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1.  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
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.  Lack of Mucosal Immune Reconstitution during Prolonged Treatment of Acute and Early HIV-1 Infection 
PLoS Medicine  2006;3(12):e484.
Background
During acute and early HIV-1 infection (AEI), up to 60% of CD4+ T cells in the lamina propria of the lower gastrointestinal (GI) tract are lost as early as 2–4 wk after infection. Reconstitution in the peripheral blood during therapy with highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) is well established. However, the extent of immune reconstitution in the GI tract is unknown.
Methods and Findings
Fifty-four AEI patients and 18 uninfected control participants underwent colonic biopsy. Forty of the 54 AEI patients were followed after initiation of antiretroviral therapy (18 were studied longitudinally with sequential biopsies over a 3-y period after beginning HAART, and 22 were studied cross sectionally after 1–7 y of uninterrupted therapy). Lymphocyte subsets, markers of immune activation and memory in the peripheral blood and GI tract were determined by flow cytometry and immunohistochemistry. In situ hybridization was performed in order to identify persistent HIV-1 RNA expression. Of the patients studied, 70% maintained, on average, a 50%–60% depletion of lamina propria lymphocytes despite 1–7 y of HAART. Lymphocytes expressing CCR5 and both CCR5 and CXCR4 were persistently and preferentially depleted. Levels of immune activation in the memory cell population, CD45RO+ HLA-DR+, returned to levels seen in the uninfected control participants in the peripheral blood, but were elevated in the GI tract of patients with persistent CD4+ T cell depletion despite therapy. Rare HIV-1 RNA–expressing cells were detected by in situ hybridization.
Conclusions
Apparently suppressive treatment with HAART during acute and early infection does not lead to complete immune reconstitution in the GI mucosa in the majority of patients studied, despite immune reconstitution in the peripheral blood. Though the mechanism remains obscure, the data suggest that there is either viral or immune-mediated accelerated T cell destruction or, possibly, alterations in T cell homing to the GI tract. Although clinically silent over the short term, the long-term consequences of the persistence of this lesion may emerge as the HIV-1–infected population survives longer owing to the benefits of HAART.
Despite early initiation of anti-HIV therapy, loss of T cells in the gastrointestinal mucosa persisted for years in most members of a clinical cohort identified early after HIV-1 infection.
Editors' Summary
Background.
AIDS causes disease by inactivating the body's immune response against infection. The AIDS virus (HIV) is most active against the white blood cells called T lymphocytes, particularly the CD4 T lymphocytes, which recognize infection and activate other cells of the immune system to fight it. In what was formerly believed to be a gradual process, HIV infection is now known to deplete a subset of the body's CD4 lymphocytes, called memory cells, quite rapidly—over only a few days—within a few weeks after a person becomes infected with the AIDS virus. This was not known until recently because researchers were counting CD4 cells only in blood, while a majority of the memory lymphocytes are located in and around the digestive system. It is these intestinal memory lymphocytes that are rapidly wiped out, while those in the blood fall much more gradually, usually over several years. Few studies of mucosal lymphocytes have been done in humans because such studies require biopsies of the intestinal lining (mucosa).
Why Was This Study Done?
Although CD4 cells in the blood can return and remain at normal levels when HIV infection is treated with antiviral drugs, it has been unclear as to whether the mucosal CD4 cells return as well. People who begin treatment as soon as possible after becoming infected with HIV might seem to have the best chance of regaining their mucosal immunity, compared to those who wait until the CD4 cells in their blood have fallen, which is a generally accepted reason to start medication for HIV. Therefore, the researchers wanted to see whether people who start treatment early after becoming infected with HIV might experience restoration of their mucosal immunity over time and, if so, what kinds of lymphocytes would return.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers studied people who started treatment for HIV within a few weeks to months of becoming infected and who then remained on treatment. Some volunteers underwent biopsies of the intestinal mucosa before starting treatment and then at various points from 1 y until as long as 3 y after infection. Others volunteered for biopsy only one time, anywhere from less than 1 y to 7 y following treatment. The biopsy specimens were examined under the microscope and with a technique called flow cytometry using specific staining methods to assess their structure and functional characteristics. Results were compared to biopsies from a group of HIV-uninfected volunteers.
The researchers found that the percentage of CD4 lymphocytes dropped much lower in the intestinal mucosa than in blood during early infection and then, unlike in blood, remained low even after several years of treatment for HIV. In the microscope images, they found that mucosal CD4 cells were lost mostly from regions of active battle against invading germs, rather than from “training sites” for new CD4 cells. Over time, only 30% of the volunteers showed return of CD4 cells to normal levels in these active sites.
Unlike T lymphocytes in the blood, which tend to return to a resting state after HIV is treated, the T lymphocytes in the intestinal mucosa tended to persist in an activated state despite HIV treatment, even though only a tiny fraction of these cells were found to be infected with HIV. A high level of activation of mucosal lymphocytes soon after infection was found to predict poor restoration of mucosal CD4 cells over time.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These experiments confirm that studying easily obtained blood lymphocytes provides only a limited view of how HIV affects the immune system as a whole. The finding that immune cells of the intestinal mucosa remain depleted and over-activated for years despite antiretroviral treatment raises the concern that over time this will result in clinical problems. Fortunately, this does not appear to be the case in most people currently being treated for HIV, some for as long as 10 y, but the results of this study suggest that we should remain vigilant for gastrointestinal problems resulting from impaired immunity over time. The finding that mucosal lymphocytes do appear to return to normal levels in a minority of volunteers is of interest, and suggests that early interventions to reduce activation of intestinal T cells (such as antimicrobial or immunomodulatory treatment) might be worth investigating in those recently infected with HIV. Finally, these results suggest that a vaccine to prevent HIV may need to stimulate immune responses that can act very quickly following infection, before the bulk of lymphocytes capable of countering the infection are lost, perhaps irreversibly.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.0030484.
UCSF HIV InSite includes resources on HIV immunology and vaccine development
AIDS fact sheets and brochures from the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
Medline Plus article on acute HIV infection from the US National Library of Medicine
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0030484
PMCID: PMC1762085  PMID: 17147468
4.  Kidney and liver organ transplantation in persons with human immunodeficiency virus 
Executive Summary
Objective
The objective of this analysis is to determine the effectiveness of solid organ transplantation in persons with end stage organ failure (ESOF) and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV+)
Clinical Need: Condition and Target Population
Patients with end stage organ failure who have been unresponsive to other forms of treatment eventually require solid organ transplantation. Similar to persons who are HIV negative (HIV−), persons living with HIV infection (HIV+) are at risk for ESOF from viral (e.g. hepatitis B and C) and non-viral aetiologies (e.g. coronary artery disease, diabetes, hepatocellular carcinoma). Additionally, HIV+ persons also incur risks of ESOF from HIV-associated nephropathy (HIVAN), accelerated liver damage from hepatitis C virus (HCV+), with which an estimated 30% of HIV positive (HIV+) persons are co-infected, and coronary artery disease secondary to antiretroviral therapy. Concerns that the need for post transplant immunosuppression and/or the interaction of immunosuppressive drugs with antiretroviral agents may accelerate the progression of HIV disease, as well as the risk of opportunistic infections post transplantation, have led to uncertainty regarding the overall benefit of transplantation among HIV+ patients. Moreover, the scarcity of donor organs and their use in a population where the clinical benefit of transplantation is uncertain has limited the availability of organ transplantation to persons living with ESOF and HIV.
