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1.  The Effect of Highly Active Antiretroviral Therapy on the Survival of HIV-Infected Children in a Resource-Deprived Setting: A Cohort Study 
PLoS Medicine  2011;8(6):e1001044.
This observational cohort study by Andrew Edmonds and colleagues reports that treatment with highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) markedly improves the survival of HIV-infected children in Kinshasa, DRC, a resource-deprived setting.
Background
The effect of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) on the survival of HIV-infected children has not been well quantified. Because most pediatric HIV occurs in low- and middle-income countries, our objective was to provide a first estimate of this effect among children living in a resource-deprived setting.
Methods and Findings
Observational data from HAART-naïve children enrolled into an HIV care and treatment program in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo, between December 2004 and May 2010 were analyzed. We used marginal structural models to estimate the effect of HAART on survival while accounting for time-dependent confounders affected by exposure. At the start of follow-up, the median age of the 790 children was 5.9 y, 528 (66.8%) had advanced or severe immunodeficiency, and 405 (51.3%) were in HIV clinical stage 3 or 4. The children were observed for a median of 31.2 mo and contributed a total of 2,089.8 person-years. Eighty children (10.1%) died, 619 (78.4%) initiated HAART, six (0.8%) transferred to a different care provider, and 76 (9.6%) were lost to follow-up. The mortality rate was 3.2 deaths per 100 person-years (95% confidence interval [CI] 2.4–4.2) during receipt of HAART and 6.0 deaths per 100 person-years (95% CI 4.1–8.6) during receipt of primary HIV care only. The mortality hazard ratio comparing HAART with no HAART from a marginal structural model was 0.25 (95% CI 0.06–0.95).
Conclusions
HAART reduced the hazard of mortality in HIV-infected children in Kinshasa by 75%, an estimate that is similar in magnitude but with lower precision than the reported effect of HAART on survival among children in the United States.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
In 2009, an estimated 2.5 million children were living with HIV, the majority of whom (2.3 million) were in sub-Saharan Africa. Most (90%) of these children acquired HIV from their HIV-infected mothers during pregnancy, birth, or breastfeeding, highlighting the importance of giving effective drugs for the prevention of mother to child transmission. As such interventions are still not widely accessible or available in most resource-limited countries, where the burden of HIV is highest, every day an estimated 1,000 children were newly infected with HIV in 2009, but only 360,000 children were receiving highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART).
Although HAART improves the survival of adults living with HIV, less is known about the degree to which HAART affects the survival of HIV-infected children—although response to antiretroviral treatment is known to differ across age groups. Furthermore, as the course of HIV disease in children is different from that in adults (partly because of the impact of the virus on the immature thymus, which can lead to high HIV RNA viremia and rapid death), it is inappropriate to extrapolate results from studies of adults to pediatric populations. Therefore, it is imperative that the effect of HAART on survival be quantified specifically in children.
Why Was This Study Done?
Most observational studies of the effects of treatment on child survival have been undertaken in high-income countries, such as Italy and the United States. As most children with HIV live in low-resource areas, where multiple factors, such as delayed presentation to care and a higher incidence of co-occurring conditions, might adversely affect treatment outcomes, there is a specific need for information on the effects of HAART in children with HIV living in low-income countries. Although some investigations have taken place in pediatric cohorts from such countries (for example, Côte d'Ivoire, Haiti, Lesotho, Thailand, and Zambia), the effect of HAART on mortality has not been accurately quantified among children in a resource-deprived setting. Therefore, in this observational clinical cohort study, the researchers investigated the effect of HAART on mortality in HIV-infected children in Kinshasa, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers analyzed data from 790 children enrolled into an HIV program in Kinshasa, DRC, between December 2004 and May 2010 and used a statistical model (marginal structural models) to adjust for time-dependent confounding factors, such as the fact that HAART is typically initiated in sicker patients, for example, those with lower CD4 cell percentages. Assuming that all children starting HAART received it uninterruptedly throughout follow-up, using this statistical model, the researchers were able to compare the hazard ratio of death had all children initiated HAART to that had no children initiated HAART during follow-up.
In the study, 619 out of the 790 children (78.4%) initiated HAART during follow-up and were followed for a median of 31.2 months, with a median of 30 HIV care visits. Of those who started treatment, 110 (17.8%) switched to an alternative regimen because of an adverse event or treatment failure. During the 2,089.8 accrued person-years of follow-up, 80 children (10.1%) died, giving an overall mortality rate of 3.8 deaths per 100 person-years. The unadjusted mortality rate ratio comparing HAART to no HAART was 0.54. Using a marginal structural model, the researchers estimated that compared to no HAART, HAART reduced the hazard (rate) of mortality during follow-up by 75%.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings show that treatment with HAART markedly improved the survival of children infected with HIV in Kinshasa, DRC, and suggest that HAART is as effective in improving the survival of HIV-infected children in a severely resource-deprived country (still recovering from civil war) as in more resource-privileged settings—an important finding given that the vast majority of children receiving HAART live in resource-poor areas. This study provides additional evidence that accelerating rollout of antiretroviral therapy to children with HIV in resource-poor countries is lifesaving and effective. Future research needs to address how effective HAART is in understudied populations in resource-poor countries, such as undernourished children or those with co-infections such as tuberculosis.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001044.
The World Health Organization's Web site has more information about the treatment of children living with HIV
Médecins Sans Frontières's Campaign for Access to Essential Medicines Web site has more information on pediatric HAART
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001044
PMCID: PMC3114869  PMID: 21695087
2.  Antiretroviral Treatment and Prevention of Peripartum and Postnatal HIV Transmission in West Africa: Evaluation of a Two-Tiered Approach 
PLoS Medicine  2007;4(8):e257.
Background
Highly active antiretroviral treatment (HAART) has only been recently recommended for HIV-infected pregnant women requiring treatment for their own health in resource-limited settings. However, there are few documented experiences from African countries. We evaluated the short-term (4 wk) and long-term (12 mo) effectiveness of a two-tiered strategy of prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV (PMTCT) in Africa: women meeting the eligibility criteria of the World Health Organization (WHO) received HAART, and women with less advanced HIV disease received short-course antiretroviral (scARV) PMTCT regimens.
Methods and Findings
The MTCT-Plus Initiative is a multi-country, family-centred HIV care and treatment program for pregnant and postpartum women and their families. Pregnant women enrolled in Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire received either HAART for their own health or short-course antiretroviral (scARV) PMTCT regimens according to their clinical and immunological status. Plasma HIV-RNA viral load (VL) was measured to diagnose peripartum infection when infants were 4 wk of age, and HIV final status was documented either by rapid antibody testing when infants were aged ≥ 12 mo or by plasma VL earlier. The Kaplan-Meier method was used to estimate the rate of HIV transmission and HIV-free survival. Between August 2003 and June 2005, 107 women began HAART at a median of 30 wk of gestation, 102 of them with zidovudine (ZDV), lamivudine (3TC), and nevirapine (NVP) and they continued treatment postpartum; 143 other women received scARV for PMTCT, 103 of them with sc(ZDV+3TC) with single-dose NVP during labour. Most (75%) of the infants were breast-fed for a median of 5 mo. Overall, the rate of peripartum HIV transmission was 2.2% (95% confidence interval [CI] 0.3%–4.2%) and the cumulative rate at 12 mo was 5.7% (95% CI 2.5%–9.0%). The overall probability of infant death or infection with HIV was 4.3% (95% CI 1.7%–7.0%) at age week 4 wk and 11.7% (95% CI 7.5%–15.9%) at 12 mo.
Conclusions
This two-tiered strategy appears to be safe and highly effective for short- and long-term PMTCT in resource-constrained settings. These results indicate a further benefit of access to HAART for pregnant women who need treatment for their own health.
In an observational cohort study from Côte d'Ivoire, François Dabis and colleagues report on prevention of mother-to-child HIV transmission among women receiving antiretroviral therapy according to World Health Organization recommendations.
Editors' Summary
Background
Effective treatments are available to prevent AIDS in people who are infected with HIV, but not everyone with HIV needs to take medication. Usually, anti-HIV medication is recommended only for those whose immune systems have been significantly affected by the virus, as evidenced by symptoms or by the results of a blood test, the CD4 lymphocyte (“T cell”) count. Treating HIV usually requires a combination of three or more medications. These combinations (called HAART) must be taken every day, can cause complications, and can be expensive.
Worldwide, more than half a million children became infected with HIV each year. Most of these children acquire HIV from their mothers during pregnancy or around the time of birth. If a pregnant woman with HIV takes HAART, her chances of passing HIV to the baby are greatly reduced, but the possible side effects of HAART on the baby are not known. Also, most transmission of HIV from mothers to babies occurs in poor countries where supplies of HAART are limited. For these reasons, World Health Organization (WHO) does not recommend that every pregnant woman receive HAART to prevent HIV transmission to the baby, unless the woman needs HAART for her own health (for example if her T cells are low or she has severe symptoms of HIV infection). For pregnant women with HIV who do not need to take HAART for their own health, less complicated treatments, involving a short course of one or two HIV drugs, can be used to reduce the risk of passing HIV to the baby.
Why Was This Study Done?
The WHO recommendations for HAART in pregnancy are based on the best available evidence, but it is important to know how well they work in actual practice. The authors of this study were providing HIV treatment to pregnant women with HIV in West Africa through an established clinic program in Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire, and wanted to see how well the WHO recommendations for HAART or short-course treatments, depending on the mother's condition, were working to protect babies from HIV infection.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers studied 250 HIV-infected pregnant women who received HIV medications in the Abidjan program between mid-2003 and mid-2005. In accordance with WHO guidelines, 107 women began HAART for their own health during pregnancy, and 143 women did not qualify for HAART but received other short course treatments (scARV) to prevent HIV transmission to their babies. The authors monitored mothers and babies for treatment side effects and tested the babies for HIV infection up to age 1 y.
