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OBJECTIVES: We investigated the prevalence, incidence and predictors of new peripheral neuropathy episodes in previously untreated, symptomatic HIV-infected Ugandan/Zimbabwean adults initiating zidovudine-based antiretroviral therapy (ART). DESIGN: An open-label, multicentre, randomized trial. METHODS: Peripheral neuropathy was self-reported at 12-weekly clinic visits. Cox regression models (excluding participants reporting preexisting peripheral neuropathy at ART initiation), considered sex; pre-ART WHO stage, age and CD4(+) cell count; CD4(+) cell count versus no CD4(+) cell count monitoring; and time-updated CD4(+) cell count, weight and use of stavudine, isoniazid and didanosine. RESULTS: Four hundred and twenty-one out of 3316(13%) patients reported preexisting peripheral neuropathy at ART initiation. Median (interquartile range, IQR) follow-up in 2895 participants without preexisting peripheral neuropathy was 4.9 (4.7-5.4) years. Three hundred and fifty-four (12%) took stavudine as first-line substitution and 518 (18%) took isoniazid during follow-up. Two hundred and ninety (11%) participants developed a new peripheral neuropathy episode, an incidence of 2.12 per 100 person-years. Eighteen (0.1%) had a grade 3/4 episode. Independent predictors of peripheral neuropathy were current stavudine use [adjusted hazard ratio (a)HR 4.16 (95% confidence interval, 95% CI 3.06-5.66], current isoniazid use [aHR 1.59 (95% CI 1.02-2.47)] and current didanosine use [aHR 1.60 (95% CI 1.19-2.14)]. Higher risks were independently associated with higher pre-ART weight [aHR (per+5 kg) 1.07 (95% CI 1.01-1.13)] and older age aHR (per 10 years older) 1.29 (95% CI 1.12-1.49), but there was no significant effect of sex (P = 0.13), pre-ART CD4(+) cell count (P = 0.91) or CD4(+) cell count monitoring (P = 0.73). CONCLUSION: Current stavudine, didanosine or isoniazid use continue to increase peripheral neuropathy risks, as does older age and weight at ART initiation; however, we found no evidence of increased risk in women in contrast to previous studies. The incidence of peripheral neuropathy may now be lower in ART programmes, as stavudine and didanosine are no longer recommended. All patients receiving isoniazid, either as part of antituberculosis (TB) chemotherapy or TB-preventive therapy, should receive pyridoxine as recommended in national guidelines.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





2579 - 2588


Adolescent, Adult, Aged, Anti-Retroviral Agents, Antitubercular Agents, Didanosine, Female, HIV Infections, Humans, Incidence, Isoniazid, Male, Middle Aged, Peripheral Nervous System Diseases, Prevalence, Risk Factors, Stavudine, Uganda, Young Adult, Zidovudine, Zimbabwe