Objective: We systematically reviewed the performance of 2010 WHO immunologic and clinical criteria for predicting virologic failure in HIV-infected patients on antiretroviral therapy (ART).
Design: Systematic review.
Methods: We used Cochrane Collaboration methods. We calculated unweighted sensitivity, specificity, positive predictive value (PPV), and negative predictive value (NPV) of immunologic and clinical criteria for predicting virologic failure.
Results: We identified 18 studies. Sixteen assessed immunologic criteria in adults; 12 defined virologic failure as a plasma viral load of more than 50 to more than 1000 copies/ml in adults, three as viral load at least 5000 copies/ml, and two as viral load more than 10,000 copies/ml; the sensitivity ranged from 16.8 to 54.9%, specificity from 82.9 to 95.5%, PPV from 15.0 to 38.8%, and NPV from 90.9 to 98.6%. Seven studies assessed clinical criteria to predict viral load of more than 50 to more than 1000 copies/ml; the sensitivity was 11.0%, specificity 90.5%, PPV 44.9%, and NPV 90.2%. Seven studies assessed clinical or immunologic criteria defining virologic failure as viral load of more than 50 to more than 1000 copies/ml; their sensitivity was 26.6%, specificity 85.9%, PPV 49.4%, and NPV 91.1%. Four studies assessed immunologic criteria in children; three defined virologic failure as viral load at least 5000 copies/ml and one as viral load at least 400 copies/ml. The sensitivity ranged from 4.5 to 6.3%, specificity from 97.7 to 99.3%, PPV from 20.0 to 54.9%, and NPV from 85.5 to 91.8%.
Conclusion: The 2010 WHO clinical and immunologic criteria are insensitive and have low PPV for predicting virologic failure. These data support the strong recommendation 2013 treatment guidelines that viral load testing be used to monitor for, diagnose, and confirm ART failure.