Risk factors for discordant immune response among HIV-infected patients initiating antiretroviral therapy: A retrospective cohort study

  • BP Muzah
  • S Takuva
  • M Maskew
  • S Delany-Moretlwe


Background. The therapeutic goal of antiretroviral therapy (ART) is sustained immune recovery and viral suppression. However, some patients experience poor CD4 cell count responses despite achieving viral  suppression. Such discordant immune responses have been associated with poor clinical outcomes.
Objective. We aimed to determine the prevalence of discordant immune response and explore associated factors in a retrospective cohort of patients attending 2 large public sector clinics, during the 6 months following ART initiation.
Methods. Data were analysed from 810 HIV-infected adults initiated on first-line HAART at 2 clinics in Johannesburg, between 1 November 2008 and 31 December 2009. Multivariate logistic regression models were used to estimate adjusted odds ratios (AORs) to determine associations between discordant immune response and clinical and demographic factors.
Results. At ART initiation, 65% (n=592) of participants were female, with a mean age of 38.5 years. Median baseline CD4 cell count was 155 cells/mm3, 70% (n=645) of patients had a haemoglobin level >11 g/dl and 88% (n=803) were initiated on stavudine-lamivudine-efavirenz/nevirapine (D4T-3TC-EFV/NVP). Six months after ART initiation, 24% (n=220) of patients had a discordant immune response and 7% (n=67) a discordant virological response. On multivariate analysis, baseline CD cell count .200 cells/mm3 (AOR 3.02; 95% confidence interval (CI) 2.08 - 4.38; p<0.001) and moderate anaemia (8.0 - 9.4 g/dl) at
baseline (AOR 2.30; 95% CI 1.25 - 4.59; p=0.007) were independently associated with the development of discordant immune response, after adjustment for education level, World Health Organization (WHO) clinical stage and ART regimen.
Conclusions. Discordant immune response following ART initiation was common and associated with baseline anaemia and CD4 cell count in our cohort. Intensive monitoring of at-risk individuals may improve clinical outcomes.

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eISSN: 2078-6751
print ISSN: 1608-9693