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One in Four AIDS Patient Deaths Is from Non-HIV Causes

Cardiovascular disease, non-AIDS-defining cancer and substance abuse chief factors

THURSDAY, Sept. 21 (HealthDay News) -- About one-quarter of deaths among patients with AIDS are due to non-HIV-related causes, according to a study in the Sept. 19 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Judith E. Sackoff, Ph.D., of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, and colleagues conducted a study of 68,669 subjects aged 13 or older living with AIDS between 1999 and 2004. For those who died, they gathered data on the underlying cause of death as stated on the death certificate.

Whereas 19.8 percent of deaths in 1999 were due to non-HIV-related causes, 26.3 percent were not HIV-related in 2004, an increase of 32.8 percent. Substance abuse, cardiovascular disease or a non-AIDS-defining type of cancer accounted for 76 percent of the non-HIV-related deaths. Injection drug users were significantly more likely than men who have sex with men to die of HIV-related and non-HIV-related causes.

The authors note that many of the non-HIV-related deaths were preventable. "Reducing deaths from these causes requires a shift in the health care model for persons with AIDS from a primary focus on managing HIV infection to providing care that addresses all aspects of physical and mental health," they conclude.

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