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J Infect Dis. 1999 Sep;180(3):666-72.

Sex differences in longitudinal human immunodeficiency virus type 1 RNA levels among seroconverters.

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  • 1Division of Infectious Diseases, Johns Hopkins University Schoolof Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland 21287, USA.


Cross-sectional studies have demonstrated lower plasma human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) RNA virus levels (VLs) in women than in men, but it is unknown whether this sex difference is present at the time of seroconversion and throughout the course of infection. A nested case-control study was performed among HIV-1 seroconverters within a cohort of injection drug users. Plasma VL was determined longitudinally among both rapid progressors to AIDS (24 patients) and nonprogressors (47 controls). The initial median VL among female patients (n=10) was 14,918 copies/mL, compared with 148,354 copies/mL among male patients (n=14; P=.001); median plasma VL also tended to be lower among female (n=10) than among male controls (n=37; 11,917 vs. 61,311 copies/mL; P=.08). VL increased more rapidly over time in women than in men and subsequently converged in patients and controls, respectively. Understanding the mechanisms responsible for the sex difference in VL may provide insight into HIV-1 pathogenesis.

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