To assess the pattern of change in the causes of death among HIV/AIDS patients in Taiwan after the introduction of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART), national HIV/AIDS registry data were linked with cause of death and health insurance claims data from 1994 to 2002 for analysis. Although HIV/AIDS remained the leading underlying cause of death among HIV/AIDS patients during the study period (552/752 = 73.4%), an increased proportion of deaths was due to non-HIV/AIDS causes (other infectious diseases, cancers, liver diseases, etc.) after the introduction of HAART in 1997. Deaths from suicide increased threefold, from three (1.5% of total) in 1994-1996 to 14 (4.8%) in 2000-2002. Most AIDS-related conditions associated with death (cryptococcosis, cachexia/wasting, dementia/encephalopathy, etc.) decreased in frequency from 1998-2000 to 2001-2002. Nonetheless, some AIDS-related conditions associated with death remained stable or increased in frequency, such as candidiasis, tuberculosis, and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. In conclusion, as the duration of survival increased, the likelihood of suicide also increased. More effort is required to address the mental health of HIV/AIDS patients as a part of therapy.
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