A significant highly active antiretroviral therapy-associated decrease in annual mortality and a prolongation in survival were seen in this US perinatal cohort of human immunodeficiency virus-infected children. Temporal reductions in opportunistic infection (OI)-associated mortality were replaced by non-OI-associated deaths.
(See the Editorial Commentary by Nachman, on pages 1035–6.)
Background. Highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) has improved human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)–associated morbidity and mortality. The bimodal mortality distribution in HIV-infected children makes it important to evaluate temporal effects of HAART among a birth cohort with long-term, prospective follow-up.
Methods. Perinatal AIDS Collaborative Transmission Study (PACTS)/PACTS–HIV Follow-up of Perinatally Exposed Children (HOPE) study was a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention–sponsored multicenter, prospective birth cohort study of HIV-exposed uninfected and infected infants from 1985 until 2004. Mortality was evaluated for the no/monotherapy, mono-/dual-therapy, and HAART eras, that is, 1 January 1986 through 31 December 1990, from 1 January 1991 through 31 December 1996, and 1 January 1997 through 31 December 2004.
Results. Among 364 HIV-infected children, 56% were female and 69% black non-Hispanic. Of 98 deaths, 79 (81%) and 61 (62%) occurred in children ≤3 and ≤2 years old, respectively. The median age at death increased significantly across the eras (P < .0001). The average annual mortality rates were 18 (95% confidence interval [CI], 11.6–26.8), 6.9 (95% CI, 5.4–8.8), and 0.8 (95% CI, 0.4–1.5) events per 100 person-years for the no/monotherapy, mono-/dual-therapy and HAART eras, respectively. The corresponding 6-year survival rates for children born in these eras were 57%, 76%, and 91%, respectively (P < .0001). Among children who received HAART in the first 6 months of age, the probability of 6-year survival was 94%. Ten-year survival rates for HAART and non-HAART recipients were 94% and 45% (P < .05). HAART-associated reductions in mortality remained significant after adjustment for confounders (hazard ratio, 0.3; 95% CI, .08–.76). Opportunistic infections (OIs) caused 31.8%, 16.9%, and 9.1% of deaths across the respective eras (P = .051).
Conclusions. A significant decrease in annual mortality and a prolongation in survival were seen in this US perinatal cohort of HIV-infected children. Temporal decreases in OI-associated mortality resulted in relative proportional increases of non–OI-associated deaths.