With the development of highly active anti retroviral therapy (HAART), which has been available in Canada since 1997, there has been improved survival and health-related quality of life for persons living with HIV. HAART can suppress HIV replication, enhance immune function, and slow disease progression. HAART managed persons can now be expected to live longer than those in the pre-HAART era and as a result many will now experience ESOF well before they experience life-threatening conditions related to HIV infection. Given their improved prognosis and the burden of illness they may experience from ESOF, the benefit of solid organ transplantation for HIV+ patients needs to be reassessed.
Evidence-Based Analysis Methods
Research Questions
What are the effectiveness and cost effectiveness of solid organ transplantation in HIV+ persons with ESOF?
Literature Search
A literature search was performed on September 22, 2009 using OVID MEDLINE, MEDLINE In-Process and Other Non-Indexed Citations, EMBASE, the Cumulative Index to Nursing & Allied Health Literature (CINAHL), the Cochrane Library, and the International Agency for Health Technology Assessment (INAHTA) for studies published from January 1, 1996 to September 22, 2009.
Inclusion Criteria
Systematic review with or without a Meta analysis, RCT, Non-RCT with controls
HIV+ population undergoing solid organ transplantation
HIV+ population managed with HAART therapy
Controls include persons undergoing solid organ transplantation who are i) HIV− ii) HCV+ mono-infected, and iii) HIV+ persons with ESOF not transplanted.
Studies that completed and reported results of a Kaplan-Meier Survival Curve analysis.
Studies with a minimum (mean or medium) follow up of 1-year.
English language citations
Exclusion Criteria
Case reports and case series were excluded form this review.
Outcomes of Interest
i) Risk of Death after transplantation
ii) Death censored graft survival (DCGS)
iii) HIV disease progression defined as the post transplant incidence of:
- opportunistic infections or neoplasms,
- CD4+ T-cell count < 200mm3, and
- any detectable level of plasma HIV viral load.
iv) Acute graft rejection,
v) Return to dialysis,
vi) Recurrence of HCV infection
Summary of Findings
No direct evidence comparing an HIV+ cohort undergoing transplantation with the same not undergoing transplantation (wait list) was found in the literature search.
The results of this review are reported for the following comparison cohorts undergoing transplantation:
i) Kidney Transplantation: HIV+ cohort compared with HIV− cohort
ii) Liver Transplantation: HIV+ cohort compared with HIV− negative cohort
iii) Liver Transplantation: HIV+ HCV+ (co-infected) cohort compared with HCV+ (mono-infected) cohort
Kidney Transplantation: HIV+ vs. HIV−
Based on a pooled HIV+ cohort sample size of 285 patients across four studies, the risk of death after kidney transplantation in an HIV+ cohort does not differ to that of an HIV− cohort [hazard ratio (HR): 0.90; 95% CI: 0.36, 2.23]. The quality of evidence supporting this outcome is very low.
Death censored graft survival was reported in one study with an HIV+ cohort sample size of 100, and was statistically significantly different (p=.03) to that in the HIV− cohort (n=36,492). However, the quality of evidence supporting this outcome was determined to be very low. There was also uncertainty in the rate of return to dialysis after kidney transplantation in both the HIV+ and HIV− groups and the effect, if any, this may have on patient survival. Because of the very low quality evidence rating, the effect of kidney transplantation on HIV-disease progression is uncertain.
The rate of acute graft rejection was determined using the data from one study. There was a nonsignificant difference between the HIV+ and HIV− cohorts (OR 0.13; 95% CI: 0.01, 2.64), although again, because of very low quality evidence there is uncertainty in this estimate of effect.
Liver Transplantation: HIV+ vs. HIV−
Based on a combined HIV+ cohort sample size of 198 patient across five studies, the risk of death after liver transplantation in an HIV+ cohort (with at least 50% of the cohort co-infected with HCV+) is statistically significantly 64% greater compared with an HIV− cohort (HR: 1.64; 95% CI: 1.32, 2.02). The quality of evidence supporting this outcome is very low.
Death censored graft survival was reported for an HIV+ cohort in one study (n=11) however the DCGS rate of the contemporaneous control HIV− cohort was not reported. Because of sparse data the quality of evidence supporting this outcome is very low indicating death censored graft survival is uncertain.
Both the CD4+ T-cell count and HIV viral load appear controlled post transplant with an incidence of opportunistic infection of 20.5%. However, the quality of this evidence for these outcomes is very low indicating uncertainty in these effects. Similarly, because of very low quality evidence there is uncertainty in the rate of acute graft rejection among both the HIV+ and HIV− groups
Liver Transplantation: HIV+/HCV+ vs. HCV+
Based on a combined HIV+/HCV+ cohort sample size of 156 from seven studies, the risk of death after liver transplantation is significantly greater (2.8 fold) in a co-infected cohort compared with an HCV+ mono-infected cohort (HR: 2.81; 95% CI: 1.47, 5.37). The quality of evidence supporting this outcome is very low. Death censored graft survival evidence was not available.
Regarding disease progression, based on a combined sample size of 71 persons in the co-infected cohort, the CD4+ T-cell count and HIV viral load appear controlled post transplant; however, again the quality of evidence supporting this outcome is very low. The rate of opportunistic infection in the co-infected cohort was 7.2%. The quality of evidence supporting this estimate is very low, indicating uncertainty in these estimates of effect.
Based on a combined HIV+/HCV+ cohort (n=57) the rate of acute graft rejection does not differ to that of an HCV+ mono-infected cohort (OR: 0.88; 95% CI: 0.44, 1.76). Also based on a combined HIV+/HCV+ cohort (n=83), the rate of HCV+ recurrence does not differ to that of an HCV+ mono-infected cohort (OR: 0.66; 95% CI: 0.27, 1.59). In both cases, the quality of the supporting evidence was very low.
Overall, because of very low quality evidence there is uncertainty in the effect of kidney or liver transplantation in HIV+ persons with end stage organ failure compared with those not infected with HIV. Examining the economics of this issue, the cost of kidney and liver transplants in an HIV+ patient population are, on average, 56K and 147K per case, based on both Canadian and American experiences.
PMCID: PMC3377507  PMID: 23074407
5.  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
6.  Adherence and plasma HIV RNA responses to highly active antiretroviral therapy among HIV-1 infected injection drug users 
Background
The benefits of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) for the treatment of HIV infection are well documented, but concerns regarding access and adherence to HAART are growing. We evaluated virological responses to HAART among HIV-1 infected patients who were injection drug users (IDUs) in a population-based setting where HIV/AIDS care is delivered free of charge.
Methods
We evaluated previously untreated HIV-1 infected men and women who initiated HAART between Aug. 1, 1996, and July 31, 2000, and who were followed until Mar. 31, 2002, in a province-wide HIV treatment program. We used Kaplan–Meier methods and Cox proportional hazards regression in our evaluation of time to suppression (i.e., less than 500 copies/mL) and rebound (i.e., 500 copies/mL or more) of plasma HIV-1 RNA, with patients stratified according to whether or not they had a history of injection drug use.
