Prevalence and outcomes of anemia in individuals with human immunodeficiency virus: a systematic review of the literature

  • Pamela S Belperio
    Infectious Diseases Section, Department of Research and Development, the Department of Veterans Affairs Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System, Los Angeles, California, USA (PSB, DCR)
    Search for articles by this author
  • David C Rhew
    Requests for reprints should be addressed to David C. Rhew, MD, Zynx Health, 9100 Wilshire Boulevard, East Tower, Suite 655, Beverly Hills, California 90212, USA.
    Infectious Diseases Section, Department of Research and Development, the Department of Veterans Affairs Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System, Los Angeles, California, USA (PSB, DCR)

    Zynx Health, Beverly Hills, California, USA (DCR)
    Search for articles by this author


      In patients with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), anemia is a commonly encountered hematologic abnormality that has a significant impact on clinical outcomes and quality of life (QOL). This review describes the prevalence of anemia in several populations of patients with HIV and the effects of anemia on survival, morbidity, disease progression, transfusion requirements, and QOL. The prevalence of anemia in HIV disease varies considerably, ranging from 1.3% to 95%: it depends on several factors, including the stage of HIV disease, sex, age, pregnancy status, and injection-drug use as well as the definition of anemia used. In general, as HIV disease progresses, the prevalence and severity of anemia increase. Anemia is also more prevalent in HIV-positive women, children, and injection-drug users than in HIV-negative women, children, and injection-drug users. Anemia has been shown to be a statistically significant predictor of progression to the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome and is independently associated with an increased risk of death in patients with HIV. Treatment of anemia with epoetin-α has resulted in significantly fewer patients requiring transfusion as well as decreases in the mean number of units of blood transfused. Resolution of HIV-related anemia has been shown to improve QOL, physical functioning, energy, and fatigue in individuals with HIV. More recently, the use of highly active antiretroviral therapy has also been associated with a significant increase in hemoglobin concentrations and a decrease in the prevalence of anemia.
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