We recently observed that a large proportion of activated (CD38+HLA-DR+) CD8+ T cells from recently HIV-1-infected adults are refractory to phosphorylation of ERK1/2 kinases (p-ERK1/2-refractory). Given that the ERK1/2 pathway mediates intracellular signaling critical for multiple T cell functions, including key effector functions, the loss of ERK1/2 responsiveness may have broad consequences for CD8+ T cell function. In the current study, we hypothesized that the p-ERK1/2-refractory population, localized largely within the activated CD38+HLA-DR+ CD8+ T cell population, would display impairments in CD8+ T cell effector functions, such as cytokine production and degranulation, compared to CD8+ p-ERK1/2-responsive cells. We further hypothesized that the p-ERK1/2-refractory phenotype is persistent over time during untreated infection, and would correlate with poorer virologic control, in a manner independent of CD8+ T cell activation level. We performed single-cell resolution, flow cytometric assays of phospho-kinase responses paired to intracellular cytokine staining in one assay to examine IFN-γ, perforin and CD107α responses in CD8+ T cells by ERK1/2 signaling profile. On a per cell basis, p-ERK1/2-refractory cells, which fall predominantly within the activated CD8+ T cell compartment, produced less IFN-γ in response to polyclonal or HIV-1 antigen-specific stimulation, and expressed lower levels of perforin and CD107α. The p-ERK1/2 refractory cell population displayed minimal overlap with the PD-1 and Tim-3 inhibitory exhaustion markers and predicted high viral load independent of activation, suggesting that ERK1/2 may be a unique marker and point of intervention for improving CD8+ T cell function. Blunted effector functions, secondary to ERK1/2 signaling deficits concentrated within activated CD8+ T cells, may contribute to immunodeficiency and underlie the predictive capacity of CD8+ T cell activation on HIV-1 disease progression. (270/300).
We sought to understand patient perceptions of the emergency department/urgent care (ED/UC) HIV diagnosis experience as well as factors that may promote or discourage linkage to HIV care. We conducted in-depth interviews with patients (n=24) whose HIV infection was diagnosed in the ED/UC of a public hospital in San Francisco at least six months prior and who linked to HIV care at the hospital HIV clinic. Key diagnosis experience themes included physical discomfort and limited functionality, presence of comorbid diagnoses, a wide spectrum of HIV risk perception, and feelings of isolation and anxiety. Patients diagnosed with HIV in the ED/UC may not have their desired emotional supports with them, either because they are alone or they are with family members or friends to whom they do not want to immediately disclose. Other patients may have no one they can rely on for immediate support. Nearly all participants described compassionate disclosure of test results by ED/UC providers, although several noted logistical issues that complicated the disclosure experience. Key linkage to care themes included the importance of continuity between the testing site and HIV care, hospital admission as an opportunity for support and HIV education, and thoughtful matching by linkage staff to a primary care provider. ED/UC clinicians and testing programs should be sensitive to the unique roles of sickness, risk perception, and isolation in the ED/UC diagnosis experience, as these things may delay acceptance of HIV diagnosis. The disclosure and linkage to care experience is crucial in forming patient attitudes towards HIV and HIV care, thus staff involved in disclosure and linkage activities should be trained to deliver compassionate, informed, and thoughtful care that bridges HIV testing and treatment sites.
Background. Identifying persons with recent human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) antibody seroconversion is useful for treatment, research, and prevention, but the sensitivity and specificity of tests for this purpose are uncertain.
Methods. We used longitudinal specimens panels from 155 persons identified prior to HIV seroconversion to assess antibody-based methods for classifying persons as within 30, 60, or 90 days of seroconversion, including 2 incidence assays, a less-sensitive (LS) enzyme immunoassay (EIA), and the BED assay.
