Background. The biggest challenge in human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) prevention in Africa is the high HIV-1 burden in young women. In macaques, proinflammatory cytokine production in the genital tract is necessary for target cell recruitment and establishment of simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) infection following vaginal inoculation. The purpose of this study was to assess if genital inflammation during early HIV-1 infection predisposes women to rapid disease progression.
Methods. Inflammatory cytokine concentrations were measured in cervicovaginal lavage (CVL) from 49 women 6, 17, 30, and 55 weeks after HIV-1 infection and from 22 of these women before infection. Associations between genital inflammation and viral load set point and blood CD4 cell counts 12 months after infection were investigated.
Results. Elevated genital cytokine concentrations 6 and 17 weeks after HIV-1 infection were associated with higher viral load set points and, to a lesser extent, with CD4 depletion. CVL cytokine concentrations during early infection did not differ relative to preinfection but were elevated in women who had vaginal discharge, detectable HIV-1 RNA in their genital tracts, and lower blood CD4 counts.
Conclusion. Genital inflammation during early HIV-1 infection was associated with higher viral load set point and CD4 depletion, which are markers of rapid disease progression. Strategies aimed at reducing genital inflammation during early HIV-1 infection may slow disease progression.
Broadly neutralizing antibodies to the CD4 binding site (CD4bs) of gp120 are generated by some HIV-1-infected individuals, but little is known about the prevalence and evolution of this antibody response during the course of HIV-1 infection. We analyzed the sera of 113 HIV-1 seroconverters from three cohorts for binding to a panel of gp120 core proteins and their corresponding CD4bs knockout mutants. Among sera collected between 99 and 258 weeks post-HIV-1 infection, 88% contained antibodies to the CD4bs and 47% contained antibodies to resurfaced stabilized core (RSC) probes that react preferentially with broadly neutralizing CD4bs antibodies (BNCD4), such as monoclonal antibodies (MAbs) VRC01 and VRC-CH31. Analysis of longitudinal serum samples from a subset of 18 subjects revealed that CD4bs antibodies to gp120 arose within the first 4 to 16 weeks of infection, while the development of RSC-reactive antibodies was more varied, occurring between 10 and 152 weeks post-HIV-1 infection. Despite the presence of these antibodies, serum neutralization mediated by RSC-reactive antibodies was detected in sera from only a few donors infected for more than 3 years. Thus, CD4bs antibodies that bind a VRC01-like epitope are often induced during HIV-1 infection, but the level and potency required to mediate serum neutralization may take years to develop. An improved understanding of the immunological factors associated with the development and maturation of neutralizing CD4bs antibodies during HIV-1 infection may provide insights into the requirements for eliciting this response by vaccination.
We previously reported that integrating antiretroviral therapy (ART) with tuberculosis treatment reduces mortality. However, optimal time to initiate ART during tuberculosis treatment remains contentious.
To address this, we conducted a 3-arm, open-label randomized controlled trial in South Africa in acid-fast bacilli smear positive patients (n=642) with HIV and CD4+ counts <500 cells/mm3. Findings on the early therapy group (ART initiated within 4 weeks of tuberculosis treatment initiation, n=214) and late therapy group (ART initiated within the first 4 weeks of the continuation phase of tuberculosis treatment, n=215) are presented here.
Median CD4+ count and viral load at baseline was 150 cells/mm3 and 161000 copies/ml, being similar in both groups. Incidence rate of AIDS or death was 6.9 (18/259.4) and 7.8 (19/244.2) per 100 person-years in the early and late therapy groups respectively (Incidence Rate Ratio (IRR)=0.89; 95%Confidence Interval (95%CI): 0.44,1.79; P=0.73). However, in patients with CD4+ counts <50 cells/mm3, the incidence rates of AIDS or death were 8.5 (early) and 26.3 (late) per 100 person-years (IRR=0.32; 95%CI: 0.07,1.13; P=0.06). Immune reconstitution inflammatory syndrome (IRIS) incidence rates were 20.2 (early) and 7.7 (late) per 100 person-years (IRR=2.62; 95%CI: 1.48,4.82; P<0.001). Adverse events requiring antiretroviral drug switches occurred in 10 (early) and 1 (late) patients (P=0.006).
The benefits of AIDS-free survival balanced against the risks of IRIS and ART-related adverse events, support early ART initiation in patients with CD4+ counts <50 cells/mm3 and deferred ART initiation to the continuation phase of tuberculosis treatment when CD4+ counts are higher.
