Anaemia is an independent predictive marker for clinical prognosis in HIV-infected patients from across Europe

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Objectives:To describe changes in haemoglobin over time and to determine the joint prognostic value of the current haemoglobin, CD4 lymphocyte count and viral load among patients from across Europe.Patients: The analysis included 6725 patients from EuroSIDA, an observational, prospective cohort of patients with HIV from across Europe.Methods:Normal haemoglobin was defined as haemoglobin greater than 14g/dl for men and 12g/dl for women; mild anaemia was 8-14g/dl for men and 8-12g/dl for women; severe anaemia was defined as less than 8g/dl for both males and females. Linear regression techniques were used to estimate the annual change in haemoglobin; standard survival techniques were used to describe disease progression and risk of death.Results:At recruitment to the study, 40.4% had normal levels of haemoglobin, 58.2% had mild anaemia and 1.4% had severe anaemia. At 12 months after recruitment, the proportion of patients estimated to have died was 3.1% [95% confidence interval (CI) 2.3-3.9] for patients without anaemia, 15.9% for patients with mild anaemia (95% CI 14.5-17.2) and 40.8% for patients with severe anaemia (95% CI 27.9-53.6; P<0.0001). In a multivariate, time-updated Cox proportional hazards model, adjusted for demographic factors, AIDS status and each antiretroviral treatment as time-dependent covariates, a 1g/dl decrease in the latest haemoglobin level increased the hazard of death by 57% [relative hazard (RH) 1.57; 95% CI 1.41-1.75; P<0.0001], a 50% drop in the most recent CD4 lymphocyte count increased the hazard by 51% (RH 1.51; 95% CI 1.35-1.70; P<0.0001) and a log increase in the latest viral load increased the hazard by 37% (RH 1.37; 95% CI 1.15-1.63; P=0.0005). Conclusions:Severe anaemia occurred infrequently among these patients but was associated with a much faster rate of disease progression. Among patients with similar CD4 lymphocyte counts and viral load, the latest value of haemoglobin was a strong independent prognostic marker for death.

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