Impact of HIV-1 Subtype on CD4 Count at HIV Seroconversion, Rate of Decline, and Viral Load Set Point in European Seroconverter Cohorts

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Background. Human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) subtype may influence disease progression. We compared CD4 lymphocyte cell count levels at seroconversion, decline rates and viral load set point in individuals infected with different HIV-1 subtypes.

Methods. We used data from the Concerted Action on SeroConversion to AIDS and Death in Europe (CASCADE) collaboration, restricted to those infected since 1996, aged ≥15 years, and applied mixed effects models for CD4 cell count decline and median regression for viral load set point (mean level 6–24 months from seroconversion).

Results. The analysis included 3364 seroconverters with known HIV-1 subtypes. Compared with subtype B, CD4 at seroconversion was significantly higher for subtype CRF01 and lower for subtype C. Subsequent CD4 decline was significantly slower for subtypes A and CRF02 and marginally slower for subtype C compared with B. Mean CD4 loss at 2 years of seroconversion for white men exposed through sex between men, aged 30–39 years, having seroconverted since 2006, enrolled within 6 months of seroconversion, and without acute infection was 88, 142, 100, 130, 103, and 167 cells/µL for subtypes A, B, C, CRF01_AE, CRF02_AG, and G, respectively. In adjusted analysis, median viral load set point and time to clinical AIDS/death did not differ significantly by subtype, although all subtypes, except C, tended to have lower levels compared with B.

Conclusions. HIV-1 subtype significantly influences seroconversion CD4 cell levels and decline rates but not viral load set point. These findings may be helpful to HIV-positive individuals and their attending physicians in understanding disease progression.

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