They found that HAART was relatively safe during pregnancy, although babies born to women on HAART were more likely (26.3%) to have low birth weight than babies born to women who received scARV (12.4%). Also, 7.5% of women on HAART developed side effects requiring a change in their medications. Combining the results from HAART and scART groups, the chance of HIV transmission around the time of birth was 2.2%, increasing to 5.7% at age 1 y. (Three-quarters of the infants were breast-fed; safe water for mixing formula was not reliably available.) The study found no difference in risk of HIV infection between babies whose mothers received HAART and those whose mothers received scARV according to guidelines.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These results support the safety and effectiveness of the WHO two-tiered approach for preventing mother-to-child transmission. This study was not designed to compare HAART to scART directly, because the women who received HAART were the ones with more advanced HIV infection, which might have affected their babies in many ways.
Compared to earlier pregnancy studies of HAART in rich countries, this study of the WHO approach in West Africa showed similar success in protecting infants from HIV infection around the time of birth. Unfortunately, because formula feeding was not generally available in resource-limited settings, protection declined over the first year of life with breast-feeding, but some protection remained.
This study confirms that close monitoring of pregnant women on HAART is necessary, so that drugs can be changed if side effects develop. The study does not tell us whether using scARV in pregnancy might change the virus in ways that would make it more difficult to treat the same women with HAART later if they needed it. The reason for low birth weight in some babies born to mothers on HAART is unclear. It may be because the women who needed HAART had more severe health problems from their HIV, or it may be a result of the HAART itself.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.0040257.
World Health Organization has a page on prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV
“Women, Children, and HIV” is a resource site from the François Xavier Bagnoud Center and UCSF
The MTCT-Plus initiative at Columbia University supports the programs in Abidjan
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0040257
PMCID: PMC1949842  PMID: 17713983
3.  Effects of highly active antiretroviral therapy and its adherence on herpes zoster incidence: a longitudinal cohort study 
Background
Herpes zoster (HZ) is common among HIV-infected individuals, but the impacts of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) and HAART adherence on HZ risk have not been well studied.
Methods
The effects of HAART and HAART adherence on HZ incidence were evaluated by comparing HIV-infected women on HAART (HAART use group) with the HIV-infected women remaining HAART naïve (HAART naïve group) in the Women’s Interagency HIV Study (WIHS). A 1:1 matching with propensity score for predicting HAART initiation was conducted to balance background covariates at index visit, including HIV disease stage. Kaplan-Meier method was used to compare the risk of HZ development between the matched pairs. Cox proportional hazard models were used to assess the effects of HAART and HAART adherence on HZ incidence.
Results
Through propensity score matching, 389 pairs of participants were identified and they contributed 3,909 person years after matching. The background covariates were similar between the matched pairs at the index visit. The participants had a mean age around 39 years old, and about 61% of them were Black and 22% were Latina. No significant difference in HZ risk was observed between the HAART use group and the HAART naïve group during the first year of follow-up in any analyses. In the univariate analysis, the HAART use group had marginally lower HZ risk (Hazard Ratio (HR): 0.72; 95% Confidence Interval (CI): 0.48-1.1) over the entire follow-up period. However, women with a HAART adherence level of ≥95% had significantly lower HZ risk (HR: 0.54; 95% CI: 0.31, 0.94) compared to the HAART naïve women. The association remained significant after adjusting for quality of life score and acyclovir use, but it attenuated and was no longer statistically significant after adjusting for an intermediate variable, either CD4+ T cell counts or HIV viral load.
Conclusions
Among adult women, we observed a significant preventive effect of long-term HAART use on HZ incidence when a HAART adherence level of ≥95% was attained, and this effect was mediated through reduction of HIV viral load and improvement of CD4+ T cell counts.
doi:10.1186/1742-6405-10-34
PMCID: PMC3904465  PMID: 24373482
HAART; Adherence; Herpes zoster; Incidence; Propensity score
4.  Delayed-type hypersensitivity (DTH) test anergy does not impact CD4 reconstitution or normalization of DTH responses during antiretroviral therapy 
Introduction
Delayed-type hypersensitivity (DTH) testing is an in vivo assessment of cell-mediated immunity. Although highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) improves immunologic parameters, the relationship between DTH responsiveness and CD4 gains on HAART is not completely understood. We investigated CD4 reconstitution and the change in DTH responses from treatment baseline through 24 months of viral load (VL)-suppressive HAART in the U.S. Military HIV Natural History Study.
Methods
Treatment-naïve subjects with VL <400 copies/mL after ≥24 months on HAART were included (n=302). DTH testing consisted of ≥3 recall antigens, and responses were classified by the number of positive skin tests: anergic (0–1) or non-anergic (≥2). Pre-HAART DTH results were compared for the outcome of CD4 reconstitution at 24 months of HAART. Improvement in DTH responses was also analyzed for those anergic before HAART initiation.
Results
Non-anergic responses were observed in 216 (72%) participants, while 86 (28%) individuals were anergic prior to HAART initiation. Demographically there were similar distributions of age at HIV diagnosis and HAART initiation, as well as gender and race or ethnicity. There were no significant differences between non-anergic and anergic participants in pre-HAART CD4 count (409 cells/μL, interquartile range (IQR) 315–517 vs. 373 cells/μL, IQR 228–487; p=0.104) and VL (4.3 log10 copies/mL, IQR 3.4–4.9 vs. 4.4 log10 copies/mL, IQR 3.6–5.0; p=0.292). Median CD4 gains 24 months after HAART initiation were similar between the non-anergic (220 cells/μL, IQR 115–358) and anergic groups (246 cells/μL, IQR 136–358; p=0.498). For individuals anergic before HAART initiation, DTH normalization occurred at 24 months post-HAART in the majority of participants (51 of 86, 59%). Normalization of DTH responses was not associated with CD4 count at HAART initiation (OR 0.73, 95% CI 0.47, 1.09 per 100 cells; p=0.129) nor with AIDS diagnoses prior to HAART (OR 0.34, 95% CI 0.04, 2.51; p=0.283).
Conclusions
DTH responsiveness has been shown to predict HIV disease progression independent of CD4 count in untreated individuals. In the setting of HAART, pre-HAART anergy does not appear to impact CD4 gains or the ability to normalize DTH responses after 24 months of VL-suppressive HAART.
doi:10.7448/IAS.17.1.18799
PMCID: PMC3916671  PMID: 24499779
HIV; HAART; antiretroviral therapy; delayed-type hypersensitivity; DTH; CD4 cell count; anergy; anergic
5.  Public-Health and Individual Approaches to Antiretroviral Therapy: Township South Africa and Switzerland Compared 
PLoS Medicine  2008;5(7):e148.
Background
The provision of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) in resource-limited settings follows a public health approach, which is characterised by a limited number of regimens and the standardisation of clinical and laboratory monitoring. In industrialized countries doctors prescribe from the full range of available antiretroviral drugs, supported by resistance testing and frequent laboratory monitoring. We compared virologic response, changes to first-line regimens, and mortality in HIV-infected patients starting HAART in South Africa and Switzerland.
Methods and Findings
We analysed data from the Swiss HIV Cohort Study and two HAART programmes in townships of Cape Town, South Africa. We included treatment-naïve patients aged 16 y or older who had started treatment with at least three drugs since 2001, and excluded intravenous drug users. Data from a total of 2,348 patients from South Africa and 1,016 patients from the Swiss HIV Cohort Study were analysed. Median baseline CD4+ T cell counts were 80 cells/μl in South Africa and 204 cells/μl in Switzerland. In South Africa, patients started with one of four first-line regimens, which was subsequently changed in 514 patients (22%). In Switzerland, 36 first-line regimens were used initially, and these were changed in 539 patients (53%). In most patients HIV-1 RNA was suppressed to 500 copies/ml or less within one year: 96% (95% confidence interval [CI] 95%–97%) in South Africa and 96% (94%–97%) in Switzerland, and 26% (22%–29%) and 27% (24%–31%), respectively, developed viral rebound within two years. Mortality was higher in South Africa than in Switzerland during the first months of HAART: adjusted hazard ratios were 5.90 (95% CI 1.81–19.2) during months 1–3 and 1.77 (0.90–3.50) during months 4–24.
Conclusions
Compared to the highly individualised approach in Switzerland, programmatic HAART in South Africa resulted in similar virologic outcomes, with relatively few changes to initial regimens. Further innovation and resources are required in South Africa to both achieve more timely access to HAART and improve the prognosis of patients who start HAART with advanced disease.
Comparing HIV treatment in Switzerland, where drug selection is individualized, and South Africa, where a programmatic approach is used, Matthias Egger and colleagues find similar virologic outcomes over two years.
Editors' Summary
Background.
Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) has killed more than 25 million people since the first reported case in 1981, and more than 30 million people are now infected with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), which causes AIDS. HIV destroys immune system cells (including CD4 cells, a type of lymphocyte), leaving infected individuals susceptible to other infections. Early in the AIDS epidemic, most HIV-infected people died within 10 years of becoming infected. Then, in 1996, highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART)—a combination of several antiretroviral drugs—was developed. Now, in resource-rich countries, clinicians provide individually tailored care for HIV-infected people by prescribing combinations of antiretroviral drugs chosen from more than 20 approved medicines. The approach to treatment of HIV in developed countries typically also includes frequent monitoring of the amount of virus in patients' blood (viral load), viral resistance testing (to see whether any viruses are resistant to specific antiretroviral drugs), and regular CD4 cell counts (an indication of immune-system health). Since the implementation of these interventions, the health and life expectancy of people with HIV has improved dramatically in these countries.