Results. Sensitivity and specificity, respectively, for identifying persons within 30 days of seroconversion were: 34%–57% and 98%–100% for 2 standard EIAs (employing a signal-to-cutoff ≤4.0; ≥1.0 defines HIV positive), 84% and 73% for the LS-EIA (≤0.2 cutoff), 88% and 72% for the BED (≤0.2 cutoff), and 43%–58% and 98% (≤3 bands) for 2 Western blot (WB) assays. By area under the receiver operator curves, the best test for identifying persons within 30 days of seroconversion was the number of bands on the Bio-Rad WB (0.90); within 60 days, the LS-EIA and BED (both 0.85); and for persons within 90 days the BED (0.86).
Conclusions. Standard EIAs, Western blots, and HIV incidence assays provide useful information for identifying persons 30 to 90 days after seroconversion.
Concurrent sexual partnerships are believed to play an important role in HIV transmission in sub-Saharan Africa, but the contributions of concurrency to HIV and STI spread depend on the details of infectious periods and relationship patterns. To contribute to the understanding of sexual partnership patterns in this region, we estimated partnership lengths, temporal gaps between partners, and periods of overlap across partners at an STI clinic in Lilongwe, Malawi.
Participants underwent physical examinations and HIV tests, and responded to questionnaires about demographics and risk behaviors, including detailed questions about a maximum of 3 sexual partners in the previous 2 months. We calculated partnership length as the time between the first and most recent sexual contact with a partner, and gap length as the time between the most recent contact with one partner and the first contact with the next. We defined concurrent and consecutive partnerships as gap length≤0 days and gap length>0 days, respectively.
The study population (n=183) had a mean partnership length of 858 days (median=176 days). Eighty-six percent reported 0 or 1 partner, 5% reported multiple consecutive partnerships, and 9% reported concurrency. Gaps between consecutive partnerships were short (mean=21 days), and overlaps across concurrent partners tended to be long (mean=246 days).
Multiple sexual partnerships were uncommon, and partnerships were long on average. Among those reporting multiple recent partners, both long-term concurrency and narrowly spaced consecutive partnerships could present substantial risk for efficient transmission of HIV and classical STIs.
Transmission; concurrency; partnership length; gap length; overlap
Background. Transmitted human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) drug resistance (TDR) mutations can become replaced over time by emerging wild-type viral variants with improved fitness. The impact of class-specific mutations on this rate of mutation replacement is uncertain.
Methods. We studied participants with acute and/or early HIV infection and TDR in 2 cohorts (San Francisco, California, and São Paulo, Brazil). We followed baseline mutations longitudinally and compared replacement rates between mutation classes with use of a parametric proportional hazards model.
Results. Among 75 individuals with 195 TDR mutations, M184V/I became undetectable markedly faster than did nonnucleoside reverse-transcriptase inhibitor (NNRTI) mutations (hazard ratio, 77.5; 95% confidence interval [CI], 14.7–408.2; P < .0001), while protease inhibitor and NNRTI replacement rates were similar. Higher plasma HIV-1 RNA level predicted faster mutation replacement, but this was not statistically significant (hazard ratio, 1.71 log10 copies/mL; 95% CI, .90–3.25 log10 copies/mL; P = .11). We found substantial person-to-person variability in mutation replacement rates not accounted for by viral load or mutation class (P < .0001).
Conclusions. The rapid replacement of M184V/I mutations is consistent with known fitness costs. The long-term persistence of NNRTI and protease inhibitor mutations suggests a risk for person-to-person propagation. Host and/or viral factors not accounted for by viral load or mutation class are likely influencing mutation replacement and warrant further study.
Inability to recognize incident infection has traditionally limited both scientific and public health approaches to HIV disease. Recently, some laboratories have begun adding HIV nucleic acid amplification testing to HIV diagnostic testing algorithms so that acute (antibody-negative) HIV infections can be routinely detected within the first 1–3 weeks of exposure. In this review article, we will highlight critical opportunities for HIV treatment and prevention that are presented by these diagnostic strategies.
