Prevalence and risk of residual viremia after ART in low- and middle-income countries: A cross-sectional study

Medicine (Baltimore). 2021 Sep 3;100(35):e26817. doi: 10.1097/MD.0000000000026817.


In order to design effective strategies to eradicate the HIV, an understanding of persistent viral reservoirs is needed. Many studies have demonstrated HIV residual viremia prevalence in high income countries, data from low- and middle-income countries (LMIC) are limited. We assessed the prevalence, and factors associated with residual viremia in people with HIV (PWH), who were virally-suppressed on antiretroviral therapy (ART) in LMIC. We also compared residual viremia prevalence between the LMIC and US.This is a cross-sectional, retrospective study that utilized stored specimen samples from the AIDS clinical trials group (ACTG) studies A5175 and A5208. The last available sample among participants with plasma HIV RNA < 400 copies/mL for ≥3 years were tested by the HIV molecular and monitoring core gag (HMMCgag) single copy assay (SCA). Residual viremia was defined as detectable if ≥1 copy/mL. Spearman's correlation and multivariable stepwise logistic regression were used to assess associations of various factors with SCA.A total of 320 participants, 246 (77%) from LMIC and 74 (23%) from US, were analyzed. Median (IQR) age was 33 (2840) years; baseline CD4 166 (88,230) cells/mm3; HIV RNA 5.0 (4.5, 5.3) log10 copies/mL; duration of viral suppression 3.4 (3.1, 4.0) years and 48% were male. In 85 participants with information available, 53% were subtype C, 42% subtype B and 5% other subtypes. Overall prevalence of residual viremia was 57% [95% CI, 52-63] with 51% [40-63] in US and 59% [53-65] in LMIC. Among participants with detectable SCA, the median (IQR) HIV RNA was 3.8 (2.2, 8.1) copies/mL. The multivariable model conducted in LMIC participants showed that higher baseline HIV RNA was associated with detectable residual RNA (OR 2.9, 95% CI 1.8, 4.6 for every log10 increase, P < .001). After including both US and LMIC in the final model, baseline HIV RNA remained significant. No difference in SCA detestability was found between US and LMIC sites (OR 1.1 [0.6, 2.0], P = .72) after adjusting for baseline RNA and parent study.The prevalence of residual viremia between both groups were not different and more than half of the participants had detectable viremia. Higher baseline HIV RNA was independently associated with residual viremia.

Trial registration: NCT00084136.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anti-Retroviral Agents / adverse effects*
  • Anti-Retroviral Agents / therapeutic use
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Developing Countries / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • HIV Infections / drug therapy
  • HIV Infections / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Prevalence
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Viremia / epidemiology
  • Viremia / etiology*


  • Anti-Retroviral Agents

Associated data