Results
Overall, 1422 patients initiated HAART during the study period, of whom 359 (25.2%) were IDUs. In Kaplan–Meier analyses, the cumulative suppression rate at 12 months after initiation of HAART was 70.8% for non-IDUs and 51.4% for IDUs (p < 0.001) (these values include people who achieved suppression before 12 months but who might not have been followed for the full 12-month period). Among patients who achieved suppression of plasma HIV-1 RNA, the cumulative rebound rate at 12 months after initial suppression was 23.8% for non-IDUs and 34.7% for IDUs (p < 0.001). However, after adjustment for adherence and other covariates, the rates of HIV-1 RNA suppression (adjusted relative hazard 0.9, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.7–1.0) and HIV-1 RNA rebound (adjusted relative hazard 1.3, 95% CI 1.0–1.6) were similar between non-IDUs and IDUs. Differences between non-IDUs and IDUs were even less pronounced in subanalyses that considered only therapy-adherent patients (p > 0.1).
Interpretation
Non-IDUs and IDUs had similar rates of HIV-1 RNA suppression and rebound after the initiation of HAART, once lower levels of adherence were taken into account. Nevertheless, the lower virological response rates among IDUs suggest that, unless interventions are undertaken to improve adherence, these patients may experience elevated rates of disease progression and use of medical services in our setting.
PMCID: PMC202281  PMID: 14517122
7.  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
8.  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
9.  Potential cardiovascular disease risk markers among HIV-infected women initiating antiretroviral treatment 
Background
Inflammation and hemostasis perturbation may be involved in vascular complications of HIV infection. We examined atherogenic biomarkers and subclinical atherosclerosis in HIV-infected adults before and after beginning highly-active antiretroviral therapy (HAART).
Methods
In the Women's Interagency HIV Study (WIHS), 127 HIV-infected women studied pre- and post-HAART were matched to HIV-uninfected controls. Six semi-annual measurements of soluble CD14, tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-alpha, soluble interleukin (IL)-2 receptor, IL-6, IL-10, monocyte chemoattractant protein (MCP)-1, D-dimer, and fibrinogen were obtained. Carotid artery intima-media thickness (CIMT) was measured by B-mode ultrasound.
Results
Relative to HIV-uninfected controls, HAART-naïve HIV-infected women had elevated levels of soluble CD14 (1945 vs 1662 ng/mL, Wilcoxon signed rank P<0.0001), TNF-alpha (6.3 vs 3.4 pg/mL, P<0.0001), soluble IL-2 receptor (1587 vs 949 pg/mL, P<0.0001), IL-10 (3.3 vs 1.9 pg/mL, P<0.0001), MCP-1 (190 vs 163 pg/mL, P<0.0001) and D-dimer (0.43 vs 0.31 µg/mL, P<0.01). Elevated biomarker levels declined after HAART. While most biomarkers normalized to HIV-uninfected levels, in women on effective HAART, TNF-alpha levels remained elevated compared to HIV-uninfected women (+0.8 pg/mL, P=0.0002). Higher post-HAART levels of soluble IL-2 receptor (P=0.02), IL-6 (P=0.05), and D-dimer (P=0.03) were associated with increased CIMT.
Conclusions
Untreated HIV infection is associated with abnormal hemostasis (e.g., D-dimer), and pro-atherogenic (e.g., TNF-alpha) and anti-atherogenic (e.g., IL-10) inflammatory markers. HAART reduces most inflammatory mediators to HIV-uninfected levels. Increased inflammation and hemostasis are associated with subclinical atherosclerosis in recently treated women. These findings have potential implications for long-term risk of cardiovascular disease in HIV-infected patients, even with effective therapy.
doi:10.1097/QAI.0b013e31825b03be
PMCID: PMC3400505  PMID: 22592585
antiretroviral therapy; cardiovascular diseases; cytokines; hemostasis; HIV; inflammation
10.  LILRB2 Interaction with HLA Class I Correlates with Control of HIV-1 Infection 
PLoS Genetics  2014;10(3):e1004196.
Natural progression of HIV-1 infection depends on genetic variation in the human major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class I locus, and the CD8+ T cell response is thought to be a primary mechanism of this effect. However, polymorphism within the MHC may also alter innate immune activity against human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) by changing interactions of human leukocyte antigen (HLA) class I molecules with leukocyte immunoglobulin-like receptors (LILR), a group of immunoregulatory receptors mainly expressed on myelomonocytic cells including dendritic cells (DCs). We used previously characterized HLA allotype-specific binding capacities of LILRB1 and LILRB2 as well as data from a large cohort of HIV-1-infected individuals (N = 5126) to test whether LILR-HLA class I interactions influence viral load in HIV-1 infection. Our analyses in persons of European descent, the largest ethnic group examined, show that the effect of HLA-B alleles on HIV-1 control correlates with the binding strength between corresponding HLA-B allotypes and LILRB2 (p = 10−2). Moreover, overall binding strength of LILRB2 to classical HLA class I allotypes, defined by the HLA-A/B/C genotypes in each patient, positively associates with viral replication in the absence of therapy in patients of both European (p = 10−11–10−9) and African (p = 10−5–10−3) descent. This effect appears to be driven by variations in LILRB2 binding affinities to HLA-B and is independent of individual class I allelic effects that are not related to the LILRB2 function. Correspondingly, in vitro experiments suggest that strong LILRB2-HLA binding negatively affects antigen-presenting properties of DCs. Thus, we propose an impact of LILRB2 on HIV-1 disease outcomes through altered regulation of DCs by LILRB2-HLA engagement.
Author Summary
Leukocyte immunoglobulin-like receptors B1 and B2 (LILRB1 and LILRB2) bind HLA class I allotypes with variable affinities. Here, we show that the binding strength of LILRB2 to HLA class I positively associates with level of viremia in a large cohort of untreated HIV-1-infected patients. This effect appears to be driven by HLA-B polymorphism and demonstrates independence from class I allelic effects on viral load. Our in vitro experiments suggest that strong LILRB2-HLA binding negatively affects antigen-presenting properties of dendritic cells (DCs). Thus, we propose an impact of LILRB2 on HIV-1 immune control through altered regulation of DCs by LILRB2-HLA engagement.
doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1004196
PMCID: PMC3945438  PMID: 24603468
11.  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
12.  IL28B, HLA-C, and KIR Variants Additively Predict Response to Therapy in Chronic Hepatitis C Virus Infection in a European Cohort: A Cross-Sectional Study 
PLoS Medicine  2011;8(9):e1001092.
Vijayaprakash Suppiah and colleagues show that genotyping hepatitis C patients for the IL28B, HLA-C, and KIR genes improves the ability to predict whether or not patients will respond to antiviral treatment.
Background
To date, drug response genes have not proved as useful in clinical practice as was anticipated at the start of the genomic era. An exception is in the treatment of chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) genotype 1 infection with pegylated interferon-alpha and ribavirin (PegIFN/R). Viral clearance is achieved in 40%–50% of patients. Interleukin 28B (IL28B) genotype predicts treatment-induced and spontaneous clearance. To improve the predictive value of this genotype, we studied the combined effect of variants of IL28B with human leukocyte antigen C (HLA-C), and its ligands the killer immunoglobulin-like receptors (KIR), which have previously been implicated in HCV viral control.
