BACKGROUND The influence of quality of life (QOL), physical functioning, and HIV disease stage on the transfusion trigger and the number of units transfused was investigated. STUDY DESIGN AND METHODS The Viral Activation Transfusion Study, a randomized, double-blind study at 11 participating sites, enrolled HIV-positive patients with anemia who required RBC transfusion; 428 patients were included in the analysis of
the first transfusion. The QOL scores, Perceived Health Index, Karnofsky score, CD4+ cell count, HIV viral load, and site were analyzed for relationships with the Hb level and the number of units transfused. RESULTS The transfusion trigger was lower in patients with higher levels of Karnofsky score, Perceived Health Index, CD4+ cell count, and a number of QOL scales. Both the Hb trigger and the number of units transfused had a significant site variation. Males were transfused at a significantly lower Hb level than females. In multivariate analysis, the CD4+ cell count remained significant, but the Karnofsky score or the Perceived Health Index did not. The number of RBC units transfused was associated with the Hb level, CD4+ cell counts, and Karnofsky scores in unadjusted analysis but with only Hb in adjusted analysis. CONCLUSIONS In this group of HIV+ patients, lower CD4+ cell counts prompted transfusion at higher Hb levels. However, after controlling for the Hb level, the number of units transfused was associated with only the Hb level. The HIV stage appears to influence the decision to transfuse at a particular Hb level but not to influence the number of RBC units transfused. The functional status does not appear to influence the decision to transfuse.