To estimate the net (i.e., overall) effect of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) on time to acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) or death, the authors used inverse probability-of-treatment weighted estimation of a marginal structural model, which can appropriately adjust for time-varying confounders affected by prior treatment or exposure. Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-positive men and women (n = 1,498) were followed in two ongoing cohort studies between 1995 and 2002. Sixty-one percent (n = 918) of the participants initiated HAART during 6,763 person-years of follow-up, and 382 developed AIDS or died. Strong confounding by indication for HAART was apparent; the unadjusted hazard ratio for AIDS or death was 0.98. The hazard ratio from a standard time-dependent Cox model that included time-varying CD4 cell count, HIV RNA level, and other time-varying and fixed covariates as regressors was 0.81 (95% confidence interval: 0.61, 1.07). In contrast, the hazard ratio from a marginal structural survival model was 0.54 (robust 95% confidence interval: 0.38, 0.78), suggesting a clinically meaningful net benefit of HAART. Standard Cox analysis failed to detect a clear net benefit, because it does not appropriately adjust for time-dependent covariates, such as HIV RNA level and CD4 cell count, that are simultaneously confounders and intermediate variables.
- Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome
- Antiretroviral therapy
- Confounding factors (epidemiology)
- Highly active
ASJC Scopus subject areas