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1.  Effects of highly active antiretroviral therapy and its adherence on herpes zoster incidence: a longitudinal cohort study 
Herpes zoster (HZ) is common among HIV-infected individuals, but the impacts of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) and HAART adherence on HZ risk have not been well studied.
The effects of HAART and HAART adherence on HZ incidence were evaluated by comparing HIV-infected women on HAART (HAART use group) with the HIV-infected women remaining HAART naïve (HAART naïve group) in the Women’s Interagency HIV Study (WIHS). A 1:1 matching with propensity score for predicting HAART initiation was conducted to balance background covariates at index visit, including HIV disease stage. Kaplan-Meier method was used to compare the risk of HZ development between the matched pairs. Cox proportional hazard models were used to assess the effects of HAART and HAART adherence on HZ incidence.
Through propensity score matching, 389 pairs of participants were identified and they contributed 3,909 person years after matching. The background covariates were similar between the matched pairs at the index visit. The participants had a mean age around 39 years old, and about 61% of them were Black and 22% were Latina. No significant difference in HZ risk was observed between the HAART use group and the HAART naïve group during the first year of follow-up in any analyses. In the univariate analysis, the HAART use group had marginally lower HZ risk (Hazard Ratio (HR): 0.72; 95% Confidence Interval (CI): 0.48-1.1) over the entire follow-up period. However, women with a HAART adherence level of ≥95% had significantly lower HZ risk (HR: 0.54; 95% CI: 0.31, 0.94) compared to the HAART naïve women. The association remained significant after adjusting for quality of life score and acyclovir use, but it attenuated and was no longer statistically significant after adjusting for an intermediate variable, either CD4+ T cell counts or HIV viral load.
Among adult women, we observed a significant preventive effect of long-term HAART use on HZ incidence when a HAART adherence level of ≥95% was attained, and this effect was mediated through reduction of HIV viral load and improvement of CD4+ T cell counts.
PMCID: PMC3904465  PMID: 24373482
HAART; Adherence; Herpes zoster; Incidence; Propensity score
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.
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.
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
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
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
PMCID: PMC1949842  PMID: 17713983
3.  Potential cardiovascular disease risk markers among HIV-infected women initiating antiretroviral treatment 
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).
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.
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.
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.
PMCID: PMC3400505  PMID: 22592585
antiretroviral therapy; cardiovascular diseases; cytokines; hemostasis; HIV; inflammation
4.  Association between systemic inflammation and obstructive sleep apnea in men with or at risk for HIV infection 
Antiviral therapy  2014;19(8):725-733.
To determine whether markers of systemic inflammation are associated with the presence of moderate-to-severe obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), and whether this association differs based on HIV and HIV treatment status.
HIV-uninfected men (HIV−; n=60), HIV-infected men receiving HAART (HIV+/HAART; n=58), and HIV-infected men not receiving HAART (HIV+/ No HAART; n=41) underwent polysomnograpy and measurement of plasma levels of TNF-alpha, soluble TNF-alpha receptors I and II (sTNFRI and sTNFRII) and IL-6. The relationship between moderate-severe OSA (respiratory disturbance index ≥15 apnea/hypopnea events/hour) and inflammatory markers was assessed with multivariable regression models.
Compared to the HIV− men, HIV+/HAART men and HIV+/No HAART men had higher levels of TNF-alpha, sTNFRI, and sTNFRII, independent of age, race, smoking status, obstructive lung disease (OLD), and BMI. Moderate-to-severe OSA was present in 48% of the sample (HIV−:57%; HIV+/HAART: 41%; HIV+/No HAART: 44%). Among the HIV+/No HAART men, but not in the other groups, TNF-alpha, sTNFRII, and IL-6 levels were higher in those with moderate-severe OSA compared to men with no-to-mild OSA after adjustment for age, race, smoking status, OLD, and BMI. Within this group, the association of high TNF-alpha concentrations with moderate-severe OSA was also independent of CD4 cell count and plasma HIV RNA concentration.
Compared to HIV-infected men on HAART and HIV-uninfected men, markers of systemic inflammation were higher in HIV-infected men not receiving HAART. In these men, TNF-alpha was significantly related to obstructive sleep apnea, independent of HIV-related covariates.
PMCID: PMC4130807  PMID: 24518040
5.  Study of T Cell subsets and IL-7 protein expression in HIV-1-infected patients after 7 years HAART 
To study the changes in T cell subsets and IL-7 in HIV-1-infected patients after seven years of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART).
Seventy-five individuals were included in this study (25 with effective HAART, 18 with ineffective HAART, 17 untreated HIV+ patients, and 15 volunteers in the HIV negative control group). The counts of CD4+, CD8+, CD8/CD38+, and CD8/HLADR+ T cells as well as the IL-7 protein expression was measured at 5 time points during a period of seven years in patients starting HAART (baseline) and in the HIV negative control group. The expression of CD127 on CD3+ T cells was measured by flow cytometry at a single time point (after 7 years) in patients with HAART and was compared with untreated HIV+ patients and the HIV negative control group.
