Mortality Associated With Discordant Responses to Antiretroviral Therapy in Resource-Constrained Settings

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We assessed mortality associated with immunologic and virologic patterns of response at 6 months of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) in HIV-infected individuals from resource-limited countries in Africa and South America.


Patients who initiated HAART between 1996 and 2007, aged 16 years or older, and had at least 1 measurement (HIV-1 RNA plasma viral load or CD4 cell count) at 6 months of therapy (3-9 month window) were included. Therapy response was categorized as complete, discordant (virologic only or immunologic only), and absent. Associations between 6-month response to therapy and all-cause mortality were assessed by Cox proportional hazards regression. Robust standard errors were calculated to account for intrasite correlation.


A total of 7160 patients, corresponding to 15,107 person-years, were analyzed. In multivariable analysis adjusted for age at HAART initiation, baseline clinical stage and CD4 cell count, year of HAART initiation, clinic, occurrence of an AIDS-defining condition within the first 6 months of treatment, and discordant and absent responses were associated with increased risk of death.


Similar to reports from high-income countries, discordant immunologic and virologic responses were associated with intermediate risk of death compared with complete and no response in this large cohort of HIV-1 patients from resource-limited countries. Our results support a recommendation for wider availability of plasma viral load testing to monitor antiretroviral therapy in these settings.

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