Methods and Findings
We genotyped chronic hepatitis C (CHC) genotype 1 patients with PegIFN/R treatment-induced clearance (n = 417) and treatment failure (n = 493), and 234 individuals with spontaneous clearance, for HLA-C C1 versus C2, presence of inhibitory and activating KIR genes, and two IL28B SNPs, rs8099917 and rs12979860. All individuals were Europeans or of European descent. IL28B SNP rs8099917 “G” was associated with absence of treatment-induced clearance (odds ratio [OR] 2.19, p = 1.27×10−8, 1.67–2.88) and absence of spontaneous clearance (OR 3.83, p = 1.71×10−14, 2.67–5.48) of HCV, as was rs12979860, with slightly lower ORs. The HLA-C C2C2 genotype was also over-represented in patients who failed treatment (OR 1.52, p = 0.024, 1.05–2.20), but was not associated with spontaneous clearance. Prediction of treatment failure improved from 66% with IL28B to 80% using both genes in this cohort (OR 3.78, p = 8.83×10−6, 2.03–7.04). There was evidence that KIR2DL3 and KIR2DS2 carriage also altered HCV treatment response in combination with HLA-C and IL28B.
Conclusions
Genotyping for IL28B, HLA-C, and KIR genes improves prediction of HCV treatment response. These findings support a role for natural killer (NK) cell activation in PegIFN/R treatment-induced clearance, partially mediated by IL28B.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
About 170 million people harbor long-term (chronic) infections with the hepatitis C virus (HCV) and 3–4 million people are newly infected with the virus every year. HCV—a leading cause of chronic hepatitis (inflammation of the liver)—is spread though contact with infected blood. Transmission can occur during medical procedures (for example, transfusions with unscreened blood or reuse of inadequately sterilized medical instruments) but in developed countries, where donated blood is routinely screened for HCV, the most common transmission route is needle-sharing among intravenous drug users. HCV infection can cause a short-lived illness characterized by tiredness and jaundice (yellow skin and eyes) but 70%–80% of newly infected people progress to a symptom-free, chronic infection that can eventually cause liver cirrhosis (scarring) and liver cancer. HCV infections can be treated with a combination of two drugs—pegylated interferon-alpha and ribavirin (PegIFN/R). However, PegIFN/R is expensive, causes unpleasant side-effects, and is ineffective in about half of people infected with HCV genotype 1, the commonest HCV strain.
Why Was This Study Done?
It would be extremely helpful to be able to identify which patients will respond to PegIFN/R before starting treatment. An individual's genetic make-up plays a key role in the safety and effectiveness of drugs. Thus, pharmacogenomics—the study of how genetic variants affects the body's response to drugs—has the potential to alter the clinical management of many diseases by allowing clinicians to provide individually tailored drug treatments. In 2009, scientists reported that certain single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs, a type of genetic variant) lying near the IL28B gene (which encodes an immune system protein made in response to viral infections) strongly influence treatment outcomes and spontaneous clearance in HCV-infected people. This discovery is now being used to predict treatment responses to PegIFN/R in clinical practice but genotyping (analysis of variants of) IL28B only correctly predicts treatment failure two-thirds of the time. Here, the researchers investigate whether genotyping two additional regions of the genome—the HLA-C and KIR gene loci—can improve the predictive value of IL28B genotyping. Human leukocyte antigen C (HLA-C) and the killer immunoglobulin-like receptors (KIRs) are interacting proteins that have been implicated in HCV viral control.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers genotyped 417 patients chronically infected with HCV genotype 1 whose infection had been cleared by PegIFN/R treatment, 493 patients whose infection had not responded to treatment, and 234 patients whose infection had cleared spontaneously for two HLA-C variants (C1 and C2), the presence of several KIR genes (individuals carry different combinations of KIR genes), and two IL28B SNPs (rs8099917 and rs12979860). Carriage of “variants” of either IL28B SNP was associated with absence of treatment-induced clearance and absence of spontaneous clearance. That is, these variant SNPs were found more often in patients who did not respond to treatment than in those who did respond, and more often in patients who did not have spontaneous clearance of their infection than those who did. The HLA-C C2C2 genotype (there are two copies of most genes in the genome) was also more common in patients who failed treatment than in those who responded but was not associated with spontaneous clearance. The rate of correct prediction of treatment failure increased from 66% with IL28B genotyping alone to 80% with combined IL28B and HLA-C genotyping. Finally, carriage of specific KIR genes in combination with specific HLA-C and IL28B variants was also associated with an altered HCV treatment response.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings show that the addition of HCL-C and KIR genotyping to IL28B genotyping improved the prediction of HCV treatment response in the patients investigated in this study. Because all these patients were European or of European descent, these findings need confirming in people of other ethnic backgrounds. They also need confirming in other groups of Europeans before being used in a clinical setting. However, the discovery that the addition of HLA-C genotyping to IL28B genotyping raises the rate of correct prediction of PegIFN/R treatment failure to 80% is extremely promising and should improve the clinical management of patients infected with HCV genotype 1. In addition, these results provide new insights into how PegIFN/R clears HCV infections that may lead to improved therapies in the future.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001092.
The World Health Organization provides detailed information about hepatitis C (in several languages)
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides information on hepatitis C for the public and for health professionals (information is also available in Spanish)
The US National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases provides basic information on hepatitis C (in English and Spanish)
The Hepatitis C Trust is a patient-led, patient-run UK charity that provides detailed information about hepatitis C and support for patients and their families; a selection of personal stories about patients' experiences with hepatitis C is available, including Phil's treatment story, which details the ups and downs of treatment with PegIFN/R
MedlinePlus provides links to further resources on hepatitis C
The Human Genome Project provides information about medicine and the new genetics, including a primer on pharmacogenomics
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001092
PMCID: PMC3172251  PMID: 21931540
13.  HIV Patients Developing Primary CNS Lymphoma Lack EBV-Specific CD4+ T Cell Function Irrespective of Absolute CD4+ T Cell Counts 
PLoS Medicine  2007;4(3):e96.
Background
In chronic HIV infection, antiretroviral therapy–induced normalization of CD4+ T cell counts (immune reconstitution [IR]) is associated with a decreased incidence of opportunistic diseases. However, some individuals remain at risk for opportunistic diseases despite prolonged normalization of CD4+ T cell counts. Deficient Epstein-Barr virus (EBV)-specific CD4+ T cell function may explain the occurrence of EBV-associated opportunistic malignancy—such as primary central nervous system (PCNS) lymphoma—despite recovery of absolute CD4+ T cell counts.
Methods and Findings
Absolute CD4+ T cell counts and EBV-specific CD4+ T cell-dependent interferon-γ production were assessed in six HIV-positive individuals prior to development of PCNS lymphoma (“cases”), and these values were compared with those in 16 HIV-infected matched participants with no sign of EBV-associated pathology (“matched controls”) and 11 nonmatched HIV-negative blood donors. Half of the PCNS lymphoma patients fulfilled IR criteria (defined here as CD4+ T cell counts ≥500/μl blood). EBV-specific CD4+ T cells were assessed 0.5–4.7 y prior to diagnosis of lymphoma. In 0/6 cases versus 13/16 matched controls an EBV-specific CD4+ T cell response was detected (p = 0.007; confidence interval for odds ratio [0–0.40]). PCNS lymphoma patients also differed with regards to this response significantly from HIV-negative blood donors (p < 0.001, confidence interval for odds ratio [0–0.14]), but there was no evidence for a difference between HIV-negative participants and the HIV-positive matched controls (p = 0.47).
