BACKGROUND: Switching subjects with persistently undetectable HIV-1 viremia under antiretroviral treatment (ART) to once-daily tenofovir/emtricitabine (or lamivudine) + nevirapine is a cost-effective and well-tolerated strategy. However, the effectiveness of this approach has not been established.
METHODS: We performed a retrospective study evaluating the rates of treatment failure, virological failure (VF), and variables associated, in all subjects initiating this switch combination in our clinic since 2001. Analyses were performed by a modified intention to treat, where switch due to toxicity equalled failure. The main endpoint was plasma HIV-RNA < 50 copies/mL.
RESULTS: 341 patients were treated for a median of 176 (57; 308) weeks. At week 48, 306 (89.7%) subjects had HIV-1 RNA <50 copies/mL, 10 (2.9%) experienced VF, and 25 (7.4%) discontinued the treatment due to toxicity. During the whole follow-up 23 (6.7%) individuals (17 on lamivudine, 6 on emtricitabine; p = 0.034) developed VF and treatment modification due to toxicity occurred in 36 (10.7%). Factors independently associated with VF in a multivariate analysis were: intravenous drug use (HR 1.51; 95%CI 1.12, 2.04), time with undetectable viral load before the switch (HR 0.98; 0.97, 0.99), number of prior NRTIs (HR 1.49; 1.15, 1.93) or NNRTIs (HR 3.22; 1.64, 6.25), and previous NVP (HR 1.54; 1.10, 2.17) or efavirenz (HR 5.76; 1.11, 29.87) unscheduled interruptions. VF was associated with emergence of usual nevirapine mutations (Y181C/I/D, K103N and V106A/I), M184V (n = 16; 12 with lamivudine vs. 4 with emtricitabine, p = 0.04), and K65R (n = 7).
CONCLUSIONS: The rates of treatment failure at 48 weeks, or long-term toxicity or VF with this switch regimen are low and no unexpected mutations or patterns of mutations were selected in subjects with treatment failure.