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INTRODUCTION This paper reviews the impact of the stage of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) disease on the outcome of surgical sepsis. METHODS All adult emergency general surgical patients (aged >15 years) who fulfilled the criteria for sepsis or septic shock, with a documented surgical source of infection, and who were HIV positive were reviewed. RESULTS During the 5-year study period, a total of 675 patients with a documented surgical source of sepsis were managed by our service; 142 (21%) of these were HIV positive. Among the individuals who were HIV positive, the CD4 count was <200 cells/µl in 21 patients and ≥200 cells/µl in 121 patients. There was no difference between these two cohorts in terms of demography or spectrum of surgical conditions. The range of surgical procedures and complications was also similar in both groups. Nevertheless, patients with a CD count of <200 cells/µl had a significantly longer length of hospital stay than those in the cohort with ≥200 cells/µl. For HIV positive patients with a CD4 count of <200 cells/µl, the mortality rate was 66.7% (14/21) while the mortality rate for individuals with HIV and a CD4 count of ≥200 cells/µl was 2.5% (2/121). This difference was statistically significant (p<0.001). CONCLUSIONS The clinical presentation and spectrum of surgical sepsis disease in cases with stage 1 and stage 2 HIV is not markedly different. However, in patients with a CD4 count of <200 cells/µl, the length of hospital stay and mortality is significantly higher. Stage of HIV disease must be considered when stratifying patients' risk for surgery.

Original publication





Annals of the Royal College of Surgeons of England

Publication Date





459 - 463


University of KwaZulu-Natal , Durban , South Africa.


Humans, Sepsis, HIV Infections, Postoperative Complications, CD4 Lymphocyte Count, Treatment Outcome, Retrospective Studies, Adult, South Africa, Female, Male