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To determine factors associated with survival and to assess the relative strength of CD4 cell count and HIV-1 RNA in predicting survival in a cohort of HIV-1-infected women.Prospective cohort, enrolled during 1994-1995, with median follow-up of 29 monthsOf 1769 HIV-infected women 252 died. In multivariate analyses, lower CD4 cell count, higher quantitative plasma HIV-1 RNA, and the presence of a self-reported AIDS-defining (Class C) condition were significantly associated with shorter survival: the relative hazard (RH) of dying was 1.17, 3.27, and 8.46, respectively for women with baseline CD4 cell count of 200-349, 50-199, and <50×106 cells/l, compared with women with CD4 cell count of ≥350×106 cells/l. Compared with women with HIV-1 RNA levels of <4000 copies/ml plasma, the RH of dying for women with baseline quantitative HIV-1 RNA measurements of 4000-20000, 20000-100000, 100000-500000 and >500000 copies/ml, was 2.19, 2.17, 3.16, and 7.25, respectively. CD4 cell count had as strong a prognostic value as HIV-1 RNA level, particularly among participants with more advanced immunodeficiency. When the analysis was adjusted to eliminate the distortion created by having disproportionately sized strata of the categorized variables, the relative hazard of death associated with CD4 cell count became even larger in comparison with that for HIV-1 RNA. Eliminating from the analysis all follow-up time during which participants could have received highly active antiretroviral therapy did not change these findings. Age was not a predictor of survival after adjustment for covariates.CD4 cell count and HIV-1 RNA had similar prognostic value in this cohort of HIV-1-infected women. Even in the presence of a low viral burden, a substantially decreased CD4 cell count remained a strong predictor of mortality.