Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)–infected children often suffer from impaired growth. Highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) successfully reduces HIV 1 (HIV-1) RNA to 400 copies/mL or less in many children.
To determine if age- and sex-adjusted growth z scores correlate with HIV-1 RNA level and if control of viral load for 48 and 96 weeks results in improved growth in children receiving highly active antiretroviral therapy.
Secondary analysis of the cohort of children receiving ritonavir nested in a randomized, open-label, clinical trial.
Subjects and Methods
The Pediatric AIDS Clinical Trials Group Protocol 338 enrolled clinically stable, antiretroviral therapy–experienced, HIV-infected subjects aged 2 through 17 years. Using data from subjects randomized to ritonavir-containing regimens (n = 197), the association of growth z scores and HIV-1 RNA levels were examined.
Main Outcome Measures
Age- and sex-adjusted weight and height z scores.
Enrollment weights were comparable with age- and sex-adjusted norms, but subjects receiving ritonavir-containing antiretroviral therapy were significantly shorter (mean z score, −0.57 [29th percentile]; 95% confidence interval, −0.73 to −0.40). Higher HIV-1 RNA levels correlated with lower growth z scores (P<.01). Subjects achieving and maintaining HIV-1 RNA of 400 copies/mL or less through 48 and 96 weeks experienced worse growth than subjects with a less controlled viral load.
In this pediatric cohort, a significant decline in height and weight z scores was found despite control of viral replication. Further studies of growth are necessary to assess if nutritional and hormonal adjuvants to highly active antiretroviral therapy should be considered to improve growth in HIV-infected children.