Sub-Saharan African migrants have slower initial CD4+ cell recovery after combined antiretroviral treatment initiation than French natives

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Poorer immunologic responses to combined antiretroviral treatment (cART) have been reported among sub-Saharan African (SSA) migrants than among native Europeans. We studied whether differences in CD4+ cell recovery between French natives and SSA migrants starting first-line cART could be explained by differences in socioeconomic conditions, inflammatory marker levels, and other established determinants.


We compared 319 French natives and 175 SSA migrants (ANRS-COPANA cohort). Clinical, biological, and socioeconomic data (education, employment, income, and cohabiting partnership) were recorded at regular visits. A piecewise linear mixed-effects model was used to analyze CD4+ cell count kinetics on cART.


Compared with French natives, SSA migrants were more frequently women, younger, less educated, living in more adverse conditions, and had more frequent symptoms of depression. The rate of CD4+ cell recovery during the first 4 months on cART was significantly slower in SSA migrants, despite a similar virologic response, but did not differ significantly thereafter. The mean CD4+ cell count rose from 251 cells/μl at baseline to 508 cells/μl at 36 months in migrants, and from 308 to 623 cells/μl in natives (additional mean gain of 58 cells/μl in natives). The difference persisted after adjustment for clinical, updated socioeconomic, and living conditions (−0.40√CD4+ cells/month, P = 0.04); 25-hydroxyvitamin D, monocyte chemoattractant protein-1 and soluble tumor necrosis factor receptor 1 (sTNFR1) levels were lower in SSA migrants, but only sTNFR1 contributed to the difference in CD4+ slope.


Initial CD4+ cell recovery on cART was slower among SSA migrants than among French natives. This difference was not explained by established clinical and biological determinants or by socioeconomic status.

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