Superior effects of antiretroviral treatment among men who have sex with men compared to other HIV at-risk populations in a large cohort study in Hunan, China

Shu Su, Xi Chen, Limin Mao, Jianmei He, Xiuqing Wei, Jun Jing, Lei Zhang

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This study assesses association between CD4 level at initiation of antiretroviral treatment (ART) on subsequent treatment outcomes and mortality among people infected with HIV via various routes in Hunan province, China. Over a period of 10 years, a total of 7333 HIV-positive patients, including 553 (7.5%) MSM, 5484 (74.8%) heterosexuals, 1164 (15.9%) injection drug users (IDU) and 132 (1.8%) former plasma donors (FPD), were recruited. MSM substantially demonstrated higher initial CD4 cell level (242, IQR 167–298) than other populations (Heterosexuals: 144 IQR 40–242, IDU: 134 IQR 38–224, FPD: 86 IQR 36–181). During subsequent long-term follow up, the median CD4 level in all participants increased significantly from 151 cells/mm3 (IQR 43–246) to 265 cells/mm3 (IQR 162–380), whereas CD4 level in MSM remained at a high level between 242 and 361 cells/mm3. Consistently, both cumulative immunological and virological failure rates (10.4% and 26.4% in 48 months, respectively) were the lowest in MSM compared with other population groups. Survival analysis indicated that initial CD4 counts ≤200 cells/mm3 (AHR = 3.14; CI, 2.43–4.06) significantly contributed to HIV-related mortality during treatment. Timely diagnosis and treatment of HIV patients are vital for improving CD4 level and health outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Article number283
Pages (from-to)1-14
Number of pages14
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 8 Mar 2016


  • CD4
  • China
  • HIV
  • MSM
  • Treatment failure
  • Viral load

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