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Concept: Viral load


The timely detection of viremia in HIV-infected patients receiving antiviral treatment is key to ensuring effective therapy and preventing the emergence of drug resistance. In high HIV burden settings, the cost and complexity of diagnostics limit their availability. We have developed a novel complementary metal-oxide semiconductor (CMOS) chip based, pH-mediated, point-of-care HIV-1 viral load monitoring assay that simultaneously amplifies and detects HIV-1 RNA. A novel low-buffer HIV-1 pH-LAMP (loop-mediated isothermal amplification) assay was optimised and incorporated into a pH sensitive CMOS chip. Screening of 991 clinical samples (164 on the chip) yielded a sensitivity of 95% (in vitro) and 88.8% (on-chip) at >1000 RNA copies/reaction across a broad spectrum of HIV-1 viral clades. Median time to detection was 20.8 minutes in samples with >1000 copies RNA. The sensitivity, specificity and reproducibility are close to that required to produce a point-of-care device which would be of benefit in resource poor regions, and could be performed on an USB stick or similar low power device.

Concepts: Antiretroviral drug, HIV, Viral load, Type I and type II errors, Integrated circuit, Transistor, CMOS, File system


Expanded access to antiretroviral therapy (ART) using universal test and treat (UTT) has been suggested as a strategy to eliminate HIV in South Africa within 7 y based on an influential mathematical modeling study. However, the underlying deterministic model was criticized widely, and other modeling studies did not always confirm the study’s finding. The objective of our study is to better understand the implications of different model structures and assumptions, so as to arrive at the best possible predictions of the long-term impact of UTT and the possibility of elimination of HIV.

Concepts: Antiretroviral drug, HIV, AIDS, Protease inhibitor, Viral load, Mathematics, Africa, South Africa


Universal HIV testing and immediate antiretroviral therapy for infected individuals has been proposed as a way of reducing the transmission of HIV and thereby bringing the HIV epidemic under control. It is unclear whether transmission during early HIV infection–before individuals are likely to have been diagnosed with HIV and started on antiretroviral therapy–will compromise the effectiveness of treatment as prevention. This article presents two opposing viewpoints by Powers, Miller, and Cohen, and Williams and Dye, followed by a commentary by Fraser.

Concepts: Antiretroviral drug, HIV, AIDS, Protease inhibitor, Viral load, Infectious disease, Infection, United States Supreme Court cases


BACKGROUND: Decisions about when to start an antiretroviral therapy (ART) are normally based on CD4 cell counts and viral load (VL). However, these measurements require equipment beyond the capacity of most laboratories in low-income and middle-income settings. Thus, there is an urgent need to identify and test simple markers to guide the optimal time for starting and for monitoring the effect of ART in developing countries. OBJECTIVES: (1) To evaluate anthropometric measurements and measurement of plasma-soluble form of the urokinase plasminogen activator receptor (suPAR) levels as potential risk factors for early mortality among HIV-infected patients; (2) to assess whether these markers could help identify patients to whom ART should be prioritised and (3) to determine if these markers may add information to CD4 cell count when VL is not available. DESIGN: An observational study. SETTING: The largest ART centre in Bissau, Guinea-Bissau. PARTICIPANTS: 1083 ART-naïve HIV-infected patients. OUTCOME MEASURES: Associations between baseline anthropometric measurements, CD4 cell counts, plasma suPAR levels and survival were examined using Cox proportional hazards models. RESULTS: Low body mass index (BMI≤18.5 kg/m(2)), low mid-upper-arm-circumference (MUAC≤250 mm), low CD4 cell count (≤350 cells/μl) and high suPAR plasma levels (>5.3 ng/ml) were independent predictors of death. Furthermore, mortality among patients with low CD4 cell count, low MUAC or low BMI was concentrated in the highest suPAR quartile. CONCLUSIONS: Irrespective of ART initiation and baseline CD4 count, MUAC and suPAR plasma levels were independent predictors of early mortality in this urban cohort. These markers could be useful in identifying patients at the highest risk of short-term mortality and may aid triage for ART when CD4 cell count is not available or when there is shortness of antiretroviral drugs.

