Long-term complications in patients with poor immunological recovery despite virological successful HAART in Dutch ATHENA cohort

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Objective:We investigated the risk of AIDS and serious non-AIDS-defining diseases (non-ADDs) according to the degree of immunological recovery after 2 years of virological successful antiretroviral therapy (HAART).Design:Retrospective observational cohort study including HIV-infected patients treated with HAART resulting in viral suppression (<500 copies/ml).Methods:Patients were grouped according to their CD4 cell count after 2 years of HAART: CD4 cell count less than 200 cells/μl (group A), 200–350 cells/μl (group B), 351–500 cells/μl (group C) or more than 500 cells/μl (group D). Analysis was done to assess predictors for poor immunological recovery and the occurrence of a composite endpoint [death, AIDS, malignancies, liver cirrhosis and cardiovascular events (CVEs)], non-ADDs, CVEs and non-AIDS-defining malignancies (non-ADMs).Results:Three thousand and sixty-eight patients were included. Older age, lower CD4 cell nadir and lower plasma HIV-RNA at the start of HAART were independent predictors for a poor immunological recovery. The composite endpoint, non-ADDs and CVE were observed most frequently in group A (overall log rank, P < 0.0001, P = 0.002 and P = 0.01). In adjusted analyses, age was a strong independent predictor for all endpoints. Compared with group A, patients in group D had a lower risk for the composite endpoint [hazard ratio 0.54 (95% confidence interval [CI] 0.33–0.87]; patients in group B had a lower risk for CVEs [hazard ratio 0.34 (95% CI 0.14–0.86)].Conclusion:Poor immunological recovery despite virological successful HAART is associated with a higher risk for overall morbidity and mortality and CVEs in particular. This study underlines the importance of starting HAART at higher CD4 cell counts, particularly in older patients.

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