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Lancet Infect Dis. 2006 May;6(5):280-7.

Immunological recovery and antiretroviral therapy in HIV-1 infection.

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Division of Infectious Diseases and Hospital Epidemiology, University Hospital Basel, Basel, Switzerland.


Potent antiretroviral therapy has dramatically improved the prognosis of patients infected with HIV-1. Primary and secondary prophylaxis against Pneumocystis carinii, Mycobacterium avium, cytomegalovirus, and other pathogens can be discontinued safely once CD4 cell counts have increased beyond pathogen-specific thresholds. Approximately one-third of individuals receiving antiretroviral therapy will not reach CD4 cell counts above 500 cells per muL after 5 years despite continuous suppression of plasma HIV-1 RNA. Whether this failure represents a risk factor for the long-term incidence of opportunistic diseases--eg, tuberculosis or malignancies--remains uncertain. We describe the time course of CD4 cell concentrations in patients whose plasma HIV-1 RNA is durably suppressed by antiretroviral therapy, in patients with incomplete suppression of plasma HIV-1 RNA, and during treatment interruptions. In addition, immune reconstitution disease, an inflammatory syndrome associated with immunological recovery occurring days to weeks after the start of antiretroviral therapy, is briefly described.

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