Early diagnosis and treatment of HIV infection: Magnitude of benefit on short-term mortality is greatest in older adults

Daniel H.J. Davis*, Ruth Smith, Alison Brown, Brian Rice, Zheng Yin, Valerie Delpech

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    23 Citations (Scopus)


    Background: The number and proportion of adults diagnosed with HIV infection aged 50years and older has risen. This study compares the effect of CD4 counts and anti-retroviral therapy (ART) on mortality rates among adults diagnosed aged =50 with those diagnosed at a younger age. Methods: Retrospective cohort analysis of national surveillance reportsof HIV-diagnosed adults (15 years and older) in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The relative impacts of age, CD4 count at diagnosis and ART on mortality were determined in Cox proportional hazards models. Results: Among 63,805 adults diagnosed with HIV between 2000 and 2009, 9% (5,683) were aged ≥50 years; older persons were more likely to be white,heterosexual and present with a CD4 count <200 cells/mm3 (48 versus 32% P < 0.01) and AIDS at diagnosis (19 versus 9%, P < 0.01). One-year mortality was higher in older adults (10 versus 3%, P < 0.01) and especially in those diagnosed with a CD4 <200 cells/mm3 left untreated (46 versus 15%, P < 0.01). While the relative mortality risk reduction from ART initiation at CD <200 cells/mm3 was similar in both age groups, the absolute risk difference was higher among older adults (40 versus 12% fewer deaths) such that the number needed to treat older adults to prevent one death was two compared with eight among younger adults. Conclusions: The magnitude of benefit from ART is greater in older adults than younger adults. Older persons should be considered as a target for HIV testing. Coupled with prompt treatment, earlier diagnosis is likely to reduce substantially deaths in this group.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)520-526
    Number of pages7
    JournalAge and Ageing
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - Jul 2013

    Bibliographical note

    Funding Information:
    D.D. receives funding from the Wellcome Trust as a Research Training Fellow. The HPA receives statutory funding from the UK Department of Health.


    • AIDS
    • Antiretroviral therapy
    • Epidemiology
    • HIV
    • Older people
    • Surveillance


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