Author(s): Sungkanuparph S, Groger RK, Overton ET, Fraser VJ, Powderly WG
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Abstract OBJECTIVE: To assess the prognostic significance of persistent low-level viraemia (PLV, defined as persistent plasma viral loads of 51-1000 HIV-1 RNA copies/mL for at least 3 months) in patients who had achieved viral suppression on antiretroviral therapy (ART). METHODS: A retrospective cohort of HIV-infected patients who received ART, were followed-up for > or =12 months, made regular visits to the clinic during which blood tests were performed for an ultrasensitive HIV RNA assay every 3 months, and achieved viral loads <50 copies/mL were evaluated. Virological failure was defined as two consecutive viral load measurements >1000 copies/mL. RESULTS: Of 362 patients, 78 (27.5\%) experienced PLV. The demographics of patients with and without PLV were similar. PLV occurred at a mean (+/-standard deviation) of 22.6+/-16.9 months after ART initiation and lasted for 6.4+/-3.4 months. During a median follow-up of 29.5 months, patients with PLV had a higher rate of virological failure (39.7\% vs 9.2\%; P < 0.001). The median time to failure was 68.4 months [95\% confidence interval (CI) 37.0-99.7] for patients with PLV and >72 months for patients without PLV (log rank test, P < 0.001). By Cox regression, patients with PLV had a greater risk of virological failure [hazard ratio (HR) 3.8; 95\% CI 2.2-6.4; P < 0.001]. Among patients with PLV, a PLV of >400 copies/mL (HR 3.3; 95\% CI 1.5-7.1; P = 0.003) and a history of ART (HR 2.4; 95\% CI 1.0-5.7; P = 0.042) predicted virological failure. CONCLUSIONS: PLV is associated with virological failure. Patients with a PLV >400 copies/mL and a history of ART experience are more likely to experience virological failure. Patients with PLV should be considered for treatment optimization and interventional studies.
This article was published in HIV Med
and referenced in Journal of AIDS & Clinical Research