Recent data suggest that infection with human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) subtype C results in prolonged high-level viremia (>5 log10 copies/mL) during early infection. We examined the relationship between HIV-1 subtype and plasma viremia among 153 African seroconverters. Mean setpoint viral loads were similar for C and non-C subtypes: 4.36 vs 4.42 log10 copies/mL (P = .61). The proportion of subtype C–infected participants with viral loads >5 log10 copies/mL was not greater than the proportion for those with non-C infection. Our data do not support the hypothesis that higher early viral load accounts for the rapid spread of HIV-1 subtype C in southern Africa.
HIV-1; group M subtype; plasma viral load; early infection; Africa
Timely initiation of antiretroviral therapy (ART) is particularly important for HIV-discordant couples because viral suppression greatly reduces the risk of transmission to the uninfected partner. To identify issues and concerns related to ART initiation among HIV-discordant couples, we recruited a subset of discordant couples participating in a longitudinal study in Nairobi to participate in in-depth interviews and focus group discussions about ART. Our results suggest that partners in HIV-discordant relationships discuss starting ART, yet most are not aware that ART can decrease the risk of HIV transmission. Additionally, their concerns about ART initiation include side effects, sustaining an appropriate level of drug treatment, HIV/AIDS related stigma, medical/biological issues, psychological barriers, misconceptions about the medications, the inconvenience of being on therapy, and lack of social support. Understanding and addressing these barriers to ART initiation among discordant couples is critical to advancing the HIV “treatment as prevention” agenda.
HIV/AIDS; serodiscordant couples; serodiscordant; antiretroviral therapy; Africa
HIV-infected children may require the use of combination antiretroviral treatment (cART) into adulthood. However, regimens are limited to first- and second-line in many African settings. Therefore, understanding the long-term rate of virologic failure and drug resistance during prolonged antiretroviral treatment is important for establishing treatment strategies in African pediatric cohorts.
Children ages 18 months to 12 years initiated first-line cART and were followed every 1–3 months, for up to 5.5 years. Treatment was switched to second-line based on clinical and immunologic criteria according to national guidelines. Virologic failure was determined retrospectively as defined by ≥2 viral loads >5000 copies/mL. Drug resistance was assessed during viral failure by population-based sequencing.
Among 100 children on first-line cART followed for a median 49 months, 34% experienced virologic failure. Twenty-three (68%) of the 34 children with viral failure had detectable resistance mutations, of whom 14 (61%) had multi-class resistance. Fourteen (14%) children were switched to second-line regimens and followed for a median of 28 months. Retrospective analysis revealed that virologic failure had occurred a median of 12 months prior to the switch to second-line. During prolonged first-line treatment in the presence of viral failure, additional resistance mutations accumulated, however, only 1 (7%) of 14 children had persistent viremia during second-line treatment.
Virologic suppression was maintained on first-line cART in two-thirds of HIV-infected children for up to 5 years. Switch to second-line based on clinical/immunologic criteria occurred ~1 year after viral failure, but the delay did not consistently compromise second-line treatment.
Studies in HIV-1-infected infants and HIV-1-exposed, uninfected infants link early cytomegalovirus (CMV) acquisition with growth delay and cognitive impairment. We investigated maternal valacyclovir to delay infant acquisition of CMV.
Pregnant women with HIV-1, HSV-2 and CD4 count >250 cells/µl were randomized at 34 weeks gestation to 500 mg twice-daily valacyclovir or placebo for 12 months. Maternal CMV DNA was measured in plasma at 34 weeks gestation, in cervical secretions at 34 and 38 weeks gestation, and in breast milk at 7 postpartum timepoints; infant CMV DNA was measured in dried blood spots at 8 timepoints including birth.
Among 148 women, 141 infants were compared in intent-to-treat analyses. Maternal and infant characteristics were similar between study arms. Infant CMV acquisition did not differ between study arms, with 46/70 infants (66%) in placebo arm and 47/71 infants (66%) in the valacyclovir arm acquiring CMV; median time to CMV detection did not differ. CMV DNA was detected in 92% of 542 breast milk specimens with no difference in CMV level between study arms. Change in cervical shedding of CMV DNA between baseline and 38 weeks was 0.40-log greater in the placebo arm than the valacyclovir arm (p = 0.05).
