Background: Chronic liver disease has emerged as an important problem in adults with longstanding HIV infection, but data are lacking for children. We characterized elevated aspartate aminotransferase-to-platelet ratio index (APRI), a marker of possible liver fibrosis, in perinatally HIV-infected children.
Methods: The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development International Site Development Initiative enrolled HIV-infected children (ages 0.1–20.1 years) from 5 Latin American countries in an observational cohort from 2002 to 2009. Twice yearly visits included medical history, physical examination and laboratory evaluations. The prevalence (95% confidence interval) of APRI > 1.5 was calculated, and associations with demographic, HIV-related and liver-related variables were investigated in bivariate analyses.
Results: APRI was available for 1012 of 1032 children. APRI was >1.5 in 32 (3.2%, 95% confidence interval: 2.2%–4.4%) including 2 of 4 participants with hepatitis B virus infection. Factors significantly associated with APRI > 1.5 (P < 0.01 compared with APRI ≤ 1.5) included country, younger age, past or current hepatitis B virus, higher alanine aminotransferase, lower total cholesterol, higher log10 current viral load, lower current CD4 count, lower nadir CD4 count, use of hepatotoxic nonantiretroviral (ARV) medications and no prior ARV use. Rates of APRI > 1.5 varied significantly by current ARV regimen (P = 0.0002), from 8.0% for no ARV to 3.2% for non–protease inhibitor regimens to 1.5% for protease inhibitor–based regimens.
Conclusions: Elevated APRI occurred in approximately 3% of perinatally HIV-infected children. Protease inhibitor–based ARVs appeared protective whereas inadequate HIV control appeared to increase risk of elevated APRI. Additional investigations are needed to better assess potential subclinical, chronic liver disease in HIV-infected children.