Prolonged Shedding of Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) at High Viral Loads among Hospitalized Immunocompromised Persons Living with Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), South Africa

COVID-19 shedding study group

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9 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Background: We assessed severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) RNA shedding duration and magnitude among persons living with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV, PLHIV). Methods: From May through December 2020, we conducted a prospective cohort study at 20 hospitals in South Africa. Adults hospitalized with symptomatic coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) were enrolled and followed every 2 days with nasopharyngeal/oropharyngeal (NP/OP) swabs until documentation of cessation of SARS-CoV-2 shedding (2 consecutive negative NP/OP swabs). Real-time reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction testing for SARS-CoV-2 was performed, and cycle-threshold (Ct) values < 30 were considered a proxy for high SARS-CoV-2 viral load. Factors associated with prolonged shedding were assessed using accelerated time-failure Weibull regression models. Results: Of 2175 COVID-19 patients screened, 300 were enrolled, and 257 individuals (155 HIV-uninfected and 102 PLHIV) had > 1 swabbing visit (median 5 visits [range 2-21]). Median time to cessation of shedding was 13 days (interquartile range [IQR] 6-25) and did not differ significantly by HIV infection. Among a subset of 94 patients (41 PLHIV and 53 HIV-uninfected) with initial respiratory sample Ct-value < 30, median time of shedding at high SARS-CoV-2 viral load was 8 days (IQR 4-17). This was significantly longer in PLHIV with CD4 count < 200 cells/μL, compared to HIV-uninfected persons (median 27 days [IQR 8-43] vs 7 days [IQR 4-13]; adjusted hazard ratio [aHR] 0.14, 95% confidence interval [CI]. 07-.28, P < .001), as well as in unsuppressed-HIV versus HIV-uninfected persons. Conclusions: Although SARS-CoV-2 shedding duration did not differ significantly by HIV infection, among a subset with high initial SARS-CoV-2 viral loads, immunocompromised PLHIV shed SARS-CoV-2 at high viral loads for longer than HIV-uninfected persons. Better HIV control may potentially decrease transmission time of SARS-CoV-2.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)E144-E156
JournalClinical Infectious Diseases
Volume75
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2022

Keywords

  • COVID-19
  • HIV
  • immunocompromised
  • respiratory virus
  • shedding duration

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