In this cohort of HIV-1-seropositive mothers, two-thirds of infants acquired CMV by one year. Maternal valacyclovir had no effect on timing of infant CMV acquisition or breast milk CMV viral loads, although it modestly reduced cervical CMV shedding. Maternal prophylaxis to reduce infant CMV acquisition warrants further evaluation in trials with antiviral agents.
Background. In studies from high-income countries, human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1)–infected persons have diminished responses to hepatitis B virus (HBV) vaccination, compared with HIV-1–uninfected persons, but data from other settings are limited.
Methods. We compared the immune response to HBV vaccination among HIV-1–infected and HIV-1–uninfected Kenyan adults and assessed the response of HIV-1–infected initial nonresponders to revaccination with a standard HBV vaccine series.
Results. Of 603 participants, 310 (51.4%) were HIV-1–infected, for whom the median CD4+ T-cell count was 557 cells/μL (interquartile range, 428–725 cells/μL); none were receiving antiretroviral therapy. Nonresponse to HBV vaccine was higher among HIV-1–infected participants, compared with HIV-1–uninfected participants (35.8% vs 14.3%; odds ratio, 3.33; P < .001). Of 102 HIV-1–infected initial nonresponders, 88 (86.3%) responded to revaccination, for an overall response, including to revaccination, of 94.9%. Among HIV-1–infected individuals, lower CD4+ T-cell counts and male sex were independent predictors of nonresponse to initial vaccination, and lower body mass index, higher plasma HIV-1 RNA levels, and longer time to revaccination predicted nonresponse to revaccination.
Conclusions. Kenyan adults had similar HBV vaccination responses as persons from high-income countries. Timely revaccination of HIV-1–infected nonresponders increased response to the vaccine to 95%.
HBV vaccine; HIV-1; Africa
Preterm birth (PTB), low birth weight (LBW) and small for gestational age (SGA) contribute to neonatal mortality. Maternal HIV-1 infection has been associated with an increased risk of PTB, but mechanisms underlying this association are undefined. We describe correlates and outcomes of PTB, LBW, and SGA in HIV-exposed uninfected infants.
This was a retrospective analysis of cohort study. Between 1999–2002, pregnant, HIV-infected women were enrolled into an HIV-1 transmission study. Logistic regression was used to identify correlates of PTB, LBW and SGA in HIV-negative, spontaneous singleton deliveries. Associations between birth outcomes and mortality were measured using survival analyses.
In multivariable models, maternal plasma (OR = 2.1, 95% CI = 1.1-3.8) and cervical HIV-1 RNA levels (OR = 1.6, 95% CI = 1.1-2.4), and CD4 < 15% (OR = 2.4, 95% CI = 1.0-5.6) were associated with increased odds of PTB. Abnormal vaginal discharge and cervical polymorphonuclear leukocytes were also associated with PTB. Cervical HIV-1 RNA level (OR = 2.4, 95% CI = 1.5-6.7) was associated with an increased odds of LBW, while increasing parity (OR = 0.46, 95% CI = 0.24-0.88) was associated with reduced odds. Higher maternal body mass index (OR = 0.75, 95% CI = 0.61-0.92) was associated with a reduced odds of SGA, while bacterial vaginosis was associated with >3-fold increased odds (OR = 3.2, 95% CI = 1.4-7.4). PTB, LBW, and SGA were each associated with a >6-fold increased risk of neonatal death, and a >2-fold increased rate of infant mortality within the first year.
Maternal plasma and cervical HIV-1 RNA load, and genital infections may be important risk factors for PTB in HIV-exposed uninfected infants. PTB, LBW, and SGA are associated with increased neonatal and infant mortality in HIV-exposed uninfected infants.
