A mechanistic model for long-term immunological outcomes in South African HIV-infected children and adults receiving ART.

Journal: eLife

Published: 2021-01-14

DOI: 10.7554/elife.42390

Affiliations: 9

Authors: 7

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Research Highlight

Modelling immune health among those living with HIV



A model that considers the impact of long-term antiretroviral drug treatment on the immune systems of people with HIV may help to develop better screening and treatment protocols.

Currently, HIV lacks a cure, but antiretroviral drugs can help to keep it in check.

Researchers from the University of Cape Town and elsewhere used data from more than 1,600 children and 14,500 adults in South Africa to model how CD4+ T cell counts — a measure of immune health — compare between similarly aged individuals with and without HIV infection.

They found that, among HIV-positive individuals receiving antiretroviral therapies, children have CD4+ T cell numbers that closely match those found in healthy kids of the same age. In contrast, HIV-infected adults showed a greater disparity.

People with fewer infection-fighting CD4+ T cells at the start of treatment also tended to experience faster growth in cell numbers, indicating that more damaged immune systems work harder to recover. But they rarely rebounded fully, thus highlighting the need for early diagnosis and treatment.

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  1. eLife 10, e42390 (2021). doi: 10.7554/eLife.42390
Institutions Share
AIMS Rwanda, Rwanda 0.21
DST-NRF Centre of Excellence in Epidemiological Modelling and Analysis (SACEMA), South Africa 0.14
Stellenbosch University (SU), South Africa 0.14
University of Bern (UniBE), Switzerland 0.14
University of Cape Town (UCT), South Africa 0.14
Harriet Shezi Children's Clinic, South Africa 0.07
University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg (Wits University), South Africa 0.07
Kheth'Impilo AIDS Free Living, South Africa 0.07