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Lancet. 2001 Nov 24;358(9295):1760-5.

Correlation between reduction in plasma HIV-1 RNA concentration 1 week after start of antiretroviral treatment and longer-term efficacy.

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Laboratory of Immunoregulation, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Building 10, Room 11C103, National Institutes of Health (NIH), Bethesda, MD 20892, USA.



Early assessment of antiretroviral drug efficacy is important for prevention of the emergence of drug-resistant virus and unnecessary exposure to ineffective drug regimens. Current US guidelines for changing therapy are based on measurements of plasma HIV-1 RNA concentrations 4 or 8 weeks after the start of treatment with cut-off points of 0.75 or 1.00 log, respectively. We investigated the possibility of assessing drug efficacy from measurements of plasma HIV-1 concentrations made during the first week on therapy.


The kinetics of virus decay in plasma during the first 12 weeks of treatment was analysed for 124 HIV-1-infected patients being treated for the first time with a protease inhibitor. Patients with a continuous decline of HIV-1 concentrations and in whom HIV-1 was either undetectable or declined by more than 1.5 log at 12 weeks were defined as good responders; the rest were poor responders.


The individual virus decay rate constants (k) at day 6 correlated significantly (r>0.66, p<0.0001) with changes in HIV-1 concentrations at 4, 8, and 12 weeks, and correctly predicted 84% of the responses with a cut-off value of k=0.21 per day (in log scale). Reduction in plasma HIV-1 of less than 0.72 log by day 6 after initiation of therapy predicted poor long-term responses in more than 99% of patients.


These results suggest that changes in HIV-1 concentration at day 6 after treatment initiation are major correlates of longer-term virological responses. They offer a very early measure of individual long-term responses, suggesting that treatment could be optimised after only a few days of therapy.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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