Long-Term Benefits from Early Antiretroviral Therapy Initiation in HIV Infection.

Lundgren, Jens D; Babiker, Abdel G; Sharma, Shweta; Grund, Birgit; Phillips, Andrew N; Matthews, Gail; Kan, Virginia L; Aagaard, Bitten; Abo, Inka; Alston, Beverly; Arenas-Pinto, Alejandro; Avihingsanon, Anchalee; Badal-Faesen, Sharlaa; Brites, Carlos; Carey, Cate; Casseb, Jorge; Clarke, Amanda; Collins, Simon; Corbelli, Giulio Maria; Dao, Sounkalo; ... (2023). Long-Term Benefits from Early Antiretroviral Therapy Initiation in HIV Infection. NEJM Evidence, 2(3) NEJM Group 10.1056/evidoa2200302

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For people with HIV and CD4+ counts >500 cells/mm3, early initiation of antiretroviral therapy (ART) reduces serious AIDS and serious non-AIDS (SNA) risk compared with deferral of treatment until CD4+ counts are <350 cells/mm3. Whether excess risk of AIDS and SNA persists once ART is initiated for those who defer treatment is uncertain.


The Strategic Timing of AntiRetroviral Treatment (START) trial, as previously reported, randomly assigned 4684 ART-naive HIV-positive adults with CD4+ counts .500 cells/mm3 to immediate treatment initiation after random assignment (n = 2325) or deferred treatment (n= 2359). In 2015, a 57% lower risk of the primary end point (AIDS, SNA, or death) for the immediate group was reported, and the deferred group was offered ART. This article reports the follow-up that continued to December 31, 2021. Cox proportional-hazards models were used to compare hazard ratios for the primary end point from randomization through December 31, 2015, versus January 1, 2016, through December 31, 2021.


Through December 31, 2015, approximately 7 months after the cutoff date from the previous report, the median CD4+ count was 648 and 460 cells/mm3 in the immediate and deferred groups, respectively, at treatment initiation. The percentage of follow-up time spent taking ART was 95% and 36% for the immediate and deferred groups, respectively, and the time-averaged CD4+ difference was 199 cells/mm3. After January 1, 2016, the percentage of follow-up time on treatment was 97.2% and 94.1% for the immediate and deferred groups, respectively, and the CD4+ count difference was 155 cells/mm3. After January 1, 2016, a total of 89 immediate and 113 deferred group participants experienced a primary end point (hazard ratio of 0.79 [95% confidence interval, 0.60 to 1.04] versus hazard ratio of 0.47 [95% confidence interval, 0.34 to 0.65; P<0.001]) before 2016 (P=0.02 for hazard ratio difference).


Among adults with CD4+ counts >500 cells/mm3, excess risk of AIDS and SNA associated with delaying treatment initiation was diminished after ART initiation, but persistent excess risk remained. (Funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and others.).

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


04 Faculty of Medicine > Department of Haematology, Oncology, Infectious Diseases, Laboratory Medicine and Hospital Pharmacy (DOLS) > Clinic of Infectiology

UniBE Contributor:

Furrer, Hansjakob


600 Technology > 610 Medicine & health




NEJM Group




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Date Deposited:

23 May 2023 10:15

Last Modified:

23 May 2023 10:15

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