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OBJECTIVE: To characterize the relationships among highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART), HIV-1 RNA levels, immune system markers, and clinical outcome in a cohort of HIV-1-infected homosexual men. PATIENTS: A total of 123 men enrolled in the Amsterdam cohort study of HIV-1 infection and AIDS with a documented seroconversion for HIV-1 antibodies and known date of seroconversion were included in this study. METHODS: CD4 + /CD8 + T-cell counts and HIV-1 RNA levels in plasma were measured approximately every 6 months. Dates of starting and stopping antiretroviral therapy were also recorded. The relationship between HIV-1 RNA in plasma, CD4 + /CD8 + T-cell counts and HAART and their influence on clinical outcome were examined using a graphical chain modeling approach. Generalized estimating equations were used to examine correlations among the three disease markers. Hazards models with time-dependent covariates were used to examine the influence of HAART and the disease markers on progression to AIDS. RESULTS: HAART was significantly associated with reduced disease progression (relative hazard [RH] of AIDS, 0.20;, 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.05-0.85). The most recent HIV-1 RNA measurement and CD4 + T-cell count are independently associated with disease progression (adjusted RH for HIV-1 RNA 1.8 per log 10 increase; 95% CI, 1.2-2.6, p =.002; adjusted RH for CD4 + 0.48 per 100 x 10(6)/L increase; 95% CI, 0.40-0.58; p <.001). Depending on these measurements, HAART was no longer significantly associated with AIDS (adjusted RH, 0.81; 95% CI, 0.18-3.6; p =.78). CONCLUSIONS: HIV-1 RNA levels in plasma and CD4 + T-cell counts are currently considered as effective surrogate markers for the effect of HAART on disease progression in this cohort.

Original publication




Journal article


Journal of acquired immune deficiency syndromes (1999)

Publication Date





226 - 231


Department of Infectious Disease Epidemiology, Faculty of Medicine, Imperial College School of Science, Technology, and Medicine, London, UK.


Humans, HIV Infections, Disease Progression, RNA, Viral, Biological Markers, CD4 Lymphocyte Count, CD4-CD8 Ratio, Prognosis, Antiretroviral Therapy, Highly Active, Viral Load, Cohort Studies, Male