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BACKGROUND: Poorer virologic response to nevirapine- versus efavirenz-based antiretroviral therapy (ART) has been reported in adult systematic reviews and pediatric studies. METHODS: We compared drug discontinuation and viral load (VL) response in ART-naïve Ugandan/Zimbabwean children ≥3 years of age initiating ART with clinician-chosen nevirapine versus efavirenz in the ARROW trial. Predictors of suppression <80, <400 and <1000 copies/mL at 36, 48 and 144 weeks were identified using multivariable logistic regression with backwards elimination (P = 0.1). RESULTS: A total of 445 (53%) children received efavirenz and 391 (47%) nevirapine. Children receiving efavirenz were older (median age, 8.6 vs. 7.5 years nevirapine, P < 0.001) and had higher CD4% (12% vs. 10%, P = 0.05), but similar pre-ART VL (P = 0.17). The initial non-nucleoside-reverse-transcriptase-inhibitor (NNRTI) was permanently discontinued for adverse events in 7 of 445 (2%) children initiating efavirenz versus 9 of 391 (2%) initiating nevirapine (P = 0.46); at switch to second line in 17 versus 23, for tuberculosis in 0 versus 26, for pregnancy in 6 versus 0 and for other reasons in 15 versus 5. Early (36-48 weeks) virologic suppression <80 copies/mL was superior with efavirenz, particularly in children with higher pre-ART VL (P = 0.0004); longer-term suppression was superior with nevirapine in older children (P = 0.05). Early suppression was poorer in the youngest and oldest children, regardless of NNRTI (P = 0.02); longer-term suppression was poorer in those with higher pre-ART VL regardless of NNRTI (P = 0.05). Results were broadly similar for <400 and <1000 copies/mL. CONCLUSION: Short-term VL suppression favored efavirenz, but long-term relative performance was age dependent, with better suppression in older children with nevirapine, supporting World Health Organization recommendation that nevirapine remains an alternative NNRTI.

Original publication




Journal article


Pediatr Infect Dis J




588 - 594


Adolescent, Anti-Retroviral Agents, Benzoxazines, Child, Child, Preschool, Female, HIV Infections, HIV-1, Humans, Infant, Infant, Newborn, Male, Nevirapine, Retrospective Studies, Uganda, Viral Load, Zimbabwe