Elite controllers, who are able to fully suppress their HIV infection without the use of antiretrovirals (ARVs), are hospitalized more often than people on HIV treatment, aidsmap reports. Publishing their findings in the Journal of Infectious Diseases, researchers identified 149 elite controllers among 34,354 people in the HIV Research Network.

The researchers estimated that 0.43 percent of HIV-positive Americans are elite controllers. They compared the study sample of elite controllers’ hospitalization rates to 4,709 people taking ARVs who had undetectable viral loads, 7,998 people with viral loads between 50 and 1,000, many of whom were on treatment, and 10,605 people with viral loads over 1,000, most of whom were not on treatment—known, respectively, as the medical control, low viremia and high viremia groups.

The respective hospitalization rates among the elite control, medical control, low viremia and high viremia groups were 23.3, 10.5, 12.6 and 16.9 per 100 person-years. After adjusting for various factors, the researchers found that elite control, when compared with medical control, was associated with a 1.77-fold greater risk of hospitalization for any reason, a 3.19-fold increased risk of hospitalization for cardiovascular factors, and a 3.98-fold greater risk of hospitalization for psychiatric reasons.

Among all the groups, non-AIDS-defining infections were the most common reason for hospitalization, at 24.1 percent of the total. Among the elite controllers, however, just 2.7 percent of hospitalizations were for this reason. This benefit was counterbalanced by the fact that 31.1 percent of hospitalizations among elite controllers were for cardiovascular reasons, compared with 13.5 percent among other people with HIV.

To read the aidsmap story, click here.

To read the study abstract, click here.