Estimating Patterns of CD4+ Lymphocyte Decline Using Data from a Prevalent Cohort of HIV Infected Individuals


Complete text of article in Statistics in Medicine, 13, 1101-1118, 1994.


In natural history studies of chronic disease, it is of interest to understand the evolution of key variables that measure aspects of disease progression. This is particularly true for immunological variables in persons infected with the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). The natural timescale for such studies is time since infection. However, most data available for analysis arise from prevalent cohorts, where the date of infection is unknown for most or all individuals. As a result, standard curve fitting algorithms are not immediately applicable. Here we propose two methods to circumvent this difficulty. The first uses repeated measurement data to provide information not only on the level of the variable of interest, but also on its rate of change, while the second uses an estimate of the expected time since infection. Both methods are based on the principal curves algorithm of Hastie and Stuetzle, and are applied to data from a prevalent cohort of HIV-infected homosexual men, giving estimates of the average pattern of CD4+ lymphocyte decline. These methods are applicable to natural history studies using data from prevalent cohorts where the time of disease origin is uncertain, provided certain ancillary information is available from external sources.

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