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HIV Med. 2009 Nov;10(10):657-60. doi: 10.1111/j.1468-1293.2009.00739.x. Epub 2009 Jul 9.

Higher risk of AIDS or death in patients with lower CD4 cell counts after virally suppressive HAART.

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  • 1Division of Infectious Diseases, Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University, Chicago, IL 60611, USA.



The clinical implications of a failure to achieve high CD4 cell counts while receiving virally suppressive highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) are uncertain.


We analysed data from HIV-infected men participating in the Multicenter AIDS Cohort Study (MACS) to elucidate associations between CD4 cell counts achieved during virally suppressive HAART and risks of AIDS or death. Inclusion criteria were: CD4 cell count <200 cells/microL before HAART initiation; >or=2 viral load (VL) determinations after HAART initiation; and sustained viral suppression, defined as all VL <50 HIV-1 RNA copies/mL, but allowing a single VL of 50-1000 copies/mL.


One hundred and twenty-one men were included; median age was 42 years. After first VL <50 copies/mL, six participants had a new AIDS diagnosis and seven died. The median CD4 cell count change/year (cells/microL) after first VL <50 copies/mL was zero among patients who either developed AIDS or died vs. 39 among those who did not meet either endpoint (P=0.119). After controlling for time from HAART initiation to first VL <50 copies/mL, age at first VL <50 copies/mL, history of AIDS and antiretroviral therapy (ART) experience before HAART, the hazard ratio for AIDS or death at CD4 cell count of <or=200 vs. >350 cells/microL was 10.7 (P=0.013), and at CD4 cell count of 201-350 vs. >350 cells/microL was 8.54 (P=0.014).


In this cohort, lower CD4 cell count at the time of viral suppression was associated with increased risk of AIDS or death.

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