Higher Risk of Mortality and Virologic Failure in HIV-Infected Patients with High Viral Load at Antiretroviral Therapy Initiation: An Observational Cohort Study in Chongqing, China

Zhou, C.; Zhang, W.; Lu, R.; Ouyang, L.; Xing, H.; Shao, Y.; Wu, G.; Ruan, Y.

Frontiers in Public Health 10: 800839


ISSN/ISBN: 2296-2565
PMID: 35186841
Accession: 079692395

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Viral load (VL) is a strong predictor of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) disease progression. The aim of this study was to evaluate the effect of high baseline VL on antiretroviral therapy (ART) outcomes among HIV-infected patients. This retrospective study observed HIV-infected patients who had baseline VL test at ART initiation between 2015 and 2019 in Chongqing, China. Cox proportional hazards regression and logistic regression models were used to evaluate the effects of baseline VL on Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS)-related mortality and virologic failure, respectively. The cohort included 7,176 HIV-infected patients, of whom 38.7% had a baseline VL ≥ 100,000 copies/mL. Of the patients who died during follow-up, 58.9% had a baseline VL ≥ 100,000 copies/mL. Compared with a baseline VL < 10,000 copies/mL, ART initiation at VL ≥ 100,000 copies/mL was significantly associated with the AIDS-related death (adjusted hazard ratio, AHR = 1.4) and virologic failure (adjusted odds ratio, AOR = 2.4). Compared with patients with a baseline VL < 10,000 copies/mL, patients on the recommended first-line regimen with a VL ≥ 100,000 copies/mL at ART initiaition had higher mortality rate (5.1 vs. 1.7 per 100 person-years), but there was no significant difference in the mortality accoding to the initial VL level among patients on second-line ART (2.8 vs. 2.7 per 100 person-years). ART initiation ≤ 30 days after HIV diagnosis was associated with a lower risk of AIDS-related death (AHR = 0.6). ART initiation with VL ≥ 100,000 copies/mL was associated with a significantly greater risk of mortality and virologic failure. Optimizing the ART regimen and initiating ART early may help to reduce mortality effectively among patients with a high baseline VL. VL testing for all HIV patients is recommended at HIV diagnosis or on ART initiation.