Baseline plasma HIV RNA levels > 100 000 copies/ml have been associated with elevated mortality rates after the initiation of HAART. There is uncertainty regarding the optimal strategy for patients with high plasma HIV RNA but CD4 cell count > or = 200 cells/microl.
To evaluate the impact of baseline plasma HIV RNA on survival among patients with CD4 cell counts > or = 200 cells/microl.
Patients were stratified by plasma HIV RNA, CD4 cell count and adherence level. Mortality rates were evaluated using Kaplan-Meier methods and Cox regression.
Among 1166 patients initiating HAART with a CD4 cell count > or = 200 cells/microl, a baseline HIV RNA > or = 100 000 copies/ml was statistically associated with elevated mortality among non-adherent patients (log-rank P = 0.032), but not for adherent patients (log-rank P = 0.690). In a multivariate Cox model comparing patients with a baseline CD4 cell count > or = 200 cells/microl and a baseline plasma HIV RNA < 100 000 copies/ml, the mortality rate was statistically similar among patients with a baseline CD4 cell count > or = 200 cells/microl and a baseline plasma HIV RNA > or = 100 000 copies/ml (relative hazard, 1.21; 95% confidence interval, 0.89-1.65; P = 0.232).
HIV RNA > or = 100 000 copies/ml was only associated with mortality among HIV-infected patients initiating HAART with CD4 cell counts > or= 200 cells/microl if the patients were non-adherent.