Viraemic-time predicts mortality among people living with HIV on second-line antiretroviral treatment in Myanmar: a retrospective cohort study

Anita Mesic, Tom Decroo, Htay Thet Mar, Bart K M Jacobs, Moe Pyae Thandar, Thin Thin Thwe, Aung Aung Kyaw, Mitchell Sangma, David Beversluis, Elkin Bermudez-Aza, Alexander Spina, Darli Po Po Aung, Erwan Piriou, Koert Ritmeijer, Josefien Van Olmen, Htun Nyunt Oo, Lutgarde Lynen

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INTRODUCTION: Despite HIV viral load (VL) monitoring being serial, most studies use a cross-sectional design to evaluate the virological status of a cohort. The objective of our study was to use a simplified approach to calculate viraemic-time: the proportion of follow-up time with unsuppressed VL above the limit of detection. We estimated risk factors for higher viraemic-time and whether viraemic-time predicted mortality in a second-line antiretroviral treatment (ART) cohort in Myanmar.

METHODS: We conducted a retrospective cohort analysis of people living with HIV (PLHIV) who received second-line ART for a period >6 months and who had at least two HIV VL test results between 01 January 2014 and 30 April 2018. Fractional logistic regression assessed risk factors for having higher viraemic-time and Cox proportional hazards regression assessed the association between viraemic-time and mortality. Kaplan-Meier curves were plotted to illustrate survival probability for different viraemic-time categories.

RESULTS: Among 1,352 participants, 815 (60.3%) never experienced viraemia, and 172 (12.7%), 214 (15.8%), and 80 (5.9%) participants were viraemic <20%, 20-49%, and 50-79% of their total follow-up time, respectively. Few (71; 5.3%) participants were ≥80% of their total follow-up time viraemic. The odds for having higher viraemic-time were higher among people with a history of injecting drug use (aOR 2.01, 95% CI 1.30-3.10, p = 0.002), sex workers (aOR 2.10, 95% CI 1.11-4.00, p = 0.02) and patients treated with lopinavir/ritonavir (vs. atazanavir; aOR 1.53, 95% CI 1.12-2.10, p = 0.008). Viraemic-time was strongly associated with mortality hazard among those with 50-79% and ≥80% viraemic-time (aHR 2.92, 95% CI 1.21-7.10, p = 0.02 and aHR 2.71, 95% CI 1.22-6.01, p = 0.01). This association was not observed in those with viraemic-time <50%.

CONCLUSIONS: Key populations were at risk for having a higher viraemic-time on second-line ART. Viraemic-time predicts clinical outcomes. Differentiated services should target subgroups at risk for a higher viraemic-time to control both HIV transmission and mortality.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0271910
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number7
Number of pages16
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • Anti-HIV Agents/therapeutic use
  • Anti-Retroviral Agents/therapeutic use
  • Cohort Studies
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • HIV Infections/drug therapy
  • Humans
  • Myanmar/epidemiology
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Viral Load
  • Viremia/drug therapy


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