Background: Recent studies have shown substantial increases in the survival of AIDS patients in developed countries and in Brazil as a result of antiretroviral therapy (ART) and prophylaxis for opportunistic infections. This study compares survival rates using the Brazilian Ministry of Health 2004 and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) 1993 case definitions in a large HIV/AIDS referral centre in Rio de Janeiro. Methods: Survival after AIDS diagnosis was assessed in a clinic-based cohort of 1415 individuals using the Kaplan???Meier method and Cox proportional hazards models. Results: There were 393 (88%) deaths from AIDS-related causes and 52 (12%) from unrelated or unknown causes. A total of 205 patients (14%) were lost to follow-up and 765 patients (55%) remained alive until the end of the study. Three-quarters of patients (75%) were still alive 22 months [95% confidence interval (CI) 19???26] after the AIDS diagnosis according to the CDC case definition and 31 months (95% CI 26???36) according to the Ministry of Health case definition. Independent predictors of survival included AIDS defined by CD4 cell count and any use of highly active antiretroviral therapy, with either case definition, and initial stage of the case, with the Ministry of Health case definition. Conclusion: Survival observed in this reference centre is comparable or longer than other international studies, although the choice of case definition criterion influenced findings. Adoption of the Ministry of Health case definition may enhance the ability to track the use of and outcomes from ART among AIDS patients
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