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Surgery a Bigger Risk for HIV-Infected Patients

Odds for post-op pneumonia are much higher in this group, study finds

WEDNESDAY, Dec. 27, 2006 (HealthDay News) -- Surgical patients with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, are more likely to develop pneumonia after their operation and to die within one year compared to uninfected patients, U.S. researchers report.

The study also found that HIV patients with a preoperative viral load (number of copies of virus in the blood) greater than 30,000 per milliliter appeared to be most likely to suffer surgical complications.

In the study, a team from Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Program-Northern California, in Oakland, analyzed surgical outcomes for 332 HIV patients who had a number of different kinds of operations (including heart, abdominal and orthopedic) between 1997 and 2002. They compared those outcomes to outcomes for 332 surgical patients without HIV.

More HIV patients developed pneumonia after surgery (2.4 percent vs. 0.3 percent), and more HIV patients died within 12 months after their surgery (3 percent vs. 0.6 percent).

The findings are published in the December issue of the journal Archives of Surgery.

Highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) has made HIV infection a chronic, manageable condition, the study authors noted.

"Consequently, many HIV-infected patients elect to undergo surgical procedures to correct physical ailments that would not have been treated previously, and undergo operative interventions in lieu of medical therapies for certain conditions," they wrote.

"Patients with HIV are living longer and regaining a substantial amount of immune function," the study authors concluded. "Many HIV-infected patients will require surgical attention because of a variety of disorders. In many cases, HIV serostatus (whether a person is infected with HIV) should not be a criterion when determining the need for surgery if patients have adequate viral control."

More information

The American Medical Association has more about HIV infection.

SOURCE: JAMA/Archives journals, news release, Dec. 18, 2006
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