At baseline CD4+ T cell counts of HIV-1-infected patients were lower than that in the control group (p < 0.01), whereas the CD8+, CD8/HLADR+ and CD8/CD38+ T cell counts were higher than those in the control group (p <0.01). After seven years of effective HAART, the CD4+ T cell counts had increased and the CD8+ T cell count had decreased, although not to the normal levels (p < 0.05). Both the CD8/HLADR+ and CD8/CD38+ T cell counts had gradually approached those of the control group (p > 0.05). In the ineffective HAART group, the CD8/CD38+ T cell count had not decreased significantly, and CD8/HLADR+ T cell count gradually decreased. Before treatment, IL-7 serum levels of patients were significantly higher than that in the control group (p < 0.01). After seven years of effective HAART, IL-7 levels had gradually decreased, but were still higher than in the control group (p < 0.01). The CD127 expression on CD3+ CD8+ T cells in effective HAART patients was higher than in untreated HIV+ patients (p < 0.05), but was lower than that in the control group (p < 0.05). CD127 expression on CD3+ CD4+ T cells was not significantly different among the control group, untreated HIV+ patients and effective HAART group.
After seven years of effective HAART, the quantity and capacity of T cell subsets and IL-7 in HIV-1-infected patients had been partially restored, and the abnormal immune activation has significantly diminished.
PMCID: PMC3351803  PMID: 22027639
HIV-1; highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART); T cell subsets; IL-7
6.  Lack of Mucosal Immune Reconstitution during Prolonged Treatment of Acute and Early HIV-1 Infection 
PLoS Medicine  2006;3(12):e484.
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.
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
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
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
PMCID: PMC1762085  PMID: 17147468
7.  Interleukin 10 Responses Are Associated With Sustained CD4 T-Cell Counts in Treated HIV Infection 
The Journal of Infectious Diseases  2012;206(5):780-789.
Background.Inflammation persists in treated human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection and may contribute to an increased risk for non–AIDS-related pathologies. We investigated the correlation of cytokine responses with changes in CD4 T-cell levels and coinfection with hepatitis C virus (HCV) during highly active antiretroviral treatment (HAART).
Methods.A total of 383 participants in the Women's Interagency HIV Study (212 with HIV monoinfection, 56 with HCV monoinfection, and 115 with HIV/HCV coinfection) were studied. HIV-infected women had <1000 HIV RNA copies/mL, 99.7% had >200 CD4 T cells/μL; 98% were receiving HAART at baseline. Changes in CD4 T-cell count between baseline and 2–4 years later were calculated. Peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) obtained at baseline were used to measure interleukin 1β (IL-1β), interleukin 6 (IL-6), interleukin 10 (IL-10), interleukin 12 (IL-12), and tumor necrosis factor α (TNF-α) responses to Toll-like receptor (TLR) 3 and TLR4 stimulation.
Results.Undetectable HIV RNA (<80 copies/mL) at baseline and secretion of IL-10 by PBMCs were positively associated with gains in CD4 T-cell counts at follow-up. Inflammatory cytokines (IL-1β, IL-6, IL-12, and TNF-α) were also produced in TLR-stimulated cultures, but only IL-10 was significantly associated with sustained increases in CD4 T-cell levels. This association was significant only in women with HIV monoinfection, indicating that HCV coinfection is an important factor limiting gains in CD4 T-cell counts, possibly by contributing to unbalanced persistent inflammation.
Conclusions.Secreted IL-10 from PBMCs may balance the inflammatory environment of HIV, resulting in CD4 T-cell stability.
PMCID: PMC3491747  PMID: 22693231
8.  Short-term Garlic Supplementation and Highly Active Antiretroviral Treatment Adherence, CD4+ Cell Counts, and Human Immunodeficiency Virus Viral Load 
Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)–infected individuals frequently have consumed garlic, a popular complementary supplement. Researchers rarely have studied garlic’s association with antiretroviral therapies, however, even though that association is very relevant clinically.
To examine associations of supplemental use of garlic with highly active antiretroviral treatment (HAART) adherence level and HAART effectiveness (HIV viral load and CD4+ cell counts) in HIV-infected women.
The research team carried out a self-controlled, longitudinal study nested within the Women’s Interagency HIV Study (WIHS). The team used a paired study design that allowed participants to serve as their own controls. The team first identified all of the study’s visits in which the participant self-reported the use of a garlic supplement since her last visit (index visit). Then for each index visit, the team identified a matching visit (a control visit) using the following criteria: (a) the visit must be one for the same participant in which that participant reported no garlic supplementation; (b) the visit must immediately precede the index visit (less than 1 year apart); and (c) at the time of the control visit, the participant must have been using antiretroviral therapy identical to that used at the time of the index visit.
Participants were persons using garlic supplementation who already were participants in the WIHS.
Outcome Measures
The research team used a logistic regression model to examine the association between garlic supplementation and HAART adherence level. The team used a mixed linear model to examine the association of garlic supplementation with HIV viral load and CD4+ cell counts.
From October 1994 to April 2009, 390 HIV-infected women in the WIHS made 1112 visits at which they reported using garlic supplements. Seventy-seven HIV-infected women using HAART met the research team’s selection criteria and contributed 99 pairs of visits for the study. Among the women who used garlic supplements, 22% were 50 years and older; 58% were black and non-Hispanic; and 23% had less than a high-school education. Neither use of garlic supplementation nor reasons for using garlic supplements were significantly associated with the HAART adherence level, HIV viral load, or CD4+ cell counts; however, “use garlic as needed,” a potential marker of a disease state, was significantly associated with higher viral load (P = .0003).