Tenofovir gel, an antiretroviral-based vaginal microbicide, reduced HIV acquisition by 39% in women in a recent randomised controlled clinical trial in South Africa.
To inform policy we used a dynamical model of HIV transmission, calibrated to the epidemic in South Africa, to determine the population-level impact of this microbicide on HIV incidence, prevalence and deaths and to evaluate its cost-effectiveness.
If women use Tenofovir-gel in 80% or more of sexual encounters (high coverage), it could avert 2.33 (0.12 to 4.63) million new infections and save 1.30 (0.07 to 2.42) million lives and if used in 25% of sexual encounters (low coverage), it could avert 0.50 (0.04 to 0.77) million new infections and save 0.29 (0.02 to 0.44) million deaths, over the next 20 years. At US$0.50 per application, the cost per infection averted at low coverage is US$2,392 (US$562 to US$4,222) and the cost per disability-adjusted life year saved is US$104 (US$27 to US$181); at high coverage the costs are about 30% less.
Over twenty years the use of Tenofovir gel in South Africa could avert up to 2 million new infections and 1 million AIDS deaths. Even with low rates of gel use it is highly cost-effective and compares favourably with other control methods. This female controlled prevention method could have a significant impact on the epidemic of HIV in South Africa. Programmes should aim to achieve gel use in more than 25% of sexual encounters to significantly alter the course of the epidemic.
HIV prevention; microbicide gel; Tenofovir; South Africa; cost effectiveness
Background In mature generalized human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) epidemics, as survival from accessing antiretroviral treatment (ART) increases, HIV prevalence data may be suboptimal and difficult to interpret without HIV incidence rates.
Objective To determine the HIV incidence rate among rural and urban women in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.
Methods We conducted a prospective cohort study from March 2004 to May 2007. Volunteers were recruited from a rural family-planning clinic and an urban clinic for sexually transmitted infections. Consenting, HIV-uninfected women aged 14–30 years were enrolled. Demographic, clinical, sexual and behavioural data were collected using standardized questionnaires with HIV risk reduction counselling and HIV testing. Pelvic examinations were completed at quarterly visits.
Results The HIV prevalence at screening was 35.7% [95% confidence interval (CI) 32.7–38.8] amongst rural women and 59.3% (95% CI 56.5–62.0) amongst urban women. A total of 594/2240 (26.5%) enrolled women contributed to 602 person-years (PYs) of follow-up. The median age was 22 years [inter-quartile range 18–23 years]. HIV incidence rate was 6.5/100 PY (95% CI 4.4–9.2) amongst rural women and 6.4/100 PY (95% CI 2.6–13.2) amongst urban women. HIV incidence rate of 17.2/100 PY (95% CI 2.1–62.2) was highest amongst urban women <20 years of age and 10.2/100 PY (95% CI 4.1–20.9) amongst rural women ≥25 years of age.
Conclusion HIV incidence rates are devastatingly high in young women in rural and urban KwaZulu-Natal, despite reports of stabilized HIV prevalence observed in current surveillance data. The diffuse nature of the HIV epidemic underscores the urgent need to enhance HIV prevention and treatment modalities.
HIV incidence; HIV prevalence; young women; South Africa
Griffithsin (GRFT), Cyanovirin-N (CV-N) and Scytovirin (SVN) are lectins that inhibit HIV-1 infection by binding to multiple mannose-rich glycans on the HIV-1 envelope glycoproteins (Env). Here we show that these lectins neutralize subtype C primary virus isolates in addition to Env-pseudotyped viruses obtained from plasma and cervical vaginal lavages. Among 15 subtype C pseudoviruses, the median IC50 values were 0.4, 1.8 and 20.1 nM for GRFT, CV-N and SVN, respectively, similar to what was found for subtype B and A. Analysis of Env sequences suggested that concomitant lack of glycans at positions 234 and 295 resulted in natural resistance to these compounds, which was confirmed by site-directed mutagenesis. Furthermore, the binding sites for these lectins overlapped that of the 2G12 monoclonal antibody epitope, which is generally absent on subtype C Env. This data support further research on these lectins as potential microbicides in the context of HIV-1 subtype C infection.