Preterm birth; Low birth weight; Small for gestational age; Pediatric HIV
Plasma HIV-1 RNA set point is an important predictor of HIV-1 disease progression. We hypothesized that inoculum size and HIV-1 exposure prior to HIV-1 transmission may modulate set point. We evaluated predictors of set point among 141 African HIV-1 seroconverters and their HIV-1-infected study partners. We compared characteristics of seroconverters and their HIV-1-infected partners and HIV-1 set point. Data were from a clinical trial of genital HSV-2 suppression with acyclovir to reduce HIV-1 transmission in HIV-1 serodiscordant couples with HIV-1 transmission linkage assigned through virus sequencing. Our analysis includes data from all transmissions including those with transmission linkage to the HIV-1-infected “source partner” and those that were not linked to their HIV-1-infected study partner. In multivariable analysis, higher plasma HIV-1 in source partners was associated with higher seroconverter set point (+0.44 log10 copies/ml per log10 source partner plasma HIV-1, p<0.001). In addition, bacterial vaginosis (BV) among female source partners near the time of infection was associated with higher set point in their male seroconverters (+0.49 log10, p=0.04). Source partner characteristics associated with lower set point included male circumcision (−0.63 log10, p=0.03) and assignment to acyclovir (−0.44 log10, p=0.02). The proportion of variation in set point explained by plasma HIV-1 RNA of the source partner, after controlling for other factors, was 0.06. Source partner plasma HIV-1 level is the most significant predictor of seroconverter set point, possibly reflecting characteristics of the transmitted virus. Acyclovir use, BV among women source partners, and circumcision among male source partners may alter the set point by affecting transmitted virus inoculum in the source partners' genital compartment.
Herpes simplex virus-2 (HSV-2) suppression with acyclovir or valacyclovir reduces HIV-1 viral RNA levels; one hypothesis is that HSV-2 suppression reduces immune activation. We measured T cell immune activation markers among women participating in a randomized placebo-controlled trial of valacyclovir to reduce HIV-1 RNA levels among pregnant women. Although valacyclovir was associated with lower HIV-1 RNA levels, the distribution of both CD4+ and CD8+ CD38+HLA-DR+ T cells was not different among women taking valacyclovir when compared to women taking placebo. Further study is needed to understand the mechanism of HIV-1 RNA reduction following herpes suppression among those coinfected with HIV-1 and HSV-2.
Cervicovaginal HIV-1-neutralizing IgA was associated with reduced HIV-1 acquisition in a cohort of commercial sex workers. We aimed to define the prevalence and correlates of HIV-1-neutralizing IgA from HIV-1-exposed seronegative (HESN) women in HIV-1-serodiscordant relationships.
HIV-1-serodiscordant couples in Nairobi were enrolled and followed quarterly up to two years, and women in concordant HIV-1-negative relationships were enrolled as controls. Cervicovaginal, seminal, and blood samples were collected at enrollment and follow-up. Cervicovaginal IgA was assessed for HIV-1-neutralizing activity by a peripheral blood mononuclear cell-based assay using an HIV-1 clade A primary isolate.
HESN women in discordant relationships had significantly more HIV-1-neutralizing IgA detected in genital secretions compared to control women (36 of 155 [23%] vs. 4 of 70 [6%], respectively; odds ratio [OR] 5.0; 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.70–14.64; P=0.003). These responses persisted over time in all available follow-up cervicovaginal samples from women with detectable HIV-1-neutralizing IgA at baseline. Partner median HIV-1 plasma viral load was lower among women who had HIV-1-neutralizing IgA compared to women without detectable activity (4.3 vs. 4.8 log10 copies/ml, respectively; OR 0.70; 95% CI 0.51–0.94; P=0.02). A similar trend was found with partner seminal viral load (OR 0.57; 95% CI 0.32–1.02; P=0.06).
HESN women were 5-times more likely to have neutralizing IgA in cervicovaginal secretions than low-risk control women, and these responses were inversely associated with partner viral load. These observations support the existence of antiviral activity in the mucosal IgA fraction following sexual HIV-1 exposure.
HIV; immunoglobulin A; discordant couple; exposed uninfected; Africa; neutralization; viral load
Background. Immunogenetic correlates of resistance to HIV-1 in HIV-1–exposed seronegative (HESN) individuals with consistently high exposure may inform HIV-1 prevention strategies. We developed a novel approach for quantifying HIV-1 exposure to identify individuals remaining HIV-1 uninfected despite persistent high exposure.
