Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Treatment outcomes among HIV-1 and HIV-2 infected children initiating antiretroviral therapy in a concentrated low prevalence setting in West Africa

Uduak Okomo1*, Toyin Togun1, Francis Oko1, Kevin Peterson12, John Townend1, Ingrid Peterson3 and Assan Jaye14

Author Affiliations

1 Medical Research Council (UK) Laboratories, Atlantic Road, Fajara, 273, Banjul, The Gambia

2 Institute of Tropical Medicine, Nationalestraat 155, Antwerp, 2000, Belgium

3 International Center for AIDS Care and Treatment Program (ICAP)-Swaziland, Mailman School of Public Health Columbia University, New York, USA

4 WAPHIR Network, Universite Cheikh Anta Diop Laboratoire de Bacteriologie Virologie, Hopital A le Dantec, 30 Avenue Pasteur, Dakar, Senegal

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BMC Pediatrics 2012, 12:95  doi:10.1186/1471-2431-12-95

Published: 8 July 2012



There is little data on responses to combination antiretroviral therapy (cART) among HIV-infected children in the West African region. We describe treatment outcomes among HIV-1 and HIV-2 infected children initiating cART in a research clinic in The Gambia, West Africa.


All treatment naive HIV-infected children who initiated cART according to the WHO ART guidelines for children between October 2004 and December 2009 were included in the analysis. Kaplan-Meir estimates and sign-rank test were used to investigate the responses to treatment.


65 HIV-1 and five HIV-2 infected children aged < 15 years were initiated on cART over this time period. HIV-1 infected children were treated with a combination of Zidovudine or Stavudine + Lamivudine + Nevirapine or Efavirenz while children with HIV-2 were treated with Zidovudine + Lamivudine + ritonavir-boosted Lopinavir. HIV-1 infected children were followed-up for a median (IQR) duration of 20.1 months (6.9 – 34.3), with their median (IQR) age at treatment initiation, CD4% and plasma viral load at baseline found to be 4.9 years (2.1 – 9.1), 13.0% (7.0 – 16.0) and 5.4 log10 copies/ml (4.4 – 6.0) respectively. The median age at treatment initiation of the five HIV-2 infected children was 12 years (range: 4.6 – 14.0) while their median baseline CD4+ T cell count and HIV-2 viral load were 140 cells/mm3 (Range: 40 – 570 cells/mm3) and 4.5 log10copies/mL (Range: 3.1 - 4.9 log10copies/mL) respectively.

Among HIV-1 infected children <5 years of age at ART initiation, the median (IQR) increases in CD4% from baseline to 12, 24 and 36 months were 14% (8 – 19; P = 0.0004), 21% (15 – 22; P = 0.005) and 15% (15 – 25; P = 0.0422) respectively, while the median (IQR) increase in absolute CD4 T cell count from baseline to 12, 24 and 36 months for those ≥5 years at ART initiation were 470 cells/mm3 (270 – 650; P = 0.0005), 230 cells/mm3 (30 – 610; P = 0.0196) and 615 cells/mm3 (250 – 1060; P = 0.0180) respectively. The proportions of children achieving undetectable HIV-1 viral load at 6-, 12-, 24- and 36 months of treatment were 24/38 (63.2%), 20/36 (55.6%), 8/22 (36.4%) and 7/12 (58.3%) respectively. The probability of survival among HIV-1 infected children after 12 months on ART was 89.9% (95% CI 78.8 – 95.3). CD4 T cell recovery was sub-optimal in all the HIV-2 infected children and none achieved virologic suppression. Two of the HIV-2 infected children died within 6 months of starting treatment while the remaining three were lost to follow-up.


The beneficial effects of cART among HIV-1 infected children in our setting are sustained in the first 24 months of treatment with a significant improvement in survival experience up to 36 months; however the outcome was poor in the few HIV-2 infected children initiated on cART.