Copy-years viremia as a measure of cumulative human immunodeficiency virus viral burden

Stephen R. Cole, Sonia Napravnik, Michael J. Mugavero, Bryan Lau, Joseph Eron, Michael S. Saag

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66 Scopus citations


Plasma human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) viral load is a valuable tool for HIV research and clinical care but is often used in a noncumulative manner. The authors developed copy-years viremia as a measure of cumulative plasma HIV-1 viral load exposure among 297 HIV seroconverters from the Multicenter AIDS Cohort Study (1984-1996). Men were followed from seroconversion to incident acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), death, or the beginning of the combination antiretroviral therapy era (January 1, 1996); the median duration of follow-up was 4.6 years (interquartile range (IQR), 2.7-6.5). The median viral load and level of copy-years viremia over 2,281 semiannual follow-up assessments were 29,628 copies/mL (IQR, 8,547-80,210) and 63,659 copies × years/mL (IQR, 15,935-180,341). A total of 127 men developed AIDS or died, and 170 survived AIDSfree and were censored on January 1, 1996, or lost to follow-up. Rank correlations between copy-years viremia and other measures of viral load were 0.56-0.87. Each log10 increase in copy-years viremia was associated with a 1.70-fold increased hazard (95% confidence interval: 0.94, 3.07) of AIDS or death, independently of infection duration, age, race, CD4 cell count, set-point, peak viral load, or most recent viral load. Copy-years viremia, a novel measure of cumulative viral burden, may provide prognostic information beyond traditional single measures of viremia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)198-205
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican journal of epidemiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 2010


  • Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome
  • HIV
  • HIV infections
  • Viral load
  • Viremia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology


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