease 
Archives of internal medicine  2011;171(8):737-743.
Background
Whether human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection is a risk factor for heart failure (HF) is not clear. The presence of coronary heart disease and alcohol consumption in this population may confound this association.
Methods
To determine whether HIV infection is a risk factor for incident HF, we conducted a population-based, retrospective cohort study of HIV-infected and HIV-uninfected veterans enrolled in the Veterans Aging Cohort Study Virtual Cohort (VACS-VC) and the 1999 Large Health Study of Veteran Enrollees (LHS) from January 1, 2000, to July 31, 2007.
Results
There were 8486 participants (28.2% HIV-infected) enrolled in the VACS-VC who also participated in the 1999 LHS. During the median 7.3 years of follow-up, 286 incident HF events occurred. Age- and race/ethnicity–adjusted HF rates among HIV-infected and HIV-uninfected veterans were 7.12 (95% confidence interval [CI],6.90-7.34) and 4.82 (95% CI, 4.72-4.91) per 1000 person-years, respectively. Compared with HIV-uninfected veterans, those who were HIV infected had an increased risk ofHF (adjusted hazard ratio [HR], 1.81; 95% CI, 1.39-2.36). This association persisted among veterans who did not have a coronary heart disease event or a diagnosis related to alcohol abuse or dependence before the incident HF event (adjusted HR, 1.96; 95% CI, 1.29-2.98). Compared with HIV-uninfected veterans, those who were HIV infected with a baseline Human immunodeficiency virus 1 (HIV-1) RNA level of 500 or more copies/mL had a higher risk of HF (adjusted HR, 2.28; 95% CI, 1.57-3.32), while those with baseline and a recent HIV-1 RNA level less than 500 copies/mL did not (adjusted HR, 1.10; 95% CI, 0.64-1.89; P< .001 for comparison between high and low HIV-1 RNA groups).
Conclusions
Our data suggest that HIV infection is a risk factor for HF. Ongoing viral replication is associated with a higher risk of developing HF.
doi:10.1001/archinternmed.2011.151
PMCID: PMC3687533  PMID: 21518940
24.  Do Patterns of Comorbidity Vary by HIV Status, Age, and HIV Severity? 
Patterns of comorbidity among persons with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) are not well described. We compared comorbidity among veterans with and without HIV infection. The sample consisted of 33,420 HIV-infected veterans and 66,840 HIV-uninfected veterans. We identified and clustered 11 comorbid conditions using validated International Classification of Diseases, 9th Revision, Clinical Modification codes. We defined multimorbidity as the presence of conditions in all clusters. Models restricted to HIV-infected veterans were adjusted for CD4 cell count and viral load. Comorbidity was common (prevalence, 60%–63%), and prevalence varied by HIV status. Differences remained when the veterans were stratified by age. In multivariable analyses, older HIV-infected veterans were more likely to have substance use disorder and multimorbidity. Renal, vascular, and pulmonary diseases were associated with CD4 cell count <200 cells/mm3; hypertension was associated with CD4 cell count >200 cells/mm3. Comorbidity is the rule, and multimorbidity is common among veterans with HIV infection. Patterns of comorbidity differ substantially by HIV status, age, and HIV severity. Primary care guidelines require adaptation for persons with HIV infection.
doi:10.1086/523577
PMCID: PMC3687553  PMID: 18190322
25.  Does an Index Composed of Clinical Data Reflect Effects of Inflammation, Coagulation, and Monocyte Activation on Mortality Among Those Aging With HIV? 
The Veterans Aging Cohort Study (VACS) Index, based on age and 8 routine clinical tests, is strongly correlated with 3 biomarkers of inflammation: interleukin 6 (IL-6), D-dimer, and soluble CD14 (sCD14). After adjustment for the VACS Index, D-dimer and sCD14, but not IL-6, remain independently associated with mortality.
Background. When added to age, CD4 count and human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) RNA alone (Restricted Index), hemoglobin, FIB-4 Index, hepatitis C virus (HCV), and estimated glomerular filtration rate improve prediction of mortality. Weighted and combined, these 7 routine clinical variables constitute the Veterans Aging Cohort Study (VACS) Index. Because nonroutine biomarkers of inflammation (interleukin 6 [IL-6]), coagulation (D-dimer), and monocyte activation (sCD14) also predict mortality, we test the association of these indices and biomarkers with each other and with mortality.
Methods. Samples from 1302 HIV-infected veterans on antiretroviral therapy were analyzed. Indices were calculated closest to date of collection. We calculated Spearman correlations stratified by HIV-1 RNA and HCV status and measured association with mortality using C statistics and net reclassification improvement (NRI).
Results. Of 1302 subjects, 915 had HIV-1 RNA <500 copies/mL and 154 died. The VACS Index was more correlated with IL-6, D-dimer, and sCD14 than the Restricted Index (P < .001). It was also more predictive of mortality (C statistic, 0.76; 95% confidence interval [CI], .72–.80) than any biomarker (C statistic, 0.66–0.70) or the Restricted Index (C statistic, 0.71; 95% CI, .67–.75). Compared to the Restricted Index alone, NRI resulted from incremental addition of VACS Index components (10%), D-dimer (7%), and sCD14 (4%), but not from IL-6 (0%).
Conclusions. Among HIV-infected individuals, independent of CD4, HIV-1 RNA, and age, hemoglobin and markers of liver and renal injury are associated with inflammation. Addition of D-dimer and sCD14, but not IL-6, improves the predictive accuracy of the VACS Index for mortality.
doi:10.1093/cid/cir989
PMCID: PMC3297653  PMID: 22337823

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