Conclusions
Irrespective of absolute CD4+ T cell counts, HIV-positive patients who subsequently developed PCNS lymphoma lacked EBV-specific CD4+ T cell function. Larger, ideally prospective studies are needed to confirm these preliminary data, and clarify the impact of pathogen-specific versus surrogate marker-based assessment of IR on clinical outcome.
In a case-control study from the Swiss HIV cohort, Hess and colleagues report that T-helper responses against Epstein-Barr virus are specifically absent in patients developing CNS lymphoma.
Editors' Summary
Background.
AIDS causes disease by inactivating the body's immune responses. Most severely affected are the white blood cells known as T lymphocytes, particularly the CD4+ T cells that recognize infection and enable other cells of the immune system to respond. Advanced HIV infection, marked by very low numbers of CD4+ cells, is associated with a variety of infections and tumors that are rarely seen in people with intact immune systems. People with advanced HIV who receive highly active antiretroviral treatment (HAART) tend to have increases in their CD4+ cell counts and lose their susceptibility to these so-called opportunistic infections and cancers. For several common opportunistic infections, it is considered safe to discontinue preventive antibiotics after a patient's total CD4+ cell count has returned to normal levels on HAART. Some treated individuals, however, will develop these conditions even after their CD4+ cell counts have returned to normal levels. The reason this happens is unclear.
Why Was This Study Done?
For several years, scientists have speculated that susceptibility to a given opportunistic infection might be due not simply to low total CD4+ cells, but to loss of the specific CD4+ cells that recognize the infection in question. If this theory is correct, then those individuals who develop an opportunistic condition after their total CD4+ cell counts return to normal might be missing the specific cells that respond to the microbe causing the condition. The researchers wanted to test this theory in HIV patients with a brain tumor called primary central nervous system lymphoma (PCNS lymphoma). The Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), which causes mononucleosis in the general population, has been shown to be a cause of PCNS lymphoma in people with AIDS.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers studied patients who developed PCNS lymphoma while enrolled in the Swiss HIV Cohort, an ongoing study that has enrolled more than 14,000 people. A large cohort was needed to address this question because PCNS lymphoma is uncommon, and indeed only six patients with a confirmed diagnosis were identified. Because they had been followed as part of the cohort study, these patients had given blood samples that could be tested in retrospect. Three of these patients had low CD4+ cell counts prior to lymphoma diagnosis and three had normal CD4+ cell counts, but CD4 responses specifically against EBV were absent or very low in all six patients before they were diagnosed with PCNS lymphoma. The researchers also studied a comparison group of cohort participants with comparable CD4+ cell counts but no PCNS lymphoma, and found that 13/16 of those participants did have CD4 responses to EBV.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These results support the idea that the action of EBV-specific CD4+ cells, rather than a given level of total CD4+ cells, is needed to prevent PCNS lymphoma. Because only a small number of cases were identified, this must be considered a preliminary result. Given the rarity of PCNS lymphoma, however, especially in people receiving HAART, it seems unlikely that a larger cohort will be available in the near future to provide a more definitive conclusion. Based on this result, it may be useful to perform similar studies of other opportunistic infections. If a “gap” in the CD4+ cell response can be shown to increase the risk of a specific condition, it may become appropriate to test specific CD4 responses before deciding to discontinue preventive treatment as CD4+ cell counts increase on HAART.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.0040096.
Read the accompanying Perspective by Mark Jacobson, MD
The Swiss Cohort Study Web site contains information on related research projects
The UCSF Center for HIV Information's HIV InSite includes resources on HIV immunology and opportunistic infections
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0040096
PMCID: PMC1831733  PMID: 17388662
14.  N348I in the Connection Domain of HIV-1 Reverse Transcriptase Confers Zidovudine and Nevirapine Resistance 
PLoS Medicine  2007;4(12):e335.
Background
The catalytically active 66-kDa subunit of the human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) reverse transcriptase (RT) consists of DNA polymerase, connection, and ribonuclease H (RNase H) domains. Almost all known RT inhibitor resistance mutations identified to date map to the polymerase domain of the enzyme. However, the connection and RNase H domains are not routinely analysed in clinical samples and none of the genotyping assays available for patient management sequence the entire RT coding region. The British Columbia Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS (the Centre) genotypes clinical isolates up to codon 400 in RT, and our retrospective statistical analyses of the Centre's database have identified an N348I mutation in the RT connection domain in treatment-experienced individuals. The objective of this multidisciplinary study was to establish the in vivo relevance of this mutation and its role in drug resistance.
Methods and Findings
The prevalence of N348I in clinical isolates, the time taken for it to emerge under selective drug pressure, and its association with changes in viral load, specific drug treatment, and known drug resistance mutations was analysed from genotypes, viral loads, and treatment histories from the Centre's database. N348I increased in prevalence from below 1% in 368 treatment-naïve individuals to 12.1% in 1,009 treatment-experienced patients (p = 7.7 × 10−12). N348I appeared early in therapy and was highly associated with thymidine analogue mutations (TAMs) M41L and T215Y/F (p < 0.001), the lamivudine resistance mutations M184V/I (p < 0.001), and non-nucleoside RTI (NNRTI) resistance mutations K103N and Y181C/I (p < 0.001). The association with TAMs and NNRTI resistance mutations was consistent with the selection of N348I in patients treated with regimens that included both zidovudine and nevirapine (odds ratio 2.62, 95% confidence interval 1.43–4.81). The appearance of N348I was associated with a significant increase in viral load (p < 0.001), which was as large as the viral load increases observed for any of the TAMs. However, this analysis did not account for the simultaneous selection of other RT or protease inhibitor resistance mutations on viral load. To delineate the role of this mutation in RT inhibitor resistance, N348I was introduced into HIV-1 molecular clones containing different genetic backbones. N348I decreased zidovudine susceptibility 2- to 4-fold in the context of wild-type HIV-1 or when combined with TAMs. N348I also decreased susceptibility to nevirapine (7.4-fold) and efavirenz (2.5-fold) and significantly potentiated resistance to these drugs when combined with K103N. Biochemical analyses of recombinant RT containing N348I provide supporting evidence for the role of this mutation in zidovudine and NNRTI resistance and give some insight into the molecular mechanism of resistance.
Conclusions
This study provides the first in vivo evidence that treatment with RT inhibitors can select a mutation (i.e., N348I) outside the polymerase domain of the HIV-1 RT that confers dual-class resistance. Its emergence, which can happen early during therapy, may significantly impact on a patient's response to antiretroviral therapies containing zidovudine and nevirapine. This study also provides compelling evidence for investigating the role of other mutations in the connection and RNase H domains in virological failure.
Analyzing HIV sequences from a Canadian cohort, Gilda Tachedjian and colleagues identify a common mutation in a little-studied domain of reverse transcriptase that confers resistance to two drug classes.
Editors' Summary
Background.
