Email updates

Keep up to date with the latest news and content from BMC Infectious Diseases and BioMed Central.

Open Access Research article

Rate and determinants of treatment response to different antiretroviral combination strategies in subjects presenting at HIV-1 diagnosis with advanced disease

Antonella Esposito1, Marco Floridia2, Gabriella d'Ettorre3, Daniele Pastori4, Alessandra Fantauzzi1, Paola Massetti3, Giancarlo Ceccarelli3, Camilla Ajassa3, Vincenzo Vullo3 and Ivano Mezzaroma1*

Author Affiliations

1 Dpt. of Clinical Medicine, "Sapienza" University of Rome, Rome, Italy

2 Dpt. of Therapeutic Research and Medicines Evaluation, Istituto Superiore di Sanità, Rome, Italy

3 Dpt. of Public Health and Infectious Diseases, "Sapienza" University of Rome, Rome, Italy

4 Dpt. of Internal Medicine and Medical Specialties, "Sapienza" University of Rome, Rome, Italy

For all author emails, please log on.

BMC Infectious Diseases 2011, 11:341  doi:10.1186/1471-2334-11-341

Published: 14 December 2011



The optimal therapeutic strategies for patients presenting with advanced disease at HIV-1 diagnosis are as yet incompletely defined.


All patients presenting at two outpatient clinics in 2000-2009 with an AIDS-defining clinical condition or a CD4+ T cell count < 200/μL at HIV-1 diagnosis were analyzed for the presence of combined immunovirological response, defined by the concomitant presence of an absolute number of CD4+ T cells > 200 cells/μL and a plasma HIV-1 RNA copy number < 50/mL after 12 months of HAART.


Among 102 evaluable patients, first-line regimens were protease inhibitors [PI]-based in 78 cases (77%) and efavirenz-based in 24 cases (23%). The overall response rate was 65% (95% CI: 55-74), with no differences by gender, age, nationality, route of transmission, hepatitis virus coinfections, presence of AIDS-defining clinical events, baseline HIV-1 viral load, or type of regimen (response rates with PI-based and efavirenz-based therapy: 63% and 71%, respectively, p = 0.474). Response rate was significantly better with higher baseline CD4+ T cell counts (78% with CD4+ ≥ 100/μL, compared to 50% with CD4+ < 100/μL; odds ratio: 3.5; 95% CI: 1.49-8.23, p = 0.003). Median time on first-line antiretroviral therapy was 24 months (interquartile range: 12-48). Switch to a second line treatment occurred in 57% of patients, mainly for simplification (57%), and was significantly more common with PI-based regimens [adjusted hazard ratios (AHR) with respect to efavirenz-based regimens: 3.88 for unboosted PIs (95% CI: 1.40-10.7, p = 0.009) and 4.21 for ritonavir-boosted PI (95%CI 1.7-10.4, p = 0.002)] and in older subjects (≥ 50 years) (AHR: 1.83; 95% CI: 1.02-3.31, p = 0.044). Overall mortality was low (3% after a median follow up of 48 months).


Our data indicate that a favorable immunovirological response is possible in the majority of naive patients presenting at HIV-1 diagnosis with AIDS or low CD4+ T cell counts, and confirm that starting HAART with a more compromised immune system may be associated with a delayed and sometimes partial immune recovery. Simpler regimens may be preferable in this particular population.