Griffithsin; Cyanovirin-N; Scytovirin; lectins; HIV-1 subtype C; microbicides; 2G12 monoclonal antibody
The Duffy-null trait and ethnic neutropenia are highly prevalent in Africa. The authors found that the trait of Duffy-null–associated low neutrophil counts associated with increased HIV-1 susceptibility. The possible contribution of this trait to the high prevalence of HIV-1 in Africa requires further investigation
Background. The Duffy-null trait and ethnic netropenia are both highly prevalent in Africa. The influence of pre-seroconversion levels of peripheral blood cell counts (PBCs) on the risk of acquiring human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)–1 infection among Africans is unknown.
Methods. The triangular relationship among pre-seroconversion PBC counts, host genotypes, and risk of HIV acquisition was determined in a prospective cohort of black South African high-risk female sex workers. Twenty-seven women had seroconversion during follow-up, and 115 remained HIV negative for 2 years, despite engaging in high-risk activity.
Results. Pre-seroconversion neutrophil counts in women who subsequently had seroconversion were significantly lower, whereas platelet counts were higher, compared with those who remained HIV negative. Comprising 27% of the cohort, subjects with pre-seroconversion neutrophil counts of <2500 cells/mm3 had a ∼3-fold greater risk of acquiring HIV infection. In a genome-wide association analyses, an African-specific polymorphism (rs2814778) in the promoter of Duffy Antigen Receptor for Chemokines (DARC −46T > C) was significantly associated with neutrophil counts (P = 7.9 × 10−11). DARC −46C/C results in loss of DARC expression on erthyrocytes (Duffy-null) and resistance to Plasmodium vivax malaria, and in our cohort, only subjects with this genotype had pre-seroconversion neutrophil counts of <2500 cells/mm3. The risk of acquiring HIV infection was ∼3-fold greater in those with the trait of Duffy-null–associated low neutrophil counts, compared with all other study participants.
Conclusions. Pre-seroconversion neutrophil and platelet counts influence risk of HIV infection. The trait of Duffy-null–associated low neutrophil counts influences HIV susceptibility. Because of the high prevalence of this trait among persons of African ancestry, it may contribute to the dynamics of the HIV epidemic in Africa.
A small proportion of HIV-infected individuals generate a neutralizing antibody (NAb) response of exceptional magnitude and breadth. A detailed analysis of the critical epitopes targeted by broadly neutralizing antibodies should help to define optimal targets for vaccine design. HIV-1-infected subjects with potent cross-reactive serum neutralizing antibodies were identified by assaying sera from 308 subjects against a multiclade panel of 12 “tier 2” viruses (4 each of subtypes A, B, and C). Various neutralizing epitope specificities were determined for the top 9 neutralizers, including clade A-, clade B-, clade C-, and clade A/C-infected donors, by using a comprehensive set of assays. In some subjects, neutralization breadth was mediated by two or more antibody specificities. Although antibodies to the gp41 membrane-proximal external region (MPER) were identified in some subjects, the subjects with the greatest neutralization breadth targeted gp120 epitopes, including the CD4 binding site, a glycan-containing quaternary epitope formed by the V2 and V3 loops, or an outer domain epitope containing a glycan at residue N332. The broadly reactive HIV-1 neutralization observed in some subjects is mediated by antibodies targeting several conserved regions on the HIV-1 envelope glycoprotein.
Young girls in sub Saharan Africa are reported to have higher rates of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection compared to boys in the same age group. Knowledge of HIV status amongst high schools learners provides an important gateway to prevention and treatment services. This study aimed at determining the HIV prevalence and explored the feasibility of HIV testing among high school learners.
Between September 2010 and February 2011, a linked, anonymous cross-sectional survey was conducted in two public sector high schools in the rural KwaZulu-Natal midlands. Following written informed consent, dried blood spot samples (DBS) were collected and tested for HIV. The overall and age-specific HIV prevalence were compared with select demographic variables.
The HIV prevalence in learners aged 12 to 25 in school A was 4.7% (95% CI 2.8-6.5) compared to 2.5% (95% CI 1.6-3.5) in school B, (p = 0.04). Whilst the HIV prevalence was similar for boys at 1.3% (95% CI 0-2.8) in school A and 1.7% (95% CI 0.5-2.8) in school B, the prevalence in girls was consistently higher and was 7.7% (95% CI 4.5-10.9) in school A and 3.2% (95% CI 1.8-4.6) in school B. The age-specific HIV prevalence in girls increased 1.5 to 2 fold for each two year age category, while for boys the prevalence was stable across all age groups.
The high HIV prevalence in female learners underscores the importance of sexual reproductive health and schools-based HIV testing programs as an important gateway to prevention and treatment services.
