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UNLABELLED: In contrast to resource-rich countries, most HIV-infected patients in resource-limited countries receive treatment without virological monitoring. There are few long-term data, in this setting, on rates of viral suppression or switch to second-line antiretroviral therapy. The DART trial compared clinically driven monitoring (CDM) versus routine laboratory (CD4/haematology/biochemistry) and clinical monitoring (LCM) in HIV-infected adults initiating therapy. There was no virological monitoring in either study group during follow-up, but viral load was measured in Ugandan participants at trial closure. Two thousand three hundred and seventeen (2317) participants from this country initiated antiretroviral therapy with zidovudine/lamivudine plus tenofovir (n = 1717), abacavir (n = 300), or nevirapine (n = 300). Of 1896 (81.8%) participants who were alive and in follow-up at trial closure (median 5.1 years after therapy initiation), 1507 (79.5%) were on first-line and 389 (20.5%) on second-line antiretroviral therapy. The overall switch rate after the first year was 5.6 per 100 person-years; the rate was substantially higher in participants with low baseline CD4 counts (<50 cells/mm3). Among 1207 (80.1%) first-line participants with viral load measured, HIV RNA was <400 copies/ml in 963 (79.8%), 400-999 copies/ml in 37 (3.1%), 1,000-9,999 copies/ml in 110 (9.1%), and ≥10,000 copies/ml in 97 (8.0%). The proportion with HIV RNA <400 copies/ml was slightly lower (difference 7.1%, 95% CI 2.5 to 11.5%) in CDM (76.3%) than in LCM (83.4%). Among 252 (64.8%) second-line participants with viral load measured (median 2.3 years after switch), HIV RNA was <400 copies/ml in 226 (89.7%), with no difference between monitoring strategies. Low switch rates and high, sustained levels of viral suppression are achievable without viral load or CD4 count monitoring in the context of high-quality clinical care. TRIAL REGISTRATION: ISRCTN13968779.

Original publication

DOI

10.1371/journal.pone.0090772

Type

Journal article

Journal

PLoS One

Publication Date

2014

Volume

9

Keywords

Adult, Anti-HIV Agents, CD4 Lymphocyte Count, CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes, Cross-Sectional Studies, Dideoxynucleosides, Drug Combinations, Female, HIV Infections, Humans, Lamivudine, Male, Middle Aged, Nevirapine, Probability, RNA, Viral, Retrospective Studies, Tenofovir, Uganda, Viral Load, Zidovudine