Immunological and Virological Benefits Resulted from Short-Course Treatment during Primary HIV Infection: A Meta-Analysis


To assess the potential immunological and virological effects that result from short-course antiretroviral treatment during primary HIV infection (PHI). And to investigate whether treatment initiation time, treatment duration and follow-up time after treatment interruption would affect these post-treatment immunovirological outcomes.


We systematically searched PubMed, Cochrane Library (to September 2013) and retrieved conference abstracts for studies regarding effects of early treatment during PHI on CD4 count and viral load (VL). Using the method of calculating weighted mean differences with Stata11.0, we conducted meta-analyses on the effect of early treatment on CD4 count and VL. Then we performed subgroup analyses by follow-up time after treatment interruption, treatment initiation time and treatment duration. Baseline immunovirological characteristics were also analyzed to account for potential bias.


Compared to the untreated arm, treatment during PHI not only increased CD4 count by 85.92 cells/μl but also lowered viral load by 0.30 log copies/ml within one year after treatment interruption. However, the benefits declined gradually, reaching no significance 12-24 months after treatment interruption. Baseline immunovirological characteristics and sensitivity analyses of randomized controlled trials indicated that the benefits mentioned above were underestimated. Extending treatment duration beyond 12 months did not increase efficacy.


Short-course treatment during PHI was associated with immunological and virological benefits which last for at least one year after treatment interruption. The conclusions from our study would help the decision-making in the clinical management of PHI.