Young girls; HIV prevalence; surveillance
The C3-V4 region is a major target of autologous neutralizing antibodies in HIV-1 subtype C infection. We previously identified a Center for AIDS Program of Research in South Africa (CAPRISA) participant, CAP88, who developed a potent neutralizing-antibody response within 3 months of infection that targeted an epitope in the C3 region of the HIV-1 envelope (P. L. Moore et al., PLoS Pathog. 5:e1000598, 2009). Here we showed that these type-specific antibodies could be adsorbed using recombinant gp120 from the transmitted/founder virus from CAP88 but not by gp120 made from other isolates. Furthermore, this activity could be depleted using a chimeric gp120 protein that contained only the C3 region from the CAP88 viral envelope engrafted onto the unrelated CAP63 viral envelope (called 63-88C3). On the basis of this, a differential sorting of memory B cells was performed using gp120s made from 63-88C3 and CAP63 labeled with different fluorochromes as positive and negative probes, respectively. This strategy resulted in the isolation of a highly specific monoclonal antibody (MAb), called CAP88-CH06, that neutralized the CAP88 transmitted/founder virus and viruses from acute infection but was unable to neutralize CAP88 viruses isolated at 6 and 12 months postinfection. The latter viruses contained 2 amino acid changes in the alpha-2 helix of C3 that mediated escape from this MAb. One of these changes involved the introduction of an N-linked glycan at position 339 that occluded the epitope, while the other mutation (either E343K or E350K) was a charge change. Our data validate the use of differential sorting to isolate a MAb targeting a specific epitope in the envelope glycoprotein and provided insights into the mechanisms of autologous neutralization escape.
An understanding of how broadly neutralizing activity develops in HIV-1-infected individuals is needed to guide vaccine design and immunization strategies. Here we used a large panel of 44 HIV-1 envelope variants (subtypes A, B, and C) to evaluate the presence of broadly neutralizing antibodies in serum samples obtained 3 years after seroconversion from 40 women enrolled in the CAPRISA 002 acute infection cohort. Seven of 40 participants had serum antibodies that neutralized more than 40% of viruses tested and were considered to have neutralization breadth. Among the samples with breadth, CAP257 serum neutralized 82% (36/44 variants) of the panel, while CAP256 serum neutralized 77% (33/43 variants) of the panel. Analysis of longitudinal samples showed that breadth developed gradually starting from year 2, with the number of viruses neutralized as well as the antibody titer increasing over time. Interestingly, neutralization breadth peaked at 4 years postinfection, with no increase thereafter. The extent of cross-neutralizing activity correlated with CD4+ T cell decline, viral load, and CD4+ T cell count at 6 months postinfection but not at later time points, suggesting that early events set the stage for the development of breadth. However, in a multivariate analysis, CD4 decline was the major driver of this association, as viral load was not an independent predictor of breadth. Mapping of the epitopes targeted by cross-neutralizing antibodies revealed that in one individual these antibodies recognized the membrane-proximal external region (MPER), while in two other individuals, cross-neutralizing activity was adsorbed by monomeric gp120 and targeted epitopes that involved the N-linked glycan at position 332 in the C3 region. Serum antibodies from the other four participants targeted quaternary epitopes, at least 2 of which were PG9/16-like and depended on the N160 and/or L165 residue in the V2 region. These data indicate that fewer than 20% of HIV-1 subtype C-infected individuals develop antibodies with cross-neutralizing activity after 3 years of infection and that these antibodies target different regions of the HIV-1 envelope, including as yet uncharacterized epitopes.
The targets of broadly cross-neutralizing (BCN) antibodies are of great interest in the HIV vaccine field. We have identified a subtype C HIV-1-superinfected individual, CAP256, with high-level BCN activity, and characterized the antibody specificity mediating breadth. CAP256 developed potent BCN activity peaking at 3 years postinfection, neutralizing 32 (76%) of 42 heterologous viruses, with titers of antibodies against some viruses exceeding 1:10,000. CAP256 showed a subtype bias, preferentially neutralizing subtype C and A viruses over subtype B viruses. CAP256 BCN serum targeted a quaternary epitope which included the V1V2 region. Further mapping identified residues F159, N160, L165, R166, D167, K169, and K171 (forming the FN/LRD-K-K motif) in the V2 region as crucial to the CAP256 epitope. However, the fine specificity of the BCN response varied over time and, while consistently dependent on R166 and K169, became gradually less dependent on D167 and K171, possibly contributing to the incremental increase in breadth over 4 years. The presence of an intact FN/LRD-K-K motif in heterologous viruses was associated with sensitivity, although the length of the adjacent V1 loop modulated the degree of sensitivity, with a shorter V1 region significantly associated with higher titers. Repair of the FN/LRD-K-K motif in resistant heterologous viruses conferred sensitivity, with titers sometimes exceeding 1:10,000. Comparison of the CAP256 epitope with that of the PG9/PG16 monoclonal antibodies suggested that these epitopes overlapped, adding to the mounting evidence that this may represent a common neutralization target that should be further investigated as a potential vaccine candidate.
