Intended for healthcare professionals

Research Article

Temporal relation of antigenaemia and loss of antibodies to core antigens to development of clinical disease in HIV infection.

Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1987; 295 doi: (Published 05 September 1987) Cite this as: Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1987;295:567
  1. C Pedersen,
  2. C M Nielsen,
  3. B F Vestergaard,
  4. J Gerstoft,
  5. K Krogsgaard,
  6. J O Nielsen
  1. Department of Infectious Diseases, Hvidovre Hospital, Copenhagen, Denmark.


    A total of 276 sequential serum samples from 34 men with antibodies to the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) followed up for two to seven years were analysed for HIV antigen and antibodies to the viral core and envelope proteins. Results were correlated with clinical outcome and CD4 T lymphocyte count. Both antigenaemia and the disappearance of antibodies to the core protein were associated with development of the acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) or AIDS related complex and depletion of CD4 cells. Thus AIDS or AIDS related complex developed in eight out of 16 patients with antigenaemia compared with one out of 18 patients without antigenaemia. Low counts of CD4 cells (less than 0.5 X 10(9)/l) were found in 14 of the 16 patients with antigenaemia and five of the 18 without antigenaemia. Nine patients seroconverted to HIV during the study; two of these developed antigenaemia 14 and 16 months after the estimated time of seroconversion. These results show that the late stages of HIV infection are characterised by increased production of antigen and a decrease in antibodies directed against the core protein. Antigenaemia indicates a poor prognosis; and as the antigen test is simple to do and interpret, it may therefore be useful for selecting patients for antiviral treatment.