Short-term garlic supplementation did not impact HAART adherence level, HIV viral load, and CD4+ cell counts.
PMCID: PMC3376904  PMID: 22516847
9.  Assessing the effect of HAART on change in quality of life among HIV-infected women 
The impact of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) on health-related quality of life (QOL) of HIV-1 infected individuals in large prospective cohorts has not been well studied.
To assess the effect of HAART on QOL by comparing HIV-infected women using HAART with HIV-infected women remaining HAART naïve in the Women's Interagency HIV Study (WIHS), a multicenter prospective cohort study begun in 1994 in the US.
A 1:1 matching with equivalent (≤ 0.1%) propensity scores for predicting HAART initiation was implemented and 458 pairs were obtained. HAART effects were assessed using pattern mixture models. The changes of nine QOL domain scores and one summary score derived from a shortened version of the MOS-HIV from initial values were used as study outcomes.
The background covariates of the treatment groups were well-balanced after propensity score matching. The 916 matched subjects had a mean age of 38.5 years and 42% had a history of AIDS diagnosis. The participants contributed a total of 4,292 person visits with a median follow-up time of 4 years. In the bivariate analyses with only HAART use and time as covariates, HAART was associated with short-term improvements of 4 QOL domains: role functioning, social functioning, pain and perceived health index. After adjusting for demographic, socioeconomic, biological and clinical variables, HAART had small but significant short-term improvements on changes in summary QOL (mean change: 3.25; P = 0.02), role functioning (6.99; P < 0.01), social functioning (5.74; P < 0.01), cognitive functioning (3.59; P = 0.03), pain (6.73; P < 0.01), health perception (3.67; P = 0.03) and perceived health index (4.87; P < 0.01). These QOL scores typically remained stable or declined over additional follow-up and there was no indication that HAART modified these trends.
Our study demonstrated significant short-term HAART effects on most QOL domains, but additional use of HAART did not modify long-term trends. These changes could be attributed to the direct effect of HAART and indirect HAART effect mediated through clinical changes.
PMCID: PMC1459186  PMID: 16549012
10.  Association between human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection and stiffness of the common carotid artery 
Background and purpose
Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-infected persons taking highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) may have an increased risk for cardiovascular-related events, although the underlying mechanism remains unclear. We tested the hypothesis that carotid arterial stiffness was higher among persons taking HAART compared to HAART-naïve and HIV-uninfected persons.
Between 2004 and 2006, we performed high resolution B-mode ultrasound on 2,789 HIV-infected and HIV-uninfected participants of the Women’s Interagency HIV Study (WIHS; 1865 women) and the Multicenter AIDS Cohort Study (MACS; 924 men) and determined carotid arterial distensibility, a direct measure of carotid arterial stiffness. We used generalized estimating equations to evaluate the association between distensibility and HIV infection, CD4+ cell count, and exposure to HAART adjusted for demographic, behavioral, and clinical characteristics.
In multivariable analysis, distensibility was 4.3% lower (95% confidence interval (CI): -7.4% to -1.1%) among HIV-infected versus uninfected participants. Among HIV-infected participants with fewer than 200 CD4+ cells, distensibility was 10.5% lower (95% CI: -14.5% to -6.2%) than that among HIV-uninfected participants, and this effect did not differ significantly by cohort or race. Concurrent HAART use was independently associated with lower distensibility among MACS participants but not among WIHS participants.
Our finding that advanced HIV-related immunosuppression was associated with increased carotid arterial stiffness independent from the effects of traditional atherosclerosis risk factors suggests that the etiologic mechanism underlying reports of an increased cardiovascular disease risk among HIV-infected individuals might involve HIV-related immunosuppression leading to vascular dysfunction and arterial stiffening.
PMCID: PMC2972735  PMID: 20798374
atherosclerosis; cardiovascular disease; carotid arteries; HIV; epidemiology
11.  Delayed-type hypersensitivity (DTH) test anergy does not impact CD4 reconstitution or normalization of DTH responses during antiretroviral therapy 
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.
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.
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).
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.
PMCID: PMC3916671  PMID: 24499779
HIV; HAART; antiretroviral therapy; delayed-type hypersensitivity; DTH; CD4 cell count; anergy; anergic
12.  Endotoxemia Is Associated with Altered Innate and Adaptive Immune Responses in Untreated HIV-1 Infected Individuals 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(6):e21275.
Microbial translocation may contribute to the immunopathogenesis in HIV infection. We investigated if microbial translocation and inflammation were associated with innate and adaptive immune responses in adults with HIV.
Methodology/Principal Findings
This was an observational cohort study. Sera from HIV-infected and HIV-uninfected individuals were analyzed for microbial translocation (soluble CD14, lipopolysaccharides [LPS], endotoxin core antibody, and anti-α-galactosyl antibodies) and inflammatory markers (high sensitivity C-reactive protein, IL-6, IL-1 receptor antagonist, soluble tumor necrosis factor receptor II, and IL-10) with enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays. Peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) from HIV-infected persons and healthy controls (primed with single-stranded HIV-1-derived RNA) were stimulated with LPS, and cytokine production was measured. Finally, HIV-infected patients were immunized with Prevnar 7vPnC±CpG 7909 followed by Pneumo Novum PPV-23. Effects of microbial translocation and inflammation on immunization were analyzed in a predictive regression model. We included 96 HIV-infected individuals, 76 on highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART), 20 HAART-naive, and 50 healthy controls. Microbial translocation and inflammatory markers were higher among HIV-infected persons than controls. Cytokine levels following LPS stimulation were increased in PBMCs from HAART-naive compared to HAART-treated HIV-infected persons. Further, RNA-priming of PBMCs from controls acted synergistically with LPS to augment cytokine responses. Finally, high serum LPS levels predicted poor vaccine responses among HAART-naive, but not among HAART-treated HIV-infected individuals.
