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Antivir Ther. 2013;18(7):867-76. doi: 10.3851/IMP2531. Epub 2013 Jan 23.

Impact of pre-therapy viral load on virological response to modern first-line HAART.

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University of Rome Tor Vergata, Rome, Italy.



We tested whether pre-HAART viraemia affects the achievement and maintenance of virological success in HIV-1-infected patients starting modern first-line therapies.


A total of 1,430 patients starting their first HAART (genotype-tailored) in 2008 (median; IQR: 2006-2009) were grouped according to levels of pre-HAART viraemia (≤ 30,000, 30,001-100,000, 100,001-300,000, 300,001-500,000 and > 500,000 copies/ml). The impact of pre-therapy viraemia on the time to virological success (viraemia ≤ 50 copies/ml) and on the time to virological rebound (first of two consecutive viraemia values > 50 copies/ml after virological success) were evaluated by Kaplan-Meier curves and Cox regression analyses.


Median pre-HAART viraemia was 5.1 log10 copies/ml (IQR 4.5-5.5), and 53% of patients had viraemia > 100,000 copies/ml. By week 48, the prevalence of patients reaching virological success was > 90% in all pre-HAART viraemia ranges, with the only exception of range > 500,000 copies/ml (virological success = 83%; P < 0.001). Higher pre-HAART viraemia was tightly correlated with longer median time to achieve virological success. Cox multivariable estimates confirmed this result: patients with pre-HAART viraemia > 500,000 copies/ml showed the lowest hazard of virological undetectability after adjusting for age, gender, pre-HAART CD4+ T-cell count, transmitted drug resistance, calendar year and third drug administered (adjusted hazard ratio [95% CI]: 0.27 [0.21, 0.35]; P < 0.001). Pre-HAART viraemia > 500,000 copies/ml was also associated with higher probability of virological rebound compared with patients belonging to lower viraemia strata at weeks 4, 12 and 24 (P = 0.050).


At the time of modern HAART, and even though an average > 90% of virological success, high pre-HAART viraemia remains an independent factor associated with delayed and decreased virological success. Patients starting HAART with > 500,000 copies/ml represent a significant population that may deserve special attention.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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