VANCOUVER, British Columbia During the first two months of life, high levels of HIV in a child's plasma increase the likelihood that the child will experience rapid progression to advanced HIV disease, researchers reported here at the 11th International Conference on AIDS.
Study findings suggest that high plasma HIV levels, as indicated by the number of HIV RNA copies per milliliter of plasma, may be useful in identifying children who could benefit from treatment, according to co-investigator William T. Shearer, MD, chief of the allergy and immunology service at Texas Children's Hospital, Houston.
The findings were based on a study of 106 infants with HIV. Using polymerase chain reaction techniques, investigators measured the number of HIV RNA copies in infants' plasma seven times between birth and 18 months of age, and every six months thereafter. They found that infants who had more than 317,000 copies of HIV RNA had a 67% chance that advanced disease would develop, compared with a 10% to 12% chance among infants with a lower HIV RNA copy.
Children whose illness progressed rapidly had a wide range of HIV RNA copy numbers. "Because of overlap in RNA levels between rapid and nonrapid progressors, no single threshold level predictive of disease progression was identified," said Shearer, who is professor of pediatrics, microbiology and immunology at Baylor College of Medicine, Houston.
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