While initiation of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) during primary HIV-1 infection occasionally results in transient control of viral replication after treatment interruption, the vast majority of patients eventually experience a rebound in plasma viremia. Here we report a case of a patient who was started on HAART during symptomatic primary infection and who has subsequently maintained viral loads of < 50 copies/mL for more than nine years after the cessation of treatment. This patient had a high baseline viral load and has maintained a relatively high frequency of latently infected CD4(+) T cells. In addition, he does not have any known protective HLA alleles. Thus it is unlikely that he was destined to become a natural elite controller or suppressor. The mechanism of control of viral replication is unclear; he is infected with a CCR5/CXCR4 dual-tropic virus that is fully replication-competent in vitro. In addition, his spouse, who transmitted the virus to him, developed AIDS. The patient's CD4(+) T cells are fully susceptible to HIV-1 infection, and he has low titers of neutralizing antibodies to heterologous and autologous HIV-1 isolates. Furthermore, his CD8(+) T cells do not have potent HIV suppressive activity. This report suggests that some patients may be capable of controlling pathogenic HIV-1 isolates for extended periods of time after the cessation of HAART through a mechanism that is distinct from the potent cytotoxic T lymphocyte (CTL) mediated suppression that has been reported in many elite suppressors.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Infectious Diseases