Disease maps of crude rates from routinely collected health data indexed at a small geographical resolution pose specific statistical problems due to the sparse nature of the data. Spatial smoothers allow areas to borrow strength from neighboring regions to produce a more stable estimate of the areal value. Geostatistical smoothers are able to quantify the uncertainty in smoothed rate estimates without a high computational burden. In this paper, we introduce a uniform model extension of Bayesian Maximum Entropy (UMBME) and compare its performance to that of Poisson kriging in measures of smoothing strength and estimation accuracy as applied to simulated data and the real data example of HIV infection in North Carolina. The aim is to produce more reliable maps of disease rates in small areas to improve identification of spatial trends at the local level.
In all data environments, Poisson kriging exhibited greater smoothing strength than UMBME. With the simulated data where the true latent rate of infection was known, Poisson kriging resulted in greater estimation accuracy with data that displayed low spatial autocorrelation, while UMBME provided more accurate estimators with data that displayed higher spatial autocorrelation. With the HIV data, UMBME performed slightly better than Poisson kriging in cross-validatory predictive checks, with both models performing better than the observed data model with no smoothing.
Smoothing methods have different advantages depending upon both internal model assumptions that affect smoothing strength and external data environments, such as spatial correlation of the observed data. Further model comparisons in different data environments are required to provide public health practitioners with guidelines needed in choosing the most appropriate smoothing method for their particular health dataset.
disease mapping; sampling variability; spatial distribution; spatial analysis; epidemiological methods
Acute febrile illnesses consistent with malaria are the most common presentation at health clinics in sub-Saharan Africa, accounting for 30–50% of outpatient visits. The symptoms of acute human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection can mimic acute malaria. We investigated whether acute HIV infections could be identified among adults with suspected malaria at rural health centers in Uganda.
Cross-sectional study of 1,000 consecutive patients referred for malaria blood smears at each of 7 government health centers, of which 2893 (41%) were age 13 years or older and tested for HIV.
HIV EIA antibody testing was performed on dried blood spots and confirmed by Western blot (WB). EIA non-reactive and EIA reactive, WB-unconfirmed samples were pooled (10/pool) and tested for HIV RNA by nucleic acid amplification testing. We defined acute HIV infection as HIV-1 RNA positive with a negative or indeterminate HIV-1 Western blot pattern and early HIV infection as HIV-1 RNA positive with a positive Western blot pattern, but with a BED corrected optical density (ODn) of <0.8.
Of 2893 patients evaluated, 324 (11%) had test results indicating HIV infection. Overall, 30 patients (1.0%) had acute HIV infection, 56 (1.8%) had early HIV infection, and 238 (8%) had established HIV infection. Acute HIV infections were more prevalent at sites with higher HIV prevalence and lower malaria endemicity.
At multiple sites in Uganda, 1–3% of adults with suspected malaria had acute or early HIV infection. These findings highlight a major opportunity for expanding recognition of acute and early HIV infection in Africa.
HIV Serodiagnosis; Malaria; Africa; Acute HIV Infection
Sensitive, high-throughput methods to detect malaria parasites in low-transmission settings are needed. PCR-based pooling strategies may offer a solution. We first used laboratory-prepared samples to compare 2 DNA extraction and 4 PCR detection methods across a range of pool sizes and parasite densities. Pooled Chelex extraction of DNA, followed by nested PCR of cytochrome b, was the optimal strategy, allowing reliable detection of a single low-parasitemic sample (100 parasites/μl) in pool sizes up to 50. This PCR-based pooling strategy was then compared with microscopy using 891 dried blood spots from a cohort of 77 Ugandan children followed for 2 years in an urban setting of low endemicity. Among 419 febrile episodes, 35 cases of malaria were detected using the PCR-based pooling strategy and 40 cases using microscopy. All five cases of malaria not detected by PCR were from samples stored for >2 years with parasitemia of <6,000/μl, highlighting the issue of possible DNA degradation with long-term storage of samples. Among 472 samples collected from asymptomatic children as part of routine surveillance, 15 (3.2%) were positive by PCR-based pooling compared to 4 (0.8%) by microscopy (P = 0.01). Thus, this PCR-based pooling strategy for detection of malaria parasites using dried blood spots offers a sensitive and efficient approach for malaria surveillance in low-transmission settings, enabling improved detection of asymptomatic submicroscopic infections and dramatic savings in labor and costs.
