Increasing survival in AIDS patients with cytomegalovirus retinitis treated with combination antiretroviral therapy including HIV protease inhibitors

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To assess the effect of combination antiretroviral therapy including HIV protease inhibitors on the survival of patients with cytomegalovirus retinitis (CMVR).

Design and participants:

A longitudinal study of patients with CMVR diagnosed between October 1992 and May 1996 and followed to May 1997.


UK National Health Service specialist HIV medicine department.

Outcome measure:

Time to death from first diagnosis of CMVR. Data were censored on 31 May 1997.


Data were available on 147 patients with CMVR. Median survival of CMVR patients before December 1995 was 256 days [95% confidence interval (CI), 197–315]. Following the introduction of protease inhibitors in December 1995 this rose to 555 days (95% CI, 351–759). By 31 May 1996 median survival for the entire group of patients alive with CMVR had risen to 720 days (95% CI, 551–889). The mean survival after CMVR diagnosis was 224 days (n = 89; 95% CI, 186–261; 1-year survival, 16%) in those who took no further antiretroviral therapy, 353 days in those who took nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors but no protease inhibitors (n = 34; 95% CI, 289–418; 1-year survival, 50%), and 914 days in those who took a protease inhibitor (n = 24; 95% CI, 768–1059; 1-year survival, 83%; P < 0.0001). Multivariate analysis showed that the strongest independent predictor of improved survival was having ever received a protease inhibitor after CMVR (relative risk of death, 0.063; 95% CI, 0.027–0.149; P < 0.0001).


The use of HIV protease inhibitors in combination antiretroviral therapy has been associated with a marked increase in the survival of patients with CMVR.

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