Antiretroviral therapy initiation in an Australian cohort: implications for increased use of antiretroviral therapy

I. Stratov, S.J. Kent

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Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) management is entering a “universal test and treat” phase, although the benefits from this approach in developed world scenarios are uncertain. We analyzed 79 combination anti-retroviral therapy (cART)-naïve HIV-positive individuals who were intensively prospectively followed from 2004 to 2013. We studied HIV-related illnesses, potential HIV transmissions, impact on sexual behavior, and factors impeding earlier cART initiation. Sixty-eight (86 %) subjects commenced cART at a mean of 6.0 years after diagnosis: 71 % with a CD4 T-cell count <350 cells/μl. A significant minority of subjects (29 %) resisted initiation of cART despite physician recommendation for a mean of 18 months. Only one HIV-related illness occurred in a patient who had not previously recorded a CD4 T-cell count <500 cell/μl, totaling 195 person-years of observation. A 40 % increase in sexually transmitted infections (STIs) occurred after commencing cART. We detected six HIV transmissions in our cohort, all of which were before initiating cART and 5 of them had a prior CD4 T-cell count <500 cells/μl. Illnesses related to cART deferral were rare and most HIV transmissions we detected occurred in people with a prior CD4 T-cell count <500 cells/μl. Our study raises concerns about increasing STI rates after cART initiation. Focusing resources on cART initiation among patients with CD4 T-cell counts <500 cells/μl and enhancing safe sexual practices should remain a priority.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)253-259
Number of pages7
JournalEuropean Journal of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2015
Externally publishedYes

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