Methods. We used longitudinal predictors of HIV-1 transmission in HIV-1 serodiscordant couples to score HIV-1 exposure and define HESN clusters with persistently high, low, and decreasing risk trajectories. The model was validated in an independent cohort of serodiscordant couples. We describe a statistical tool that can be applied to other HESN cohorts to identify individuals with high exposure to HIV-1.
Results. HIV-1 exposure was best quantified by frequency of unprotected sex with, plasma HIV-1 RNA levels among, and presence of genital ulcer disease among HIV-1–infected partners and by age, pregnancy status, herpes simplex virus 2 serostatus, and male circumcision status among HESN participants. Overall, 14% of HESN individuals persistently had high HIV-1 exposure and exhibited a declining incidence of HIV-1 infection over time.
Conclusions. A minority of HESN individuals from HIV-1–discordant couples had persistent high HIV-1 exposure over time. Decreasing incidence of infection in this group suggests these individuals were selected for resistance to HIV-1 and may be most appropriate for identifying biological correlates of natural host resistance to HIV-1 infection.
Assays to determine cross-sectional HIV incidence misclassify some individuals with nonrecent HIV infection as recently infected, overestimating HIV incidence. We analyzed factors associated with false-recent misclassification in five African countries. Samples from 2197 adults from Botswana, Kenya, South Africa, Tanzania, and Uganda who were HIV infected >12 months were tested using the (1) BED capture enzyme immunoassay (BED), (2) avidity assay, (3) BED and avidity assays with higher assay cutoffs (BED+avidity screen), and (4) multiassay algorithm (MAA) that includes the BED+avidity screen, CD4 cell count, and HIV viral load. Logistic regression identified factors associated with misclassification. False-recent misclassification rates and 95% confidence intervals were BED alone: 7.6% (6.6, 8.8); avidity assay alone: 3.5% (2.7, 4.3); BED+avidity screen: 2.2% (1.7, 2.9); and MAA: 1.2% (0.8, 1.8). The misclassification rate for the MAA was significantly lower than the rates for the other three methods (each p<0.05). Misclassification rates were lower when the analysis was limited to subtype C-endemic countries, with the lowest rate obtained for the MAA [0.8% (0.2, 1.9)]. Factors associated with misclassification were for BED alone: country of origin, antiretroviral treatment (ART), viral load, and CD4 cell count; for avidity assay alone: country of origin; for BED+avidity screen: country of origin and ART. No factors were associated with misclassification using the MAA. In a multivariate model, these associations remained significant with one exception: the association of ART with misclassification was completely attenuated. A MAA that included CD4 cell count and viral load had lower false-recent misclassification than the BED or avidity assays (alone or in combination). Studies are underway to compare the sensitivity of these methods for detection of recent HIV infection.
Antiretroviral pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) reduces the incidence of acquisition of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) in men who have sex with men and is a promising approach for preventing HIV-1 in heterosexual populations.
We conducted a randomized, three-arm trial of oral antiretroviral PrEP among heterosexual couples from Kenya and Uganda in which one member was HIV-1 seronegative and the other HIV-1 seropositive. Seronegative partners were randomly assigned to once-daily tenofovir (TDF), combination emtricitabine/tenofovir (FTC/TDF), or matching placebo and followed monthly for up to 36 months. At enrollment, HIV-1 seropositive partners were not eligible for antiretroviral therapy under national guidelines. All couples received standard HIV-1 treatment and prevention services, including individual and couples risk-reduction counseling and condoms.
4758 couples were enrolled; for 62%, the HIV-1 seronegative partner was male. For HIV-1 seropositive participants, the median CD4 count was 495 cells/μL (interquartile range 375–662). Of 82 post-randomization HIV-1 infections, 17 were among those assigned TDF (incidence 0.65 per 100 person-years), 13 among those assigned FTC/TDF (incidence 0.50 per 100 person-years), and 52 among those assigned placebo (incidence 1.99 per 100 person-years), indicating a 67% relative reduction in HIV-1 incidence for TDF (95% CI 44 to 81, p<0.001) and 75% for FTC/TDF (95% CI 55 to 87, p<0.001). HIV-1 protective effects of FTC/TDF and TDF were not significantly different (p=0.23), and both study medications significantly reduced HIV-1 incidence in both men and women. The rate of serious medical events was similar across the study arms.
