Publication

Title: Gender Differences in Survival among Adult Patients Starting Antiretroviral Therapy in South Africa: A Multicentre Cohort Study
Authors: Cornell M, Schomaker M, Garone DB, Giddy J, Hoffmann CJ, Lessells R, Maskew M, Prozesky H, Wood R, Johnson LF, Egger M, Boulle A, Myer L For IeDEA-SA.
Journal: PLoS Medicine,9(9):e1001304 (2012)

Journal Impact Factor (I.F.): 11.862

Abstract

Background

Increased mortality among men on antiretroviral therapy (ART) has been documented but remains poorly understood. We examined the magnitude of and risk factors for gender differences in mortality on ART.

Methods and Findings

Analyses included 46,201 ART-naive adults starting ART between January 2002 and December 2009 in eight ART programmes across South Africa (SA). Patients were followed from initiation of ART to outcome or analysis closure. The primary outcome was mortality; secondary outcomes were loss to follow-up (LTF), virologic suppression, and CD4+ cell count responses. Survival analyses were used to examine the hazard of death on ART by gender. Sensitivity analyses were limited to patients who were virologically suppressed and patients whose CD4+ cell count reached >200 cells/ul. We compared gender differences in mortality among HIV+ patients on ART with mortality in an age-standardised HIV-negative population.

Among 46,201 adults (65% female, median age 35 years), during 77,578 person-years of follow-up, men had lower median CD4+ cell counts than women (85 versus 110 cells/ul, p<0.001), were more likely to be classified WHO stage III/IV (86 versus 77%, p<0.001), and had higher mortality in crude (8.5 versus 5.7 deaths/100 person-years, p<0.001) and adjusted analyses (adjusted hazard ratio [AHR] 1.31, 95% CI 1.22?1.41). After 36 months on ART, men were more likely than women to be truly LTF (AHR 1.20, 95% CI 1.12?1.28) but not to die after LTF (AHR 1.04, 95% CI 0.86?1.25). Findings were consistent across all eight programmes. Virologic suppression was similar by gender; women had slightly better immunologic responses than men. Notably, the observed gender differences in mortality on ART were smaller than gender differences in age-standardised death rates in the HIV-negative South African population. Over time, non-HIV mortality appeared to account for an increasing proportion of observed mortality. The analysis was limited by missing data on baseline HIV disease characteristics, and we did not observe directly mortality in HIV-negative populations where the participating cohorts were located.

Conclusions

HIV-infected men have higher mortality on ART than women in South African programmes, but these differences are only partly explained by more advanced HIV disease at the time of ART initiation, differential LTF and subsequent mortality, and differences in responses to treatment. The observed differences in mortality on ART may be best explained by background differences in mortality between men and women in the South African population unrelated to the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

Download: Full text paper

Citation: Cornell M, Schomaker M, Garone DB, Giddy J, Hoffmann CJ, Lessells R, Maskew M, Prozesky H, Wood R, Johnson LF, Egger M, Boulle A, Myer L For IeDEA-SA. Gender Differences in Survival among Adult Patients Starting Antiretroviral Therapy in South Africa: A Multicentre Cohort Study PLoS Medicine,9(9):e1001304 (2012).

Printed and Online Media Coverage

SABC

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Wellcome Trust

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Cape Argus

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Zululand Observer

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The Africa Centre for Health and Population Studies, Zululand's HIV-AIDS research hub based near Mtubatuba, has revealed the first proven HIV surrogate transmission case in South Africa.


SA DoH research brief

Tainted Milk from Surrogate FeederSA DoH research brief - 2012-08-25

A baby girl who contracted HIV after being breast-fed by a well-meaning aunt has become the first proven case in South Africa to have contracted HIV from a surrogate feeder or 'wet nurse'. The case contained in new research highlights the importance of HIV testing of mothers and surrogate feeders at a time when the government is phasing out free infant formula in its clinics.