Why Was This Study Done?
The history of HIV care in resource-poor countries has been very different. Initially, these countries could not afford to provide HAART for their populations. In 2003, however, governments, international agencies, and funding bodies began to implement plans to increase HAART coverage in developing countries. By December 2006, more than a quarter of the HIV-infected people in low- and middle-income countries who urgently needed treatment were receiving HAART. However, instead of individualized treatment, HAART programs in developing countries follow a public-health approach developed by the World Health Organization. That is, drug regimens, clinical decision-making, and clinical and laboratory monitoring are all standardized. This public-health approach takes into account the realities of under-resourced health systems, but is it as effective as the individualized approach? The researchers addressed this question by comparing virologic responses (the effect of treatment on the viral load), changes to first-line (initial) therapy, and deaths in patients receiving HAART in South Africa (public-health approach) and in Switzerland (individualized approach).
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers analyzed data collected since 2001 from more than 2,000 patients enrolled in HAART programs in two townships (Gugulethu and Khayelitsha) in Cape Town, South Africa, and from more than 1,000 patients enrolled in the Swiss HIV Cohort Study, a nationwide study of HIV-infected people. The patients in South Africa, who had a lower starting CD4 cell count and were more likely to have advanced AIDS than the patients in Switzerland, started their treatment for HIV infection with one of four first-line therapies, and about a quarter changed to a second-line therapy during the study. By contrast, 36 first-line regimens were used in Switzerland and half the patients changed to a different regimen. Despite these differences, the viral load was greatly reduced within a year in virtually all the patients and viral rebound (an increased viral load after a low measurement) developed within 2 years in a quarter of the patients in both countries. However, more patients died in South Africa than in Switzerland, particularly during the first 3 months of therapy.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings suggest that the public-health approach to HAART practiced in South Africa is as effective in terms of virologic outcomes as the individualized approach practiced in Switzerland. This is reassuring because it suggests that “antiretroviral anarchy” (the unregulated use of antiretroviral drugs, interruptions in drug supplies, and the lack of treatment monitoring), which is likely to lead to the emergence of viral resistance, is not happening in South Africa as some experts feared it might. Thus, these findings support the continued rollout of the public-health approach to HAART in resource-poor countries. Conversely, they also suggest that a more standardized approach to HAART could be taken in Switzerland (and in other industrialized countries) without compromising its effectiveness. Finally, the higher mortality in South Africa than in Switzerland, which partly reflects the many patients in South Africa in desperate need of HAART and their more advanced disease at the start of therapy, suggests that HIV-infected patients in South Africa and in other resource-limited countries would benefit from earlier initiation of therapy.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.0050148.
The World Health Organization provides information about universal access to HIV treatment (in several languages) and on its recommendations for a public-health approach to antiretroviral therapy for HIV infection
More details on the Swiss HIV Cohort Study and on the studies in Gugulethu and Khayelitsha are available
Information is available from the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases on HIV infection and AIDS
HIV InSite has comprehensive information on all aspects of HIV/AIDS, including detailed information about antiretroviral therapy and links to treatment guidelines for various countries
Information is available from Avert, an international AIDS charity, on HIV and AIDS around the world and on providing AIDS drug treatment for millions
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0050148
PMCID: PMC2443185  PMID: 18613745
6.  Emergence of Drug Resistance Is Associated with an Increased Risk of Death among Patients First Starting HAART 
PLoS Medicine  2006;3(9):e356.
Background
The impact of the emergence of drug-resistance mutations on mortality is not well characterized in antiretroviral-naïve patients first starting highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART). Patients may be able to sustain immunologic function with resistant virus, and there is limited evidence that reduced sensitivity to antiretrovirals leads to rapid disease progression or death. We undertook the present analysis to characterize the determinants of mortality in a prospective cohort study with a median of nearly 5 y of follow-up. The objective of this study was to determine the impact of the emergence of drug-resistance mutations on survival among persons initiating HAART.
Methods and Findings
Participants were antiretroviral therapy naïve at entry and initiated triple combination antiretroviral therapy between August 1, 1996, and September 30, 1999. Marginal structural modeling was used to address potential confounding between time-dependent variables in the Cox proportional hazard regression models. In this analysis resistance to any class of drug was considered as a binary time-dependent exposure to the risk of death, controlling for the effect of other time-dependent confounders. We also considered each separate class of mutation as a binary time-dependent exposure, while controlling for the presence/absence of other mutations. A total of 207 deaths were identified among 1,138 participants over the follow-up period, with an all cause mortality rate of 18.2%. Among the 679 patients with HIV-drug-resistance genotyping done before initiating HAART, HIV-drug resistance to any class was observed in 53 (7.8%) of the patients. During follow-up, HIV-drug resistance to any class was observed in 302 (26.5%) participants. Emergence of any resistance was associated with mortality (hazard ratio: 1.75 [95% confidence interval: 1.27, 2.43]). When we considered each class of resistance separately, persons who exhibited resistance to non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors had the highest risk: mortality rates were 3.02 times higher (95% confidence interval: 1.99, 4.57) for these patients than for those who did not exhibit this type of resistance.
Conclusions
We demonstrated that emergence of resistance to non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors was associated with a greater risk of subsequent death than was emergence of protease inhibitor resistance. Future research is needed to identify the particular subpopulations of men and women at greatest risk and to elucidate the impact of resistance over a longer follow-up period.
Emergence of resistance to both non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors and protease inhibitors was associated with a higher risk of subsequent death, but the risk was greater in patients with NNRTI-resistant HIV.
Editors' Summary
Background.
In the 1980s, infection with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) was effectively a death sentence. HIV causes AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome) by replicating inside immune system cells and destroying them, which leaves infected individuals unable to fight off other viruses and bacteria. The first antiretroviral drugs were developed quickly, but it soon became clear that single antiretrovirals only transiently suppress HIV infection. HIV mutates (accumulates random changes to its genetic material) very rapidly and, although most of these changes (or mutations) are bad for the virus, by chance some make it drug resistant. Highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART), which was introduced in the mid-1990s, combines three or four antiretroviral drugs that act at different stages of the viral life cycle. For example, they inhibit the reverse transcriptase that the virus uses to replicate its genetic material, or the protease that is necessary to assemble new viruses. With HAART, the replication of any virus that develops resistance to one drug is inhibited by the other drugs in the mix. As a consequence, for many individuals with access to HAART, AIDS has become a chronic rather than a fatal disease. However, being on HAART requires patients to take several pills a day at specific times. In addition, the drugs in the HAART regimens often have side effects.
Why Was This Study Done?
Drug resistance still develops even with HAART, often because patients don't stick to the complicated regimens. The detection of resistance to one drug is usually the prompt to change a patient's drug regimen to head off possible treatment failure. Although most patients treated with HAART live for many years, some still die from AIDS. We don't know much about how the emergence of drug-resistance mutations affects mortality in patients who are starting antiretroviral therapy for the first time. In this study, the researchers looked at how the emergence of drug resistance affected survival in a group of HIV/AIDS patients in British Columbia, Canada. Here, everyone with HIV/AIDS has access to free medical attention, HAART, and laboratory monitoring, and full details of all HAART recipients are entered into a central reporting system.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers enrolled people who started antiretroviral therapy for the first time between August 1996 and September 1999 into the HAART Observational Medical Evaluation and Research (HOMER) cohort. They then excluded anyone who was infected with already drug-resistant HIV strains (based on the presence of drug-resistance mutations in viruses isolated from the patients) at the start of therapy. The remaining 1,138 patients were followed for an average of five years. All the patients received either two nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors and a protease inhibitor, or two nucleoside and one non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor (NNRTI). Nearly a fifth of the study participants died during the follow-up period. Most of these patients actually had drug-sensitive viruses, possibly because they had neglected taking their drugs to such an extent that there had been insufficient drug exposure to select for drug-resistant viruses. In a quarter of the patients, however, HIV strains resistant to one or more antiretroviral drugs emerged during the study (again judged by looking for mutations). Detailed statistical analyses indicated that the emergence of any drug resistance nearly doubled the risk of patients dying, and that people carrying viruses resistant to NNRTIs were three times as likely to die as those without resistance to this class of antiretroviral drug.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These results provide new information about the emergence of drug-resistant HIV during HAART and possible effects on the long-term survival of patients. In particular, they suggest that clinicians should watch carefully for the emergence of resistance to NNRTIs in their patients. Because this type of resistance is often due to poor adherence to drug regimens, these results also suggest that increased efforts should be made to ensure that patients comply with the prescribed HAART regimens, especially those whose antiretroviral therapy includes NNRTIs. As with all studies in which a group of individuals who share a common characteristic are studied over time, it is possible that some other, unmeasured difference between the patients who died and those who didn't—rather than emerging drug resistance—is responsible for the observed differences in survival. Additional studies are needed to confirm the findings here, and to investigate whether specific subpopulations of patients are at particular risk of developing drug resistance and/or dying during HAART.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.0030356.
US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases fact sheet on HIV infection and AIDS
US Department of Health and Human Services information on AIDS, including details of approved drugs for the treatment of HIV infection
US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention information on HIV/AIDS
Aidsmap, information on HIV and AIDS provided by the charity NAM, which includes details on antiretroviral drugs
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0030356
PMCID: PMC1569883  PMID: 16984218
7.  Optimal Time on HAART for Prevention of Mother-to-Child Transmission of HIV 
Objectives
To determine the impact of time between initiating highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) and delivery – duration of antenatal HAART – on perinatal HIV infection.
