The effect of oral preexposure prophylaxis on the progression of HIV-1 seroconversion

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To investigate whether oral preexposure prophylaxis (PrEP) alters timing and patterns of seroconversion when PrEP use continues after HIV-1 infection.


Retrospective testing of the timing of Fiebig stage HIV-1 seroconversion in the Partners PrEP Study, a randomized placebo-controlled clinical trial of PrEP conducted in Kenya and Uganda.


Specimens from 138 seroconverters were collected every 3 months and when HIV-1 infection was suspected based on monthly rapid HIV-1 tests. Progression of seroconversion was compared between randomized groups (PrEP versus placebo) and per-protocol groups (placebo versus PrEP participants with detectable tenofovir during the seroconversion period) using laboratory assessment of Fiebig stage. Delay in site-detection of seroconversion and association with PrEP drug-regimen resistant virus were assessed using logistic regression. Analysis of time to each Fiebig stage used maximum likelihood estimation with a parametric model to accommodate the varying lengths of HIV-infection intervals.


There was a significant increase in delayed site detection of infection associated with PrEP (odds ratio = 3.49, P = 0.044). Delay in detection was not associated with increased risk of resistance in the PrEP arm (odds ratio = 0.93, P = 0.95). Estimated time to each Fiebig stage was elongated in seroconverters with evidence of ongoing PrEP use, significantly for only Stage 5 (28 versus 17 days, P = 0.05). Adjusted for Fiebig stage, viral RNA was ∼2/3 log lower in those assigned to PrEP compared with placebo; no differences were found in Architect signal to cut-off at any stage.


Ongoing PrEP use in seroconverters may delay detection of infection and elongate seroconversion, although the delay does not increase risk of resistance.

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