Oral TDF and FTC/TDF provided substantial protection against HIV-1 acquisition in heterosexual men and women, with comparable efficacy of TDF and FTC/TDF. (Funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation; ClinicalTrials.gov number NCT00557245)
HIV-1 serodiscordant couples; pre-exposure prophylaxis; HIV-1 prevention; randomized clinical trial; Africa
Breast milk is a major route of infant HIV infection, yet the majority of breast-fed, HIV-exposed infants escape infection by unknown mechanisms. This study aimed to investigate the role of HIV-specific breast milk cells in preventing infant HIV infection.
A prospective study was designed to measure associations between maternal breast milk HIV-specific interferon-γ (IFN-γ) responses and infant HIV-1 detection at 1 month of age.
In a Kenyan cohort of HIV-infected mothers, blood and breastmilk HIV-gag IFN-γ ELISpot responses were measured. Logistic regression was used to measure associations between breast milk IFN-γ responses and infant HIV infection at 1 month of age.
IFN-γ responses were detected in breast milk from 117 of 170 (69%) women. IFN-γ responses were associated with breast milk viral load, levels of macrophage inflammatory protein (MIP) 1α, MIP-1β, regulated upon activation, normal T-cell expressed, and secreted and stromal-cell derived factor 1 and subclinical mastitis. Univariate factors associated with infant HIV infection at 1 month postpartum included both detection and breadth of breast milk IFN-γ response (P =0.08, P =0.04, respectively), breast milk MIP-1β detection (P =0.05), and plasma (P =0.004) and breast milk (P =0.004) viral load. In multivariate analyses adjusting for breast milk viral load and MIP-1β, breast milk IFN-γ responses were associated with an approximately 70% reduction in infant HIV infection [adjusted odds ratio (aOR) 0.29, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.092–0.91], and each additional peptide pool targeted was associated with an approximately 35% reduction in infant HIV (aOR 0.65, 95% CI 0.44–0.97).
These data show breast milk HIV-gag-specific IFN-γ cellular immune responses are prevalent and may contribute to protection from early HIV transmission. More broadly, these data suggest breast milk cellular responses are potentially influential in decreasing mother-to-child transmission of viruses.
breastfeeding; breast milk cytotoxic T lymphocytes; cytokines; early postnatal transmission; infant; MIP-1β; pediatric; sub-Saharan Africa
The C868T single nucleotide polymorphism in the CD4 receptor encodes an amino acid substitution of tryptophan for arginine in the third domain. Previous studies suggest that C868T increases the risk of HIV-1 acquisition; however, the influence of this single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) on disease progression has not been established. The presence of the C868T polymorphism was not statistically significantly associated with HIV-1 disease progression outcomes in a cohort of postpartum Kenyan women.
We previously demonstrated a decrease in bacterial vaginosis (BV) and an increase in Lactobacillus colonization among randomized controlled trial (RCT) participants who received monthly oral periodic presumptive treatment (PPT) [2g metronidazole + 150mg fluconazole]. Post-trial data were analyzed to test the hypothesis that the treatment effect would persist following completion of one year of PPT.
Data were obtained from women who completed all 12 RCT visits and attended ≥1 post-trial visit within 120 days following completion of the RCT. We used Andersen-Gill proportional hazards models to estimate the post-trial effect of the intervention on the incidence of BV by Gram stain and detection of Lactobacillus species by culture.
The analysis included 165 subjects (83 active and 82 placebo). The post-trial incidence of BV was 260 per 100 person-years in the intervention arm versus 358 per 100 person-years in the placebo arm (hazard ratio [HR]=0.76; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.51–1.12). The post-trial incidence of Lactobacillus colonization was 180 per 100 person-years in the intervention arm versus 127 per 100 person-years in the placebo arm (HR=1.42; 95% CI: 0.85–2.71).
