Early immunologic and virologic responses to highly active antiretroviral therapy and subsequent disease progression among HIV-infected injection drug users

S. H. Mehta, G. Lucas, J. Astemborski, G. D. Kirk, D. Vlahov, N. Galai

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We examined the prevalence and prognostic value of early responses to highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) among community-based injection drug users (IDUs) in Baltimore. Virologic (HIV RNA <1000 copies/ml) and immunologic (CD4 >500 cells/ul or increase of 50 cells/ul from the pre-HAART level) responses were examined in the 1st year of HAART initiation. Cox regression was used to examine the effect of early response on progression to new AIDS diagnosis or AIDS-related death. Among 258 HAART initiators, 75(29%) had no response, 53(21%) had a virologic response only, 38(15%) had an immunologic response only and 92(36%) had a combined immunologic and virologic response in the first year of therapy. Poorer responses were observed in those who were older, had been recently incarcerated, reported injecting drugs, had not had a recent outpatient visit and had some treatment interruption within the 1st year of HAART. In multiple Cox regression analysis, the risk of progression was lower in those with combined virologic and immunologic response than in non-responders, (relative hazard [RH], 0.32; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.17-0.60). Those with discordant responses had reduced risk of progression compared to non-responders but experienced faster progression than those with a combined response, although none of these differences was statistically significant. Early discordant and non response to HAART was common, often occurred in the setting of injection drug use and treatment interruption and was associated with poorer survival. Interventions to reduce treatment interruptions and to provide continuity of HIV care during incarceration among IDUs are needed to improve responses and subsequent survival.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)637-645
Number of pages9
JournalAIDS Care - Psychological and Socio-Medical Aspects of AIDS/HIV
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2007

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by Public Health Service Grants DA 04334 and DA12568, National Institute on Drug Abuse. The authors thank Lisa McCall for project management and the ALIVE staff and participants without whom this work would not be possible.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Social Psychology

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