The CAPRISA 004 trial assessed effectiveness and safety of a 1% vaginal gel formulation of tenofovir, a nucleotide reverse transcriptase inhibitor, for the prevention of HIV acquisition in women. A double-blind, randomized controlled trial was conducted comparing tenofovir gel (n=445) with placebo gel (n=444) in sexually active, HIV-uninfected 18-40 year-old women in urban and rural KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa HIV serostatus, safety, sexual behavior and gel and condom use were assessed at monthly follow-up visits for 30 months. HIV incidence in the tenofovir gel arm was 5.6 per 100 women-years (wy), i.e. person time of study observation, (38/680.6wy) compared to 9.1 per 100 wy (60/660.7wy) in the placebo gel arm (Incidence Rate Ratio (IRR)=0.61; p=0.017).In high adherers (gel adherence >80%), HIV incidence was 54% lower (p=0.025) in the tenofovir gel arm. In intermediate adherers (gel adherence 50-80%) and low adherers (gel adherence < 50%) the HIV incidence reduction was 38% and 28% respectively. Tenofovir gel reduced HIV acquisition by an estimated 39% overall, and by 54% in women with high gel adherence. No increase in the overall adverse event rates was observed. There were no changes in viral load and no tenofovir resistance in HIV seroconvertors. Tenofovir gel could potentially fill an important HIV prevention gap, especially for women unable to successfully negotiate mutual monogamy or condom use.
Deciphering immune events during early stages of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) infection is critical for understanding the course of disease. We characterized the hierarchy of HIV-1-specific T-cell gamma interferon (IFN-γ) enzyme-linked immunospot (ELISPOT) assay responses during acute subtype C infection in 53 individuals and associated temporal patterns of responses with disease progression in the first 12 months. There was a diverse pattern of T-cell recognition across the proteome, with the recognition of Nef being immunodominant as early as 3 weeks postinfection. Over the first 6 months, we found that there was a 23% chance of an increased response to Nef for every week postinfection (P = 0.0024), followed by a nonsignificant increase to Pol (4.6%) and Gag (3.2%). Responses to Env and regulatory proteins appeared to remain stable. Three temporal patterns of HIV-specific T-cell responses could be distinguished: persistent, lost, or new. The proportion of persistent T-cell responses was significantly lower (P = 0.0037) in individuals defined as rapid progressors than in those progressing slowly and who controlled viremia. Almost 90% of lost T-cell responses were coincidental with autologous viral epitope escape. Regression analysis between the time to fixed viral escape and lost T-cell responses (r = 0.61; P = 0.019) showed a mean delay of 14 weeks after viral escape. Collectively, T-cell epitope recognition is not a static event, and temporal patterns of IFN-γ-based responses exist. This is due partly to viral sequence variation but also to the recognition of invariant viral epitopes that leads to waves of persistent T-cell immunity, which appears to associate with slower disease progression in the first year of infection.
Despite high mortality rates in tuberculosis patients with HIV co-infection, there is continued controversy on when to initiate antiretroviral therapy (ART) in these patients.
We conducted an open-label randomized controlled trial in Durban, South Africa to determine optimal timing of ART initiation in relation to TB treatment. Acid-fast bacilli (AFB) smear positive tuberculosis patients with HIV infection and CD4+ counts <500 cells/mm3 (n=642) were randomized to one of two integrated treatment arms (ART initiation during tuberculosis treatment) or to a sequential treatment arm (ART initiation upon tuberculosis treatment completion). Participants received standard tuberculosis therapy, cotrimoxazole prophylaxis and once daily didanosine, lamivudine and efavirenz ART regimen. The primary endpoint was all-cause mortality.
