BACKGROUND: We performed a systematic review to generate evidence on the association between cumulative human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) viraemia and health outcomes.
METHODS: Quantitative studies reporting on HIV cumulative viraemia (CV) and its association with health outcomes among people living with HIV (PLHIV) on antiretroviral treatment (ART) were included. We searched MEDLINE via PubMed, Embase, Scopus and Web of Science and conference abstracts from 1 January 2008 to 1 August 2022.
RESULTS: The systematic review included 26 studies. The association between CV and mortality depended on the study population, methods used to calculate CV and its level. Higher CV was not consistently associated with greater risk of acquire immunodeficiency syndrome-defining clinical conditions. However, four studies present a strong relationship between CV and cardiovascular disease. The risk was not confirmed in relation of increased hazards of stroke. Studies that assessed the effect of CV on the risk of cancer reported a positive association between CV and malignancy, although the effect may differ for different types of cancer.
CONCLUSIONS: CV is associated with adverse health outcomes in PLHIV on ART, especially at higher levels. However, its role in clinical and programmatic monitoring and management of PLHIV on ART is yet to be established.