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BMC Infect Dis. 2013 Oct 13;13:476. doi: 10.1186/1471-2334-13-476.

Effectiveness of first-line antiretroviral therapy and correlates of longitudinal changes in CD4 and viral load among HIV-infected children in Ghana.

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Departments of Pediatrics and Pharmacology, Yale School of Medicine, New Haven, CT, USA.



Antiretroviral therapy (ART) scale-up in resource-limited countries, with limited capacity for CD4 and HIV viral load monitoring, presents a unique challenge. We determined the effectiveness of first-line ART in a real world pediatric HIV clinic and explored associations between readily obtainable patient data and the trajectories of change in CD4 count and HIV viral load.


We performed a longitudinal study of a cohort of HIV-infected children initiating ART at the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital Pediatric HIV clinic in Accra, Ghana, aged 0-13 years from 2009-2012. CD4 and viral load testing were done every 4 to 6 months and genotypic resistance testing was performed for children failing therapy. A mixed linear modeling approach, combining fixed and random subject effects, was employed for data analysis.


Ninety HIV-infected children aged 0 to 13 years initiating ART were enrolled. The effectiveness of first-line regimen among study participants was 83.3%, based on WHO criteria for virologic failure. Fifteen of the 90 (16.7%) children met the criteria for virologic treatment failure after at least 24 weeks on ART. Sixty-seven percent virologic failures harbored viruses with  ≥ 1 drug resistant mutations (DRMs); M184V/K103N was the predominant resistance pathway. Age at initiation of therapy, child's gender, having a parent as a primary care giver, severity of illness, and type of regimen were associated with treatment outcomes.


First-line ART regimens were effective and well tolerated. We identified predictors of the trajectories of change in CD4 and viral load to inform targeted laboratory monitoring of ART among HIV-infected children in resource-limited countries.

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