Rates of invasive pneumococcal disease (IPD) are markedly higher among people living with HIV when compared with HIV-negative people, aidsmap reports. These diseases are infections caused by a bacterium; serious forms can include meningitis, pneumonia and sepsis (which affects the blood).

Publishing their findings in Clinical Infectious Diseases, researchers conducted a population-based cohort study of 5,362 HIV-positive Danes who received care at HIV treatment centers in Denmark between 1995 and 2012. These people were each matched with 19 HIV-negative controls, 101,869 people all told.

A total of 137 HIV-positive people and 136 of the controls were diagnosed with IPD during the years of the study, for respective incidences of 205 and 13 cases of IPD per 100,000 person-years of follow-up. Having HIV was associated with a 24-fold increased likelihood of developing IPD.

Among the people living with HIV, those who developed IPD were more likely to be female, to have a history of injection drug use, to have a lower current CD4 count and a lower CD4 count nadir, which is the lowest ever CD4 count.

As HIV treatments improved over time, the risk of developing IPD lowered among those living with HIV. However, during the modern era of combination antiretroviral treatment, the HIV-positive people still had a 19-fold increased likelihood of IPD when compared with the controls. For injection drug users (IDUs), there was no change in risk over time.

Among the HIV-positive people, smoking was associated with a 34 percent increased risk of IPD and injection drug use was linked to a 2.51-fold increased risk. Having a detectable viral load increased the risk by 88 percent. Having a lower CD4 count also increased the risk.

The only independent risk factor associated with death from IPD was age.

To read the aidsmap story, click here.

To read the study abstract, click here.