The prognostic value of baseline CD4+ cell count beyond 6 months of antiretroviral therapy in HIV-positive patients in a resource-limited setting

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The risk of death is highest in the first few months after initiation of antiretroviral therapy (ART). We examined whether initial CD4+ cell count maintains a strong prognostic value among patients with at least 6 months follow-up after the initiation of ART.


Observational study of HIV patients in Uganda aged 14 years or older enrolled in 10 clinics across Uganda.


Baseline CD4+ cell count of patients with more than 6 months of follow-up were stratified into categories (<50, 50–99, 100–149, 150–249, >250 cells/μl). A Kaplan–Meier survival analysis and Cox proportional hazards regression was used to model the associations between baseline CD4+ cell count and mortality.


Of 22 315 patients, 20 730 (92.8%) had more than 6 months of follow-up. Six hundred and eleven (2.9%) patients died during follow-up and 737 (3.6%) were lost to follow-up. Relative to a baseline CD4+ cell counts of less than 50 cells/μl, the adjusted hazard ratios for death were 0.83 [95% confidence interval (CI) 0.67–1.02], 0.71 (95% CI 0.57–0.88), 0.52 (95% CI 0.42–0.64), and 0.55 (95% CI 0.42–0.70) favouring those with baseline CD4+ cell counts of 50–99, 100–149, 150–249, and at least 250 cells/μl, respectively. Differing ages and male sex increased the likelihood of mortality.


Among patients with more than 6 months of follow-up after initiation of ART, baseline CD4+ cell count at initiation still has important prognostic value. This suggests that active engagement and earlier treatment initiation is important for long-term survival.

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