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J Infect Dis. 2009 Dec 1;200(11):1714-23. doi: 10.1086/646609.

Clinical outcomes of elite controllers, viremic controllers, and long-term nonprogressors in the US Department of Defense HIV natural history study.

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  • 1Infectious Disease Clinical Research Program, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, Bethesda, Maryland, USA.


Durable control of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) replication and lack of disease progression in the absence of antiretroviral therapy were studied in a military cohort of 4586 subjects. We examined groups of elite controllers (ie, subjects with plasma HIV RNA levels of <50 copies/mL; prevalence, 0.55% [95% confidence interval {CI}, 0.35%-0.80%]), viremic controllers (ie, subjects with plasma HIV RNA levels of 50-2000 copies/mL; prevalence, 3.34% [95% CI, 2.83%-3.91%]), and subjects with a lack of disease progression (ie, long-term nonprogressors [LTNPs]) through 7 years of follow-up (LTNP7s; prevalence, 3.32% [95% CI, 2.70%-4.01%]) or 10 years of follow-up (LTNP10s; prevalence, 2.04% [95% CI, 1.52%-2.68%]). For elite and viremic controllers, spontaneous virologic control was established early and was typically observed when the initial viral load measurement was obtained within 1 year of estimated seroconversion. Elite controllers had favorable time to development of AIDS (P=.048), a CD4 cell count of 350 cells/microL (P= .009), and more-stable CD4 cell trends, compared with viremic controllers. LTNPs defined by 10-year versus 7-year criteria had a longer survival time (P=.001), even after adjustment for differing periods of invulnerability (P= .042). Definitions of controllers and LTNPs describe distinct populations whose differing clinical outcomes improve with the stringency of criteria, underscoring the need for comparability between study populations.

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