Background: HIV-1 DNA levels, reported as copies/10(6) peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC), are very predictive of disease progression in seroconverters, independently of CD4(+)T cell count and HIV-RNA. Previously, HIV-DNA levels have sometimes been reported by other means: copies/10(6) CD4(+)T cells, reflecting the proportion of infected cells; or copies/mL whole blood, reflecting the global blood reservoir size.
Objectives: We investigated if the predictive value over the natural course of the disease depends on how the results are reported.
Study design: Results reported as HIV-DNA copies/10(6) PBMC were converted to copies/10(6) CD4(+)T cells or to copies/mL whole blood for 422 seroconverters included in the French SEROCO cohort (ANRS).
Results: The three methods for reporting HIV-DNA levels yielded different ranges, but these values were highly correlated. The level of HIV-DNA during the seroconversion period was strongly associated with disease progression in all three reporting methods.
Conclusions: This reinforces the value of HIV-DNA quantification in physiopathological and therapeutical studies, particularly in an era of research aimed at diminishing the HIV reservoir. Even if blood represents a small part of this reservoir, HIV-DNA in blood is a simple marker that provides an informative picture of the global reservoir and is strongly predictive of disease progression.