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Clin Infect Dis. 2006 Mar 1;42(5):700-8. Epub 2006 Jan 23.

Seroreversion in subjects receiving antiretroviral therapy during acute/early HIV infection.

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Positive Health Program, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, CA, USA.



We assessed human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) antibody seroreversion among individuals initiating antiretroviral therapy (ART) during acute/early HIV infection and determined whether seroreversion was associated with loss of cytotoxic T lymphocyte responses.


Subjects in a cohort with acute/early HIV infection (<12 months into infection) who initiated ART within 28 days after study entry and maintained HIV type 1 ribonucleic acid levels of < or =500 copies/mL for >24 weeks were selected. Two clinically available second-generation enzyme immunoassays (EIAs) and a confirmatory Western blot were used to screen subjects for antibody reversion. Those with negative screening test results underwent additional antibody testing, including a third-generation EIA, and were assessed for cytotoxic T lymphocyte responses.


Of 87 subjects identified, 12 (14%) had negative antibody test results at the start of ART; all 12 had seroconversion, although 1 had seroconversion only on a third-generation EIA. Of the 87 subjects, 6 (7%) had seroreversion on at least 1 EIA antibody assay while receiving ART during a median follow-up of 90 weeks. The only clinical predictor of seroreversion was a low baseline "detuned" (less sensitive) antibody. Cytotoxic T lymphocyte responses to HIV Gag peptides were detected in 4 of 5 subjects with seroreversion who could be tested. All 5 who had seroreversion who stopped ART experienced virologic rebound and antibody evolution.


HIV antibody seroconversion on second-generation EIA antibody tests may fail to occur when ART is initiated early. Seroreversion was not uncommon among subjects treated early, although cytotoxic T lymphocyte responses to HIV antigens remained detectable in most subjects. Antibody seroreversion did not indicate viral eradication. A third-generation EIA was the most sensitive test for HIV antibodies.

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