Comparison of Self-report to Biomarkers of Recent HIV Infection: Findings from the START Trial
Identifying individuals with recent HIV infection is critical to research related to viral reservoirs, outbreak investigations and intervention applications. A multi-assay algorithm (MAA) for recency of infection was used in conjunction with self-reported date of infection and documented date of diagnosis to estimate the number of participants recently infected in the Strategic Timing of AntiRetroviral Treatment (START) trial. We tested samples for three groups of participants from START using a MAA: (1) 167 individuals who reported being infected ≤ 6 months before randomization; (2) 771 individuals who did not know their date of infection but were diagnosed within 6 months before randomization; and (3) as controls for the MAA, 199 individuals diagnosed with HIV ≥ 2 years before randomization. Participants with low titer and avidity and a baseline viral load > 400 copies/mL were classified as recently infected. A significantly higher percentage of participants who self-reported being infected ≤ 6 months were classified as recently infected compared to participants diagnosed ≥ 2 years (65% [109/167] vs. 2.5% [5/199], p < 0.001). Among the 771 individuals who did not know their duration of infection at randomization, 206 (26.7%) were classified as recently infected. Among those diagnosed with HIV in the 6 months prior to enrollment, the 373 participants who reported recent infection (n = 167) or who had confirmed recent infection by the MAA (n = 206) differed significantly on a number of baseline characteristics from those who had an unknown date of infection and were not confirmed by the MAA (n = 565). Participants recently infected by self-report and/or MAA were younger, more likely to be Asian, less likely to be black, less likely to be heterosexual, more likely to be enrolled at sites in the U.S., Europe or Australia, and have higher HIV RNA levels. There was good agreement between self-report of recency of infection and the MAA. We estimate that 373 participants enrolled in START were infected within 6 months of randomization. Compared to those not recently infected, these participants were younger, had higher HIV RNA levels and were more likely to come from high income countries and from populations such as MSM with more regular HIV testing.
KeywordsSelf-report Biomarkers Recent HIV infection START trial
We wish to thank the participants and clinical staff of the study. Additionally, see Initiation of Antiretroviral Therapy in Early Asymptomatic HIV Infection. N Engl J Med. Aug 27 2015;373(9):795-807 for the complete list of START investigators. This study was supported in part by the Division of Intramural Research, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), National Institutes of Health (NIH). Support was provided by the NIH Clinical Center, National Cancer Institute, National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, National Institute of Mental Health, National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, Agence Nationale de Recherches sur le SIDA et les Hépatites Virales (France), National Health and Medical Research Council (Australia), National Research Foundation (Denmark), Bundes ministerium für Bildung und Forschung (Germany), European AIDS Treatment Network, Medical Research Council (United Kingdom), National Institute for Health Research, National Health Service (United Kingdom), and University of Minnesota. Antiretroviral drugs were donated to the central drug repository by AbbVie, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Gilead Sciences, GlaxoSmithKline/ViiV Healthcare, Janssen Scientific Affairs, and Merck (UM1-AI068641 and UM1-AI120197). Additional support was provided by the HIV Prevention Trials Network sponsored by NIAID, National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, National Institute of Drug Abuse, National Institute of Mental Health, and the Office of AIDS Research, of the NIH DHHS (UM1 AI068613), and NIAID (R01 AI095068).
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Conflict of interest
All the authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.
Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.
Research Involving human and Animal Participants
This article does not contain any studies with animals performed by any of the authors.