Transmitted HIV-1 drug resistance (TDR) is an ongoing public health problem, representing 10–20% of new HIV infections in many geographic areas. TDR usually arises from two main sources: individuals on antiretroviral therapy (ART) who are failing to achieve virologic suppression, and individuals who acquired TDR and transmit it while still ART-naïve. TDR rates can be impacted when novel antiretroviral medications are introduced that allow for greater virologic suppression of source patients. Although several new HIV medications were introduced starting in late 2007, including raltegravir, maraviroc, and etravirine, it is not known whether the prevalence of TDR was subsequently affected in 2008–2009.
We performed population sequence genotyping on individuals who were diagnosed with acute or early HIV (<6 months duration) and who enrolled in the Options Project, a prospective cohort, between 2002 and 2009. We used logistic regression to compare the odds of acquiring drug-resistant HIV before versus after the arrival of new ART (2005–2007 vs. 2008–2009). From 2003–2007, TDR rose from 7% to 24%. Prevalence of TDR was then 15% in 2008 and in 2009. While the odds of acquiring TDR were lower in 2008–2009 compared to 2005–2007, this was not statistically significant (odds ratio 0.65, 95% CI 0.31–1.38; p = 0.27).
Our study suggests that transmitted drug resistance rose from 2003–2007, but this upward trend did not continue in 2008 and 2009. Nevertheless, the TDR prevalence in 2008–2009 remained substantial, emphasizing that improved management strategies for drug-resistant HIV are needed if TDR is to be further reduced. Continued surveillance for TDR will be important in understanding the full impact of new antiretroviral medications.
HIV transmission; acute HIV infection; sexually transmitted infections; viral load; Southeastern United States
Persons with acute HIV infection contribute disproportionately to HIV transmission. Identification of these persons is a critical public health challenge. We developed targeted approaches to detect HIV RNA in persons with negative serological tests.
Persons undergoing publicly funded HIV testing in North Carolina between October, 2002 and April, 2005 were included in this cross-sectional study. We used logistic regression to develop targeted testing approaches. We also assessed simple approaches based on clinic type and geography. Algorithm development used persons with recent HIV infection, determined by a detuned ELISA. Validation used persons with acute HIV infection, identified with an HIV RNA pooling procedure.
Among 215,528 eligible persons, 232 persons had recent HIV infection and 44 acute HIV infection. A combination of five indicators (testing site, sexual preference, sex with a person with HIV infection, county HIV incidence, and race) identified 92% of recent infections when testing 50% of the population. In validation among persons with acute HIV infection, this indicator combination had sensitivities of 98% in years 1 & 2 and 88% in year 3. A simple combination of testing site and county performed nearly as well (Development (recent infections): Sensitivity = 95%; Validation (acute infections): Sensitivity = 86% in years 1 & 2; 81% in year 3; cutoff established for testing 50% of population.)
Acute HIV infection can be identified accurately using targeted testing. Simple approaches to identify the types of clinics and geographical areas where infections are concentrated may be logistically feasible and cost-efficient.
Individuals with acute (preseroconversion) HIV infection (AHI) are important in the spread of HIV. The identification of AHI requires the detection of viral proteins or nucleic acids with techniques that are often unaffordable for routine use. To facilitate the efficient use of these tests, we sought to develop a risk score algorithm for identifying likely AHI cases and targeting the tests towards those individuals.
A cross-sectional study of 1448 adults attending a sexually transmitted infections (STI) clinic in Malawi.
Using logistic regression, we identified risk behaviors, symptoms, HIV rapid test results, and STI syndromes that were predictive of AHI. We assigned a model-based score to each predictor and calculated a risk score for each participant.
Twenty-one participants (1.45%) had AHI, 588 had established HIV infection, and 839 were HIV-negative. AHI was strongly associated with discordant rapid HIV tests and genital ulcer disease (GUD). The algorithm also included diarrhea, more than one sexual partner in 2 months, body ache, and fever. Corresponding predictor scores were 1 for fever, body ache, and more than one partner; 2 for diarrhea and GUD; and 4 for discordant rapid tests. A risk score of 2 or greater was 95.2% sensitive and 60.5% specific in detecting AHI.
