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Geriatrics - Non-Clinical Medicine

Association of Age with Mortality and Virological and Immunological Response to Antiretroviral Therapy in Rural South African Adults
Published: Friday, July 01, 2011
Author: Portia C. Mutevedzi et al.

by Portia C. Mutevedzi, Richard J. Lessells, Alison J. Rodger, Marie-Louise Newell


To assess whether treatment outcomes vary with age for adults receiving antiretroviral therapy (ART) in a large rural HIV treatment cohort.


Retrospective cohort analysis using data from a public HIV Treatment & Care Programme.


Adults initiating ART 1st August 2004 - 31st October 2009 were stratified by age at initiation: young adults (16–24 years) mid-age adults (25–49 years) and older (=50 years) adults. Kaplan-Meier survival analysis was used to estimate mortality rates and age and person-time stratified Cox regression to determine factors associated with mortality. Changes in CD4 cell counts were quantified using a piecewise linear model based on follow-up CD4 cell counts measured at six-monthly time points.


8846 adults were included, 808 (9.1%) young adults; 7119 (80.5%) mid-age adults and 919 (10.4%) older adults, with 997 deaths over 14,778 person-years of follow-up. Adjusting for baseline characteristics, older adults had 32% excess mortality (p?=?0.004) compared to those aged 25–49 years. Overall mortality rates (MR) per 100 person-years were 6.18 (95% CI 4.90–7.78); 6.55 (95% CI 6.11–7.02) and 8.69 (95% CI 7.34–10.28) for young, mid-age and older adults respectively. In the first year on ART, for older compared to both young and mid-aged adults, MR per 100 person-years were significantly higher; 0–3 months (MR: 27.1 vs 17.17 and 21.36) and 3–12 months (MR: 9.5 vs 4.02 and 6.02) respectively. CD4 count reconstitution was lower, despite better virological response in the older adults. There were no significant differences in MR after 1year of ART. Baseline markers of advanced disease were independently associated with very early mortality (0–3 months) whilst immunological and virological responses were associated with mortality after 12months.


Early ART initiation and improving clinical care of older adults are required to reduce high early mortality and enhance immunologic recovery, particularly in the initial phases of ART.