This analysis compares data from the sequential treatment arm and the combined integrated treatment arms up to 1 September 2008, when the Safety Monitoring Committee recommended halting the sequential treatment arm. Demographic, clinical and laboratory characteristics at baseline and adverse event rates during follow-up were similar in the study arms. Mortality was 56% lower (hazard ratio: 0.44; 95% Confidence Interval: 21% to 75%; p = 0.003) in the integrated arm (5.4 per 100 person-years (25 deaths; n=429)) compared to sequential arm (12.1 per 100 person-years (27 deaths; n=213)). Mortality rates were lower regardless of CD4+ count level.
Initiating ART during tuberculosis treatment in AFB positive patients with HIV co-infection and CD4+ counts <500 cells/mm3 significantly improves survival and provides further impetus for the integration of tuberculosis and AIDS services.
Both T cell activation during early HIV-1 infection and soluble markers of immune activation during chronic infection are predictive of HIV disease progression. Although the acute phase of HIV infection is associated with increased pro-inflammatory cytokine production, the relationship between cytokine concentrations and HIV pathogenesis is unknown.
To identify cytokine biomarkers measurable in plasma during acute HIV-1 infection that predict HIV disease progression.
Study including 40 South African women who became infected with HIV-1 and were followed longitudinally from the time of infection.
The concentrations of 30 cytokines in plasma from women with acute HIV-1 infection were measured and associations between cytokine levels and both viral load set-point 12 months post-infection and time taken for CD4 counts to fall below 350 cells/μl were determined using multivariate and Cox proportional-hazards regression.
We found that the concentrations of 5 plasma cytokines, IL-12p40, IL-12p70, IFN-γ, IL-7 and IL-15, in women with acute infection predicted 66% of the variation in viral load set-point 12 months post infection. IL-12p40, IL-12p70 and IFN-γ were significantly associated with lower viral load whereas IL-7 and IL-15 were associated with higher viral load. Plasma concentrations of IL-12p40 and GM-CSF during acute infection were associated with maintenance of CD4 counts above 350 cells/μl while IL-1α, eotaxin and IL-7 were associated with more rapid CD4 loss.
A small panel of plasma cytokines during acute HIV-1 infection was predictive of long-term HIV disease prognosis in this group of South African women.
HIV-1; cytokines; acute infection; viral load; disease progression
We identified three cross-neutralizing plasma samples with high-titer anti-membrane proximal external region (MPER) peptide binding antibodies from among 156 chronically human immunodeficiency virus type 1-infected individuals. In order to establish if these antibodies were directly responsible for the observed neutralization breadth, we used MPER-coated magnetic beads to deplete plasmas of these specific antibodies. Depletion of anti-MPER antibodies from BB34, CAP206, and SAC21 resulted in 77%, 68%, and 46% decreases, respectively, in the number of viruses neutralized. Antibodies eluted from the beads showed neutralization profiles similar to those of the original plasmas, with potencies comparable to those of the known anti-MPER monoclonal antibodies (MAbs), 4E10, 2F5, and Z13e1. The anti-MPER neutralizing antibodies in BB34 were present in the immunoglobulin G3 subclass-enriched fraction. Alanine scanning of the MPER showed that the antibodies from these three plasmas had specificities distinct from those of the known MAbs, requiring one to three crucial residues at positions 670, 673, and 674. These data demonstrate the existence of MPER-specific cross-neutralizing antibodies in plasma, although the ability to elicit such potent antiviral antibodies during natural infection appears to be rare. Nevertheless, the identification of three novel antibody specificities within the MPER supports its further study as a promising target for vaccine design.
One of the greatest challenges facing post-apartheid South Africa is the control of the concomitant HIV and tuberculosis epidemics. HIV continues to spread relentlessly, and tuberculosis has been declared a national emergency. In 2007, South Africa, with 0·7% of the world’s population, had 17% of the global burden of HIV infection, and one of the world’s worst tuberculosis epidemics, compounded by rising drug resistance and HIV co-infection. Until recently, the South African Government’s response to these diseases has been marked by denial, lack of political will, and poor implementation of policies and programmes. Nonetheless, there have been notable achievements in disease management, including substantial improvements in access to condoms, expansion of tuberculosis control efforts, and scale-up of free antiretroviral therapy (ART). Care for acutely ill AIDS patients and long-term provision of ART are two issues that dominate medical practice and the health-care system. Decisive action is needed to implement evidence-based priorities for the control of the HIV and tuberculosis epidemics. By use of the framework of the Strategic Plans for South Africa for tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS, we provide prioritised four-step approaches for tuberculosis control, HIV prevention, and HIV treatment. Strong leadership, political will, social mobilisation, adequate human and financial resources, and sustainable development of health-care services are needed for successful implementation of these approaches.
