Background: CD4 cell recovery following first-line combination ART (cART) is poorer in HIV-2+ than in HIV-1+ patients. Only large comparisons may allow adjustments for demographic and pretreatment plasma viral load (pVL).
Methods: ART-naive HIV+ adults from two European multicohort collaborations, COHERE (HIV-1 alone) and ACHIeV2e (HIV-2 alone), were included, if they started first-line cART (without NNRTIs or fusion inhibitors) between 1997 and 2011. Patients without at least one CD4 cell count before start of cART, without a pretreatment pVL and with missing a priori-defined covariables were excluded. Evolution of CD4 cell count was studied using adjusted linear mixed models.
Results: We included 185 HIV-2+ and 30321 HIV-1+ patients with median age of 46 years (IQR 36–52) and 37 years (IQR 31–44), respectively. Median observed pretreatment CD4 cell counts/mm3 were 203 (95% CI 100–290) in HIV-2+ patients and 223 (95% CI 100–353) in HIV-1+ patients. Mean observed CD4 cell count changes from start of cART to 12 months were +105 (95% CI 77–134) in HIV-2+ patients and +202 (95% CI 199–205) in HIV-1+ patients, an observed difference of 97 cells/mm3 in 1 year. In adjusted analysis, the mean CD4 cell increase was overall 25 CD4 cells/mm3/year lower (95% CI 5–44; P = 0.0127) in HIV-2+ patients compared with HIV-1+ patients.
Conclusions: A poorer CD4 cell increase during first-line cART was observed in HIV-2+ patients, even after adjusting for pretreatment pVL and other potential confounders. Our results underline the need to identify more potent therapeutic regimens or strategies against HIV-2.