Viral blips during suppressive antiretroviral treatment are associated with high baseline HIV-1 RNA levels

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Background: Many HIV-1-infected patients on suppressive antiretroviral therapy (ART) have transiently elevated HIV RNA levels. The clinical significance of these viral blips is uncertain. We have determined the incidence of blips and investigated important associations in the Swedish HIV-cohort. Methods: HIV-1-infected ART naïve adults who commenced ART 2007-2013 were retrospectively included. Viral blips were defined as a transient viral load between 50 and 500 copies/mL Subjects not suppressed after six months on ART were excluded. Results: Viral blips were found in 76/735 included subjects (10.3%) and in 90/4449 samples (2.0%). Median blip viral load was 76 copies/mL (range 56-138). Median follow-up time was 170weeks (range 97-240). Baseline viral load was higher in subjects with viral blips (median log10 4.85 copies/mL) compared with subjects without blips (median log10 4.55 copies/mL) (p < 0.01). There was a significant association between viral blips and risk for subsequent virological failure (p < 0.001). Conclusions: The Swedish national HIV-cohort has a low incidence of viral blips (10%). Blips were associated with high baseline viral load and an increased risk of subsequent virological failure.


  • Erik Sörstedt
  • Staffan Nilsson
  • Anders Blaxhult
  • Magnus Gisslén
  • Leo Flamholc
  • Anders Sönnerborg
  • Aylin Yilmaz
External organisations
  • Chalmers University of Technology
  • Södersjukhuset
  • University of Gothenburg
  • Skåne University Hospital
  • Karolinska University Hospital
  • Karolinska Institutet
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Infectious Medicine


  • Antiretroviral therapy, HIV-1, Transient viremia, Viral blip
Original languageEnglish
Article number305
JournalBMC Infectious Diseases
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2016 Jun 21
Publication categoryResearch
Externally publishedYes