Epidemiology of AIDS dementia complex in Europe. AIDS in Europe Study Group.
The aim of the study was to describe the epidemiology of AIDS dementia complex (ADC) in Europe and to assess the possible role of zidovudine therapy in preventing or delaying its occurrence. We used an inception cohort, with data collected retrospectively from patients' clinical records from 52 clinical centers in 17 countries across Europe. The subjects were 6,548 adult people with AIDS consecutively diagnosed from 1979 to 1989. The main outcome measures were codiagnosis of ADC at the time of AIDS diagnosis and ADC-free time after AIDS diagnosis. ADC was reported in 295 patients (4.5%) at the time of AIDS diagnosis and during follow-up in a further 402 of the 5,160 patients (7.8%) who were diagnosed with AIDS based on diseases other than ADC. Whether at the time of AIDS diagnosis or later, the occurrence of ADC was significantly associated with age, transmission category, and CD4+ cell counts. The risk was greater in older patients (14 and 19% greater, at AIDS diagnosis and after, respectively, for a 5-year difference in age), in i.v. drug users than in homosexual and bisexual men (89 and 60% greater, at AIDS diagnosis and after, respectively), and for people with lower CD4+ cell counts (14 and 30% greater for a reduction of 1 on the natural log scale). Risk was almost double for women than for men. A significant reduction, of approximately 40%, was found in the risk of developing ADC after AIDS diagnosis for patients receiving zidovudine therapy, but this effect was present only during the first 18 months of treatment, irrespective of whether treatment began before or after AIDS diagnosis. In conclusion, an increase in the risk of developing ADC either at the time of AIDS diagnosis or thereafter is associated with increasing age, i.v. drug use, and decreased CD4+ cell count. Women tend to have a higher risk of ADC at the time of AIDS diagnosis. Zidovudine therapy appears to have a definite, but time-limited, effect of protecting patients against ADC development after AIDS diagnosis.