Using this algorithm, we could identify 95% of AHI cases by performing nucleic acid or protein tests in only 40% of patients. Risk score algorithms could enable rapid, reliable AHI detection in resource-limited settings.
acute HIV infection; detection; diagnosis; risk score algorithm; screening
This study was conducted to compare viral dynamics in blood and semen between subjects with antibody negative, acute HIV-1 infection and other subjects with later stages of infection.
A prospective cohort study was embedded within a cross-sectional study of HIV screening in a Lilongwe, Malawi STD clinic.
Blood samples from HIV antibody negative or indeterminate volunteers were used to detect HIV RNA in plasma using a pooling strategy. Blood and seminal plasma HIV-1 RNA concentrations were measured over 16 weeks.
Sixteen men with acute HIV infection and 25 men with chronic HIV infection were studied. Blood viral load in subjects with acute HIV infection was highest about 17 days after infection (mean ± SE, 6.9 ± 0.5 log10 copies/ml), while semen viral load peaked about 30 days after infection (4.5 ± 0.4 log10 copies/ml). Semen viral load declined by 1.7 log10 to a nadir by week 10 of HIV infection. Semen and blood viral loads were more stable in chronically infected subjects over 16 weeks. Higher semen levels of HIV RNA were noted in subjects with low CD4 cell counts.
These results provide a biological explanation for reported increases in HIV transmission during the very early (acute) and late stages of infection. Recognizing temporal differences in HIV shedding in the genital tract is important in the development of effective HIV prevention strategies.
semen; HIV transmission; acute HIV infection; peak viral load
Recent studies have shown the public health importance of identifying individuals with acute human immunodeficiency virus infection (AHI); however, the cost of nucleic acid amplification testing (NAAT) makes individual testing of at-risk individuals prohibitively expensive in many settings. Pooled NAAT (or group testing) can improve efficiency and test performance of testing for AHI, but optimizing the pooling algorithm can be difficult. We developed simple, flexible biostatistical models of specimen pooling with NAAT for the identification of AHI cases; these models incorporate group testing theory, operating characteristics of biological assays, and a model of viral dynamics during AHI. Pooling algorithm sensitivity, efficiency (test kits used per individual specimen evaluated), and positive predictive value (PPV) were modeled and compared for three simple pooling algorithms: two-stage minipools (D2), three-stage hierarchical pools (D3), and square arrays with master pools (A2m). We confirmed the results by stochastic simulation and produced reference tables and a Web calculator to facilitate pooling by investigators without specific biostatistical expertise. All three pooling strategies demonstrated improved efficiency and PPV for AHI case detection compared to individual NAAT. D3 and A2m algorithms generally provided better efficiency and PPV than D2; additionally, A2m generally exhibited better PPV than D3. Used selectively and carefully, the simple models developed here can guide the selection of a pooling algorithm for the detection of AHI cases in a wide variety of settings.
New insights into HIV transmission dynamics, say the authors, are likely to come from analyzing the viral sequence information that is being routinely collected during HIV genotyping.
Human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) exists as a complex population of multiple genotypic variants in persons with chronic infection. However, acute HIV-1 infection via sexual transmission is a low-probability event in which there is thought to be low genetic complexity in the initial inoculum. In order to assess the viral complexity present during primary HIV-1 infection, the V1/V2 and V3 variable regions of the env gene were examined by using a heteroduplex tracking assay (HTA) capable of resolving these genotypic variants. Blood plasma samples from 26 primary HIV-1-infected subjects were analyzed for their level of diversity. Half of the subjects had more than one V1/V2 viral variant during primary infection, indicating the frequent transmission of multiple variants. This observation is inconsistent with the idea of infrequent transmission based on a small transmitting inoculum of cell-free virus. In chronically infected subjects, the complexity of the viral populations was even greater in both the V1/V2 and the V3 regions than in acutely infected subjects, indicating that in spite of the presence of multiple variants in acute infection, the virus does pass through a genetic bottleneck during transmission. We also examined how well the infecting virus penetrated different anatomical compartments by using the HTA. Viral variants detected in blood plasma were compared to those detected in seminal plasma and/or cerebral spinal fluid of six individuals. The virus in each of these compartments was to a large extent identical to virus in blood plasma, a finding consistent with rapid penetration of the infecting variant(s). The low-probability transmission of multiple variants could be the result of transient periods of hyperinfectiousness or hypersusceptibility. Alternatively, the inefficient transfer of a multiply infected cell could account for both the low probability of transmission and the transfer of multiple variants.
