Slower CD4 cell decline following cessation of a 3 month course of HAART in primary HIV infection: findings from an observational cohort

Imperial College, St Mary's Hospital, London, UK.
AIDS (Impact Factor: 6.56). 07/2007; 21(10):1283-91. DOI: 10.1097/QAD.0b013e3280b07b5b
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT To investigate the effect of a short course of HAART during primary HIV infection (PHI) on rate of CD4 cell and viral load change.
Data following HAART cessation from 89 individuals (seroconverting 1999-2003) who chose to take a 3 month course of HAART at PHI were compared with 179 untreated controls in CASCADE, using linear and nonlinear random effects models. Participants were non-randomized but frequency matched for age, sex, risk factor, year of seroconversion and presentation within the first 6 months of seroconversion. Time to CD4 cell count < 350 cells/microl and initiation of clinically indicated antiretroviral therapy (ART) were also compared as competing risks.
The rate of CD4 cell decline following therapy cessation appeared significantly slower among treated participants than untreated controls: losses of 51 cells/microl [95% confidence interval (CI), 32-69] and 77 cells/microl (95% CI, 65-89), respectively, 3 years after seroconversion (P = 0.011). Based on extrapolated data, viral loads also differed significantly at this point (4.09 and 4.53 copies/ml, respectively). At 2 years, there was no significant difference in mean viral load levels: 4.31 copies/ml (95% CI, 4.14-4.48) and 4.47 copies/ml (95% CI, 4.28-4.66), respectively. CASCADE seroconverters were more likely to reach CD4 cell count < 350 cells/microl or initiate clinically indicated ART (hazard ratio, 1.45; 95% CI, 1.02-2.05; P = 0.039).
A short course of ART at PHI may delay CD4 cell decline. Confirmation of this requires a randomized clinical trial powered to address definitively the role of ART intervention in PHI (currently underway through SPARTAC).

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