Total HIV-1 DNA Dynamics and Influencing Factors in Long-Term ART-Treated Japanese Adults: A Retrospective Longitudinal Analysis

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Understanding HIV persistence in treated patients is an important milestone toward drug-free control. We aimed at analyzing total HIV DNA dynamics and influencing factors in Japanese patients who received more than a decade of suppressive antiretroviral treatment (ART).


A retrospective study including clinical records and 840 peripheral blood mononuclear cells samples (mean 14 samples/patient) for 59 patients (92% male) was performed. Subjects were divided into 2 groups: with and without hematological comorbidity (mainly hemophilia) plus hepatitis C virus coinfection. Total HIV DNA was measured in peripheral blood mononuclear cells by quantitative polymerase chain reaction. The dynamics, regression over time, and influence of antiretrovirals by group were estimated using a novel regression model (R software v 3.2.3).


Total HIV DNA decreased on ART initiation, and subsequently, its dynamics varied between groups with previously undescribed fluctuations. If calculated by on-treatment, the mean total HIV DNA levels were similar. The comorbidity group had unstable levels showing different regression over time (P = 0.088/0.094 in year 1/after year 8 of ART) and significantly different treatment responses as shown by antiretroviral group switching estimates. Furthermore, curing hepatitis C virus in hemophiliacs did not significantly alter total HIV DNA levels or regression.


Our data identified some effects of the long-term treatment on total HIV DNA levels and highlighted the partial influence of comorbidities and coinfections. Total HIV DNA monitoring contributed to therapy response estimates and HIV reservoir quantification. The results suggest that HIV DNA monitoring during ART might be useful as a persistence marker in both HIV-monoinfected patients and those with comorbidities and coinfections.

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