Objective: To evaluate associations of perinatal HIV infection, HIV disease severity, and combination antiretroviral treatment with age at pubertal onset.
Design: Analysis of data from two US longitudinal cohort studies (IMPAACT 219C and PHACS AMP), conducted during 2000–2012, including perinatally HIV-infected (PHIV) and HIV-exposed but uninfected (HEU) youth. Tanner stage assessments of pubertal status (breast and pubic hair in girls; genitalia and pubic hair in boys) were conducted annually.
Methods: We compared the timing of pubertal onset (Tanner stage ≥2) between PHIV and HEU youth using interval-censored models. For PHIV youth, we evaluated associations of HIV disease severity and combination antiretroviral treatment with age at pubertal onset, adjusting for race/ethnicity and birth cohort.
Results: The mean age at pubertal onset was significantly later for the 2086 PHIV youth compared to the 453 HEU children (10.3 vs. 9.6, 10.5 vs. 10.0, 11.3 vs. 10.4, and 11.5 vs. 10.7 years according to female breast, female pubic hair, male genitalia, and male pubic hair staging, respectively, all P < 0.001). PHIV youth with HIV-1 RNA viral load above 10 000 copies/ml (vs. ≤10 000 copies/ml) or CD4% below 15% (vs. ≥15%) had significantly later pubertal onset (by 4–13 months). Each additional year of combination antiretroviral treatment was associated with a 0.6–1.2-month earlier mean age at pubertal onset, but this trend did not persist after adjustment for birth cohort.
Conclusion: Pubertal onset occurs significantly later in PHIV than in HEU youth, especially among those with more severe HIV disease. However, in the current era, combination antiretroviral treatment may result in more normal timing of pubertal onset.