Understanding early immunological events during HIV-1 infection that may set the course of disease progression is important for identifying correlates of viral control. This study explores the association of differentiation profiles of HIV-specific and total memory CD8+ T cells with viral set point. A cohort of 47 HIV-1-infected individuals, with differing viral set points at 12 mo, were recruited during acute infection. We identified that the magnitude of IFN-γ+ T cell responses at 6 mo postinfection did not associate with viral set point at 12 mo. A subset of 16 individuals was further studied to characterize CD8+ T cells for expression patterns of markers for memory differentiation, survival (CD127), senescence (CD57), and negative regulation (programmed death-1). We show that viral control and the predicted tempo of HIV disease progression in the first year of infection was associated with a synchronous differentiation of HIV-specific and total CD8+ memory subpopulations. At 6–9 mo postinfection, those with low viral set points had a significantly higher proportion of early differentiated HIV-specific and total memory CD8+ cells of a central memory (CD45RO+CD27+CCR7+) and intermediate memory (CD45RO−CD27+CCR7−) phenotype. Those with high viral set points possessed significantly larger frequencies of effector memory (CD45RO+CD27−CCR7−) cells. The proportions of memory subsets significantly correlated with CD38+CD8+ T cells. Thus, it is likely that a high Ag burden resulting in generalized immune activation may drive differentiation of HIV-specific and total memory CD8+ T cells.
The early autologous neutralizing antibody response in human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) subtype C infections is often characterized by high titers, but the response is type specific with little to no cross-neutralizing activity. The specificities of these early neutralizing antibodies are not known; however, the type specificity suggests that they may target the variable regions of the envelope. Here, we show that cross-reactive anti-V3 antibodies developed within 3 to 12 weeks in six individuals but did not mediate autologous neutralization. Using a series of chimeric viruses, we found that antibodies directed at the V1V2, V4, and V5 regions contributed to autologous neutralization in some individuals, with V1V2 playing a more substantial role. However, these antibodies did not account for the total neutralizing capacity of these sera against the early autologous virus. Antibodies directed against the C3-V4 region were involved in autologous neutralization in all four sera studied. In two sera, transfer of the C3-V4 region rendered the chimera as sensitive to antibody neutralization as the parental virus. Although the C3 region, which contains the highly variable α2-helix was not a direct target in most cases, it contributed to the formation of neutralization epitopes as substitution of this region resulted in neutralization resistance. These data suggest that the C3 and V4 regions combine to form important structural motifs and that epitopes in this region are major targets of the early autologous neutralizing response in HIV-1 subtype C infection.
The high prevalence of anaemia and the increased morbidity and mortality associated with anaemia during AIDS has been well described yet there has been little information about anaemia and changes in haemoglobin levels during acute and early HIV-1 infection.
HIV-negative women (n = 245) were enrolled into an observational cohort as part of the Centre for the AIDS Programme of Research in South Africa (CAPRISA) Acute Infection Study. Acute infection was diagnosed following a positive HIV RNA PCR in the absence of antibodies, or detection of HIV-1 antibodies within 3 months of a previously negative antibody test. Haemotologic parameters were assessed before infection and at regular intervals in the first twelve months of HIV infection.
Fifty-seven participants with acute HIV infection were identified at a median of 14.5 days post-infection (range 10–81) and were enrolled in the CAPRISA Acute Infection cohort at a median of 41 days post-infection (range 15–104). Mean haemoglobin prior to HIV-1 infection was 12.7 g/dL, with a mean decline of 0.46 g/dL following infection. The prevalence of anaemia increased from 25.0% prior to HIV-1 infection to 52.6% at 3 months post-infection, 61.1% at 6 months post-infection, and 51.4% at 12 months post-infection.
Haematologic derangements and anaemia with a trend towards iron deficiency are common with acute HIV-1 subtype C infection in this small cohort. The negative impact of anaemia concurrent with established HIV infection upon morbidity and mortality has been well documented but the prognostic potential and long-term effects of anaemia during acute HIV-1 infection remain unknown.
Jerome Singh and colleagues present the ethical and legal challenges surrounding the enrollment of adolescents in HIV observational studies and other types of sensitive research.