LPS acts synergistically with HIV RNA to stimulate innate immune responses in vitro and increasing serum LPS levels seem to predict poor antibody responses after vaccination among HAART-naive HIV-infected persons. Thus, our results suggest that microbial translocation may be associated with innate and adaptive immune dysfunction in untreated HIV infection.
PMCID: PMC3123300  PMID: 21731690
13.  Depressive Symptoms are Increased in the Early Perimenopausal Stage in Ethnically Diverse HIV+ and HIV− Women 
Menopause (New York, N.Y.)  2012;19(11):1215-1223.
The risk of clinically significant depressive symptoms increases during the perimenopause. With highly active antiretroviral treatment (HAART), more HIV-infected women survive to transition through the menopause. In a cross-sectional analysis, we evaluated the association of menopausal stage and vasomotor symptoms with depressive symptoms in an ethnically diverse, cohort of women with a high prevalence of HIV.
Participants included 835 HIV-infected women and 335 HIV-uninfected controls from the Women’s Interagency HIV Study (WIHS; 63% African-American). The Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression (CES-D) scale was used to screen for elevated depressive symptoms. Menopausal stages were defined according to standard definitions. Logistic regression analysis was used to identify predictors of elevated depressive symptoms.
Compared to premenopausal women, early perimenopausal (OR 1.74, 95%CI 1.17–2.60), but not late perimenopausal or postmenopausal women were more likely to show elevated depressive symptoms in adjusted analyses. The odds were similar in HIV-infected and HIV-uninfected women. Persistent vasomotor symptoms also predicted elevated depressive symptoms in HIV-infected and uninfected women (OR 1.45, 95%CI 1.02–2.06). In HIV-infected women, menopausal stage interacted with antiretroviral use (p=0.02); the likelihood of elevated depressive symptoms in early perimenopause compared with premenopause was especially high in HAART-untreated women (OR 3.87, 95%CI 1.57–9.55).
In HIV+ and HIV− women, the odds of elevated depressive symptoms were significantly higher during the early perimenopause. Elevated depressive symptoms were associated with nonadherence to HAART, underscoring the importance of screening and treating depressive symptoms in HIV+ women who have experienced a change in the regularity of their menstrual cycles.
PMCID: PMC3483358  PMID: 22872013
HIV; Depression; Menopause; Perimenopause; African American; Vasomotor
14.  The Impact of HAART on the Respiratory Complications of HIV Infection: Longitudinal Trends in the MACS and WIHS Cohorts 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(3):e58812.
To review the incidence of respiratory conditions and their effect on mortality in HIV-infected and uninfected individuals prior to and during the era of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART).
Two large observational cohorts of HIV-infected and HIV-uninfected men (Multicenter AIDS Cohort Study [MACS]) and women (Women’s Interagency HIV Study [WIHS]), followed since 1984 and 1994, respectively.
Adjusted odds or hazards ratios for incident respiratory infections or non-infectious respiratory diagnoses, respectively, in HIV-infected compared to HIV-uninfected individuals in both the pre-HAART (MACS only) and HAART eras; and adjusted Cox proportional hazard ratios for mortality in HIV-infected persons with lung disease during the HAART era.
Compared to HIV-uninfected participants, HIV-infected individuals had more incident respiratory infections both pre-HAART (MACS, odds ratio [adjusted-OR], 2.4; 95% confidence interval [CI], 2.2–2.7; p<0.001) and after HAART availability (MACS, adjusted-OR, 1.5; 95%CI 1.3–1.7; p<0.001; WIHS adjusted-OR, 2.2; 95%CI 1.8–2.7; p<0.001). Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease was more common in MACS HIV-infected vs. HIV-uninfected participants pre-HAART (hazard ratio [adjusted-HR] 2.9; 95%CI, 1.02–8.4; p = 0.046). After HAART availability, non-infectious lung diseases were not significantly more common in HIV-infected participants in either MACS or WIHS participants. HIV-infected participants in the HAART era with respiratory infections had an increased risk of death compared to those without infections (MACS adjusted-HR, 1.5; 95%CI, 1.3–1.7; p<0.001; WIHS adjusted-HR, 1.9; 95%CI, 1.5–2.4; p<0.001).
HIV infection remained a significant risk for infectious respiratory diseases after the introduction of HAART, and infectious respiratory diseases were associated with an increased risk of mortality.
PMCID: PMC3595204  PMID: 23554932
15.  HIV As a Risk Factor for Lung Cancer in Women: Data From the Women's Interagency HIV Study 
Journal of Clinical Oncology  2010;28(9):1514-1519.
Prior reports of an increased risk of lung cancer in HIV-infected individuals have not always included control groups, nor considered other risk factors such as tobacco exposure. We sought to determine the role of HIV infection and highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) on lung cancer incidence in 2,651 HIV-infected and 898 HIV-uninfected women from the Women's Interagency HIV Study (WIHS).
