Objective: To establish whether a gender difference in virologic response to highly active antiretroviral treatment (HAART) exists.
Methods: A cohort of HIV-positive individuals was examined.
Outcomes: Achievement of viral load <500 copies/ml and "failure" (failure to suppress viral load <500 copies/ml after 24 weeks or two consecutive measurements above this level after having suppressed below it). Hazard ratios (HRs) comparing the rate in women to that in men were derived using the Cox model.
Results: Of 366 male subjects, 79% were white and 82% were homosexual. Sixtythree percent of the 91 female subjects were African and 87% were heterosexual. The median follow-up after HAART was 94 weeks. The baseline CD4 count was higher in men (228 x 106 per liter) than in women (171 x 106 per liter) (p = .01), but the viral load was similar (p = .88). The median time to <500 copies/ml was 16 weeks. Women achieved a viral load of <500 copies/ml at a faster rate than men, with an adjusted HR of 1.46 (95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.99-2.16; p = .06). Some 261 patients failed treatment (58% of men and 53% of women) with an HR of 0.78 (95% CI: 0.51-1.21; p = .27).
Conclusions: Women may achieve virologic suppression at a faster rate than men and have a more durable response. Further research should examine these responses in conjunction with clinical outcomes, because gender differences in virologic response may ultimately be of little relevance if clinical outcomes are similar.
(C) 2001 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.