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AIDS. 2003 May 2;17(7):963-9.

The potential for CD4 cell increases in HIV-positive individuals who control viraemia with highly active antiretroviral therapy.

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  • 1Royal Free Centre for HIV Medicine and Department of Primary Care and Population Sciences, Royal Free and University College Medical School, Royal Free Campus, London, UK.



To study the long-term CD4 cell responses to highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) in treatment-naive patients whose viral loads remained below 500 copies/ml for prolonged periods.


A total of 237 patients whose viral loads remained below 500 copies/ml for one year or more. Median follow-up was 1.9 years.


CD4 cell counts were analysed to investigate long-term immunological response using mixed-effects models with the slope allowed to change after 1, 12 and 24 months of HAART.


The median baseline CD4 cell count was 175 cells/mm3. After an initial rapid increase in the first month after HAART (97.2 cells/mm3 a month), increases in CD4 cell counts continued less rapidly (11.6 cells/mm3 a month). This increase slowed by 2.4 cells/mm3 a month after one year. CD4 cell counts continued increasing after 2 years, but the rate of increase again slowed (estimated slope at 2 years 5.4 cells/mm3 a month; decrease in slope from year 2 compared with years 1-2 3.7 cell/mm3 a month). A total of 198 out of 211 patients (94%) with measurements at baseline and one year experienced an increase in CD4 cell counts in this interval; 81 and 67% had an increasing slope between 1 and 2 and 2 and 3 years, respectively. By the end of follow-up, CD4 cell counts had increased by 319 cells/mm3, and were more than 500 cells/mm3 in 40% of patients.


Although the rate of immune recovery slowed after 2 years, CD4 cell counts rose in most and began to return to levels seen in HIV-negative individuals.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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