A prospective study of the incidence rates of lung cancer was conducted, with cases identified through medical records, death certificates, and state cancer registries. Standardized incidence ratios (SIRs) were calculated to compare lung cancer incidence among HIV-infected and uninfected WIHS participants, with population-based expectations using the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results registry. Behavioral characteristics in the WIHS were compared to US women by age and race adjusting the population-based data from the National Health and Nutritional Examination Survey (NHANES) III.
Incidence rates of lung cancer were similar among HIV-infected and uninfected WIHS women. Lung cancer SIRs were increased in both HIV-infected and -uninfected women compared with population expectations, but did not differ by HIV status. Among HIV-infected women, lung cancer incidence rates were similar in pre-HAART and HAART eras. All WIHS women with lung cancer were smokers; the risk of lung cancer increased with cumulative tobacco exposure. WIHS women were statistically more likely to smoke than US women studied in NHANES III.
HIV infection is strongly associated with smoking behaviors that increase lung cancer risk. The role of HIV itself remains to be clarified.
PMCID: PMC2849771  PMID: 20177022
HIV medicine  2013;14(9):549-555.
HIV infection is associated with higher than expected cardiovascular event rates and lowered platelet counts. These conditions are associated with an elevation of mean platelet volume (MPV). The present study compares MPV in HIV-infected and uninfected women and identifies factors influencing MPV values in HIV-infected women.
A total of 234 HIV-infected and 134 HIV-uninfected participants from the Women's Interagency HIV Study (WIHS) had MPV values obtained. HIV-infected women were older, more likely to have diabetes, and have higher triglyceride levels than HIV-uninfected women.
The mean platelet count was lower in HIV infected vs. uninfected women (249/µl 95% CI 238, 259 vs. 276/µl 95% CI 265, 287, p<0.01). Adjusted mean MPV values were lower in the HIV- infected than in the uninfected group (8.66 fl 95% CI 8.52, 8.79 vs. 9.05 fl 95% CI 8.87, 9.24). In multiple regression analysis after adjusting for other covariates, MPV was positively associated with platelet count, and negatively with HIV infection (model R2=0.20 p<0.01). In multiple regression analysis confined to HIV-infected women, a lower MPV was independently associated with history of AIDS defining illness (R2=0.28 p=0.03), but not with CD4 nadir count or HAART use.
HIV-infected women have lower MPV values than-uninfected women suggesting impaired production rather than increased destruction. Higher than expected cardiovascular event rates, cannot be attributed to greater platelet reactivity as measured by MPV.
PMCID: PMC3775876  PMID: 23738819
HIV; mean platelet volume; WIHS
17.  Kidney and liver organ transplantation in persons with human immunodeficiency virus 
Executive Summary
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
18.  Emergence of Drug Resistance Is Associated with an Increased Risk of Death among Patients First Starting HAART 
PLoS Medicine  2006;3(9):e356.
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.
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
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
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
PMCID: PMC1569883  PMID: 16984218
19.  Inflammatory Biomarkers and Abacavir Use in the Women’s Interagency HIV Study and the Multicenter AIDS Cohort Study 
AIDS (London, England)  2010;24(11):1657-1665.
To assess associations between abacavir (ABC) use and systemic inflammation.
Retrospective case-control study.
MACS & WIHS cohort participants who initiated ABC were matched, using propensity score methods, to ABC-unexposed persons. Levels of hsCRP(μg/mL), IL-6(pg/mL), and D-dimer (μg/mL) were measured from pre-HAART and on-HAART plasma. Random-effects models compared markers by ABC exposure and by changes from pre-HAART levels.
Biomarkers were measured in N=508 matched pairs (328 women; 180 men). Pre-HAART levels did not differ by exposure group except that hsCRP levels were higher among WIHS women who subsequently used ABC (p=0.04). Regardless of ABC use, mean hsCRP increases and D-dimer reductions were seen when comparing pre- to on-HAART levels, in the overall group (28% and -27%), for MACS men (28% and -31%) and for WIHS women (29% and -24% (p<0.01 for all); IL-6 levels declined in MACS men (p=0.02). No adjusted biomarker level differences existed by ABC exposure at the on-HAART visit. HIV RNA reductions correlated with D-dimer (r = 0.14, p < 0.01) and IL-6 (r = 0.12, p < 0.01) reductions. Associations between ABC use and mean biomarker levels were modified by pre-HAART ART experience. Renal dysfunction was equally likely among non-ABC and ABC recipients.
ABC use was not associated with plasma elevations in hsCRP, IL-6 and d-dimer. Mechanisms other than increased systemic inflammation may account for ABC’s reported association with increased cardiovascular disease. HAART -associated reductions in D-dimer and IL-6 were apparent regardless of ABC use and were correlated with HIV RNA reductions.
PMCID: PMC3514460  PMID: 20588104
HIV infection; inflammation; HAART; abacavir; cytokines
Antiviral therapy  2011;16(4):591-596.
We previously reported an increased risk of all-cause and AIDS mortality among HIV-infected women with albuminuria (proteinuria or microalbuminuria) enrolled in the Women’s Interagency HIV Study (WIHS) prior to the introduction of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART).
