Summary:HIV-1 RNA levels are routinely monitored as part of patient management. However, little is known about the course of HIV-1 RNA levels over the entire period of infection. The aim of this study was to investigate the course of HIV-1 RNA levels in a cohort of men with hemophilia who were observed for up to 17 years after HIV-1 seroconversion, and to assess the risk of HIV disease progression at any HIV-1 RNA level. Viral loads were measured on annual stored serum samples in 107 men with hemophilia A using the Roche Amplicor Monitor assay with non-B primers. On average, HIV-1 RNA levels increased significantly by 0.11 log10 per year over the course of HIV infection. This rate of increase was significantly faster in those who developed AIDS or died over the subsequent 12 to 17 year period, and in those who were older at HIV-1 seroconversion. The risk of developing AIDS and death remained low when the HIV-1 RNA level was below 4 log10 copies/ml, but increased rapidly thereafter, supporting current guidelines for the initiation of antiretroviral therapy after the viral load has exceeded this level.
Address correspondence and reprint requests to C. A. Sabin, Department of Primary Care and Population Sciences, Royal Free and University College Medical School, Royal Free Campus, Rowland Hill Street, London, England NW3 2PF; email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Manuscript received August 16, 1999; accepted November 17, 1999.
© 2000 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.