Clade C is one of the most prevalent genetic subtypes of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) in the world today and one of the least studied with respect to neutralizing antibodies. Most information on HIV-1 serology as it relates to neutralization is derived from clade B. Clade C primary isolates of HIV-1 from South Africa and Malawi were shown here to resemble clade B isolates in their resistance to inhibition by soluble CD4 and their sensitivity to neutralization by human monoclonal antibody immunoglobulin G1b12 and, to a lesser extent, 2F5. Unlike clade B isolates, however, all 16 clade C isolates examined resisted neutralization by 2G12. Infection with clade C HIV-1 in a cohort of female sex workers in South Africa generated antibodies that neutralized the autologous clade C isolate and T-cell-line-adapted (TCLA) strains of clade B. Neutralization of clade B TCLA strains was much more sensitive to the presence of autologous gp120 V3 loop peptides compared to the neutralization of clade C isolates in most cases. Thus, the native structure of gp120 on primary isolates of clade C will likely pose a challenge for neutralizing antibody induction by candidate HIV-1 vaccines much the same as it has for clade B. The autologous neutralizing antibody response following primary infection with clade C HIV-1 in South Africa matured slowly, requiring at least 4 to 5 months to become detectable. Once detectable, extensive cross-neutralization of heterologous clade C isolates from South Africa was observed, suggesting an unusual degree of shared neutralization determinants at a regional level. This high frequency of cross-neutralization differed significantly from the ability of South African clade C serum samples to neutralize clade B isolates but did not differ significantly from results of other combinations of clade B and C reagents tested in checkerboard assays. Notably, two clade C serum samples obtained after less than 2 years of infection neutralized a broad spectrum of clade B and C isolates. Other individual serum samples showed a significant clade preference in their neutralizing activity. Our results suggest that clades B and C are each comprised of multiple neutralization serotypes, some of which are more clade specific than others. The clustering of shared neutralization determinants on clade C primary HIV-1 isolates from South Africa suggests that neutralizing antibodies induced by vaccines will have less epitope diversity to overcome at a regional level.
Broadly neutralizing antibodies are not commonly produced in HIV-1 infected individuals nor by experimental HIV-1 vaccines. When these antibodies do occur, it is important to be able to isolate and characterize them to provide clues for vaccine design. CAP206 is a South African subtype C HIV-1-infected individual previously shown to have broadly neutralizing plasma antibodies targeting the envelope gp41 distal membrane proximal external region (MPER). We have now used a fluoresceinated peptide tetramer antigen with specific cell sorting to isolate a human neutralizing monoclonal antibody (mAb) against the HIV-1 envelope gp41 MPER. The isolated recombinant mAb, CAP206-CH12, utilized a portion of the distal MPER (HXB2 amino acid residues, 673–680) and neutralized a subset of HIV-1 pseudoviruses sensitive to CAP206 plasma antibodies. Interestingly, this mAb was polyreactive and used the same germ-line variable heavy (VH1-69) and variable kappa light chain (VK3-20) gene families as the prototype broadly neutralizing anti-MPER mAb, 4E10 (residues 672–680). These data indicate that there are multiple immunogenic targets in the C-terminus of the MPER of HIV-1 gp41 envelope and suggests that gp41 neutralizing epitopes may interact with a restricted set of naive B cells during HIV-1 infection.
Young women in sub-Saharan Africa bear a disproportionate burden of HIV infection compared to men but have limited options to reduce their HIV risk. Microbicides could fill an important HIV prevention gap for sexually active women who are unable to successfully negotiate mutual monogamy or condom use.
This paper describes the baseline sample characteristics in the CAPRISA 004 trial which assessed the safety and effectiveness of the vaginal microbicide, 1% tenofovir gel for HIV prevention in South Africa.
This analysis assessed the baseline demographic, clinical and sexual behavior data of women screened and enrolled into the trial. The characteristics were summarized using descriptive summary measures; expressed as means and percent for categorical variables.
HIV prevalence at screening was 25.8% [95% Confidence Interval (CI):23.9-27.7). Of the 889 eligibly enrolled women who contributed follow-up data, rural participants recruited from a family planning (FP) clinic were younger, more likely to be living apart from their regular partner, reported lower coital frequency, had lower condom use (p < 0.001). In contrast, urban participants recruited from a sexually transmitted disease (STD) clinic reported higher numbers of lifetime sexual partners, new partners in the last 30 days and receiving money in exchange for sex (p < 0.001).
The populations selected provide suitable diverse target groups for HIV prevention intervention studies.
ClinicalTrials.gov: NCT 00441298