The current analysis includes 1,073 WIHS participants who subsequently initiated HAART. Urinalysis for proteinuria and semi-quantitative testing for microalbuminuria from two consecutive study visits prior to HAART initiation were categorized as follows: confirmed proteinuria (both specimens positive for protein), confirmed microalbuminuria (both specimens positive with at least one microalbuminuria), unconfirmed albuminuria (one specimen positive for proteinuria or microalbuminuria), or negative (both specimens negative). Time from HAART initiation to death was modeled using proportional hazards analysis.
Compared to the reference group of women with two negative specimens, the hazard ratio (HR) for all-cause mortality was significantly elevated for women with confirmed microalbuminuria (HR 1.9; 95% CI 1.2–2.9). Confirmed microalbuminuria was also independently associated with AIDS death (HR 2.3; 95% CI 1.3–4.3), while women with confirmed proteinuria were at increased risk for non-AIDS death (HR 2.4; 95% CI 1.2–4.6).
In women initiating HAART, pre-existing microalbuminuria independently predicted increased AIDS mortality, while pre-existing proteinuria predicted increased risk of non-AIDS death. Urine testing may identify HIV-infected individuals at increased risk for mortality even after the initiation of HAART. Future studies should consider whether these widely available tests can identify individuals who would benefit from more aggressive management of HIV infection and comorbid conditions associated with mortality in this population.
PMCID: PMC3119869  PMID: 21685547
HIV; microalbuminuria; proteinuria; mortality; non-AIDS death
21.  Impact of hepatitis C virus co-infection on HIV patients before and after highly active antiretroviral therapy: an immunological and clinical chemistry observation, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia 
BMC Immunology  2013;14:23.
Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is an RNA virus which has been known to cause acute and chronic necro-inflammatory disease of the liver. It is the leading cause of end-stage liver disease and hepatocellular carcinoma. HIV is known to have a negative impact on the natural disease outcome and immune response of HCV infection, whereas the reverse remains unclear. We evaluated the impact of HCV co-infection on recovery of CD4+ and CD8+ T-cells and liver enzyme levels before and after initiation of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) in HIV/HCV co-infected patients.
A hospital-based, observational, prospective cohort study design was used for this study. Pre-antiretroviral treatment (Pre-ART) and under HAART HIV mono-infected and HCV/HIV co-infected individuals who are under regular follow-up were recruited for this study. 387 blood samples were collected from volunteer, known HIV positive Ethiopian patients and screened for HCV. Twenty five HCV/HIV co-infected patients were prospectively followed for four years. CD4+ and CD8+ T-cells and liver enzyme levels were determined annually for each of the participant.
The prevalence of HCV/HIV co-infection in this study was 6.5%. Both HCV/HIV co-infected and HIV mono-infected under HAART groups showed CD4+ recovery (343 Vs 426; P < 0.004, OR = 4.97, 95% CI = 2.41 to 10.27) respectively; but, the recovery rate was higher in mono-infected (80 Vs 426) than co-infected group (148 Vs 343). The recovery and/or decline pattern of CD8+ T-cells was the same with that of CD4+. In 75% of co-infected groups, the mean alanine aminotransferase (ALT) and aspartate aminotransferase (AST) levels were above the upper limit of normal reference range. Analyses restricted to individuals who initiated HAART and pre-ART showed similar results.
We found that CD4+ T-cell recovery was negatively affected by the presence of ongoing HCV replication in under HAART co-infected individuals and fast decline of CD4+ T-cells in pre-ART patients. It was also associated with increased ALT and AST enzyme levels in both HAART initiated and treatment naïve co-infected patients.
PMCID: PMC3663769  PMID: 23679118
Immunological; HCV/HIV co-infection; Pre-ART; HAART; CD4+; CD8+; GOT; GPT; Alkaline phosphatase
22.  Bacterial Vaginosis Associated with Increased Risk of Female-to-Male HIV-1 Transmission: A Prospective Cohort Analysis among African Couples 
PLoS Medicine  2012;9(6):e1001251.
In a prospective study, Craig Cohen and colleagues investigate the association between bacterial vaginosis and the risk of female-to-male HIV-1 transmission.
Bacterial vaginosis (BV), a disruption of the normal vaginal flora, has been associated with a 60% increased risk of HIV-1 acquisition in women and higher concentration of HIV-1 RNA in the genital tract of HIV-1–infected women. However, whether BV, which is present in up to half of African HIV-1–infected women, is associated with an increase in HIV-1 transmission to male partners has not been assessed in previous studies.
Methods and Findings
We assessed the association between BV on female-to-male HIV-1 transmission risk in a prospective study of 2,236 HIV-1–seropositive women and their HIV-1 uninfected male partners from seven African countries from a randomized placebo-controlled trial that enrolled heterosexual African adults who were seropositive for both HIV-1 and herpes simplex virus (HSV)-2, and their HIV-1–seronegative partners. Participants were followed for up to 24 months; every three months, vaginal swabs were obtained from female partners for Gram stain and male partners were tested for HIV-1. BV and normal vaginal flora were defined as a Nugent score of 7–10 and 0–3, respectively. To reduce misclassification, HIV-1 sequence analysis of viruses from seroconverters and their partners was performed to determine linkage of HIV-1 transmissions. Overall, 50 incident HIV-1 infections occurred in men in which the HIV-1–infected female partner had an evaluable vaginal Gram stain. HIV-1 incidence in men whose HIV-1–infected female partners had BV was 2.91 versus 0.76 per 100 person-years in men whose female partners had normal vaginal flora (hazard ratio 3.62, 95% CI 1.74–7.52). After controlling for sociodemographic factors, sexual behavior, male circumcision, sexually transmitted infections, pregnancy, and plasma HIV-1 RNA levels in female partners, BV was associated with a greater than 3-fold increased risk of female-to-male HIV-1 transmission (adjusted hazard ratio 3.17, 95% CI 1.37–7.33).