Concepts: Antiretroviral drug, HIV, AIDS, Viral load, Body mass index, CD4, Antiretroviral drugs, Urokinase receptor


Hematological and biochemical abnormalities are among the most common clinicopathological manifestations of HIV patients on ART. Consequently, the development and assessment of indigenous antiretroviral drugs with minimal abnormalities becomes a necessity. The objective of this investigation was to assess potential haematological and biochemical abnormalities that may be associated with the administration of Winniecure ART in HIV patients undergoing treatment in Nigeria. Fifty (50) confirmed HIV positive ART naive patients aged 36 +/- 10 were observed for haematological and biochemical responses for 12 weeks. Haematological responses were assessed thrice at 6 weeks interval using coulter Ac-T differential analyser and biochemical indicators (bilirubin, creatine, urea, amylase, ALT, ALP, AST, albumin) assayed spectrophotometrically.

Concepts: Antiretroviral drug, HIV, AIDS, Protease inhibitor, Viral load, Hepatitis, Assessment, Antiretroviral drugs


Realizing the full individual and population-wide benefits of antiretroviral therapy for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection requires an efficient mechanism of HIV-related health service delivery. We developed a system dynamics model of the continuum of HIV care in Vancouver, Canada, which reflects key activities and decisions in the delivery of antiretroviral therapy, including HIV testing, linkage to care, and long-term retention in care and treatment. To measure the influence of operational interventions on population health outcomes, we incorporated an HIV transmission component into the model. We determined optimal resource allocations among targeted and routine testing programs to minimize new HIV infections over five years in Vancouver. Simulation scenarios assumed various constraints informed by the local health policy. The project was conducted in close collaboration with the local health care providers, Vancouver Coastal Health Authority and Providence Health Care.

Concepts: Antiretroviral drug, HIV, AIDS, Immune system, Health care, Viral load, Medicine, Infectious disease


Survival rate of HIV-infected patients on treatment are poorly understood in Ethiopia. The study aimed to determine the probability of survival and predictors of mortality, among HIV-infected adults on antiretroviral therapy in Jinka Hospital, South Omo, Ethiopia.

Concepts: Antiretroviral drug, HIV, AIDS, Protease inhibitor, Viral load


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. (Funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and others; START number, NCT00867048 .).

Concepts: Antiretroviral drug, HIV, AIDS, Immune system, Viral load, Infectious disease, Tuberculosis, Cytomegalovirus


Early detection of HIV infection is the best way to prevent spread of the disease and to improve the efficiency of the antiretroviral therapy. Nucleic acid amplification tests (NAAT) have become the gold-standard for detecting low-concentrations of the virus in blood. However, these methods are technically demanding and cost-prohibitive in developing countries. Immunoassays are more affordable and can be more easily adapted for point-of-care diagnosis. However, the sensitivity so far of these methods has been too low. We here report the development of a sandwich immunoassay that combines nanomechanical and optoplasmonic transduction methods for detecting the HIV-1 capsid antigen p24 in human serum. The immunoreactions take place on the surface of a compliant microcantilever where gold nanoparticles are used as both mechanical and plasmonic labels. The microcantilever acts as both a mechanical resonator and an optical cavity for the transduction of the mechanical and plasmonic signals. The limit of detection of the immunoassay is 10-17 g/mL that is equivalent to one virion in 10 mL of plasma. This is 5 orders of magnitude better than last generation of approved immunoassays and 2 orders of magnitude better than NAAT. This technology meets the demands to be produced en masse at low cost and the capability for miniaturization to be used at the point-of-care.

Concepts: Antiretroviral drug, HIV, AIDS, Immune system, Viral load, Infectious disease, Gold, Immunoassay


High rates of patient attrition from care between HIV testing and antiretroviral therapy (ART) initiation have been documented in sub-Saharan Africa, contributing to persistently low CD4 cell counts at treatment initiation. One reason for this is that starting ART in many countries is a lengthy and burdensome process, imposing long waits and multiple clinic visits on patients. We estimated the effect on uptake of ART and viral suppression of an accelerated initiation algorithm that allowed treatment-eligible patients to be dispensed their first supply of antiretroviral medications on the day of their first HIV-related clinic visit.

Concepts: Antiretroviral drug, HIV, AIDS, Protease inhibitor, Viral load, Africa, Hospital, Randomized controlled trial