Causes of death among HIV-infected adults registered in selected anti-retroviral therapy centers in north-eastern India

Document Type

Article (peer-reviewed)

Publication Date



Background: Causes of death related studies in HIV infected population are necessary to devise disease specific preventive interventions at both state and national level HIV programs. This study examines the causes of death among HIV-infected individuals registered at selected Anti-Retroviral Therapy (ART) centers in the era of treatment in north-eastern India. Data and Methods: A retrospective chart review of causes of death was undertaken among HIV-infected patients who were treated between January 2006 and November 2012 at three selected ART centers in Assam, a north-eastern state of India. Reported causes of death were coded as per the guidelines of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-10) to determine the deaths to standard definitions. Results: Among 5612 HIV-infected patients registered over a period of 71 months, 370 deaths have occurred. Tuberculosis (28%) was the leading cause of death followed by death due to AIDS related complex (11%), wasting syndrome and multiple infections (9% each). Deaths due to selected causes were significantly associated with patient’s use of alcohol, WHO clinical stage, CD4 count at the time of diagnosis, presence of opportunistic infections during treatment and ART adherence. Median survival duration was shortest among patients who had CD4 count < 50 at the start of ART (2.9 months) and patients who had multiple opportunistic infections during treatment (2.5 months). Discussion: Majority (67%) of deaths in our study were due to AIDS-related causes. Tuberculosis has remained the leading cause of death among the HIV patients on ART. Strengthening the linkages and referral between the HIV and TB program will be crucial to reduce the AIDS-related deaths attributed to tuberculosis.