Background: Adenoviruses are among the most promising vectors for the development of an HIV vaccine. The results of the phase IIB study of the adenovirus serotype 5-based Merck Trivalent HIV vaccine have raised the concern that serological immunity to adenovirus serotype 5 (Ad5) could be linked to HIV acquisition risk in high-risk individuals. We examined the association between adenovirus serostatus and the rate of incident HIV infection in populations at elevated risk of HIV acquisition.
Methods: We performed a nested case–control study of Ad5 serostatus among 299 HIV-infected and 590 matched HIV-uninfected persons participating in the Multicenter AIDS Cohort Study (MACS) and in HPTN 039, a study of herpes simplex virus 2 suppression among adults in the United States, South America, and Africa. Appropriate HIV cases and controls were identified in each cohort, and Ad5-neutralizing antibody titers were compared in these two groups.
Results: In MACS and HPTN 039, the relative risks of incident HIV infection among Ad5-seropositive vs. Ad5-seronegative individuals were 1.1 (95% confidence interval 0.8–1.5, P = 0.57) and 1.0 (95% confidence interval 0.4–2.3, P = 0.99), respectively. HIV-1 acquisition rates did not vary significantly by Ad5-neutralizing antibody titer.
Conclusion: The presence of Ad5-neutralizing antibodies is not linked to the risk of HIV acquisition among populations at elevated risk of HIV infection.