ID News: December 2015


Volume 41-12, December 3, 2015: Good news on HIV

ID News

Early antiretroviral treatment: What is the evidence?

The INSIGHT START Study Group. Initiation of Antiretroviral Therapy in Early Asymptomatic HIV Infection. N Engl J Med 2015;373:795-807. DOI: 10.1056/NEJMoa1506816

Background: Data from randomized trials are lacking on the benefits and risks of initiating antiretroviral therapy in patients with asymptomatic human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection who have a CD4+ count of more than 350 cells per cubic millimeter.

Methods: We randomly assigned HIV-positive adults who had a CD4+ count of more than 500 cells per cubic millimeter to start antiretroviral therapy immediately (immediate-initiation group) or to defer it until the CD4+ count decreased to 350 cells per cubic millimeter or until the development of the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) or another condition that dictated the use of antiretroviral therapy (deferred-initiation group). The primary composite end point was any serious AIDS-related event, serious non–AIDS-related event, or death from any cause.

Results: A total of 4685 patients were followed for a mean of 3.0 years. At study entry, the median HIV viral load was 12,759 copies per milliliter, and the median CD4+ count was 651 cells per cubic millimeter. On May 15, 2015, on the basis of an interim analysis, the data and safety monitoring board determined that the study question had been answered and recommended that patients in the deferred-initiation group be offered antiretroviral therapy. The primary end point occurred in 42 patients in the immediate-initiation group (1.8%; 0.60 events per 100 person years), as compared with 96 patients in the deferred-initiation group (4.1%; 1.38 events per 100 person-years), for a hazard ratio of 0.43 (95% confidence interval [CI], 0.30 to 0.62; P<0.001). Hazard ratios for serious AIDS-related and serious non–AIDS-related events were 0.28 (95% CI, 0.15 to 0.50; P<0.001) and 0.61 (95% CI, 0.38 to 0.97; P = 0.04), respectively. More than two thirds of the primary end points (68%) occurred in patients with a CD4+ count of more than 500 cells per cubic millimeter. The risks of a grade 4 event were similar in the two groups, as were the risks of unscheduled hospital admissions.

Conclusions: The initiation of antiretroviral therapy in HIV-positive adults with a CD4+ count of more than 500 cells per cubic millimeter provided net benefits over starting such therapy in patients after the CD4+ count had declined to 350 cells per cubic millimeter.

The TEMPRANO ANRS 12136 Study Group. A Trial of Early Antiretrovirals and Isoniazid Preventive Therapy in Africa. N Engl J Med 2015;373:808-22. DOI: 10.1056/NEJMoa1507198

Background: In sub-Saharan Africa, the burden of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)–associated tuberculosis is high. We conducted a trial to assess the benefits of early antiretroviral therapy (ART), 6-month isoniazid preventive therapy (IPT), or both among HIV-infected adults with high CD4+ cell counts in Ivory Coast.

Methods: We included participants who had HIV type 1 infection and a CD4+ count of less than 800 cells per cubic millimeter and who met no criteria for starting ART according to World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines. Participants were randomly assigned to one of four treatment groups: deferred ART (ART initiation according to WHO criteria), deferred ART plus IPT, early ART (immediate ART initiation), or early ART plus IPT. The primary end point was a composite of diseases included in the case definition of the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), non–AIDS-defining cancer, non–AIDS-defining invasive bacterial disease, or death from any cause at 30 months. We used Cox proportional models to compare outcomes between the deferred-ART and early-ART strategies and between the IPT and no-IPT strategies.

Results: A total of 2056 patients were followed for 4757 patient-years. A total of 204 primary end-point events were observed (3.8 events per 100 person-years; 95% confidence interval [CI], 3.3 to 4.4), including 68 in patients with a baseline CD4+ count of at least 500 cells per cubic millimeter (3.2 events per 100 person-years; 95% CI, 2.4 to 4.0). Tuberculosis and invasive bacterial diseases accounted for 42% and 27% of primary end-point events, respectively. The risk of death or severe HIV-related illness was lower with early ART than with deferred ART (adjusted hazard ratio, 0.56; 95% CI, 0.41 to 0.76; adjusted hazard ratio among patients with a baseline CD4+ count of ≥500 cells per cubic millimeter, 0.56; 95% CI, 0.33 to 0.94) and lower with IPT than with no IPT (adjusted hazard ratio, 0.65; 95% CI, 0.48 to 0.88; adjusted hazard ratio among patients with a baseline CD4+ count of ≥500 cells per cubic millimeter, 0.61; 95% CI, 0.36 to 1.01). The 30-month probability of grade 3 or 4 adverse events did not differ significantly among the strategies.

Conclusions: In this African country, immediate ART and 6 months of IPT independently led to lower rates of severe illness than did deferred ART and no IPT, both overall and among patients with CD4+ counts of at least 500 cells per cubic millimeter.

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