In the 1980s, infection with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), which causes acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), was a death sentence. Although the first antiretroviral drugs (compounds that block HIV's life cycle) were developed quickly, single antiretrovirals only transiently suppress HIV infection. HIV rapidly accumulates random changes (mutations) in its genetic material, some of which make it drug resistant. Nowadays, there are many different antiretrovirals. Some inhibit the viral protease, an enzyme used to assemble new viruses. Others block reverse transcriptase (RT), which makes replicates of the genes of the virus. Nucleoside/nucleotide RT inhibitors (NRTIs; for example, zidovudine—also called AZT—and lamivudine) and non-nucleoside RT inhibitors (NNRTIs; for example, nevirapine and efavirenz) interfere with the activity of RT by binding to different sites in its so-called “DNA polymerase domain,” the part of the enzyme that constructs copies of the viral genes. Highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART), which was introduced in the mid 1990s, combines several antiretrovirals (usually a protease inhibitor and two NRTIs or an NNRTI and two NRTIs) so that the replication of any virus that develops resistance to one drug is inhibited by the other drugs in the mix. When treated with HAART, HIV infection is usually a chronic, stable condition rather than a fatal disease.
Why Was This Study Done?
Unfortunately, HIV that is resistant to drugs still develops in some patients. To improve the prevention and management of drug resistance, a better understanding of the mutations that cause resistance is needed. Resistance to RT inhibitors usually involves mutations in the DNA polymerase domain that reduce the efficacy of NRTIs (including thymidine analogue mutations—also known as TAMs—and lamivudine-resistance mutations) and NNRTIs. Blood tests that detect these resistance mutations (genotype tests) have been used for several years to guide individualized selection of HIV drugs. Recently, however, mutations outside the DNA polymerase domain have also been implicated in resistance to RT inhibitors. In this study, the researchers have used data and samples collected since the mid 1990s by Canada's British Columbia Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS to investigate the clinical relevance of a mutation called N348I. This mutation changes an asparagine (a type of amino acid) to an isoleucine in a region of RT known as the connection domain. The researchers have also investigated how this mutation causes resistance to RT inhibitors in laboratory tests.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers analyzed the first two-thirds of the RT gene in viruses isolated from a large number of the Centre's patients. Virus carrying the N348I mutation was present in less than one in 100 patients whose HIV infection had never been treated, but in more than one in 10 treatment-experienced patients. The mutation appeared early in therapy, often in viruses that had TAMs, a lamivudine-resistance mutation called M184V/I, and/or NNRTI resistance mutations. Patients treated with zidovudine and nevirapine were 2.6 times more likely to have the N348I mutation than patients not treated with these drugs. Furthermore, the appearance of the N348I mutation often coincided with an increase in viral load, although other mutations that appeared at a similar time could have contributed to this increase. When the researchers introduced the N348I mutation into HIV growing in the laboratory, they found that it decreased the susceptibility of the virus to zidovudine and to NNRTIs.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings show that the treatment of patients with RT inhibitors can select a drug-resistant HIV variant that has a mutation outside the enzyme's DNA polymerase domain. Because this N348I mutation, which is commonly selected in vivo and has also been seen in other studies, confers resistance to two classes of RT inhibitors and can emerge early during therapy, it could have a large impact on patient responses to antiviral regimens that contain zidovudine and nevirapine. Although these findings do not show that the N348I mutation alone causes treatment failure, they may have implications for genotypic and phenotypic resistance testing, which is often used to guide treatment decisions. At present, genotype tests for resistance to RT inhibitors look for mutations only in the DNA polymerase domain of RT. This study is the first to demonstrate that it might be worth looking for the N348I mutation (and for other mutations outside the DNA polymerase domain) to improve the ability of genotypic and phenotypic resistance tests to predict treatment outcomes.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.0040335.
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 links to fact sheets (in English, French, and Spanish) about antiretrovirals, and chapters explaining antiretroviral resistance testing
NAM, a UK registered charity, provides information about all aspects of HIV and AIDS, including fact sheets on types of HIV drugs, drug resistance, and resistance tests (in English, Spanish, French, Portuguese, and Russian)
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides information on HIV/AIDS and on treatment (in English and Spanish)
AIDSinfo, a service of the US Department of Health and Human Services provides information for patients on HIV and its treatment
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0040335
PMCID: PMC2100143  PMID: 18052601
15.  Association between Use of HMG CoA Reductase Inhibitors and Mortality in HIV-Infected Patients 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(7):e21843.
Introduction
HIV infection is a disease associated with chronic inflammation and immune activation. Antiretroviral therapy reduces inflammation, but not to levels in comparable HIV-negative individuals. The HMG-coenzyme A reductase inhibitors (statins) inhibit several pro-inflammatory processes and suppress immune activation, and are a logical therapy to assess for a possible salutary effect on HIV disease progression and outcomes.
Methods
Eligible patients were patients enrolled in the Johns Hopkins HIV Clinical Cohort who achieved virologic suppression within 180 days of starting a new highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) regimen after January 1, 1998. Assessment was continued until death in patients who maintained a virologic suppression, with right-censoring of their follow-up time if they had an HIV RNA > 500 copies/ml. Cox proportional hazards regression was used to assess statin use as a time-varying covariate, as well as other demographic and clinical factors.
Results
A total of 1538 HIV-infected patients fulfilled eligibility criteria, of whom 238 (15.5%) received a statin while taking HAART. There were 85 deaths (7 in statin users, 78 in non-users). By multivariate Cox regression, statin use was associated with a relative hazard of 0.33 (95% CI: 0.14, 0.76; P = 0.009) after adjusting for CD4, HIV-1 RNA, hemoglobin and cholesterol levels at the start of HAART, age, race, HIV risk group, prior use of ART, year of HAART start, NNRTI vs. PI-based ART, prior AIDS-defining illness, and viral hepatitis coinfection. Malignancy, non-AIDS-defining infection and liver failure were particularly prominent causes of death.
Discussion
Statin use was associated with significantly lower hazard of dying in these HIV-infected patients who were being effectively treated with HAART as determined by virologic suppression. Our results suggest the need for confirmation in other observational cohorts, and if confirmed, the need for a clinical trial of statin use in HIV infection.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0021843
PMCID: PMC3134453  PMID: 21765919
16.  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
17.  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
18.  The effects of highly active antiretroviral therapy on albuminuria in HIV-infected persons: results from a randomized trial 
Background
Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-infected patients receiving highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) regimens, especially those containing protease inhibitors (PIs), are at increased risk for cardiovascular events. Albuminuria is a known independent predictor for the development of cardiovascular disease and may potentially increase in patients receiving PIs. Alternatively, albuminuria may improve with HAART as a result of treating renal parenchymal HIV infection. Longitudinal studies have not been performed previously addressing the effects of HAART on albuminuria.
Methods
We evaluated the effects of HAART on albumin to creatinine ratios (ACRs) during the initial 64 weeks of therapy in 68 previously untreated HIV-infected subjects, without pre-existing diagnosed diabetes or hypertension, enrolled in a randomized trial comparing PI-based (n = 32) with non-PI-based (n = 36) HAART regimens. We also estimated the prevalence of albuminuria, defined as an ACR ≥3.4 mg/mmol, in these subjects prior to initiation of HAART.
