Early mortality of undiagnosed but prevalent (in 1983-1984) HIV infection in Lothian injectors who tested hepatitis B surface antigen positive (group A) or negative but were high risk for blood-borne virus transmission (group B) in 1983-1984

SM Gore, Raymond P Brettle, Sheila M Burns, Stephanie Lewis

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Abstract

Objective: To estimate the early death-rate in HIV infected injectors whose HIV infection was during the injection-related HIV outbreak in Lothian region in Scotland in 1983-1984, which was coincident with Hepatitis B transmissions.

Setting: Regional Virus Laboratory in Edinburgh.

Samples: Sera from 1983-1984, originally received for Hepatitis B surface antigen testing, from individuals aged 15-55 years who were positive for Hepatitis B surface antigen in 1983-1984 (group A: census) or tested negative but were at high risk for blood-borne virus transmission according to their reason for testing (group B: 50% sample).

Methods: Survival status of individuals in groups A and B who had not been diagnosed with HIV disease by the end of December 1995 was checked against the deaths' records of the Registrar General for Scotland. Stored sera from 1983-1984 for patients who had died early (that is: in 1983-1984) were tested anonymously for HIV and Hepatitis C antibodies; and prior to testing, causes of death were scored by RPB according to the likelihood of their being HIV or drugs related.

Results: Three early deaths were found in group A patients who were not known to be HIV infected. None of the deaths was likely to be HIV-related; the sera were not tested in order not to risk deductive disclosure. Twenty-four early deaths were found in group B patients who were not known to be HIV-infected, five of whom were both HIV and Hepatitis C antibody positive, and one other was HIV antibody negative but Hepatitis C positive. Reclassification after unlinked anonymous testing and multiplying up of the group B results (to account for 50% sample) gave the early death rate (that is: in 1983-1986) as 15/155 (10%) for HIV-infected drug users (95% CI: 6%-13%).

Conclusion: Injection-related outbreaks of HIV infection in Lothian in 1983-1984 and at Glenochil Prison in 1993 were each associated with substantial--estimated 10%--early death-rate in HIV-infected injectors. Both HIV outbreaks were coincident with Hepatitis B transmissions, which may be relevant. Further investigations of the death-rate within 2 years of HIV infection are warranted in other exposure categories than injection-related and for injectors who have been immunized against Hepatitis B.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)166-172
JournalJournal of Infection
Volume37
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Sep 1998

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