Delayed-type hypersensitivity skin testing predicts progression to AIDS in HIV-infected patients

S. P. Blatt, C. W. Hendrix, C. A. Butzin, T. M. Freeman, W. W. Ward, R. E. Hensley, G. P. Melcher, D. J. Donovan, R. N. Boswell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

118 Scopus citations


Objective: To evaluate the prognostic significance of cutaneous delayed- type hypersensitivity (DTH) skin testing in persons infected with HIV. Design: Cohort study. Setting: United States Air Force (USAF) Medical Center. Patients: Consecutive sample of 889 HIV-infected USAF personnel or dependents undergoing their first staging evaluation from 1985 through August 1990 in the USAF HIV Natural History Study. Measurements: All patients were evaluated with DTH skin testing including purified protein derivative and four control skin test antigens: mumps, candida, tetanus toxoid, and trichophyton. In addition, all patients underwent CD4+ T-cell surface marker determinations. The relation between DTH skin test response at first evaluation and progression to Walter Reed stage 6 (presence of an AIDS-defining opportunistic infection) was evaluated using Kaplan-Meier survival analysis. Results: Patients with more than 400 CD4+ T cells/mm3 are more likely than those having fewer than 400 CD4+ T cells per mm3 to respond to at least one (94% compared with 67%, P < 0.001) or at least two (86% compared with 45%, P < 0.001) DTH skin tests. Mean CD4 counts are lower for anergic compared with nonanergic patients and for patients responding to a single control skin test compared with those responding to two or more skin tests (P < 0.05). The DTH skin test response at first evaluation was also found to predict progression to AIDS; the relative risk at 5 years of follow-up was 2.5 (95% CI, 1.2 to 5.2) for anergy compared with a single positive skin test and 3.0 (CI, 1.4 to 6.2) for a single compared with two or more skin test responses. The DTH skin test response at first evaluation was a predictor of progression (P < 0.001) when controlling for initial CD4 count and Walter Reed stage in a Cox proportional hazards regression analysis. Conclusions: The DTH skin test response, a functional measure of cellular immunity, is an independent predictor of progression to AIDS in persons with HIV.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)177-184
Number of pages8
JournalAnnals of internal medicine
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1993
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine


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