Background: Many HIV-infected children are diagnosed with tuberculosis (TB), but the effect of TB treatment on virologic and immunologic response to combination antiretroviral therapy (cART) is not well documented.
Methods: Secondary analysis of a prospective cohort of cART-naive HIV-infected South African children aged 0–8 years initiating cART to assess the effect of TB treatment at the time of cART initiation on virologic suppression (HIV RNA < 50 copies/mL), virologic rebound (HIV RNA > 1000 copies/mL after suppression), and CD4 cell percent (CD4%) increase during the first 24 months of cART.
Results: Of 199 children (median age 2.1 years), 92 (46%) were receiving TB treatment at cART initiation. Children receiving and not receiving TB treatment at cART initiation had similar median baseline HIV RNA (5.4 vs. 5.6 copies/mL), median time to virologic suppression (6.2 months in each group, adjusted hazard ratio, 1.36, 95% confidence interval: 0.94 to 1.96), and rates of virologic rebound by 24 months (23% vs. 24%, adjusted hazard ratio 1.53, 95% confidence interval: 0.71 to 3.30). Children on TB treatment had significantly lower median CD4% at baseline (15.3% vs. 18.8%, P < 0.01) and during the first 12 months of cART but experienced similar median increases in CD4% at 6 months (9.9% vs. 9.6%), 12 months (14.2% vs. 11.9%), and 24 months of cART (14.5% vs. 14.2%). Exploratory analyses suggest that children receiving lopinavir/ritonavir-based cART and TB treatment may have inferior virologic and immunologic response compared with children receiving efavirenz-based cART.
Conclusions: Receiving TB treatment at the time of cART initiation did not substantially affect virologic or immunologic response to cART in young children.