Association Between Paired Plasma and Cervicovaginal Lavage Fluid HIV-1 RNA Levels During 36 Months

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To determine the patterns and predictors of genital tract HIV-1 RNA levels during a 36-month period.


HIV-1 RNA levels were measured blood in plasma and the genital tract (by cervicovaginal lavage [CVL]) at baseline before highly, active antiretroviral therapy, at 2 and 4 weeks and every 6 months. Viral loads were measured using nucleic acid sequence-based amplification assay with a lower limit of detection of 2.6 log10 copies/mL.


Ninety-seven women had a median of 30.4 months' follow-up, with 530 paired PVL and CVL specimens. The strongest predictor of CVL fluid HIV-1 RNA detection was PVL of more than 2.6 log10 copies/mL, with an odds ratio of 13.7 (P < 0.0001). Each log10 unit increase in PVL increased the odds of detecting HIV-1 RNA in CVL fluid by 2.6 folds (P = 0.0002). Cervicovaginal lavage fluid HIV-1 RNA exceeded PVL on 5% of visits. When patients achieved undetectable levels of HIV-1 RNA in both plasma and CVL fluid, rebound of HIV-1 RNA occurred in plasma first or concurrently with CVL fluid HIV-1 RNA.


Plasma viral load is the strongest predictor of CVL fluid HIV-1 RNA detection. Cervicovaginal lavage fluid HIV-1 RNA levels are generally lower than PVL. Plasma viral load is more likely to rebound first or at the same time as CVL fluid viral load.

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