Main Article Content

HIV-positive patients in the intensive care unit: A retrospective audit

P Mkoko
RI Raine


Background. The indications for and outcomes of intensive care unit (ICU) admission of HIV-positive patients in resource-poor settings such as sub-Saharan Africa are unknown. Objective. To identify indications for ICU admission and determine factors associated with high ICU and hospital mortality in HIV-positive patients. Methods. We reviewed case records of HIV-positive patients admitted to the medical and surgical ICUs at Groote Schuur Hospital, Cape Town, South Africa, from 1 January 2012 to 31 December 2012. Results. Seventy-seven HIV-positive patients were admitted to an ICU, of whom two were aged <18 years and were excluded from the final analysis. HIV infection was newly diagnosed in 37.3% of the patients admitted during the study period. HIV-positive patients had a median CD4 count of 232.5 (interquartile range 59 - 459) cells/μL. Respiratory illness, mainly community-acquired pneumonia, accounted for 30.7% of ICU admissions. ICU and hospital mortality rates were 25.3% and 34.7%, respectively. Predictors of ICU mortality included an Acute Physiology and Chronic Health Evaluation ΙΙ (APACHE II) score >13 (odds ratio (OR) 1.4, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.1 - 1.7; p=0.015), receipt of renal replacement therapy (RRT) (OR 2.2, 95% CI 1.2 - 4.1; p=0.018) and receipt of inotropes (OR 2.3, 95% CI 1.6 - 3.4; p<0.001). Predictors of hospital mortality were severe sepsis on admission (OR 2.8, 95% CI 0.9 - 9.1; p=0.07), receipt of RRT (OR 1.9, 95% CI 1.0 - 3.6; p=0.056) and receipt of inotropic support (OR 2.0, 95% CI 1.4 - 3.2; p<0.001). Use of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART), CD4 count, detectable HIV viral load and diagnosis at ICU admission did not predict ICU or hospital mortality. Conclusions. Respiratory illnesses remain the main indication for ICU in HIV-positive patients. HIV infection is often diagnosed late, with patients presenting with life-threatening illnesses. Severity of illness as indicated by a high APACHE ΙΙ score, multiple organ dysfunction requiring inotropic support and RRT, rather than receipt of HAART, CD4 count and diagnosis at ICU admission, are predictors of ICU and hospital mortality.

S Afr Med J 2017; 107(10): 877-881

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 2078-5135
print ISSN: 0256-9574