Gender Differences in Mortality and CD4 Count Response Among HIV-Positive Patients Virally Suppressed Within 6 Months of Antiretroviral Therapy Initiation

By  Dr Mhairi Maskew  Alana Brennan  Daniel Westreich  Lynne McNamara  Patrick MacPhail  Dr. Matthew Fox  |  | 


Background: Treatment outcomes for antiretroviral therapy (ART) patients may vary by gender, but estimates from current evidence may be confounded by disease stage and adherence. We investigated the gender differences in treatment response among HIV-positive patients virally suppressed within 6 months of treatment initiation. Methods: We analyzed data from 7,354 patients initiating ART between April 2004 and April 2010 at Themba Lethu Clinic, a large urban public sector treatment facility in South Africa. We estimated the relations among gender, mortality, and mean CD4 response in HIV-infected adults virally suppressed within 6 months of initiation and used inverse probability of treatment weights to correct estimates for loss to follow-up. Results: Male patients had a 20% greater risk of death at both 24 months and 36 months of follow-up compared to females. Older patients and those with a low hemoglobin level or low body mass index (BMI) were at increased risk of mortality throughout follow-up. Men gained fewer CD4 cells after treatment initiation than did women. The mean differences in CD4 count gains made by women and men between baseline and 12, 24, and 36 months were 28.2 cells/mm3 (95% confidence interval [CI] 22.2–34.3), 60.8 cells/mm3 (95% CI 71.1-50.5 cells/mm3), and 83.0 cells/mm3 (95% CI 97.1-68.8 cells/mm3), respectively. Additionally, patients with a current detectable viral load (>400 copies/mL) and older patients had a lower mean CD4 increase at the same time points. Conclusions: In this initially virally suppressed population, women showed consistently better immune response to treatment than did men. Promoting earlier uptake of HIV treatment among men may improve their immunologic outcomes.



Publication details

Journal of Womens Health