Results
The changes in ACR over the initial 64 weeks of therapy in those receiving PIs [0.0 mg/mmol (−0.4, 0.3)] and in those not receiving PIs [0.0 mg/mmol (−0.5, 0.3)] were not significantly different. There was also no significant difference in the change in the ACR in the group as a whole. However, albuminuria at baseline was found in seven (10%) subjects. Five of these seven subjects had substantial improvements in ACR, ranging from 45 to 95%, with HAART use; three subjects had resolution of albuminuria. ACR at baseline significantly correlated with the baseline HIV-1 RNA level (r = 0.25; P = 0.04) and negatively with CD4 cell count (r = 0.25; P = 0.04).
Conclusion
Albuminuria in HIV-infected, treatment-naïve patients was found more frequently than expected and may be influenced by baseline immune status. Although we did not observe an effect of HAART on ACR during the first 64 weeks of therapy, we cannot exclude the possibility that HAART may be beneficial in those patients with significant albuminuria prior to treatment. Research in larger cohorts is required to investigate more definitively the associations between immune status, antiretroviral therapies and renal function in HIV-infected patients.
doi:10.1093/ndt/gfi053
PMCID: PMC1586248  PMID: 16105869
albuminuria; antiretroviral therapy; cardiovascular disease; cardiovascular risk; HIV; protease inhibitors
19.  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
20.  Highly active antiretroviral therapy and hospital readmission: comparison of a matched cohort 
Background
Despite the known efficacy of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART), a large proportion of potentially-eligible HIV-infected patients do not access, and may stand to benefit from this treatment. In order to quantify these benefits in terms of reductions in hospitalizations and hospitalization costs, we sought to determine the impact of HAART on hospital readmission among HIV-infected patients hospitalized at St. Paul's Hospital (SPH) in Vancouver, BC, Canada.
Methods
All patients admitted to a specialized HIV/AIDS ward at SPH (Apr. 1997 – Oct. 2002) were selected and classified as being on HAART or not on HAART based upon their initial admission. Patients were then matched by their propensity scores, which were calculated based on patients' sociodemographics such as age, gender, injection drug use (IDU) status, and AIDS indication, and followed up for one year. Multivariate logistic regression was used to estimate the difference in the odds of hospital readmission between patients on and not on HAART.
Results
Out of a total 1084 patients admitted to the HIV/AIDS ward between 1997 and 2002, 662 were matched according to their propensity score; 331 patients each on and not on HAART. Multivariate logistic regression revealed that patients on HAART had lower odds of AIDS hospital readmission (OR, 0.61; 95% CI, 0.42 – 0.89) compared to patients not on HAART. Odds of readmission among patients on HAART were also significantly lower for non-IDU related readmission (OR, 0.73; 95% CI, 0.53 – 0.99) and overall readmission (OR, 0.72; 95% CI, 0.53 – 0.98).
Conclusion
Propensity score matching allowed us to reliably estimate the association between exposure (on or not on HAART) and outcome (readmitted to hospital). We found that HIV-infected patients who were potentially eligible for, but not on HAART had higher odds of being readmitted to hospital compared to those on HAART. Given the low level of uptake (31%) of HAART observed in our pre-matched hospitalized cohort, a large potential to achieve clinical benefits, reduce hospitalization costs and possibly slow disease progression from improved HAART uptake still exists.
doi:10.1186/1471-2334-6-146
PMCID: PMC1617096  PMID: 17022826
21.  Timing of Antiretroviral Therapy Initiation and its Impact on Disease Progression in Perinatal Human Immunodeficiency Virus-1 Infection 
Objective
Treatment with highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) reduces overall perinatal HIV-1 related mortality. The impact of timing of HAART initiation on reduction of morbidity is not well-defined. We evaluated the association of timing of HAART initiation on progression to moderate or severe disease.
Methods
Retrospective, population-based study of 196 perinatally HIV-infected children followed from birth in northern California from 1988 to 2009.
Results
Of 196 children, 58% received HAART and were followed for a median of 6.2 years after HAART initiation. HAART use was associated with improved survival to age 5 years: 50% no HAART vs. 88% HAART, p<0.0001. However, the advantage of initial HAART over mono or dual therapy transitioning to HAART was small and not statistically significant (p=0.23). Starting HAART before the development of moderate or severe disease delayed the median age of diagnosis of moderate disease from 0.4 years (IQR [0.3–0.8]) without HAART to 3.0 years ([IQR 1.9–5.8], p<.0001) with HAART. HAART initiation after progression to moderate or severe disease was associated with decreased progression to severe disease or death, respectively (moderate to severe: 8% (3/36) HAART vs. 84% (70/83) no HAART, p<0.0001; severe to death: 9% (6/68) HAART vs. 73% (49/67) no HAART, p<0.0001).
Conclusion
In perinatal HIV infection, HAART is associated with delayed progression and reduced mortality regardless of disease severity at HAART initiation. This finding reinforces U.S. guidelines regarding HAART initiation at>1 year of age if children present with most clinical category B diagnoses, regardless of CD4 measurements or plasma HIV RNA level.
doi:10.1097/INF.0b013e31823515a2
PMCID: PMC3252403  PMID: 21979798
perinatal; HIV-1; highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART); timing of onset
22.  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
23.  Prevalence of Anemia and Immunological Markers in HIV-Infected Patients on Highly Active Antiretroviral Therapy in Northeastern Nigeria 
Infectious Diseases  2013;6:25-33.
Background
There are conflicting reports on the impact of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) in resolving hematological complications. Whereas some studies have reported improvements in hemoglobin and other hematological parameters resulting in reduction in morbidity and mortality of HIV patients, others have reported no improvement in hematocrit values of HAART-treated HIV patients compared with HAART-naïve patients.
Objective
This current study was designed to assess the impact of HAART in resolving immunological and hematological complications in HIV patients by comparatively analyzing the results (immunological and hematological) of HAART-naive patients and those on HAART in our environment.
Methods
A total of 500 patients participated, consisting of 315 HAART-naive (119 males and 196 females) patients and 185 HAART-experienced (67 males and 118 females) patients. Hemoglobin (Hb), CD4+ T-cell count, total white blood count (WBC), lymphocyte percentage, plateletes, and plasma HIV RNA were determined.
Results
HAART-experienced patients were older than their HAART-naive counterparts. In HAART-naive patients, the incidence of anemia (packed cell volume [PCV] <30%) was 57.5%, leukopenia (WBC < 2.5), 6.1%, and thrombocytopenia < 150, 9.6%; it was, significantly higher compared with their counterparts on HAART (24.3%, 1.7%, and 1.2%, respectively). The use of HAART was not associated with severe anemia. Of HAART-naive patients, 57.5% had a CD4 count < 200 cells/μL in comparison with 20.4% of HAART-experienced patients (P < 0.001). The mean viral load log10 was significantly higher in HAART-naive than in HAART-experienced patients (P < 0.001). Total lymphocyte count < 1.0 was a significant predictor of
Conclusion
HAART has the capability of reducing the incidence of anemia, other deranged hematological and immunological parameters associated with disease progression, and death in HIV-infected patients. Total lymphocyte count fails to predict CD4 count < 200 cells/μL in our cohort; thus, its use in the management and monitoring of HIV-infected patients in our settings is not reliable.
doi:10.4137/IDRT.S10477
PMCID: PMC3988622  PMID: 24847174
antiretroviral; lymphocyte; total leukocyte count; CD4; World Health Organization/Aids Clinical Trials Group
Neurology  2009;72(2):165-170.