Despite a decrease in BV and an increase in Lactobacillus colonization during the RCT, the effect of PPT was not sustained at the same level following cessation of the intervention. New interventions that reduce BV recurrence and promote Lactobacillus colonization without the need for ongoing treatment are needed.
Bacterial vaginosis; Lactobacillus; periodic presumptive treatment; suppressive treatment
A number of studies of highly exposed HIV-1-seronegative individuals (HESN) have found HIV-1-specific cellular responses. However, there is limited evidence that responses prevent infection or are linked to HIV-1 exposure. Peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) were isolated from HESN in HIV-1-discordant relationships and low-risk controls in Nairobi, Kenya. HIV-1-specific responses were detected using gamma interferon (IFN-γ) enzyme-linked immunosorbent spot (ELISpot) assays stimulated by peptide pools spanning the subtype A HIV-1 genome. The HIV-1 incidence in this HESN cohort was 1.5 per 100 person years. Positive ELISpot responses were found in 34 (10%) of 331 HESN and 14 (13%) of 107 low-risk controls (odds ratio [OR] = 0.76; P = 0.476). The median immunodominant response was 18.9 spot-forming units (SFU)/106 peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC). Among HESN, increasing age (OR = 1.24 per 5 years; P = 0.026) and longer cohabitation with the HIV-1-infected partner (OR = 5.88 per 5 years; P = 0.003) were associated with responses. These factors were not associated with responses in controls. Other exposure indicators, including the partner's HIV-1 load (OR = 0.99 per log10 copy/ml; P = 0.974) and CD4 count (OR = 1.09 per 100 cells/μl; P = 0.238), were not associated with responses in HESN. HIV-1-specific cellular responses may be less relevant to resistance to infection among HESN who are using risk reduction strategies that decrease their direct viral exposure.
(See the editorial commentary by Gray and Wawer on pages 351–2.)
Background. Knowledge of factors that affect per-act infectivity of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) is important for designing HIV-1 prevention interventions and for the mathematical modeling of the spread of HIV-1.
Methods. We analyzed data from a prospective study of African HIV-1–serodiscordant couples. We assessed transmissions for linkage within the study partnership, based on HIV-1 sequencing. The primary exposure measure was the HIV-1–seropositive partners’ reports of number of sex acts and condom use with their study partner.
Results. Of 3297 couples experiencing 86 linked HIV-1 transmissions, the unadjusted per-act risks of unprotected male-to-female (MTF) and female-to-male (FTM) transmission were 0.0019 (95% confidence interval [CI], .0010–.0037) and 0.0010 (95% CI, .00060–.0017), respectively. After adjusting for plasma HIV-1 RNA of the HIV-1–infected partner and herpes simplex virus type 2 serostatus and age of the HIV-1–uninfected partner, we calculated the relative risk (RR) for MTF versus FTM transmission to be 1.03 (P = .93). Each log10 increase in plasma HIV-1 RNA increased the per-act risk of transmission by 2.9-fold (95% CI, 2.2–3.8). Self-reported condom use reduced the per-act risk by 78% (RR = 0.22 [95% CI, .11–.42]).
Conclusions. Modifiable risk factors for HIV-1 transmission were plasma HIV-1 RNA level and condom use, and, in HIV-1–uninfected partners, herpes simplex virus 2 infection, genital ulcers, Trichomonas vaginalis, vaginitis or cervicitis, and male circumcision.
Background. The effect of herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2) suppression on human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) RNA in the context of prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) interventions is unknown.
Methods. Between April 2008 and August 2010, we conducted a randomized, double-blind trial of twice daily 500 mg valacyclovir or placebo beginning at 34 weeks gestation in 148 HIV-1/HSV-2 coinfected pregnant Kenyan women ineligible for highly active antiretroviral therapy (CD4 > 250 cells/mm3). Women received zidovudine and single dose nevirapine for PMTCT and were followed until 12 months postpartum.
