Treatment to Prevent HIV Transmission in Serodiscordant Couples in Henan, China, 2006 to 2012


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Abstract

Background. Antiretroviral therapy (ART) administered in clinical trial settings virtually eliminates the sexual transmission of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) in serodiscordant couples, but effectiveness of treatment as prevention in the community is debated. Conflicting results from previous analyses in a Chinese cohort underscore the importance of determining effectiveness of ART delivered in resource limited settings.Methods. All available years of data (2006–2012) from local disease control records of HIV patients and their seronegative spouses in Henan Province, China, were analyzed using marginal structural Cox models to estimate the effect of ART in the initially infected partner his or her partner's HIV seroconversion risk.Results. We observed 157 seroconversion events in 4916 serosdiscordant couples, for an incidence rate of 0.59 cases per 100 person-years (PY) (95% confidence interval [CI], .51–.70). Of these, 84 occurred after the index partner had initiated ART (0.43/100PY; 95% CI, .35–.53) and 73, whereas index partners were untreated (5.87/100 PY; 95% CI, 4.65–7.42). In a marginal structural Cox model weighted for confounding and censoring, the hazard ratio (HR) for HIV transmission was 0.52 (95% CI, .34–.82). ART efficacy varied significantly by time period; least effective in the early phase from 2006 to 2008 (HR, 0.68; 95% CI, .34–1.36) but far more protective from 2009 onward (HR, 0.33; 95% CI, .20–.55).Conclusions. ART can provide HIV-infected persons in resource-limited setting substantial protection against sexual transmission. Effectiveness in the Henan cohort appears to have increased over time, suggesting that quality of care and service infrastructure may be integral to successful use of treatment for prevention.

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