CD4 cell counts of 800 cells/mm3 or greater after 7 years of highly active antiretroviral therapy are feasible in most patients starting with 350 cells/mm3 or greater.
Gras L., Kesselring AM., Griffin JT., van Sighem AI., Fraser C., Ghani AC., Miedema F., Reiss P., Lange JMA., de Wolf F., ATHENA, Netherlands National Observational Cohort Study None.
OBJECTIVE: CD4 cell count changes in therapy-naive patients were investigated during 7 years of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) in an observational cohort. METHODS: Three endpoints were studied: (1) time to >or=800 CD4 cells/mm in 5299 therapy-naive patients starting HAART, (2) CD4 cell count changes during 7 years of uninterrupted HAART in a subset of 544 patients, and (3) reaching a plateau in CD4 cell restoration after 5 years of HAART in 366 virologically suppressed patients. RESULTS: Among patients with <50, 50 to 200, 200 to 350, 350 to 500, and >or=500 CD4 cells/mm at baseline, respectively, 20%, 26%, 46%, 73%, and 87% reached >or=800 CD4 cells/mm within 7 years of starting HAART. Periods with HIV RNA levels >500 copies/mL and age >or=50 years were associated with lesser increases in CD4 cell counts between 6 months and 7 years. Having reached >or=800 CD4 cells/mm at 5 years, age >or=50 years, and >or=1 HIV RNA measurement >1000 copies/mL between 5 and 7 years were associated with a plateau in CD4 cell restoration. CONCLUSIONS: Restoration to CD4 cell counts >or=800 cells/mm is feasible within 7 years of HAART in most HIV-infected patients starting with >or=350 cells/mm and achieving sufficient suppression of viral replication. Particularly in patients >or=50 years of age, it may be beneficial to start earlier than current guidelines recommend.