Results. Mean baseline plasma HIV-1 RNA was 3.88 log10 copies/mL. Mean plasma HIV-1 was lower during pregnancy (−.56 log10 copies/mL; 95% confidence interval [CI], −.77 to −.34) and after 6 weeks postpartum (−.51 log10 copies/mL; 95% CI, −.73 to −.30) in the valacyclovir arm than the placebo arm. Valacyclovir reduced breast milk HIV-1 RNA detection at 6 and 14 weeks postpartum compared with placebo (30% lower, P = .04; 46% lower, P = .01, respectively), but not after 14 weeks. Cervical HIV-1 RNA detection was similar between arms (P = .91).
Conclusions. Valacyclovir significantly decreased early breast milk and plasma HIV-1 RNA among women receiving PMTCT.
Clinical Trials Registration. NCT00530777.
Background. Although evidence supports a relationship between human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)–1 exposure and HIV-1−specific CD8+ T cell responses, studies have not demonstrated a direct association between the quantity of HIV-1 to which a person is exposed and the presence or absence of a response.
Methods. From 1999 to 2005, maternal HIV-1 RNA levels were measured in blood, cervical secretions, and breast milk at delivery and 1 month after delivery. HIV-1−specific interferon (IFN)–γ Elispot assays were conducted to determine infant CD8+ T-cell responses at 3 months of age.
Results. Among 161 infants tested with Elispot assays, 23 (14%) had positive results. Mothers whose infants had a positive assay had higher breast milk HIV-1 RNA levels at month 1 compared with mothers whose infants had negative Elispot assays (3.1 vs 2.5 log10 copies/mL; P = .017). Female infants were also more likely to have positive Elispot assays than male infants (P = .046), and in multivariate analyses, both female sex and high breast milk HIV-1 levels remained important predictors of a positive response (P = .022 and P = .015, respectively).
Conclusions. Exposure to breast milk HIV-1 and sex were associated with development of HIV-1−specific CD8+ T-cell responses in infants. These data support a role for mucosal exposure via the oral route in induction of systemic HIV-1−specific cellular immunity.
Current WHO guidelines recommend antiretroviral therapy (ART) initiation at CD4 counts ≤350 cells/µL. Increasing this threshold has been proposed, with a primary goal of reducing HIV-1 infectiousness. Because the quantity of HIV-1 in plasma is the primary predictor of HIV-1 transmission, consideration of plasma viral load in ART initiation guidelines is warranted.
Using per-sex-act infectivity estimates and cross-sectional sexual behavior data from 2,484 HIV-1 infected persons with CD4 counts >350 enrolled in a study of African heterosexual HIV-1 serodiscordant couples, we calculated the number of transmissions expected and the number potentially averted under selected scenarios for ART initiation: i) CD4 count <500 cells/µL, ii) viral load ≥10,000 or ≥50,000 copies/mL and iii) universal treatment. For each scenario, we estimated the proportion of expected infections that could be averted, the proportion of infected persons initiating treatment, and the ratio of these proportions.
Initiating treatment at viral load ≥50,000 copies/mL would require treating 19.8% of infected persons with CD4 counts >350 while averting 40.5% of expected transmissions (ratio 2.0); treating at viral load ≥10,0000 copies/mL had a ratio of 1.5. In contrast, initiation at CD4 count <500 would require treating 41.8%, while averting 48.4% (ratio 1.1).
Inclusion of viral load in ART initiation guidelines could permit targeting ART resources to HIV-1 infected persons who have a higher risk of transmitting HIV-1. Further work is needed to estimate costs and feasibility.
In Kenya and much of sub-Saharan Africa, nearly half of all couples affected by HIV are discordant. Antiretroviral therapy (ART) slows disease progression in HIV-1-infected individuals, and reduces transmission to uninfected partners. We examined time to ART initiation and factors associated with delayed initiation in HIV-1-discordant couples in Nairobi.
HIV-1-discordant couples were enrolled and followed quarterly for up to 2 years. Clinical staff administered questionnaires and conducted viral loads and CD4 counts. Participants with a CD4 count meeting ART criteria were referred to a nearby PEPFAR-funded treatment center. Barriers to ART initiation among participants with a CD4 count eligible for ART were assessed by Cox regression.
