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The Relationship between AIDS and HIV

June 7, 2000

Impact of HIV Infection on Mortality of Hemophiliacs

As noted above, HIV has been detected in stored blood samples taken from hemophiliac patients in the United States as early as 1978 (Aronson, 1993). By 1984, 55 to 78 percent of U.S. hemophilic patients were HIV-infected (Lederman et al., 1985; Andes et al., 1989). A more recent survey found 46 percent of 9,496 clotting-factor recipients to be HIV-infected, only 9 of whom had a definitive date of seroconversion subsequent to April 1987 (Fricke et al., 1992). By Dec. 31, 1994, 3,863 individuals in the United States with hemophilia or coagulation disorders had been diagnosed with AIDS (CDC, 1995a).

The impact of HIV on the life expectancy of hemophiliacs has been dramatic. In a retrospective study of mortality among 701 hemophilic patients in the United States, median life expectancy for males with hemophilia increased from 40.9 years at the beginning of the century (1900-1920) to a high of 68 years after the introduction of factor therapy (1971 to 1980). In the era of AIDS (1981 to 1990), life expectancy declined to 49 years (Jones and Ratnoff, 1991) (Figure 6).

Fig. 6. The changing prognosis of classic hemophilia. After improvement in survival from 1971-1980 (corresponding to widespread treatment with lyophilized concentrates of Factor VIII), mortality among individuals with Factor VIII deficiency is now increasing, due in large measure to AIDS among people who became HIV-infected during transfusions between 1978 and 1985
Reference: Jones and Ratnoff, 1991.

Another analysis found that the death rate for individuals with hemophilia A in the United States rose three-fold between the periods 1979-1981 and 1987-1989. Median age at death decreased from 57 years in 1979-1981 to 40 years in 1987-1989 (Chorba et al., 1994).

In the United Kingdom, 6,278 males diagnosed with hemophilia were living during the period 1977-91. During 1979-86, 1,227 were infected with HIV during transfusion therapy. Among 2,448 individuals with severe hemophilia, the annual death rate was stable at 8 per 1,000 during 1977-84; during 1985-92 death rates remained at 8 per 1,000 among HIV-seronegative persons with severe hemophilia but rose steeply in those who were seropositive, reaching 81 per 1,000 in 1991-92. Among 3,830 with mild or moderate hemophilia, the pattern was similar, with an initial death rate of 4 per 1,000 in 1977-84, rising to 85 per 1,000 in 1991-92 among seropositive individuals (Darby et al., 1995).

In a British cohort of hemophiliacs infected with HIV between 1979 and 1985 and followed prospectively, 50 of 111 patients had died by the end of 1994, 43 after a diagnosis of AIDS. Only eight of the 61 living patients had CD4+ T cell counts above 500/mm3 (Lee et al., 1995).

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