APOBEC3 proteins mediate potent antiretroviral activity by hypermutating the retroviral genome during reverse transcription. To counteract APOBEC3 and gain a replicative advantage, lentiviruses such as human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) and simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) have evolved the Vif protein, which targets APOBEC3 proteins for proteasomal degradation. However, the proteasome plays a critical role in the generation of T cell peptide epitopes. Whether Vif-mediated destruction of APOBEC3 proteins leads to the generation and presentation of APOBEC3-derived T cell epitopes on the surfaces of lentivirus-infected cells remains unknown. Here, using peptides derived from multiple Vif-sensitive APOBEC3 proteins, we identified APOBEC3-specific T cell responses in both HIV-1-infected patients and SIV-infected rhesus macaques. These results raise the possibility that these T cell responses may be part of the larger antiretroviral immune response.
We compared the performance of Organon Teknika’s NucliSens and Roche Diagnostic Systems’ Monitor quantitative human immunodeficiency type 1 RNA assays. Both had similar linearity and sensitivity over most of the dynamic range of the assays, although the Monitor assay was superior at the low range of RNA values while the NucliSens assay was more consistent at higher RNA values. NucliSens generally showed less interassay variability.
We assessed changes in sexual behavior among men who have sex with men (MSM), before and for several years after HIV diagnosis, accounting for adoption of a variety of seroadaptive practices.
We collected self-reported sexual behavior data every 3 months from HIV-positive MSM at various stages of HIV infection. To establish population level trends in sexual behavior, we used negative binomial regression to model the relationship between time since diagnosis and several sexual behavior variables: numbers of (a) total partners, (b) potentially discordant partners (PDP; i.e., HIV-negative or unknown-status partners), (c) PDPs with whom unprotected anal intercourse (UAI) occurred, and (d) PDPs with whom unprotected insertive anal intercourse (uIAI) occurred.
A total of 237 HIV-positive MSM contributed 502 interviews. UAI with PDPs occurred with a mean of 4.2 partners in the 3 months before diagnosis. This declined to 0.9 partners/3 months at 12 months after diagnosis, and subsequently rose to 1.7 partners/3 months at 48 months, before falling again to 1.0 partners/3 months at 60 months. The number of PDPs with whom uIAI occurred dropped from 2.4 in the pre-diagnosis period to 0.3 partners/3 months (an 87.5% reduction) by 12 months after enrollment, and continued to decline over time.
Within months after being diagnosed with HIV, MSM adopted seroadaptive practices, especially seropositioning, where the HIV-positive partner was not in the insertive position during UAI, resulting in a sustained decline in the sexual activity associated with the highest risk of HIV transmission.
Although efficacy is unknown, many men who have sex with men (MSM) attempt to reduce HIV risk by adapting condom use, partner selection, or sexual position to the partner’s HIV serostatus. We assessed the association of seroadaptive practices with HIV acquisition.
