Research Article

Changing disease patterns in patients with AIDS in a referral centre in the United Kingdom: the changing face of AIDS.

BMJ 1991; 302 doi: (Published 26 January 1991) Cite this as: BMJ 1991;302:203
  1. B S Peters,
  2. E J Beck,
  3. D G Coleman,
  4. M J Wadsworth,
  5. O McGuinness,
  6. J R Harris,
  7. A J Pinching
  1. Department of Immunology, St Mary's Hospital Medical School, London.


    OBJECTIVE--To study the changes in morbidity, mortality, and survival patterns in a population of patients with AIDS in the United Kingdom from 1982 to 1989. DESIGN--A retrospective analysis of inpatient and outpatient records of patients with AIDS. SUBJECTS--347 Patients with AIDS, predominantly homosexual or bisexual men. SETTING--Departments of immunology and genitourinary medicine, St Mary's Hospital, London. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES--Presenting diagnosis of AIDS, occurrence of other opportunist diseases, cause of death, and survival since AIDS was diagnosed, in particular for those patients with Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia or Kaposi's sarcoma. RESULTS--The overall proportion of patients who developed P carinii pneumonia dropped from 56% (20/36) in 1984 to 24% (46/194) in 1989, although it has remained the index diagnosis in about half of new patients. Kaposi's sarcoma has decreased as index diagnosis from 30% (20/67) to 20% (15/74) over the same period, though the prevalence has remained constant at around 35%. P carinii pneumonia accounted for 46% (16/35) of known causes of death in 1986 but only 3% (1/31) in 1989. Conversely, deaths due to Kaposi's sarcoma rose from 14% (1/7) to 32% (10/31) between 1984 and 1989. Lymphoma accounted for an increased proportion of deaths among these patients with 16% (5/31) of deaths in 1989. Their median survival increased from 10 months in 1984-6 to 20 months in 1987. CONCLUSIONS--The changing patterns of disease in patients with AIDS have important implications both for health care provision and future medical research. Medical and nursing provision must be made for the increased morbidity of these diseases and the increased survival of these patients. Research should now be directed towards developing effective treatments for the opportunist infections which are currently more difficult to treat, the secondary malignancies of AIDS, as well as more effective immunorestorative treatments. Future changes in disease patterns must be recognised at an early stage so that resources can be adequately planned and allocated.