Reports of significant reductions in plasma viral load by anti-HIV drugs have raised the possibility that antiviral therapy, if initiated sufficiently early, may result in sustained control of infection and prolonged clinical benefits. We evaluated the effects of intervention coincident with infection using an antiviral nucleoside, d4T, in Macaca nemestrina infected with a highly pathogenic isolate of HIV-2 (HIV-2287). Infection with this virus reproducibly results in high viremia and rapid CD4+ cell depletion, allowing a sensitive measurement of the treatment effect on viral load and clinical outcome. Compared to the control group, d4T-treated macaques showed significantly lower (2-3 log10) plasma- and cell-associated vital load. No CD4+ cell decline was observed in the treatment group while on therapy with d4T whereas CD4+ cells of control macaques declined from a preinfection mean of 32% of PBMCs to below 10%. Notably, when d4T treatment was withdrawn after 16 weeks, five of the six macaques continued to control viral load and have maintained normal CD4+ cell level for more than a year. These results demonstrate that early antiviral intervention, even of a limited duration, may constitute an important strategy against lentiviral-induced disease.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Infectious Diseases