Design
We conducted a retrospective cohort analysis of pregnant HIV-infected women in Lusaka, Zambia. Women in our cohort were receiving HAART and had an infant HIV polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test between 3 and 12 weeks of life.
Methods
We examined factors associated with infant HIV infection and performed a locally weighted regression analysis to examine the effect of duration of antenatal HAART on perinatal HIV infection.
Results
From January 2007 to March 2010, 1,813 HIV-infected pregnant women met inclusion criteria. Mean gestational age at first antenatal visit was 21 weeks (standard deviation (SD)+/−6), median CD4+ cell count was 231 cells/uL (interquartile range (IQR) 164 – 329), and median duration of antenatal HAART was 13 weeks (IQR 8 – 19). 59 (3.3%) infants were HIV-infected. Duration of antenatal HAART was the most important predictor of perinatal HIV transmission. Compared to women initiating HAART at least 13 weeks prior to delivery, women on HAART for ≤ 4 weeks had a 5.2-fold increased odds of HIV transmission (95% confidence interval (CI): 2.5 –11.0). Locally weighted regression analysis suggested limited additional prophylactic benefit beyond 13 weeks on antenatal HAART.
Conclusions
Low rates of mother-to-child HIV transmission can be achieved within programmatic settings in Africa. Maximal effectiveness of prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) programs is achieved by initiating HAART at least 13 weeks prior to delivery.
doi:10.1097/QAI.0b013e318229147e
PMCID: PMC3605973  PMID: 21709566
HIV; prevention of mother-to-child transmission; highly active antiretroviral therapy; pregnancy
8.  Antiretroviral Therapy Initiation Before, During, or After Pregnancy in HIV-1-Infected Women: Maternal Virologic, Immunologic, and Clinical Response 
PLoS ONE  2009;4(9):e6961.
Background
Pregnancy has been associated with a decreased risk of HIV disease progression in the highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) era. The effect of timing of HAART initiation relative to pregnancy on maternal virologic, immunologic and clinical outcomes has not been assessed.
Methods
We conducted a retrospective cohort study from 1997–2005 among 112 pregnant HIV-infected women who started HAART before (N = 12), during (N = 70) or after pregnancy (N = 30).
Results
Women initiating HAART before pregnancy had lower CD4+ nadir and higher baseline HIV-1 RNA. Women initiating HAART after pregnancy were more likely to receive triple-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors. Multivariable analyses adjusted for baseline CD4+ lymphocytes, baseline HIV-1 RNA, age, race, CD4+ lymphocyte count nadir, history of ADE, prior use of non-HAART ART, type of HAART regimen, prior pregnancies, and date of HAART start. In these models, women initiating HAART during pregnancy had better 6-month HIV-1 RNA and CD4+ changes than those initiating HAART after pregnancy (−0.35 vs. 0.10 log10 copies/mL, P = 0.03 and 183.8 vs. −70.8 cells/mm3, P = 0.03, respectively) but similar to those initiating HAART before pregnancy (−0.32 log10 copies/mL, P = 0.96 and 155.8 cells/mm3, P = 0.81, respectively). There were 3 (25%) AIDS-defining events or deaths in women initiating HAART before pregnancy, 3 (4%) in those initiating HAART during pregnancy, and 5 (17%) in those initiating after pregnancy (P = 0.01). There were no statistical differences in rates of HIV disease progression between groups.
Conclusions
HAART initiation during pregnancy was associated with better immunologic and virologic responses than initiation after pregnancy.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0006961
PMCID: PMC2734183  PMID: 19742315
9.  Injection drug use and patterns of highly active antiretroviral therapy use: an analysis of ALIVE, WIHS, and MACS cohorts 
Background
Sustained use of antiretroviral therapy has been consistently shown to be one of the primary predictors of long-term effectiveness. Switching and discontinuation reflect patient and provider decisions that may limit future treatment options. In this study, we utilize data reported at semi-annual study visits from three prospective cohort studies, the AIDS Link to IntraVenous Exposure (ALIVE), the Women's Interagency HIV Study (WIHS), and the Multicenter AIDS Cohort Study (MACS), to investigate determinants of HAART modification with a particular focus on reported injection drug use (IDU).
Methods
Longitudinal data collected between 1996 and 2004 contributed from 2,266 participants (37% with a reported history of IDU) who reported initiating their first HAART regimen during follow-up were utilized. Separate proportional-hazards models were used to identify factors measured prior to HAART-initiation associated with the time to first HAART discontinuation and first switch of components of HAART among continuous HAART users.
Results
The use of PI- vs. NNRTI-based regimens among HAART users with and without any history of IDU was similar over follow-up. The median time to a first report of discontinuation of HAART was 1.1 years for individuals with a history of IDU but 2.5 years for those without a history of IDU and multivariate analyses confirmed overall that individuals with a history of IDU were at greater risk for HAART discontinuation (adj RH = 1.24, 95% CI: 1.03–1.48). However, when restricting to data contributed after 1999, there was no longer any significant increased risk (adj RH = 1.05, 95% CI: 0.81–1.36). After adjusting for pre-HAART health status and prior ARV exposure, individuals who were ethnic/racial minorities, reported an annual income < $10,000/year, and were not employed were at significantly greater risk for HAART discontinuation. The median time to a first change in HAART regimen was approximately 1.5 years after first HAART report and was not elevated among those with a history of IDU (adj RH = 1.09, 95% CI: 0.89–1.34).
Conclusion
Our analyses demonstrate that injection drug use by itself does not appear to be an independent risk factor for HAART switching or discontinuation in more recent years. However, as continued HAART use is of paramount importance for long-term control of HIV infection, efforts to improve maintenance to therapy among disadvantaged and minority populations remain greatly needed.
doi:10.1186/1742-6405-4-12
PMCID: PMC1892565  PMID: 17553140
10.  Assessing the effect of HAART on change in quality of life among HIV-infected women 
Background
The impact of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) on health-related quality of life (QOL) of HIV-1 infected individuals in large prospective cohorts has not been well studied.
Objective
To assess the effect of HAART on QOL by comparing HIV-infected women using HAART with HIV-infected women remaining HAART naïve in the Women's Interagency HIV Study (WIHS), a multicenter prospective cohort study begun in 1994 in the US.
Methods
A 1:1 matching with equivalent (≤ 0.1%) propensity scores for predicting HAART initiation was implemented and 458 pairs were obtained. HAART effects were assessed using pattern mixture models. The changes of nine QOL domain scores and one summary score derived from a shortened version of the MOS-HIV from initial values were used as study outcomes.
Results
The background covariates of the treatment groups were well-balanced after propensity score matching. The 916 matched subjects had a mean age of 38.5 years and 42% had a history of AIDS diagnosis. The participants contributed a total of 4,292 person visits with a median follow-up time of 4 years. In the bivariate analyses with only HAART use and time as covariates, HAART was associated with short-term improvements of 4 QOL domains: role functioning, social functioning, pain and perceived health index. After adjusting for demographic, socioeconomic, biological and clinical variables, HAART had small but significant short-term improvements on changes in summary QOL (mean change: 3.25; P = 0.02), role functioning (6.99; P < 0.01), social functioning (5.74; P < 0.01), cognitive functioning (3.59; P = 0.03), pain (6.73; P < 0.01), health perception (3.67; P = 0.03) and perceived health index (4.87; P < 0.01). These QOL scores typically remained stable or declined over additional follow-up and there was no indication that HAART modified these trends.
Conclusion
Our study demonstrated significant short-term HAART effects on most QOL domains, but additional use of HAART did not modify long-term trends. These changes could be attributed to the direct effect of HAART and indirect HAART effect mediated through clinical changes.
doi:10.1186/1742-6405-3-6
PMCID: PMC1459186  PMID: 16549012
11.  Long term virological, immunological and mortality outcomes in a cohort of HIV-infected female sex workers treated with highly active antiretroviral therapy in Africa 
BMC Public Health  2011;11:700.
Background
Concerns have been raised that marginalised populations may not achieve adequate compliance to antiretroviral therapy. Our objective was to describe the long-term virological, immunological and mortality outcomes of providing highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) with strong adherence support to HIV-infected female sex workers (FSWs) in Burkina Faso and contrast outcomes with those obtained in a cohort of regular HIV-infected women.
Methods
Prospective study of FSWs and non-FSWs initiated on HAART between August 2004 and October 2007. Patients were followed monthly for drug adherence (interview and pill count), and at 6-monthly intervals for monitoring CD4 counts and HIV-1 plasma viral loads (PVLs) and clinical events.
Results
95 women, including 47 FSWs, were followed for a median of 32 months (interquartile range [IQR], 20-41). At HAART initiation, the median CD4 count was 147 cells/μl (IQR, 79-183) and 144 cells/μl (100-197), and the mean PVLs were 4.94 log10copies/ml (95% confidence interval [CI], 4.70-5.18) and 5.15 log10 copies/ml (4.97-5.33), in FSWs and non-FSWs, respectively. Four FSWs died during follow-up (mortality rate: 1.7 per 100 person-years) and none among other women. At 36 months, the median CD4 count increase was 230 cells/μl (IQR, 90-400) in FSWs vs. 284 cells/μl (193-420) in non-FSWs; PVL was undetectable in 81.8% (95% CI, 59.7-94.8) of FSWs vs. 100% (83.9-100) of non-FSWs; and high adherence to HAART (> 95% pills taken) was reported by 83.3% (95% CI, 67.2-93.6), 92.1% (95% CI, 78.6-98.3), and 100% (95% CI, 54.1-100) of FSWs at 6, 12, and 36 months after HAART initiation, respectively, with no statistical difference compared to the pattern observed among non-FSWs.
