Viral rebound and emergence of drug resistance in the absence of viral load testing: a randomized comparison between zidovudine-lamivudine plus Nevirapine and zidovudine-lamivudine plus Abacavir.
Ndembi N., Goodall RL., Dunn DT., McCormick A., Burke A., Lyagoba F., Munderi P., Katundu P., Kityo C., Robertson V., Yirrell DL., Walker AS., Gibb DM., Gilks CF., Kaleebu P., Pillay D., Development of Antiretroviral Treatment in Africa Virology Group and Trial Team None.
BACKGROUND: We investigated virological response and the emergence of resistance in the Nevirapine or Abacavir (NORA) substudy of the Development of Antiretroviral Treatment in Africa (DART) trial. METHODS: Six hundred symptomatic antiretroviral-naive human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-infected adults (CD4 cell count, <200 cells/mm(3)) from 2 Ugandan centers were randomized to receive zidovudine-lamivudine plus abacavir or nevirapine. Virology was performed retrospectively on stored plasma samples at selected time points. In patients with HIV RNA levels >1000 copies/mL, the residual activity of therapy was calculated as the reduction in HIV RNA level, compared with baseline. RESULTS: Overall, HIV RNA levels were lower in the nevirapine group than in the abacavir group at 24 and 48 weeks (P < .001), although no differences were observed at weeks 4 and 12. Virological responses were similar in the 2 treatment groups for baseline HIV RNA level <100,000 copies/mL. The mean residual activity at week 48 was higher for abacavir in the presence of the typically observed resistance pattern of thymidine analogue mutations (TAMs) and M184V (1.47 log(10) copies/mL) than for nevirapine with M184V and nonnucleoside reverse-transcriptase inhibitor mutations, whether accompanied by TAMs (0.96 log(10) copies/mL) or not (1.18 log(10) copies/mL). CONCLUSIONS: There was more extensive genotypic resistance in both treatment groups than is generally seen in resource-rich settings. However, significant residual activity was observed among patients with virological failure, particularly those receiving zidovudine-lamivudine plus abacavir.