Direct measurement of viraemia in patients infected with HIV-1 and its relationship to disease progression and zidovudine therapy

J Med Virol. 1991 Sep;35(1):38-45. doi: 10.1002/jmv.1890350109.


Cell-free human immunodeficiency virus type-1 (HIV-1) was precipitated from archival serum with polyethylene glycol (PEG), and HIV-1 RNA was detected and quantified by reverse transcription and amplification in a nested polymerase chain reaction (PCR). The assay of end-point dilutions cDNA in nested PCRs allowed an estimation of the minimum RNA copies per unit volume of serum. RNA titres correlated with the classification of HIV-1 infection by CDC disease groups (30 patients). The geometric mean titres of HIV-1 serum RNA from patients grouped by disease stage gave minimum estimates of 340 and 400 virions per millilitre of serum in CDC groups II and III (n = 6 and 10, respectively) and 4,240 virions per millilitre in CDC group IV (n = 14). An overall fall in viral titre measured in this way was observed in 3 patients during zidovudine treatment. HIV-1 titres increased in a further 4 patients when therapy was interrupted, stopped, or complicated by secondary infection.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Base Sequence
  • DNA, Viral
  • HIV Antibodies / blood
  • HIV Core Protein p24 / blood
  • HIV Infections / drug therapy
  • HIV Infections / microbiology*
  • HIV-1 / isolation & purification*
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Prognosis
  • RNA, Viral / blood
  • Viremia / drug therapy
  • Viremia / microbiology*
  • Zidovudine / therapeutic use*


  • DNA, Viral
  • HIV Antibodies
  • HIV Core Protein p24
  • RNA, Viral
  • Zidovudine