Conclusions
Clinical and biological benefits of HAART can be maintained over the long term among FSWs in Africa and could also lead to important public health benefits.
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-11-700
PMCID: PMC3191514  PMID: 21917177
12.  Medication diaries do not improve outcomes with highly active antiretroviral therapy in Kenyan children: a randomized clinical trial 
Background
As highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) becomes increasingly available to African children, it is important to evaluate simple and feasible methods of improving adherence in order to maximize benefits of therapy.
Methods
HIV-1-infected children initiating World Health Organization non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase-inhibitor-containing first-line HAART regimens were randomized to use medication diaries plus counselling, or counselling only (the control arm of the study). The diaries were completed daily by caregivers of children randomized to the diary and counselling arm for nine months. HIV-1 RNA, CD4+ T cell count, and z-scores for weight-for-age, height-for-age and weight-for-height were measured at a baseline and every three to six months. Self-reported adherence was assessed by questionnaires for nine months.
Results
Ninety HIV-1-infected children initiated HAART, and were followed for a median of 15 months (interquartile range: 2–21). Mean CD4 percentage was 17.2% in the diary arm versus 16.3% in the control arm at six months (p = 0.92), and 17.6% versus 18.9% at 15 months (p = 0.36). Virologic response with HIV-1 RNA of <100 copies/ml at nine months was similar between the two arms (50% for the diary arm and 36% for the control, p = 0.83). The weight-for-age, height-for-age and weight-for-height at three, nine and 15 months after HAART initiation were similar between arms. A trend towards lower self-reported adherence was observed in the diary versus the control arm (85% versus 92%, p = 0.08).
Conclusion
Medication diaries did not improve clinical and virologic response to HAART over a 15-month period. Children had good adherence and clinical response without additional interventions. This suggests that paediatric HAART with conventional counselling can be a successful approach. Further studies on targeted approaches for non-adherent children will be important.
doi:10.1186/1758-2652-12-8
PMCID: PMC2708138  PMID: 19549342
13.  Self-Perception of Body Fat Changes and HAART Adherence in the Women’s Interagency HIV Study 
AIDS and behavior  2008;13(1):53-59.
To determine the association of self-perceived fat gain or fat loss in central and peripheral body sites with adherence to highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) in HIV-seropositive women. 1,671 women from the Women’s Interagency HIV Study who reported HAART use between April 1999 and March 2006 were studied. Adherence was defined as report of taking HAART ≥ 95% of the time during the prior 6 months. Participant report of any increase or decrease in the chest, abdomen, or upper back in the prior 6 months defined central fat gain and central fat loss, respectively. Report of any increase or decrease in the face, arms, legs or buttocks in the prior 6 months defined peripheral fat gain or peripheral fat loss. Younger age, being African-American (vs. White non-Hispanic), a history of IDU, higher HIV RNA at the previous visit, and alcohol consumption were significant predictors of HAART non-adherence (P <0.05). After multivariate adjustment, self-perception of central fat gain was associated with a 1.5-fold increased odds of HAART non-adherence compared to no change. Perception of fat gain in the abdomen was the strongest predictor of HAART non-adherence when the individual body sites were studied. Women who perceive central fat gain particularly in the abdomen are at risk for decreased adherence to HAART despite recent evidence to suggest that HIV and specific antiretroviral drugs are more commonly associated with fat loss than fat gain.
doi:10.1007/s10461-008-9444-7
PMCID: PMC2902995  PMID: 18688706
Lipodystrophy; HIV; Women; HAART adherence; body image perception
14.  The impact of highly active antiretroviral therapy on prevalence and incidence of cervical human papillomavirus infections in HIV-positive adolescents 
BMC Infectious Diseases  2010;10:295.
Background
The implementation of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) among HIV-positive patients results in immune reconstitution, slower progression of HIV disease, and a decrease in the occurrence of opportunistic infections. However, the impact of HAART on cervical human papillomavirus (HPV) infection, clearance, and persistence in high-risk adolescents remains controversial.
Methods
HIV-positive and high-risk HIV-negative female adolescents were enrolled in the Reaching for Excellence in Adolescent Care and Health (REACH) longitudinal cohort study. At each semi-annual clinical visit, cervical lavage samples were tested for 30 HPV types. Type-specific and carcinogenic risk-specific HPV prevalence and incidence were compared in 373 eligible participants: 146 HIV-negative female adolescents with a median follow-up of 721.5 [IQR: 483-1301] days and 227 HIV-positive female adolescents. Of the 227 HIV-positive participants, a fixed set (n = 100) were examined both before and after HAART initiation; 70 were examined only before HAART initiation; and 57 were examined only after HAART initiation, with overall median follow-up of 271 [IQR: 86.5-473] and 427.25 [IQR: 200-871] days respectively for before and after HAART initiation.
Results
Of the 373 eligible participants, 262 (70%) were infected with at least one type of HPV at baseline, and 78 of the remaining 111 (70%) became infected with at least one type of HPV by the end of the study. Overall, the incidence and prevalence of HPV types 58, 53/66, 68/70, and 31/33/35 were much higher than the established carcinogenic and HPV vaccine types 16 and 18, especially in HIV-positive females both before and after HAART initiation. Baseline prevalence for individual high-risk HPV types ranged, depending on type, from 0.7-10%, 1-17%, and 1-18% in the HIV-negative group, the HIV-positive before HAART initiation group, and the HIV-positive after HAART initiation group, respectively. Likewise, the incidence ranged, depending on HPV type, from 0.64-9.83 cases/100 PY, 3.00-12.80 cases/100 PY, and 1.49-17.05 cases/100 PY in the three groups, respectively. The patterns of each HPV type infection, clearance, and persistence did not differ considerably before or after the introduction of HAART and were clearly independent of CD4+ change within the short post-HAART follow-up period.
Conclusions
HAART did not immediately affect the incidence of type-specific HPV infections within a short-period follow-up; however, future studies are warranted in larger populations to evaluate HAART's impact over longer periods.
doi:10.1186/1471-2334-10-295
PMCID: PMC2965148  PMID: 20946655
15.  Assessment of quality of life in HAART-treated HIV-positive subjects with body fat redistribution in Rwanda 
Background
The introduction of HAART has initially improved the quality of life (QoL) of HIV-positive (HIV+) patients, however body fat redistribution (BFR) and metabolic disorders associated with long-term HAART use may attenuate this improvement. As access to treatment improves in sub-Saharan Africa, the disfiguring nature of BFR (peripheral atrophy and/or central adiposity) may deter treatment adherence and initiatives and decrease QoL. We examined the relationship between BFR and domains of QoL in HAART-treated HIV+ African men and women with (HIV+BFR, n = 50) and without (HIV+noBFR, n = 50) BFR in Rwanda.
Results
HIV+ subjects with BFR were less satisfied with their body image (4.3 ± 0.1 versus 1.5 ± 0.2; p < .001), self-esteem and social life (4.1 ± 1.4 versus 2.1 ± 0.3; p = 0.003). HIV+BFR were more ashamed in public (4.5 ± 1.2 versus 1.1 ± 1.1), reported less confident about their health (4.6 ± 1.4 versus 1.5 ± 1.2) and were frequently embarrassed due to body changes (4.1 ± 1.1 versus 1.1 ± 0.9) (p < .001) than HIV+noBFR. HIV+ Rwandan women with BFR reported more dissatisfaction with psychological (8.3 ± 2.9 versus 13.7 ± 1.9), social relationships (6.9 ± 2.3 versus 11.1 ± 4.1) and HIV HAART-specific domain of wellbeing (3.1 ± 4.8 versus 6.3 ± 3.6) (p < .001). Age was associated with independence (r2 = 0.691; p = 0.009) and marital status was associated with psychological (r2 = 0.593; p = 0.019) and social relationships (r2 = 0.493; p = 0.007). CD4 count (r2 = 0.648; p = 0.003) and treatment duration (r2 = 0.453; p = 0.003) were associated with HIV HAART-specific domain of wellbeing. HIV+ Rwandan women with BFR were significantly more affected by abdominal adiposity (p < .001), facial and buttocks atrophy (p < .05) than HIV+ men with BFR.
Conclusion
Body fat alterations negatively affect psychological and social domains of quality of life. These symptoms may result in stigmatization and marginalization mainly in HAART-treated African women, adversely affecting HAART adherence and treatment initiatives. Efforts to evaluate self-perceived body fat changes may improve patients' wellbeing, HAART adherence and treatment outcomes and contribute towards stability in quality of life continuum.
doi:10.1186/1742-6405-4-19
PMCID: PMC2075499  PMID: 17877798
16.  Bimodal virological response to antiretroviral therapy for HIV infection: an application using a mixture model with left censoring 
Study objective
To assess whether HIV RNA levels (log10 scale) in highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) treated population have a bimodal distribution, suggesting optimal or suboptimal response to HAART.
Methods
The study population from two ongoing cohort studies comprised 564 men (4785 person visits) and 1173 women (8675 person visits) with known dates of HAART initiation and with HIV RNA measurements before and after initiation. Values below detection limit of assays were treated in the analysis as left censored. Maximum likelihood methods were used to estimate parameters and to determine possible bimodality of HIV RNA distributions.
Results
A two component mixture model fitted HIV RNA levels significantly better than did a single component distribution at different years from HAART initiation in both therapy experienced and therapy naive patients. In the fifth year after HAART initiation, 32% of men and 44% of women had HIV RNA in the higher component with medians of 5247 and 9253 copies/ml, respectively, suggesting suboptimal virological response to HAART, which was associated with poor adherence and lower frequency of CCR5 heterozygous genotype.
