Email updates

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

Open Access Research article

CD4 cell count recovery among HIV-infected patients with very advanced immunodeficiency commencing antiretroviral treatment in sub-Saharan Africa

Stephen D Lawn12*, Landon Myer34, Linda-Gail Bekker1 and Robin Wood1

Author Affiliations

1 The Desmond Tutu HIV Centre, Institute for Infectious Disease and Molecular Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Cape Town, Anzio Road, Observatory 7925, Cape Town, South Africa

2 Clinical Research Unit, Department of Infectious and Tropical Diseases, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Keppel Stree, London, UK

3 Infectious Diseases Epidemiology Unit, School of Public Health and Family Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Cape Town, Anzio Road, Observatory 7925, Cape Town, South Africa

4 Department of Epidemiology, Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University, New York, USA

For all author emails, please log on.

BMC Infectious Diseases 2006, 6:59  doi:10.1186/1471-2334-6-59

Published: 21 March 2006

Abstract

Background

Patients accessing antiretroviral treatment (ART) programmes in sub-Saharan Africa frequently have very advanced immunodeficiency. Previous data suggest that such patients may have diminished capacity for CD4 cell count recovery.

Methods

Rates of CD4 cell increase were determined over 48 weeks among ART-naïve individuals (n = 596) commencing ART in a South African community-based ART programme.

Results

The CD4 cell count increased from a median of 97 cells/μl at baseline to 261 cells/μl at 48 weeks and the proportion of patients with a CD4 cell count <100 cells/μl decreased from 51% at baseline to just 4% at 48 weeks. A rapid first phase of recovery (0–16 weeks, median rate = 25.5 cells/μl/month) was followed by a slower second phase (16–48 weeks, median rate = 7.7 cells/μl/month). Compared to patients with higher baseline counts, multivariate analysis showed that those with baseline CD4 counts <50 cells/μl had similar rates of phase 1 CD4 cell recovery (P = 0.42), greater rates of phase 2 recovery (P = 0.007) and a lower risk of immunological non-response (P = 0.016). Among those that achieved a CD4 cell count >500 cells/μl at 48 weeks, 19% had baseline CD4 cell counts <50 cells/μl. However, the proportion of these patients that attained a CD4 count 200 cells/μl at 48 weeks was lower than those with higher baseline CD4 cell counts.

Conclusion

Patients in this cohort with baseline CD4 cell counts <50 cells/μl have equivalent or greater capacity for immunological recovery during 48 weeks of ART compared to those with higher baseline CD4 cell counts. However, their CD4 counts remain <200 cells/μl for a longer period, potentially increasing their risk of morbidity and mortality in the first year of ART.