Immunological recovery and antiretroviral therapy in HIV-1 infection

Lancet Infect Dis. 2006 May;6(5):280-7. doi: 10.1016/S1473-3099(06)70463-7.


Potent antiretroviral therapy has dramatically improved the prognosis of patients infected with HIV-1. Primary and secondary prophylaxis against Pneumocystis carinii, Mycobacterium avium, cytomegalovirus, and other pathogens can be discontinued safely once CD4 cell counts have increased beyond pathogen-specific thresholds. Approximately one-third of individuals receiving antiretroviral therapy will not reach CD4 cell counts above 500 cells per muL after 5 years despite continuous suppression of plasma HIV-1 RNA. Whether this failure represents a risk factor for the long-term incidence of opportunistic diseases--eg, tuberculosis or malignancies--remains uncertain. We describe the time course of CD4 cell concentrations in patients whose plasma HIV-1 RNA is durably suppressed by antiretroviral therapy, in patients with incomplete suppression of plasma HIV-1 RNA, and during treatment interruptions. In addition, immune reconstitution disease, an inflammatory syndrome associated with immunological recovery occurring days to weeks after the start of antiretroviral therapy, is briefly described.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Retroviral Agents / therapeutic use*
  • CD4 Lymphocyte Count
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • HIV Infections / drug therapy*
  • HIV Infections / immunology*
  • HIV-1* / drug effects
  • HIV-1* / genetics
  • Humans
  • RNA, Viral / blood
  • Recovery of Function
  • Viral Load


  • Anti-Retroviral Agents
  • RNA, Viral