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Hemoglobin May Contribute to Sex Differences in Mortality among HIV-Infected Persons in Care
Published: Thursday, September 13, 2012
Author: Vlada V. Melekhin et al.

by Vlada V. Melekhin, Bryan E. Shepherd, Samuel E. Stinnette, Peter F. Rebeiro, Megan M. Turner, Timothy R. Sterling


Some retrospective studies have found that HIV-infected women have a higher mortality risk than men after adjusting for baseline characteristics, while others have not. Anemia is a known predictor of HIV-related mortality. We assessed whether anemia contributed to the sex difference in mortality in our cohort.


We conducted a retrospective cohort study among HIV-infected persons in care at the Comprehensive Care Center (Nashville, TN) between 1998 and 2009. Cox proportional hazards models compared time from first clinic visit to death and AIDS-defining events (ADE), adjusted for baseline characteristics with and without baseline hemoglobin.


Of 3,633 persons, 879 (24%) were women. Women had lower median baseline hemoglobin compared to men: 12.4 g/dL (inter-quartile range (IQR) 11.3–13.4) vs. 14.4 (IQR 13.1–15.5), respectively (P<0.001). In multivariable models without hemoglobin, the risk of death was higher among women: hazard ratio (HR) 1.46 (95% confidence interval (CI) 1.17, 1.82; P?=?0.001). In multivariable models with hemoglobin, the risk of death in women was diminished and no longer statistically significant: HR 1.2 (95% CI 0.93, 1.55; P?=?0.17). The risk of ADE was higher among women in both models, but not statistically significant: HR 1.1 (95% CI 0.85–1.42; P?=?0.46) in the model without hemoglobin and 1.11 (95% CI 0.82–1.48; P?=?0.50) in the model with hemoglobin. Hemoglobin was a strong predictor of death: HR 0.88 per 1 g/dL increase (95% CI 0.83, 0.93; P<0.001).


In our study population of HIV-infected persons in care, women had lower baseline hemoglobin, and lower hemoglobin contributed to their higher risk of ADE and death.