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Viral blips during suppressive antiretroviral treatment are associated with high baseline HIV-1 RNA levels

Journal article
Authors Erik Sörstedt
Staffan Nilsson
A. Blaxhult
Magnus Gisslén
L. Flamholc
A. Sonnerborg
Aylin Yilmaz
Published in BMC Infectious Diseases
Volume 16
Pages article number 305
ISSN 1471-2334
Publication year 2016
Published at Department of Mathematical Sciences, Mathematical Statistics
Institute of Biomedicine, Department of Infectious Medicine
Pages article number 305
Language en
Keywords Viral blip, Transient viremia, HIV-1, Antiretroviral therapy
Subject categories Infectious Medicine


Background: Many HIV-1-infected patients on suppressive antiretroviral therapy (ART) have transiently elevated HIV RNA levels. The clinical significance of these viral blips is uncertain. We have determined the incidence of blips and investigated important associations in the Swedish HIV-cohort. Methods: HIV-1-infected ART naive adults who commenced ART 2007-2013 were retrospectively included. Viral blips were defined as a transient viral load between 50 and 500 copies/mL Subjects not suppressed after six months on ART were excluded. Results: Viral blips were found in 76/735 included subjects (10.3 %) and in 90/4449 samples (2.0 %). Median blip viral load was 76 copies/mL (range 56-138). Median follow-up time was 170 weeks (range 97-240). Baseline viral load was higher in subjects with viral blips (median log(10) 4.85 copies/mL) compared with subjects without blips (median log(10) 4.55 copies/mL) (p < 0.01). There was a significant association between viral blips and risk for subsequent virological failure (p < 0.001). Conclusions: The Swedish national HIV-cohort has a low incidence of viral blips (10 %). Blips were associated with high baseline viral load and an increased risk of subsequent virological failure.

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