Characteristics of acute pneumonia in human immunodeficiency virus-infected children and association with long term mortality risk

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To describe the epidemiologic, clinical, radiologic, laboratory and treatment characteristics of acute pneumonia and its association with mortality in HIV-infected children.


Data were collected during a trial of intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG) for infection prophylaxis (1988 to 1991); CD4+ percentage was measured and HIV RNA was assessed on stored sera collected at baseline and every 3 months. Mortality was recorded during the trial and updated through 1996. All reported physiciandiagnosed pneumonia episodes underwent blinded review for trial endpoint classification as acute (new radiologic findings and presence of clinical symptoms) or nonacute.


On blinded clinical trial endpoint review of all reported pneumonia episodes (n = 281), only 47% were classified as acute. One hundred thirty-one episodes of acute pneumonia were reported in 93 children (47 in 31 IVIG and 84 in 62 placebo patients, P < 0.01). The incidence of acute pneumonia was 24 episodes per 100 patient years. Findings associated with an acute bacterial process were uncommon (leukocytosis ≥15 000/mm3 in 21% and fever ≥103°F in 32% of episodes). Multiple acute episodes occurred in 34% of the children and were associated with increased risk of mortality in a univariate analysis (risk ratio, 2.1; 95% confidence interval, 1.3 to 3.4, P = 0.002), but in a multivariate model only baseline HIV RNA copy number and CD4+ percentage remained independently associated with mortality (relative risk, 2.0 and 1.4, respectively, P < 0.001).


Acute pneumonia was a common occurrence in HIV-infected children and was associated with long term mortality risk. Multiple episodes of acute pneumonia likely represent a marker of progressive disease and immunologic dysfunction rather than being causally associated with increased long term mortality.

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