Conclusion
The bimodal distribution of HIV RNA persisted during the years after HAART initiation. The high occurrence of suboptimal virological response at the fifth year after HAART initiation underscore the needs for careful monitoring and patient education about the importance of treatment adherence. This data analysis overcomes limitations of measurement techniques of observations having values below detection limits and serves to characterise the dynamics of the virological response to therapies.
doi:10.1136/jech.2005.044644
PMCID: PMC2566033  PMID: 16905728
mixture model; left censoring; HIV RNA; HAART
17.  A Frailty-Related Phenotype Before HAART Initiation as an Independent Risk Factor for AIDS or Death After HAART Among HIV-Infected Men 
Background.
In the general population, frailty, a late stage of the aging process, predicts mortality. We investigated whether manifesting a previously defined frailty-related phenotype (FRP) before initiating highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) affects the likelihood of developing clinical AIDS or mortality after HAART initiation.
Methods.
Among 596 HIV-infected men in the Multicenter AIDS Cohort Study whose date of HAART initiation was known within ±6 months and who had an assessable FRP status within 3 years before HAART, survival analyses were performed to assess the effect of FRP manifestation on clinical AIDS or death after HAART.
Results.
In men free of AIDS before HAART, AIDS or death after HAART occurred in 13/36 (36%) men who exhibited the FRP before HAART but only in 69/436 (16%) men who did not (hazard ratio = 2.6; 95% confidence interval = 1.4–4.6; p < .01). After adjusting for age, ethnicity, education, nadir CD4+ T-cell count, peak HIV viral load, and hemoglobin in the 3 years before HAART, having the FRP at >25% of visits in the 3 years before HAART significantly predicted AIDS or death (adjusted hazard ratio = 3.8; 95% confidence interval = 1.9–7.9; p < .01). Results were unchanged when the analysis was restricted to the 335 AIDS-free men who were HAART responders, to the 124 men who had AIDS at HAART initiation, or to the subsets of men for whom indices of liver and kidney function could be taken into account.
Conclusion.
Having a persistent frailty-like phenotype before HAART initiation predicted a worse prognosis after HAART, independent of known risk factors.
doi:10.1093/gerona/glr097
PMCID: PMC3156632  PMID: 21719610
HIV; Aging; Frailty; HAART response; Survival analysis
18.  Initiation of Antiretroviral Treatment in Women After Delivery Can Induce Multiclass Drug Resistance in Breastfeeding HIV-Infected Infants 
HIV-infected breastfeeding infants acquired multi-class drug resistance (MCR) after their mothers started highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART). MCR was more frequent in infants whose mothers started HAART by 6 months post-partum or were exclusively breastfeeding when they reported HAART use.
Background. The World Health Organization currently recommends initiation of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)–infected lactating women with CD4+ cell counts <350 cells/μL or stage 3 or 4 disease. We analyzed antiretroviral drug resistance in HIV-infected infants in the Post Exposure Prophylaxis of Infants trial whose mothers initiated HAART postpartum (with a regimen of nevirapine [NVP], stavudine, and lamivudine). Infants in the trial received single-dose NVP and a week of zidovudine (ZDV) at birth; some infants also received extended daily NVP prophylaxis, with or without extended ZDV prophylaxis.
Methods. We analyzed drug resistance in plasma samples collected from all HIV-infected infants whose mothers started HAART in the first postpartum year. Resistance testing was performed using the first plasma sample collected within 6 months after maternal HAART initiation. Categorical variables were compared by exact or trend tests; continuous variables were compared using rank-sum tests.
Results. Multiclass resistance (MCR) was detected in HIV from 11 (29.7%) of 37 infants. Infants were more likely to develop MCR infection if their mothers initiated HAART earlier in the postpartum period (by 14 weeks vs after 14 weeks and up to 6 months vs after 6 months, P = .0009), or if the mother was exclusively breastfeeding at the time of HAART initiation (exclusive breastfeeding vs mixed feeding vs no breastfeeding, P = .003).
Conclusions. postpartum maternal HAART initiation was associated with acquisition of MCR in HIV-infected breastfeeding infants. The risk was higher among infants whose mothers initiated HAART closer to the time of delivery or were still exclusively breastfeeding when they first reported HAART use.
doi:10.1093/cid/cir008
PMCID: PMC3070029  PMID: 21460326
19.  Switching HIV Treatment in Adults Based on CD4 Count Versus Viral Load Monitoring: A Randomized, Non-Inferiority Trial in Thailand 
PLoS Medicine  2013;10(8):e1001494.
Using a randomized controlled trial, Marc Lallemant and colleagues ask if a CD4-based monitoring and treatment switching strategy provides a similar clinical outcome compared to the standard viral load-based strategy for adults with HIV in Thailand.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Background
Viral load (VL) is recommended for monitoring the response to highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) but is not routinely available in most low- and middle-income countries. The purpose of the study was to determine whether a CD4-based monitoring and switching strategy would provide a similar clinical outcome compared to the standard VL-based strategy in Thailand.
Methods and Findings
The Programs for HIV Prevention and Treatment (PHPT-3) non-inferiority randomized clinical trial compared a treatment switching strategy based on CD4-only (CD4) monitoring versus viral-load (VL). Consenting participants were antiretroviral-naïve HIV-infected adults (CD4 count 50–250/mm3) initiating non-nucleotide reverse transcriptase inhibitor (NNRTI)-based therapy. Randomization, stratified by site (21 public hospitals), was performed centrally after enrollment. Clinicians were unaware of the VL values of patients randomized to the CD4 arm. Participants switched to second-line combination with confirmed CD4 decline >30% from peak (within 200 cells from baseline) in the CD4 arm, or confirmed VL >400 copies/ml in the VL arm. Primary endpoint was clinical failure at 3 years, defined as death, new AIDS-defining event, or CD4 <50 cells/mm3. The 3-year Kaplan-Meier cumulative risks of clinical failure were compared for non-inferiority with a margin of 7.4%. In the intent to treat analysis, data were censored at the date of death or at last visit. The secondary endpoints were difference in future-drug-option (FDO) score, a measure of resistance profiles, virologic and immunologic responses, and the safety and tolerance of HAART. 716 participants were randomized, 356 to VL monitoring and 360 to CD4 monitoring. At 3 years, 319 participants (90%) in VL and 326 (91%) in CD4 were alive and on follow-up. The cumulative risk of clinical failure was 8.0% (95% CI 5.6–11.4) in VL versus 7.4% (5.1–10.7) in CD4, and the upper-limit of the one-sided 95% CI of the difference was 3.4%, meeting the pre-determined non-inferiority criterion. Probability of switch for study criteria was 5.2% (3.2–8.4) in VL versus 7.5% (5.0–11.1) in CD4 (p = 0.097). Median time from treatment initiation to switch was 11.7 months (7.7–19.4) in VL and 24.7 months (15.9–35.0) in CD4 (p = 0.001). The median duration of viremia >400 copies/ml at switch was 7.2 months (5.8–8.0) in VL versus 15.8 months (8.5–20.4) in CD4 (p = 0.002). FDO scores were not significantly different at time of switch. No adverse events related to the monitoring strategy were reported.
Conclusions
The 3-year rates of clinical failure and loss of treatment options did not differ between strategies although the longer-term consequences of CD4 monitoring would need to be investigated. These results provide reassurance to treatment programs currently based on CD4 monitoring as VL measurement becomes more affordable and feasible in resource-limited settings.
Trial registration
ClinicalTrials.gov NCT00162682
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
About 34 million people (most of them living in low-and middle-income countries) are currently infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. HIV infection leads to the destruction of immune system cells (including CD4 cells, a type of white blood cell), leaving infected individuals susceptible to other infections. Early in the AIDS epidemic, most HIV-infected individuals died within 10 years of infection. Then, in 1996, highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART)—combined drugs regimens that suppress viral replication and allow restoration of the immune system—became available. For people living in affluent countries, HIV/AIDS became a chronic condition but, because HAART was expensive, HIV/AIDS remained a fatal illness for people living in resource-limited countries. In 2003, the international community declared HIV/AIDS a global health emergency and, in 2006, it set the target of achieving universal global access to HAART by 2010. By the end of 2011, 8 million of the estimated 14.8 million people in need of HAART in low- and middle-income countries were receiving treatment.
Why Was This Study Done?