Of 439 HIV-1-infected participants (63.6% females and 36.4% males) 146 met CD4 count criteria for ART during follow-up. Median time from meeting CD4 criteria until ART initiation was 8.9 months, with 42.0% of eligible participants on ART by 6 months and 63.4% on ART by 1 year. The CD4 count at the time of eligibility was inversely associated with time to ART initiation (HR=0.49, p< 0.001). Compared to homeowners, those paying higher rents started ART 48% more slowly (p=0.062) and those paying lower rents started 71% more slowly (p=0.002).
Despite access to regular health care, referrals to treatment centers, and free access to ART, over a third of participants with an eligible CD4 count had not started ART within 1 year. Factors of lower socioeconomic status may slow ART initiation and targeted approaches are needed to avoid delays in treatment initiation.
HIV; discordant couples; serodiscordant; antiretroviral; ART; HAART
Longitudinal studies of HIV-1-infected individuals or those at risk of infection are subject to missed study visits that may have negative consequences on the care of participants and can jeopardize study validity due to bias and loss of statistical power. Distance between participant residence and study clinic, as well as other socioeconomic and demographic factors, may contribute to interruptions in patient follow-up.
HIV-1-serodiscordant couples were enrolled between May 2007 and October 2009 and followed for two years in Nairobi, Kenya. At baseline, demographic and home location information was collected and linear distance from each participant’s home to the study clinic was determined. Participants were asked to return to the study clinic for quarterly visits, with follow-up interruptions (FUI) defined as missing two consecutive visits. Cox proportional hazards regression was used to assess crude and adjusted associations between FUI and home-to-clinic distance, and other baseline characteristics.
Of 469 enrolled couples, 64% had a female HIV-1-infected partner. Overall incidence of FUI was 13.4 per 100 person-years (PY), with lower incidence of FUI in HIV-1-infected (10.8 per 100 PY) versus -uninfected individuals (16.1 per 100 PY) (hazard ratio [HR] = 0.66; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.50, 0.88). Among HIV-1-infected participants, those living between 5 and 10 kilometers (km) from the study clinic had a two-fold increased rate of FUI compared to those living <5 km away (HR = 2.17; 95% CI: 1.09, 4.34). Other factors associated with FUI included paying higher rent (HR = 1.67; 95% CI: 1.05, 2.65), having at least primary school education (HR = 1.96; 95% CI: 1.02, 3.70), and increased HIV-1 viral load (HR = 1.23 per log10 increase; 95% CI: 1.01, 1.51).
Home-to-clinic distance, indicators of socioeconomic status, and markers of disease progression may affect compliance with study follow-up schedules. Retention strategies should focus on participants at greatest risk of FUI to ensure study validity.
We examined associations between maternal HLA and vertical HIV-1 transmission in a perinatal cohort of 277 HIV-infected women in Nairobi. HLA class I genes were amplified using sequence-specific oligonucleotide probes and analyses were performed using logistic regression. Maternal A*2301 was associated with increased transmission risk before and after adjusting for maternal viral load (odds ratio [OR]=3.21; 95% CI: 1.42, 7.27, p=0.005, pcorr=0.04; adjusted OR=3.07; 95% CI: 1.26, 7.51, p=0.01, pcorr=NS). That maternal HLA-A*2301 was associated with transmission independent of plasma HIV-1 RNA levels, suggests that HLA may alter infectivity through mechanisms other than influencing HIV-1 viral load.
Human immunodeficiency virus; vertical HIV-1 transmission; human leukocyte antigen
Data from a randomized trial of oral periodic presumptive treatment (PPT) to reduce vaginal infections were analyzed to assess the effect of the intervention on a healthy vaginal environment (normal flora confirmed by Gram stain with no candidiasis or trichomoniasis). The incidence of a healthy vaginal environment was 608 cases per 100 person-years in the intervention arm and 454 cases per 100 person-years in the placebo arm (hazard ratio [HR], 1.36; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.17–1.58). Sustained vaginal health (healthy vaginal environment for ≥3 consecutive visits) was also more frequent in the intervention arm (HR, 1.69; 95% CI, 1.23–2.33). PPT is effective at establishing and sustaining a healthy vaginal environment.