Single Measure Viral Load Estimates of HIV Suppression in 2014

HealthDay News — Single measures of viral load can overestimate how many individuals with HIV infection have viral suppression, according to an observation piece published online in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Nicole Crepaz, PhD, from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, and colleagues used data reported to the National HIV Surveillance System from 33 jurisdictions and calculated the percentage of persons with HIV infection whose last viral load in 2014 was less than 200 copies/mL.

The researchers found that the median time from diagnosis to the end of 2013 was 11 years; in 2014, viral load was measured a median of 2 times. 

Overall, 57.3% of persons with HIV infection had a suppressed viral load on their most recent test in 2014, 47.6% had durable viral suppression throughout 2014, and viral suppression was never achieved by 8.1%. 

Women, black persons/African-Americans, younger persons, and persons with HIV infection from causes other than male-to-male sexual contact were more likely not to have viral suppression on their most recent viral load test or durable viral suppression. Overall, 56.3% of the 51,114 persons who never achieved viral suppression in 2014 had at least 2 tests for viral load that year.

“These findings emphasize the importance of routine monitoring of viral suppression status and of more effective delivery of appropriate therapy in response to the results of such monitoring,” the authors write.

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Crepaz N, Tang T, Marks G, Hall I. Viral suppression patterns among persons in the United States with diagnosed HIV infection in 2014 [published online August 8, 2017]. Ann Intern Med. doi:10.7326/L17-0278