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Infectious Diseases - Pediatrics and Child Health

Risk Factors Associated with Increased Mortality among HIV Infected Children Initiating Antiretroviral Therapy (ART) in South Africa
Published: Friday, July 29, 2011
Author: Brian C. Zanoni et al.

by Brian C. Zanoni, Thuli Phungula, Holly M. Zanoni, Holly France, Margaret E. Feeney


To identify demographic and clinical risk factors associated with mortality after initiation of antiretroviral therapy (ART) in a cohort of human immunodeficiency (HIV) infected children in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.


We performed a retrospective cohort study of 537 children initiating antiretroviral therapy at McCord Hospital in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. Data were extracted from electronic medical records and risk factors associated with mortality were assessed using Cox regression analysis.


Overall there were 47 deaths from the cohort of 537 children initiating ART with over 991 child-years of follow-up (median 22 months on ART), yielding a mortality rate of 4.7 deaths per 100 child years on ART. Univariate analysis indicated that mortality was significantly associated with lower weight-for-age Z-score (p<0.0001), chronic diarrhea (p?=?0.0002), lower hemoglobin (p?=?0.002), age <3 years (p?=?0.003), and CD4% <10% (p?=?0.005). The final multivariable Cox proportional hazards mortality model found age less than 3 years (p?=?0.004), CD4 <10% (p?=?0.01), chronic diarrhea (p?=?0.03), weight-for-age Z-score (<0.0001) and female gender as a covariate varying with time (p?=?0.03) all significantly associated with mortality.


In addition to recognized risk factors such as young age and advanced immunosuppression, we found female gender to be significantly associated with mortality in this pediatric ART cohort. Future studies are needed to determine whether intrinsic biologic differences or socio-cultural factors place female children with HIV at increased risk of death following initiation of ART.