Comparison of prognostic importance of latest CD4+ cell count and HIV RNA levels in patients with advanced HIV infection on highly active antiretroviral therapy

Rodger David MacArthur, George Perez, Sharon Walmsley, John D. Baxter, Christopher M. Mullin, James D. Neaton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

17 Scopus citations


The comparative prognostic importance of latest plasma HIV RNA levels (viral loads) and CD4+ cell counts among patients prescribed highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) has not been well characterized. Method: We assessed the prognostic value of latest CD4+ cell counts and latest viral loads for progression to AIDS or death and explored their interaction among 432 HIV-infected persons with advanced HIV who were prescribed a protease inhibitor (PI) as their first HAART regimen. Results: Pre-HAART median CD4+ cell count and viral load were 41 cells/mm3 and 126,331 copies/mL, respectively. After 12 months of HAART, the median CD4+ cell count was 154 cells/mm3; 39% of patients had a viral load of 400 copies/ mL or lower. Over a median follow-up of 33 months, 109 (25%) of the 432 patients experienced an AIDS event or died. The hazard ratio for AIDS or death for those with latest CD4+ cell count <50 cells/mm3 versus ≥200 cells/mm3 was 13.9 (95% CI 6.5 to 29.7) without adjustment for latest viral load measurements and 9.5 (95% CI 4.0 to 22.5) after adjustment for latest viral load. In contrast, the hazard ratio for AIDS or death for those with viral load ≥100,000 versus <400 copies/mL was 4.2 (95% CI 2.3 to 7.7) without adjustment for latest CD4+ level and 1.2 (95% CI 0.6 to 2.4) with adjustment for latest CD4+ cell count. Conclusion: We conclude that when latest CD4+ cell count and viral load are considered separately, both are significantly related to AIDS or death; when these markers are jointly considered, the association of viral load with AIDS or death is substantially diminished. Latest CD4+ levels are more strongly related to AIDS or death than latest viral load levels in patients on HAART.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)127-135
Number of pages9
JournalHIV Clinical Trials
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - May 1 2005
Externally publishedYes



  • AIDS risk
  • Advanced HIV
  • CD4+ cell count

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Infectious Diseases
  • Pharmacology (medical)

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