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OBJECTIVE: Few data exist on the virological response to antiretroviral therapy of individuals infected with African HIV-1 subtypes. Our objective was to compare the response, in our clinic, of African HIV-1-infected patients with their British and European contemporaries treated with the same regimes. DESIGN: The St Mary's Hospital HIV database was used to identify drug-naive African and European patients starting a highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) regimen. METHODS: HIV-1 subtype was determined by phylogenetic analysis of pol sequences. Kaplan-Meier survival analysis was used to estimate the proportion of patients achieving undetectable viral loads (< 500 copies/ml). The longer-term response to therapy was assessed by changes in CD4 cell counts and viral loads from baseline. RESULTS: A total of 265 patients were classified as 'European' and 97 as 'African', confirmed by sequence. The time to first undetectable viral load was similar for the two groups (P = 0.9). Although there were no statistically significant differences in the CD4 cell count responses (P = 0.11), there was evidence of an increase in viral load after 9 months for the African group, resulting in a widening viral load gap between the two cohorts; the effect of ethnic group was statistically significant (P < 0.001). CONCLUSION: The initial virological and immunological responses of the African and European cohorts to HAART were similar; although the longer-term virological response was poorer in the African cohort, which may be related to adherence. On the basis of these findings, there is no justification for withholding HAART from Africa on virological grounds.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





1139 - 1146


Adult, Africa, Anti-HIV Agents, Antiretroviral Therapy, Highly Active, CD4 Lymphocyte Count, Cohort Studies, Europe, Female, HIV Infections, HIV-1, Humans, Male, Treatment Outcome, United Kingdom, Viral Load