Revista Panamericana de Salud Pública
On-line version ISSN 1680-5348
Print version ISSN 1020-4989
KILARU, Krishna R.; KUMAR, Alok and SIPPY, Namrata. CD4 cell counts in adults with newly diagnosed HIV infection in Barbados. Rev Panam Salud Publica [online]. 2004, vol.16, n.5, pp.302-307. ISSN 1680-5348. http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S1020-49892004001100002.
OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the absolute CD4 cell counts of all the newly diagnosed HIV-infected persons who presented at the Ladymeade Reference Unit (LRU), which serves as the national HIV/AIDS referral and treatment center for the country of Barbados. DESIGN AND METHODS: The study group was comprised of HIV-infected adults who had been diagnosed with HIV infection and referred to the LRU between January and December 2002. All the patients referred to the LRU had a CD4 cell count done at their first visit to the unit, as part of the routine workup to assess their disease status and need for antiretroviral therapy. RESULTS: Of the 106 newly diagnosed adults, 62 of them (58.5%) were males, who had a median age at presentation of 40 years; the other 44 of them (41.5%) were females, and their median age at presentation was 36 years. Nearly one-fifth (18.2%) of the females were aged 16-25 years, whereas only 8.1% of the males were in this age group. The majority (57.6%) of the study group were diagnosed because they presented with an HIV/AIDS-related illness. Overall, the median CD4 cell count at the time of diagnosis was 183/µL; 52 of 103 adults (50.5%) with a newly diagnosed HIV infection had a CD4 cell count that was <200. Among males, the median CD4 cell count was 161/µL, and 32 (53.3%) of 60 males had CD4 cell counts <200. In contrast, among females, the median CD4 cell count was 223, and 20 (46.5%) of 43 females had a CD4 cell count that was <200/µL. However, this difference in the proportion of males and females with a CD4 cell count less than 200/µL was not statistically significant (P = 0.63). CONCLUSIONS: At the time of HIV diagnosis, over one-half of the adults had an initial CD4 cell count that was consistent with relatively advanced disease. Proportionally more women than men presented at a younger age, and proportionally more women than men presented in the early stages of the disease. These patterns indicate a clear need for enhanced educational efforts regarding the importance of HIV testing for at-risk individuals across Barbados. This testing could improve efforts to reduce transmission as well as the prognosis for patients who receive antiretroviral therapy.
Keywords : HIV infections; CD4 lymphocyte count; risk factors; Barbados.