At the time this trial was conceived, national and international recommendations were that HIV-positive individuals should start HAART when their CD4 count fell below 200 cells/mm3 and should have their CD4 count regularly monitored to optimize HAART. In 2013, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommendations were updated to promote expanded eligibility for HAART with a CD4 of 500 cells/mm3 or less for adults, adolescents, and older children although priority is given to individuals with CD4 count of 350 cells/mm3 or less. Because HIV often becomes resistant to first-line antiretroviral drugs, WHO also recommends that viral load—the amount of virus in the blood—should be monitored so that suspected treatment failures can be confirmed and patients switched to second-line drugs in a timely manner. This monitoring and switching strategy is widely used in resource-rich settings, but is still very difficult to implement for low- and middle-income countries where resources for monitoring are limited and access to costly second-line drugs is restricted. In this randomized non-inferiority trial, the researchers compare the performance of a CD4-based treatment monitoring and switching strategy with the standard viral load-based strategy among HIV-positive adults in Thailand. In a randomized trial, individuals are assigned different interventions by the play of chance and followed up to compare the effects of these interventions; a non-inferiority trial investigates whether one treatment is not worse than another.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers assigned about 700 HIV-positive adults who were beginning HAART for the first time to have their CD4 count (CD4 arm) or their CD4 count and viral load (VL arm) determined every 3 months. Participants were switched to a second-line therapy if their CD4 count declined by more than 30% from their peak CD4 count (CD4 arm) or if a viral load of more than 400 copies/ml was recorded (VL arm). The 3-year cumulative risk of clinical failure (defined as death, a new AIDS-defining event, or a CD4 count of less than 50 cells/mm3) was 8% in the VL arm and 7.4% in the CD4 arm. This difference in clinical failure risk met the researchers' predefined criterion for non-inferiority. The probability of a treatment switch was similar in the two arms, but the average time from treatment initiation to treatment switch and the average duration of a high viral load after treatment switch were both longer in the CD4 arm than in the VL arm. Finally, the future-drug-option score, a measure of viral drug resistance profiles, was similar in the two arms at the time of treatment switch.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings suggest that, in Thailand, a CD4 switching strategy is non-inferior in terms of clinical outcomes among HIV-positive adults 3 years after beginning HAART when compared to the recommended viral load-based switching strategy and that there is no difference between the strategies in terms of viral suppression and immune restoration after 3-years follow-up. Importantly, however, even though patients in the CD4 arm spent longer with a high viral load than patients in the VL arm, the emergence of HIV mutants resistant to antiretroviral drugs was similar in the two arms. Although these findings provide no information about the long-term outcomes of the two monitoring strategies and may not be generalizable to routine care settings, they nevertheless provide reassurance that using CD4 counts alone to monitor HAART in HIV treatment programs in resource-limited settings is an appropriate strategy to use as viral load measurement becomes more affordable and feasible in these settings.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001494.
The World Health Organization provides information on all aspects of HIV/AIDS (in several languages); its 2010 recommendations for antiretroviral therapy for HIV infection in adults and adolescents are available as well as the June 2013 Consolidated guidelines on the use of antiretroviral drugs for treating and preventing HIV infection: recommendations for a public health approach
The 2012 UNAIDS World AIDS Day Report provides up-to-date information about the AIDS epidemic and efforts to halt it
Information is available from the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases on HIV infection and AIDS
NAM/aidsmap provides basic information about HIV/AIDS and summaries of recent research findings on HIV care and treatment
Information is available from Avert, an international AIDS charity on many aspects of HIV/AIDS, including information on the global HIV/AIDS epidemic, on HIV and AIDS in Thailand, on universal access to AIDS treatment, and on starting, monitoring and switching HIV treatment (in English and Spanish)
The UK National Health Service Choices website provides information (including personal stories) about HIV and AIDS
More information about this trial (the PHPT-3 trial) is available
Patient stories about living with HIV/AIDS are available through Avert; the nonprofit website Healthtalkonline also provides personal stories about living with HIV, including stories about HIV treatment
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001494
PMCID: PMC3735458  PMID: 23940461
20.  Good adherence to HAART and improved survival in a community HIV/AIDS treatment and care programme: the experience of The AIDS Support Organization (TASO), Kampala, Uganda 
Background
Poor adherence to highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) may result in treatment failure and death. Most reports of the effect of adherence to HAART on mortality come from studies where special efforts are made to provide HAART under ideal conditions. However, there are few reports of the impact of non-adherence to HAART on mortality from community HIV/AIDS treatment and care programmes in developing countries. We therefore conducted a study to assess the effect of adherence to HAART on survival in The AIDS Support Organization (TASO) community HAART programme in Kampala, Uganda.
Methods
The study was a retrospective cohort of 897 patients who initiated HAART at TASO clinic, Kampala, between May 2004 and December 2006. A total of 7,856 adherence assessments were performed on the data. Adherence was assessed using a combination of self-report and pill count methods. Patients who took ≤ 95% of their regimens were classified as non-adherent. The data was stratified at a CD4 count of 50 cells/mm3. Kaplan Meier curves and Cox proportional hazards regression models were used in the analysis.
Results
A total of 701 (78.2%) patients had a mean adherence to ART of > 95%. The crude death rate was 12.2 deaths per 100 patient-years, with a rate of 42.5 deaths per 100 patient-years for non-adherent patients and 6.1 deaths per 100 patient-years for adherent patients. Non-adherence to ART was significantly associated with mortality. Patients with a CD4 count of less than 50 cells/mm3 had a higher mortality (HR = 4.3; 95% CI: 2.22–5.56) compared to patients with a CD4 count equal to or greater than 50 cells/mm3 (HR = 2.4; 95% CI: 1.79–2.38).
Conclusion
Our study showed that good adherence and improved survival are feasible in community HIV/AIDS programmes such as that of TASO, Uganda. However, there is need to support community HAART programmes to overcome the challenges of funding to provide sustainable supplies particularly of antiretroviral drugs; provision of high quality clinical and laboratory support; and achieving a balance between expansion and quality of services. Measures for the early identification and treatment of HIV infected people including home-based VCT and HAART should be strengthened.
doi:10.1186/1472-6963-8-241
PMCID: PMC2606686  PMID: 19021908
21.  The Effect of HAART on HIV RNA Trajectory Among Treatment Naïve Men and Women: a Segmental Bernoulli/Lognormal Random Effects Model with Left Censoring 
Epidemiology (Cambridge, Mass.)  2010;21(0 4):S25-S34.
Background
Highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) rapidly suppresses human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) viral replication and reduces circulating viral load, but the long-term effects of HAART on viral load remain unclear.
Methods
We evaluated HIV viral load trajectories over 8 years following HAART initiation in the Multicenter AIDS Cohort Study and the Women’s Interagency HIV Study. The study included 157 HIV-infected men and 199 HIV-infected women who were antiretroviral naïve and contributed 1311 and 1837 semiannual person-visits post-HAART, respectively. To account for within-subject correlation and the high proportion of left-censored viral loads, we used a segmental Bernoulli/lognormal random effects model.
Results
Approximately 3 months (0.30 years for men and 0.22 years for women) after HAART initiation, HIV viral loads were optimally suppressed (ie, with very low HIV RNA) for 44% (95% confidence interval = 39%–49%) of men and 43% (38%–47%) of women, whereas the other 56% of men and 57% of women had on average 2.1 (1.5–2.6) and 3.0 (2.7–3.2) log10 copies/mL, respectively.
Conclusion
After 8 years on HAART, 75% of men and 80% of women had optimal suppression, whereas the rest of the men and women had suboptimal suppression with a median HIV RNA of 3.1 and 3.7 log10 copies/mL, respectively.
doi:10.1097/EDE.0b013e3181ce9950
PMCID: PMC3736572  PMID: 20386106
22.  Factors Impacting Early Mortality in Tuberculosis/HIV Patients: Differences between Subjects Naïve to and Previously Started on HAART 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(9):e45704.
Background
Mortality among patients with tuberculosis (TB)/HIV is highest during the first few months of antituberculous therapy. The objective of this study was to assess the factors associated with early mortality among TB/HIV patients and whether these factors are similar for HAART naïve and those with prior HAART initiation.
Methods
Prospective cohort study including HIV patients with tuberculosis confirmed by culture, cared for at a referral center in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Multivariable Cox analysis was used to assess predictors of mortality within 3 months of antituberculous therapy.
Results
Among 227 patients included, 90 (40%) started HAART before TB diagnosis. The median time to TB diagnosis after ARV initiation was 5.9 months (interquartile range [IQR] 3.0–8.9 months). Fourteen patients (6%) died within the first 3 months. Mortality was not different between patients previously started on HAART and those who were naïve to it. In the overall adjusted analysis, HAART use during TB treatment (hazard ratio [HR] = 0.21, 95% confidential interval [CI] = 0.06–0.72) and CD4 lymphocyte count >100 cells/mm3 (HR = 0.21, 95% CI = 0.04–0.99) were associated with lower mortality, while subjects with unknown baseline CD4 lymphocyte count (HR = 9.39, 95% CI = 2.56–34.5) had higher mortality. In subgroup analysis, among HAART naïve subjects, disseminated TB (HR = 5.32, 95% CI = 1.09–25.8) and unknown baseline CD4 lymphocyte count (HR = 13.2, 95% CI = 2.71–64.5) were associated with significantly higher mortality, while HAART (HR = 0.14, 95% CI = 0.03–0.69) predicted a better outcome. Among subjects previously started on HAART, mortality was significantly associated with duration of TB symptoms >120 days (HR = 6.15, 95% CI = 1.15–32.9).
Conclusions
Predictors of early mortality among TB/HIV patients may vary according to the timing of HAART initiation. Among HAART naïve patients, mortality was influenced by baseline clinical severity, HAART use and, possibly, the quality of care preceding TB diagnosis. For patients with prior HAART initiation, longer delays in TB diagnosis predicted a significantly higher mortality.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0045704
PMCID: PMC3458068  PMID: 23049842
23.  Antidepressant Treatment and Adherence to Combination Antiretroviral Therapy among Patients with AIDS and Diagnosed Depression 
The Psychiatric quarterly  2008;79(1):43-53.
Background
The prevalence of depression is elevated among HIV-infected individuals and there is evidence that depression exerts a negative impact on HIV medication adherence.
Methods
Merged HIV/AIDS surveillance data and Medicaid claims data from January 1996 to December 1998 were used to identify AIDS-infected patients with diagnosed depression, and filled prescriptions were used to identify their antidepressant use, and highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART). Chi-square tests and robust logistic regressions were used to examine antidepressant use after HAART initiation, and a person-month approach was used to estimate the association between antidepressant treatment and adherence to HAART after its initiation.