Background:
The frequency of HIV dementia in a recent study of HIV+ individuals at the Infectious Disease Institute in Kampala, Uganda, was 31%. Coformulated generic drugs, which include stavudine, are the most common regimens to treat HIV infection in Uganda and many other parts of Africa.
Objective:
To evaluate the benefits and risks of stavudine-based highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) for HIV-associated cognitive impairment and distal sensory neuropathy. The study compared neuropsychological performance changes in HIV+ individuals initiating HAART for 6 months and HIV− individuals receiving no treatment for 6 months. The risk of antiretroviral toxic neuropathy as a result of the initiation of stavudine-based HAART was also examined.
Methods:
At baseline, 102 HIV+ individuals in Uganda received neurologic, neuropsychological, and functional assessments; began HAART; and were followed up for 6 months. Twenty-five HIV− individuals received identical clinical assessments and were followed up for 6 months.
Results:
In HIV+ individuals, there was improvement in verbal memory, motor and psychomotor speed, executive thinking, and verbal fluency. After adjusting for differences in sex, HIV+ individuals demonstrated significant improvement in the Color Trails 2 test (p = 0.025) compared with HIV− individuals. Symptoms of neuropathy developed in 38% of previously asymptomatic HIV+ patients after initiation of the stavudine-based HAART.
Conclusions:
After the initiation of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) including stavudine, HIV+ individuals with cognitive impairment improve significantly as demonstrated by improved performance on a test of executive function. However, peripheral neurotoxicity occurred in 30 patients, presumably because of stavudine-based HAART, suggesting the need for less toxic therapy.
GLOSSARY
= Auditory Verbal Learning Test;
= Center for Epidemiologic Studies–Depression Scale;
= dideoxynucleoside antiretroviral drug;
= generalized estimating equation;
= Grooved Pegboard test;
= highly active antiretroviral therapy;
= HIV-associated sensory neuropathy;
= International HIV Dementia Scale;
= Memorial Sloan-Kettering;
= not applicable;
= not significant;
= Symbol Digit Modalities Test;
= University of California-Los Angeles;
= World Health Organization.
doi:10.1212/01.wnl.0000339042.96109.86
PMCID: PMC2677497  PMID: 19139369
PLoS Medicine  2006;3(10):e403.
Background
Very little is known about the immunodominance patterns of HIV-1-specific T cell responses during primary HIV-1 infection and the reasons for human lymphocyte antigen (HLA) modulation of disease progression.
Methods and Findings
In a cohort of 104 individuals with primary HIV-1 infection, we demonstrate that a subset of CD8+ T cell epitopes within HIV-1 are consistently targeted early after infection, while other epitopes subsequently targeted through the same HLA class I alleles are rarely recognized. Certain HLA alleles consistently contributed more than others to the total virus-specific CD8+ T cell response during primary infection, and also reduced the absolute magnitude of responses restricted by other alleles if coexpressed in the same individual, consistent with immunodomination. Furthermore, individual HLA class I alleles that have been associated with slower HIV-1 disease progression contributed strongly to the total HIV-1-specific CD8+ T cell response during primary infection.
Conclusions
These data demonstrate consistent immunodominance patterns of HIV-1-specific CD8+ T cell responses during primary infection and provide a mechanistic explanation for the protective effect of specific HLA class I alleles on HIV-1 disease progression.
A subset of CD8+ T cell epitopes within HIV-1 are consistently targeted early after infection. This could explain some of the protective effect of certain HLA class I alleles on HIV-1 disease progression.
Editors' Summary
Background.
Nearly 15,000 new HIV infections occur each day. There is no cure for HIV, and the treatments currently used to prevent people with HIV from dying are expensive and unavailable to many who need them. There is also no vaccine to prevent HIV. An effective vaccine would somehow induce the immune system to prevent the virus from reaching destructive levels in the body, but how to design such a vaccine is unknown.
In most people infected with HIV, the immune system doesn't keep the AIDS virus in check over the long term. It has been known for a long time, however, that the body somehow brings the virus under control within a few weeks following infection, after which, in the absence of treatment, the amount of virus gradually increases again over time. Exactly why the amount of virus drops after initial infection is not fully understood, but there is good evidence that the white blood cells called CD8 T lymphocytes, which can kill other cells infected with viruses, are at least partially responsible for initially bringing HIV infection under control.
In order for a CD8 T lymphocyte to recognize and kill an infected cell, that cell has to display some part of the infecting virus on its surface. There are many possible fragments of HIV that can activate CD8 T cells, although some of these fragments appear more effective than others at provoking a strong killer response. Also, in order to activate CD8 T cells the viral fragments must bind to and be presented by a particular kind of protein called HLA on the surface of the infected cells. There are hundreds of varieties of HLA in the human population, allowing our immune systems to recognize many parts of many different viruses. (Each person can have up to six different kinds of HLA class I on the surface of his or her cells). A few specific types of HLA have been found to provide some advantage in keeping the AIDS virus under control, possibly because they present fragments of the virus that are particularly good at activating CD8 T cells.
Why Was This Study Done?
The researchers wanted to find out whether specific HLA types and specific protein fragments (peptides) of the AIDS virus are particularly important in helping CD8 T cells control HIV. Specifically, they wanted to find out the very earliest protein fragments recognized, since these might be particularly important in keeping the virus in check. They also wanted to see if these particular HLA-peptide combinations might affect the long-term health of people with HIV infection. Finding specific combinations of peptide and HLA that give rise to strong control of HIV could help in the design of an effective AIDS vaccine.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers studied CD8 T cells in blood samples from 104 people in the early stages of HIV infection. They used DNA analysis to determine which HLA types were present in each participant, and then chose, from among 173 different protein fragments of HIV, the peptides that are known to bind to and be presented by the participant's HLA types. The ability of these peptides to activate the participant's CD8 T cells was measured in the laboratory.
These studies found that for many types of HLA, there were a few specific viral peptides that triggered most of the CD8 T cell activity found in early HIV infection, when the amount of virus in the blood is being lowered by this response. A few types of HLA were found to contribute more strongly than others to CD8 T-cell activity in early HIV infection. These same types of HLA are also found in people who tend to remain healthier for a longer time after becoming infected with HIV.
What Do These Findings Mean?
This study provides evidence that ability of CD8 T cells to keep HIV under control in the first few months following infection depends on a person's HLA composition, and that this early CD8 T cell activity sets the stage for the long-term balance between the body and the virus. Knowing the particular peptide–HLA combinations that dominate the early immune response (when the immune system appears to be bringing the virus under control) might be of use in designing an HIV vaccine. Because this study was done in people already infected with HIV, however, it remains unclear whether a vaccine based on this knowledge would actually prevent new HIV infection or improve health after infection, even in people with “good” HLA types.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.0030403.
The UCSF Center for HIV Information's HIV InSite includes resources on HIV immunology and vaccine development
The Los Alamos Natural Laboratory HIV Molecular Immunology Database contains information for researchers on HIV peptides, HLA, and CD8 T cell responses
The International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI) Web site provides policy and scientific information on the global AIDS vaccine effort
The Massachuetts General Hospital Web site contains information about their HIV-1 research programs
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0030403
PMCID: PMC1626551  PMID: 17076553

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