This study identified an association between BV and increased risk of HIV-1 transmission to male partners. Several limitations may affect the generalizability of our results including: all participants underwent couples HIV counseling and testing and enrolled in an HIV-1 prevention trial, and index participants had a baseline CD4 count ≥250 cells/mm3 and were HSV-2 seropositive. Given the high prevalence of BV and the association of BV with increased risk of both female HIV-1 acquisition and transmission found in our study, if this association proves to be causal, BV could be responsible for a substantial proportion of new HIV-1 infections in Africa. Normalization of vaginal flora in HIV-1–infected women could mitigate female-to-male HIV-1 transmission.
Trial Registration: NCT00194519
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Since the first reported case of AIDS in 1981, the number of people infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, has risen steadily. By the end of 2010, 34 million people were living with HIV/AIDS. At the beginning of the epidemic more men than women were infected with HIV. Now, however, 50% of all adults infected with HIV are women and in sub-Saharan Africa, where two-thirds of HIV-positive people live, women account for 59% of people living with HIV. Moreover, among 15–24 year-olds, women are eight times more likely than men to be HIV-positive. This pattern of infection has developed because most people in sub-Saharan Africa contract HIV through unprotected heterosexual sex. The risk of HIV transmission for both men and women in Africa and elsewhere can be reduced by abstaining from sex, by only having one or a few partners, by always using condoms, and by male circumcision. In addition, several studies suggest that antiretroviral therapy (ART) greatly reduces HIV transmission.
Why Was This Study Done?
Unfortunately, in sub-Saharan Africa, only about a fifth of HIV-positive people are currently receiving ART, which means that there is an urgent need to find other effective ways to reduce HIV transmission in this region. In this prospective cohort study (a type of study that follows a group of people for some time to see which personal characteristics are associated with disease development), the researchers investigate whether bacterial vaginosis—a condition in which harmful bacteria disrupt the normal vaginal flora—increases the risk of female-to-male HIV transmission among African couples. Bacterial vaginosis, which is extremely common in sub-Saharan Africa, has been associated with an increased risk of HIV acquisition in women and induces viral replication and shedding in the vagina in HIV-positive women, which may mean that HIV-positive women with bacterial vaginosis are more likely to transmit HIV to their male partners than women without this condition. If this is the case, then interventions that reduce the incidence of bacterial vaginosis might be valuable HIV prevention strategies.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers analyzed data collected from 2,236 heterosexual African couples enrolled in a clinical trial (the Partners in Prevention HSV/HIV Transmission Study) whose primary aim was to investigate whether suppression of herpes simplex virus infection could prevent HIV transmission. In all the couples, the woman was HIV-positive and the man was initially HIV-negative. The female partners were examined every three months for the presence of bacterial vaginosis and the male partners were tested regularly for HIV infection. The researchers also determined whether the men who became HIV-positive were infected with the same HIV strain as their partner to check that their infection had been acquired from this partner. The HIV incidence in men whose partners had bacterial vaginosis was 2.9 per 100 person-years (that is, 2.9 out of every 100 men became HIV-positive per year) whereas the HIV incidence in men whose partners had a normal vaginal flora was 0.76 per 100 person-years. After controlling for factors that might affect the risk of HIV transmission such as male circumcision and viral levels in female partner's blood, the researchers estimated that bacterial vaginosis was associated with a 3.17-fold increased risk of female-to-male HIV transmission in their study population.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings suggest that HIV-positive African women with bacterial vaginosis are more than three times as likely to transmit HIV to their male partners as those with a normal vaginal flora. It is possible that some unknown characteristic of the men in this study might have increased both their own risk of HIV infection and their partner's risk of bacterial vaginosis. Nevertheless, because bacterial vaginosis is so common in Africa (half of the women in this study had bacterial vaginosis at least once during follow-up) and because this condition is associated with both female HIV acquisition and transmission, these findings suggest that bacterial vaginosis could be responsible for a substantial proportion of new HIV infections in Africa. Normalization of vaginal flora in HIV-infected women by frequent presumptive treatment with antimicrobials (treatment with a curative dose of antibiotics without testing for bacterial vaginosis) or possibly by treatment with probiotics (live “good” bacteria) might, therefore, reduce female-to-male HIV transmission in sub-Saharan Africa.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
Information is available from the US National Institute of Allergy and infectious diseases on all aspects of HIV infection and AIDS and on bacterial vaginosis
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has information on all aspects of HIV/AIDS, including specific information about HIV/AIDS and women; it also has information on bacterial vaginosis (in English and Spanish)
NAM/aidsmap provides basic information about HIV/AIDS, and summaries of recent research findings on HIV care and treatment, and information on bacterial vaginosis and HIV transmission (in several languages)
Information is available from Avert, an international AIDS nonprofit group on many aspects of HIV/AIDS, including detailed information on HIV and AIDS prevention, on women, HIV and AIDS and on HIV/AIDS in Africa (in English and Spanish); personal stories of women living with HIV are available; the website Healthtalkonline also provides personal stories about living with HIV
More information about the Partners in Prevention HSV/HIV Transmission Study is available
PMCID: PMC3383741  PMID: 22745608
23.  The effects of highly active antiretroviral therapy on albuminuria in HIV-infected persons: results from a randomized trial 
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.
