HIV/AIDS Anemia: Prevalence and Severity of Anemia Increases With Advancing HIV Disease

The current study describes the prevalence of anemia, a common hematologic abnormality that can significantly impact clinical outcomes and quality of life (QOL), in several populations of patients with HIV. Specifically, P.S. Belperio and colleagues looked at the "effects of anemia, morbidity, disease progression, transfusion requirements, and QOL" in these populations.

"The prevalence of anemia in HIV disease varies considerably, ranging from 1.3% to 95%: it depends on several factors, including the stage of HIV disease, sex, age, pregnancy status, and injection-drug use as well as the definition of anemia used," the authors noted. Commonly, they continued, the prevalence and severity of anemia increases as HIV progresses. "Anemia is also more prevalent in HIV-positive women, children, and injection-drug users than in HIV-negative women, children, and injection-drug users."

"Anemia has been shown to be a statistically significant predictor of progression to [AIDS] and is independently associated with increased risk of death in patients with HIV," wrote the investigators.

"Treatment of anemia with epoetin-a has resulted in significantly fewer patients requiring transfusion as well as decreases in the mean number of units of blood transfused," said Belperio and colleagues, noting that resolution of HIV-related anemia has been shown to improve physical functioning, energy, fatigue and QOL in HIV-infected patients. "More recently," they concluded, "the use of highly active antiretroviral therapy has also been associated with a significant increase in hemoglobin concentrations and a decrease in the prevalence of anemia."

The full report, "Prevalence and Outcomes of Anemia in Individuals with Human Immunodeficiency Virus: A Systematic Review of the Literature," was published in the American Journal of Medicine (2004;116(7-S1):27-43).