Results
Of the 406 AIDS-infected patients diagnosed with depression who initiated HAART during this period, 81% (N = 329) were treated with an antidepressant. The HAART adherence rate was low overall. After HAART initiation; only 63% of the person-months had a prescription for it. However, use of an antidepressant in the prior month was significantly associated with HAART in the current month. After controlling for other factors, the odds of current-month HAART adherence were increased by almost 30% for those with antidepressant use in the prior month (Adjusted OR = 1.28, 95% CI [1.16, 1.41]).
Conclusions
While the HAART adherence rate was low among patients with AIDS diagnosed with depression, prior month’s antidepressant use increases odds of adherence. Unmeasured factors may influence the reported association between antidepressant use and HAART adherence, but our findings point to the need to investigate directly the impact of antidepressant therapy on HAART adherence found among patients with AIDS and depression.
doi:10.1007/s11126-007-9055-x
PMCID: PMC2882936  PMID: 18095166
HIV; Adherence; Depression; Antidepressant
24.  Preliminary outcomes of a paediatric highly active antiretroviral therapy cohort from KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa 
BMC Pediatrics  2007;7:13.
Background
Few studies address the use of paediatric highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) in Africa.
Methods
We performed a retrospective cohort study to investigate preliminary outcomes of all children eligible for HAART at Sinikithemba HIV/AIDS clinic in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. Immunologic, virologic, clinical, mortality, primary caregiver, and psychosocial variables were collected and analyzed.
Results
From August 31, 2003 until October 31, 2005, 151 children initiated HAART. The median age at HAART initiation was 5.7 years (range 0.3–15.4). Median follow-up time of the cohort after HAART initiation was 8 months (IQR 3.5–13.5). The median change in CD4% from baseline (p < 0.001) was 10.2 (IQR 5.0–13.8) at 6 months (n = 90), and 16.2 (IQR 9.6–20.3) at 12 months (n = 59). Viral loads (VLs) were available for 100 children at 6 months of which 84% had HIV-1 RNA levels ≤ 50 copies/mL. At 12 months, 80.3% (n = 61) had undetectable VLs. Sixty-five out of 88 children (73.8%) reported a significant increase (p < 0.001) in weight after the first month. Eighty-nine percent of the cohort (n = 132) reported ≤ 2 missed doses during any given treatment month (> 95%adherence). Seventeen patients (11.3%) had a regimen change; two (1.3%) were due to antiretroviral toxicity. The Kaplan-Meier one year survival estimate was 90.9% (95%confidence interval (CI) 84.8–94.6). Thirteen children died during follow-up (8.6%), one changed service provider, and no children were lost to follow-up. All 13 deaths occurred in children with advanced HIV disease within 5 months of treatment initiation. In multivariate analysis of baseline variables against mortality using Cox proportional-hazards model, chronic gastroenteritis was associated with death [hazard ratio (HR), 12.34; 95%CI, 1.27–119.71) and an HIV-positive primary caregiver was found to be protective against mortality [HR, 0.12; 95%CI, 0.02–0.88). Age, orphanhood, baseline CD4%, and hemoglobin were not predicators of mortality in our cohort. Fifty-two percent of the cohort had at least one HIV-positive primary caregiver, and 38.4% had at least one primary caregiver also on HAART at Sinikithemba clinic.
Conclusion
This report suggests that paediatric HAART can be effective despite the challenges of a resource-limited setting.
doi:10.1186/1471-2431-7-13
PMCID: PMC1847430  PMID: 17367540
25.  A Randomized Controlled Trial Comparing the Effects of Counseling and Alarm Device on HAART Adherence and Virologic Outcomes 
PLoS Medicine  2011;8(3):e1000422.
Michael Chung and colleagues show that intensive early adherence counseling at HAART initiation resulted in sustained, significant impact on adherence and virologic treatment failure, whereas use of an alarm device had no effect.
Background
Behavioral interventions that promote adherence to antiretroviral medications may decrease HIV treatment failure. Antiretroviral treatment programs in sub-Saharan Africa confront increasing financial constraints to provide comprehensive HIV care, which include adherence interventions. This study compared the impact of counseling and use of an alarm device on adherence and biological outcomes in a resource-limited setting.
Methods and Findings
A randomized controlled, factorial designed trial was conducted in Nairobi, Kenya. Antiretroviral-naïve individuals initiating free highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) in the form of fixed-dose combination pills (d4T, 3TC, and nevirapine) were randomized to one of four arms: counseling (three counseling sessions around HAART initiation), alarm (pocket electronic pill reminder carried for 6 months), counseling plus alarm, and neither counseling nor alarm. Participants were followed for 18 months after HAART initiation. Primary study endpoints included plasma HIV-1 RNA and CD4 count every 6 months, mortality, and adherence measured by monthly pill count. Between May 2006 and September 2008, 400 individuals were enrolled, 362 initiated HAART, and 310 completed follow-up. Participants who received counseling were 29% less likely to have monthly adherence <80% (hazard ratio [HR] = 0.71; 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.49–1.01; p = 0.055) and 59% less likely to experience viral failure (HIV-1 RNA ≥5,000 copies/ml) (HR 0.41; 95% CI 0.21–0.81; p = 0.01) compared to those who received no counseling. There was no significant impact of using an alarm on poor adherence (HR 0.93; 95% CI 0.65–1.32; p = 0.7) or viral failure (HR 0.99; 95% CI 0.53–1.84; p = 1.0) compared to those who did not use an alarm. Neither counseling nor alarm was significantly associated with mortality or rate of immune reconstitution.
Conclusions
Intensive early adherence counseling at HAART initiation resulted in sustained, significant impact on adherence and virologic treatment failure during 18-month follow-up, while use of an alarm device had no effect. As antiretroviral treatment clinics expand to meet an increasing demand for HIV care in sub-Saharan Africa, adherence counseling should be implemented to decrease the development of treatment failure and spread of resistant HIV.
Trial registration
ClinicalTrials gov NCT00273780
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Adherence to HIV treatment programs in poor countries has long been cited as an important public health concern, especially as poor adherence can lead to drug resistance and inadequate treatment of HIV. However, two factors have recently cast doubt on the poor adherence problem: (1) recent studies have shown that adherence is high in African HIV treatment programs and often better than in Western HIV clinics. For example, in a meta-analysis of 27 cohorts from 12 African countries, adequate adherence was noted in 77% of subjects compared to only 55% among 31 North America cohorts; (2) choice of antiretroviral regimens may impact on the development of antiretroviral resistance. In poor countries, most antiretroviral regimens contain non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NNRTIs), such as nevirapine or efavirenz, which remain in the patient's circulation for weeks after single-dose administration. This situation means that such patients may not experience antiretroviral resistance unless they drop below 80% adherence—contrary to the more stringent 95% plus adherence levels needed to prevent resistance in regimens based on unboosted protease inhibitors—ultimately, off-setting some treatment lapses in resource-limited settings where NNRTI-based regimens are widely used.
Why Was This Study Done?
Given that adherence may not be as crucial an issue as previously thought, antiretroviral treatment programs in sub-Saharan Africa may be spending scarce resources to promote adherence to the detriment of some potentially more effective elements of HIV treatment and management programs. Although many treatment programs currently include adherence interventions, there is limited quality evidence that any of these methods improve long-term adherence to HIV treatment. Therefore, it is necessary to identify adherence interventions that are inexpensive and proven to be effective in resource-limited settings. As adherence counseling is already widely implemented in African HIV treatment programs and inexpensive alarm devices are thought to also improve compliance, the researchers compared the impact of adherence counseling and the use of an alarm device on adherence and biological outcomes in patients enrolled in HIV programs in rural Kenya.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers enrolled 400 eligible patients (newly diagnosed with HIV, never before taken antiretroviral therapy, aged over 18 years) to four arms: (1) adherence counseling alone; (2) alarm device alone; (3) both adherence counseling and alarm device together; and (4) a control group that received neither adherence counseling nor alarm device. The patients had blood taken to record baseline CD4 count and HIV-1 RNA and after starting HIV treatment, returned to the study clinic every month with their pill bottles for the study pharmacist to count and recorded the number of pills remaining in the bottle, and to receive another prescription. Patients were followed up for 18 months and had their CD4 count and HIV-1 RNA measured at 6, 12, and 18 months.
Patients receiving adherence counseling were 29% less likely to experience poor adherence compared to those who received no counseling. Furthermore, those receiving intensive early adherence counseling were 59% less likely to experience viral failure. However, there was no significant difference in mortality or significant differences in CD4 counts at 18 months follow-up between those who received counseling and those who did not. There were no significant differences in adherence, time to viral failure, mortality, or CD4 counts in patients who received alarm devices compared to those who did not.
What Do These Findings Mean?
The results of this study suggest that intensive adherence counseling around the time of HIV treatment initiation significantly reduces poor adherence and virologic treatment failure, while using an alarm device has no effect. Therefore, investment in careful counseling based on individual needs at the onset of HIV treatment initiation, appears to have sustained benefit, possibly through strengthening the relationship between the health care provider and patient through communication, education, and trust. Interactive adherence counseling supports the bond between the clinic and the patient and may result in fewer patients needing to switch to expensive second-line medications and, possibly, may help to decrease the spread of resistant HIV. These findings define an adherence counseling protocol that is effective and are highly relevant to other HIV clinics caring for large numbers of patients in sub-Saharan Africa.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1000422.
UNAIDS provides information about HIV treatment strategies
The American Public Health Association has information about adherence to HIV treatment regimens
The US Department of Health and Human Services has information for patients about adherence to HIV treatment
The World Health Organization provides information about HIV treatment pharmacovigilance
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000422
PMCID: PMC3046986  PMID: 21390262

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