We pooled data on North American MSM from four longitudinal HIV-prevention studies. Sexual behaviors reported during each six-month interval were assigned sequentially to one of six mutually exclusive risk categories: (1) no unprotected anal intercourse (UAI), (2) having a single negative partner, (3) being an exclusive top (only insertive anal sex), (4) serosorting (multiple partners, all HIV negative), (5) seropositioning (only insertive anal sex with potentially discordant partners), and (6) UAI with no seroadaptive practices. HIV antibody testing was conducted at the end of each interval. We used Cox models to evaluate the independent association of each category with HIV acquisition, controlling for number of partners, age, race, drug use, and intervention assignment. 12,277 participants contributed to 60,162 six-month intervals with 663 HIV seroconversions. No UAI was reported in 47.4% of intervals, UAI with some seroadaptive practices in 31.8%, and UAI with no seroadaptive practices in 20.4%. All seroadaptive practices were associated with a lower risk, compared to UAI with no seroadaptive practices. However, compared to no UAI, serosorting carried twice the risk (HR = 2.03, 95%CI:1.51–2.73), whereas seropositioning was similar in risk (HR = 0.85, 95%CI:0.50–1.44), and UAI with a single negative partner and as an exclusive top were both associated with a lower risk (HR = 0.56, 95%CI:0.32–0.96 and HR = 0.55, 95%CI:0.36–0.84, respectively).
Seroadaptive practices appear protective when compared with UAI with no seroadaptive practices, but serosorting appears to be twice as risky as no UAI. Condom use and limiting number of partners should be advocated as first-line prevention strategies, but seroadaptive practices may be considered harm-reduction for men at greatest risk.
Translational errors can result in bypassing of the main viral protein reading frames and the production of alternate reading frame (ARF) or cryptic peptides. Within HIV, there are many such ARFs in both sense and the antisense directions of transcription. These ARFs have the potential to generate immunogenic peptides called cryptic epitopes (CE). Both antiretroviral drug therapy and the immune system exert a mutational pressure on HIV-1. Immune pressure exerted by ARF CD8+ T cells on the virus has already been observed in vitro. HAART has also been described to select HIV-1 variants for drug escape mutations. Since the mutational pressure exerted on one location of the HIV-1 genome can potentially affect the 3 reading frames, we hypothesized that ARF responses would be affected by this drug pressure in vivo.
In this study we identified new ARFs derived from sense and antisense transcription of HIV-1. Many of these ARFs are detectable in circulating viral proteins. They are predominantly found in the HIV-1 env nucleotide region. We measured T cell responses to 199 HIV-1 CE encoded within 13 sense and 34 antisense HIV-1 ARFs. We were able to observe that these ARF responses are more frequent and of greater magnitude in chronically infected individuals compared to acutely infected patients, and in patients on HAART, the breadth of ARF responses increased.
These results have implications for vaccine design and unveil the existence of potential new epitopes that could be included as vaccine targets.
Federal guidelines now recommend supplemental HIV RNA testing for persons at high risk for acute HIV infection. However, many rapid HIV testing sites do not include HIV RNA or p24 antigen testing due to concerns about cost, the need for results follow-up, and the impact of expanded venipuncture on clinic flow. We developed criteria to identify patients in a municipal STD clinic in San Francisco who are asymptomatic but may still be likely to have acute infection.
Data were from patients tested with serial HIV antibody and HIV RNA tests to identify acute HIV infection. BED-CEIA results were used to classify non-acute cases as recent or longstanding. Demographics and self-reported risk behaviors were collected at time of testing. Multivariate models were developed and preliminarily evaluated using predictors associated with recent infection in bivariate analyses as a proxy for acute HIV infection. Multivariate models demonstrating ≥70% sensitivity for recent infection while testing ≤60% of patients in this development dataset were then validated by determining their performance in identifying acute infections.
From 2004–2007, 137 of 12,622 testers had recent and 36 had acute infections. A model limiting acute HIV screening to MSM plus any one of a series of other predictors resulted in a sensitivity of 83.3% and only 47.6% of patients requiring testing. A single-factor model testing only patients reporting any receptive anal intercourse resulted in 88.9% sensitivity with only 55.2% of patients requiring testing.
In similar high risk HIV testing sites, acute screening using “supplemental” HIV p24 antigen or RNA tests can be rationally targeted to testers who report particular HIV risk behaviors. By improving the efficiency of acute HIV testing, such criteria could facilitate expanded acute case identification.