Viral dynamics and CD4+ T cell counts in subtype C human immunodeficiency virus type 1-infected individuals from southern Africa

Clive M. Gray, Carolyn Williamson, Helba Bredell, Adrian Puren, Xiaohua Xia, Ruben Filter, Lynn Zijenah, Huyen Cao, Lynn Morris, Efthyia Vardas, Mark Colvin, Glenda Gray, James McIntyre, Rosemary Musonda, Susan Allen, David Katzenstein, Mike Mbizo, Newton Kumwenda, Taha Taha, Salim Abdool KarimJorge Flores, Haynes W. Sheppard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Defining viral dynamics in natural infection is prognostic of disease progression and could prove to be important for vaccine trial design as viremia may be a likely secondary end point in phase III HIV efficacy trials. There are limited data available on the early course of plasma viral load in subtype C HIV-1 infection in Africa. Plasma viral load and CD4+ T cell counts were monitored in 51 recently infected subjects for 9 months. Individuals were recruited from four southern African countries: Zambia, Malawi, Zimbabwe, and South Africa and the median estimated time from seroconversion was 8.9 months (interquartile range, 5.7-14 months). All were infected with subtype C HIV-1 and median viral loads, measured using branched DNA, ranged from 3.82-4.02 log 10 RNA copies/ml from 2-24 months after seroconversion. Viral loads significantly correlated with CD4+ cell counts (r = -0.5, p < 0.0001; range, 376-364 cells/mm3) and mathematical modeling defined a median set point of 4.08 log10 (12 143 RNA copies/ml), which was attained approximately 17 months after seroconversion. Comparative measurements using three different viral load platforms (bDNA, Amplicor, and NucliSens) confirmed that viremia in subtype C HIV-1-infected individuals within the first 2 years of infection did not significantly differ from that found in early subtype B infection. In conclusion, the course of plasma viremia, as described in this study, will allow a useful baseline comparator for understanding disease progression in an African setting and may be useful in the design of HIV-1 vaccine trials in southern Africa.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)285-291
Number of pages7
JournalAIDS research and human retroviruses
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2005

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology
  • Virology
  • Infectious Diseases


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