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BACKGROUND: Some individuals remain AIDS-free with a high and stable CD4 cell count without antiretroviral therapy (ART) for many years. We estimated long-term progression-free survival after HIV seroconversion and aimed to identify factors associated with loss of long-term non-progression (LTNP) status. METHODS: For this cohort study, we used data for individuals with well-estimated dates of HIV-1 seroconversion from the CASCADE Collaboration a network of 28 HIV seroconverter cohort studies in Europe, Australia, Canada, and sub-Saharan Africa. The first cohort began enrolling patients in 1979, and for this analysis we used data pooled in May 1, 2011. We defined non-progression as being HIV-positive without AIDS, ART-naive, and with CD4 counts of 500 cells per μL or higher. We defined LTNP as non-progression during the first 10 years after seroconversion. We used longitudinal methods to characterise LTNP. FINDINGS: Of the 4979 HIV seroconverters in our dataset, 3708 (75%) were men. Median time to progression was 2·07 years (95% CI 1·96-2·17), giving estimated progression-free survivals of 18·4% (17·2-19·6) 5 years, 4·0% (3·6-4·5) 10 years, and 1·4% (0·9-1·5) 15 years after seroconversion. The rate of progression did not change beyond 10 years after seroconversion (0·28 [95%CI 0·26-0·31] per person-year at 10 years after seroconversion, 0·24 [0·19-0·29] per person-year at 15 years, and 0·18 [0·10-0·33] per person-year at 20 years). At 10 years since HIV seroconversion, 283 individuals had LTNP, of whom 202 subsequently lost this status (median time to loss of status 2·49 years [2·05-2·92]). In univariable analyses, loss of LTNP status was associated with CD4 cell count at 10 years after seroconversion (p < 0·0001) and HIV RNA load at 10 years after seroconversion (p = 0·005), but not age (p = 0·544), mode of infection (p = 0·621), sex (p = 0·676), or calendar year of seroconversion (p = 0·397). In the multivariable analyses, loss of LTNP status was associated with lower CD4 counts at 10 years after seroconversion (p < 0·0001). After exclusion of CD4 cell counts from the model, higher HIV RNA load at 10 years after seroconversion was independently associated with loss of LTNP status (p = 0·009). INTERPRETATION: Progression-free survival is rare. Most individuals with LTNP eventually lose immunological and clinical control of HIV infection eventually. FUNDING: European Union Seventh Framework Programme.

Original publication




Journal article


Lancet HIV

Publication Date





e41 - e48