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.
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).
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.
PMCID: PMC1586248  PMID: 16105869
albuminuria; antiretroviral therapy; cardiovascular disease; cardiovascular risk; HIV; protease inhibitors
24.  Intestinal Parasitosis in Relation to CD4+T Cells Levels and Anemia among HAART Initiated and HAART Naive Pediatric HIV Patients in a Model ART Center in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(2):e0117715.
Intestinal parasites (IPs) are major concerns in most developing countries where HIV/AIDS cases are concentrated and almost 80% of AIDS patients die of AIDS-related infections. In the absence of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART), HIV/AIDS patients in developing countries unfortunately continue to suffer from the consequences of opportunistic and other intestinal parasites. The aim of the study was to determine the prevalence of intestinal parasites in relation to CD4+ T cells levels and anemia among HAART initiated and HAART naïve pediatric HIV patients in a Model ART center in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
A prospective comparative cross-sectional study was conducted among HAART initiated and HAART naive pediatric HIV/AIDS patients attending a model ART center at Zewditu Memorial Hospital between August 05, 2013 and November 25, 2013. A total of 180 (79 HAART initiated and 101 HAART naïve) children were included by using consecutive sampling. Stool specimen was collected and processed using direct wet mount, formol-ether concentration and modified Ziehl-Neelsen staining techniques. A structured questionnaire was used to collect data on socio-demographic and associated risk factors. CD4+ T cells and complete blood counts were performed using BD FACScalibur and Cell-Dyn 1800, respectively. The data was analyzed by SPSS version 16 software. Logistic regressions were applied to assess any association between explanatory factors and outcome variables. P values < 0.05 were taken as statistically significant.
The overall prevalence of IPs was 37.8% where 27.8% of HAART initiated and 45.5% of HAART naive pediatric HIV/AIDS patients were infected (p < 0.05). Cryptosporidium species, E. histolytica/dispar, Hook worm and Taenia species were IPs associated with CD4+ T cell counts <350 cells/μμL in HAART naive patients. The overall prevalence of anemia was 10% in HAART and 31.7% in non-HAART groups. Hook worm, S. stercoralis and H. nana were helminthes significantly associated with anemia in non-HAART patients [AOR, 95% CI: 4.5(1.3, 15.2), P< 0.05]. The prevalence of IPs in non-HAART patients was significantly associated with eating unwashed/raw fruit [AOR, 95%CI: 6.3(1.2, 25.6), P<0.05], open field defecation [AOR, 95%CI: 9.3(1.6, 53.6), P<0.05] and diarrhea [AOR, 95%CI: 5.2(1.3, 21.3), P<0.05]. IPs significantly increased in rural residents [AOR, 95%CI: 0.4(0.1, 0.9, P<0.05)].
The overall prevalence of intestinal parasites significantly differed by HAART status and cryptosporidium species were found only in HAART naïve patients with low CD4+ T cell counts. Anemia was also more prevalent and significantly associated with IPs in non-HAART patients. This study identified some environmental and associated risk factors for intestinal parasitic infections. Therefore, Public health measures should continue to emphasize the importance of environmental and personal hygiene to protect HIV/AIDS patients from infections with intestinal parasites and maximize the benefits of HAART.
PMCID: PMC4320101  PMID: 25658626
25.  The Impact of Kidney Function at HAART Initiation on Mortality in HIV-infected Women 
In the early highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) era, kidney dysfunction was strongly associated with death among HIV-infected individuals. We re-examined this association in the later HAART period to determine whether chronic kidney disease (CKD) remains a predictor of death after HAART-initiation.
To evaluate the effect of kidney function at the time of HAART initiation on time to all-cause mortality, we evaluated 1415 HIV-infected women initiating HAART in the Women’s Interagency HIV Study (WIHS). Multivariable proportional hazards models with survival times calculated from HAART initiation to death were constructed; participants were censored at the time of the last available visit or December 31, 2006.
CKD (eGFR <60 ml/min/1.73 m2) at HAART initiation was associated with higher mortality risk adjusting for age, race, hepatitis C serostatus, AIDS history and CD4+ cell count (hazard ratio [HR]=2.23, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.45–3.43). Adjustment for hypertension and diabetes history attenuated this association (HR=1.89, CI: 0.94–3.80). Lower kidney function at HAART initiation was weakly associated with increased mortality risk in women with prior AIDS (HR=1.09, CI: 1.00–1.19, per 20% decrease in eGFR).
Kidney function at HAART initiation remains an independent predictor of death in HIV-infected individuals, especially in those with a history of AIDS. Our study emphasizes the necessity of monitoring kidney function in this population. Additional studies are needed to determine mechanisms underlying the increased mortality risk associated with CKD in HIV-infected persons.
PMCID: PMC3243740  PMID: 20581688
kidney disease; mortality; HIV; WIHS; antiretroviral therapy

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