Using CD4 Percentage and Age to Optimize Pediatric Antiretroviral Therapy Initiation

Tags: | April 18th, 2014

Authors: Yin D., Warshaw M., Miller W., Castro H., Fiscus S., Harper L., Harrison L., Klein N., Lewis J., Melvin A., Tudor-Williams G., McKinney R.

Published in: Pediatrics, 2014;134(4):e1104-16

Background Quantifying pediatric immunologic recovery by highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) initiation at different CD4 percentage (CD4%) and age thresholds may inform decisions about timing of treatment initiation.

Methods HIV-1-infected, HAART-naive children in Europe and the Americas were followed from 2002 through 2009 in PENPACT-1. Data from 162 vertically infected children, with at least World Health Organization “mild” immunosuppression and CD4% <10th percentile, were analyzed for improvement to a normal CD4% (≥10th percentile) within 4 years after HAART initiation. Data from 209 vertically infected children, regardless of immune status, were analyzed for CD4% outcomes at 4 years and viral failure within 4 years.

Results Seventy-two percent of baseline immunosuppressed children recovered to normal within 4 years. Compared with “severe” immunosuppression, more children with “mild” immunosuppression (difference 36%, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 22% to 49%) or “advanced” immunosuppression (difference 20.8%, 95% CI: 5.8% to 35.9%) recovered a normal CD4%. For each 5-year increase in baseline age, the proportion of children achieving a normal CD4% declined by 19% (95% CI: 11% to 27%). Combining baseline CD4% and age effects resulted in >90% recovery when initiating HAART with “mild” immunosuppression at any age or “advanced” immunosuppression at age <3 years. Baseline CD4% effects became greater with increasing age (P = .02). At 4 years, most immunologic benefits were still significant but diminished. Viral failure was highest in infancy (56%) and adolescence (63%).

Conclusions Initiating HAART at higher CD4% and younger ages maximizes potential for immunologic recovery. Guidelines should weigh immunologic benefits against long-term risks.