Background Highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) has changed life-expectancy and mortality trends among people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) since 1996. This retrospective cohort study aimed to assess the mortality epidemiology of PLWHA in Israel and analyze the causes of death. Methods This cohort study included all adult Israeli-citizens PLWHA between 1985 and 2010 and crossed matched with the Civil Registry to identify those who died. Death certificates were classified into AIDS or non-AIDS deaths related-causes. Standardized mortality-ratio (SMR) represented mortality excess. Results Of all 5140 PLWHA who were followed-up for 36 955 person-years, 1066 (20.7%) died. The ratio of AIDS-related deaths to non-AIDS related deaths reduced from 1.2:1 before 1996 to 0.6:1 after 1997, and case-fatality rates reduced from 12.0 to 0.9%, respectively (P < 0.001). SMR were 3.0 (95% CI: 2.3-3.5) for males and 3.9 (95% CI: 3.3-4.5) for females. Fatality cases were more likely older Israeli-born males, co-infected with tuberculosis, reported before 1996 and acquired HIV by drug-injection or infected-blood products. Deaths of AIDS-related causes were common among Israeli-born gay men, while non-AIDS deaths were common among those reported after 1997 and drug users. Conclusions Death rates declined since HAART introduction. Yet, SMR remained high, and PLWHA infected by drug-use or blood-products have not enjoyed relative longevity.
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