Among Patients with Sustained Viral Suppression in a Resource-Limited Setting, CD4 Gains Are Continuous Although Gender-Based Differences Occur

Joseph B. Sempa, Agnes N. Kiragga, Barbara Castelnuovo, Moses R. Kamya, Yukari C. Manabe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Introduction:There is conflicting data on long-term CD4 immune recovery after combination antiretroviral therapy (ART) in resource-limited settings. Virologic suppression is rarely documented in cohorts from sub-Saharan Africa so objective evidence of adherence is biologically unsubstantiated. We sought to investigate long-term patterns of immune recovery in Ugandan patients on ART with sustained viral suppression.Methods:A prospective cohort of patients starting ART between April, 2004 and April, 2005 at the Infectious Diseases Institute with sustained viral suppression (viral load ≤400 copies/ml at month 6 and 12) while on first-line ART. Propensity scores were used to adjust for treatment allocation (nevirapine or efavirenz) at ART initiation. Data were analyzed using Kaplan Meier methods and cross-sectional time series regression.Results:Three hundred and fifty-six patients were included in the analysis.71.6% were female, 87% in WHO stage 3 or 4, median age was 37 years, (IQR:32-43), and median CD4 count was 108 cells/μL, (IQR:35-174) at ART start. At multivariable analysis, lower immune recovery (measured by change in CD4 from ART start at each time interval) was associated with male-gender (-59, 95% CI: 90, -28, P<0.001), baseline CD4 count of 101-200 cells/μL (-35, 95% CI: 62, -9, P=0.009) and >200 (-64, 95% CI: 101, -26, P=0.001), and use of AZT at baseline (-47, 95% CI: -74, -20, P=0.001). Median time to reach >400 cells/μL was longer in males (197.4 weeks, IQR:119.9-312.0), compared to females (144.7 weeks, IQR:96.6-219.7, P<0.001). The cumulative probability of attaining CD4 >400 cells/μL over 7 years was higher in females compared to males (P<0.001).Conclusions:There was long-term, continuous, immunologic recovery up to 7 years after ART initiation in an urban Ugandan cohort. Virologically suppressed women had better sustained immune recovery than men. Men take longer to immune reconstitute and have a lower probability of reaching a CD4 cell count >400 cells/μL. The biologic mechanisms of these gender differences need further exploration.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere73190
JournalPloS one
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 27 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General


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