Immune recovery of middle-aged HIV patients following antiretroviral therapy: An observational cohort study

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In HIV-infected persons, age is negatively associated with optimal CD4 recovery following antiretroviral therapy. Our understanding of the situation in older adults, especially the middle-aged is, however, limited. We undertook to examine the latter's pattern of CD4/CD8 recovery following antiretroviral therapy.

Retrospective clinical cohort data of HIV patients diagnosed between 1985 and 2014 in Hong Kong were collected. They were categorized by age at treatment initiation, viz., young adults (age 18–49), middle-aged (age 50–64), and elderly (≥65 years’ old). Predictors of immune recovery (CD4 count, CD8 count, CD4/CD8 ratio) over time were examined using multivariable linear generalized estimating equations.

A total of 2754 patients (aged ≥18) have been on antiretroviral therapy, with baseline characteristics similar between middle-aged and the elderly. Late diagnosis, defined as progression to AIDS within 3 months of HIV diagnosis, was less common in middle-aged (odds ratio = 0.58, 95% confidence interval = 0.37–0.91). Among Chinese patients who have been on treatment for ≥4 years (n = 913), 80.6%, 14.6%, and 4.8% were young adults, middle-aged, and elderly respectively. Late treatment initiation, defined as AIDS diagnosis or CD4 count ≤100 cells/μL before treatment, was common in middle-aged and elderly, the former however had faster CD4 recovery (3.95 vs. 3.36 cells/μL/month), but slower CD8 decline (−1.76 vs. −4.34 cells/μL/month) and CD4/CD8 normalization (0.009 vs. 0.0101/month).

As a transitional age group, the immune recovery of middle-aged patients lagged behind young adults largely because of late treatment initiation. Following adoption of early and non-CD4-guided treatment initiation, their long-term clinical outcome is expected to improve.

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