High level of viral suppression and low switch rate to second-line antiretroviral therapy among HIV-infected adult patients followed over five years: retrospective analysis of the DART trial.
Kityo C., Gibb DM., Gilks CF., Goodall RL., Mambule I., Kaleebu P., Pillay D., Kasirye R., Mugyenyi P., Walker AS., Dunn DT., DART Trial Team None.
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.