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HIV Patients Have Increased Risk of Pneumonia, Death Following Surgery

ence between the two groups was found in the length of hospital stay, number of complications or need for additional procedures to treat complications. However, more HIV patients developed pneumonia (eight or 2.4 percent vs. one or .3 percent) and more died within 12 months (10 or 3 percent vs. two or .6 percent). “The causes of death varied” in HIV patients, the authors write. “While none of the causes appeared to be a direct consequence of the operation, two deaths were within 30 days of the operation.”

The researchers also examined risk factors for complications and death among HIV patients, including CD4 cell count response, a measure of the state of the immune system. The lower the CD4 count, the more likely a patient with HIV/AIDS is to develop secondary infections or illnesses. Those with a CD4 count of less than 50 cells per cubic millimeter of blood had more complications than those with higher CD4 counts. In addition, viral loads—measured as the number of copies of the virus in a milliliter of blood—of more than 30,000 were associated with a higher complication rate. Whether the patients were taking antiretroviral therapy did not appear to be related to their risk of developing complications. “Our results indicate that a higher HIV viral load seems to be a greater predictor of surgically related complications than either the CD4 cell count or the presence or absence of HAART use,” the authors write.

“Patients with HIV are living longer and regaining a substantial amount of immune function,” they conclude. “Many HIV-infected patients will require surgical attention because of a variety of disorders. In many cases, HIV serostatus [whether a person is infected with HIV or not] should not be a criterion when determining the need for surgery if patients have adequate viral control.”

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