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Trends in CD4 counts in HIV-infected patients with HIV viral load monitoring while on combination antiretroviral treatment: results from The TREAT Asia HIV Observational Database

DOI: 10.1186/1471-2334-10-361

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Treatment-naive HIV-infected patients who started cART with three or more and had three or more CD4 count and HIV VL tests were included. CD4 count slopes were expressed as changes of cells per microliter per year. Predictors of CD4 count slopes from 6 months after initiation were assessed by random-effects linear regression models.A total of 1676 patients (74% male) were included. The median time on cART was 4.2 years (IQR 2.5-5.8 years). In the final model, CD4 count slope was associated with age, concurrent HIV VL and CD4 count, disease stage, hepatitis B or C co-infection, and time since cART initiation. CD4 count continues to increase with HIV VL up to 20 000 copies/mL during 6-12 months after cART initiation. However, the HIV VL has to be controlled below 5 000, 4 000 and 500 copies/mL for the CD4 count slope to remain above 20 cells/microliter per year during 12-18, 18-24, and beyond 24 months after cART initiation.After cART initiation, CD4 counts continued to increase even when the concurrent HIV VL was detectable. However, HIV VL needed to be controlled at a lower level to maintain a positive CD4 count slope when cART continues. The effect on long-term outcomes through the possible development of HIV drug resistance remains uncertain.Studies show that latent infection of CD4 cells provides a mechanism for lifelong persistence of HIV-1, even in patients on effective anti-retroviral therapy [1]. To suppress viral replication so that the VL is below the level of detection with standard assays is thus one of the aims at the start of antiretroviral treatment. Maximal and durable suppression of HIV VL prevents or delays development of drug resistant mutations, preserves CD4 cells, and eventually results in better clinical outcomes. According to the US guidelines, if HIV VL suppression is not achieved, it is necessary to change to a new regimen, a second or third line regimen, with at least two active drugs [2].HIV-infected patients in most developing countries h


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