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Lancet. 2006 Jul 22;368(9532):287-98.

Virological and immunological outcomes at 3 years after starting antiretroviral therapy with regimens containing non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor, protease inhibitor, or both in INITIO: open-label randomised trial.



Antiretroviral therapy has greatly reduced HIV mortality and morbidity. However, the best sequence of regimens and implications of initial regimen for long-term therapeutic success are not well defined.


In INITIO, a large international randomised trial, we compared antiretroviral therapy with two nucleoside analogue reverse transcriptase inhibitors (didanosine+stavudine) plus either a non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor (efavirenz, EFV) or a protease inhibitor (nelfinavir, NFV), or both (EFV/NFV), in patients with HIV-1 infection who had not previously received antiretroviral drugs. Primary outcomes were proportion with undetectable HIV RNA in plasma, and change in CD4 count from baseline at 3 years. Analyses were by intention-to-treat. This study is registered as an International Standard Randomised Controlled Trial, number ISRCTN44582462.


We followed up 911 participants (297 EFV, 311 NFV, 303 EFV/NFV). At 3 years, the proportion with HIV RNA less than 50 copies per mL was highest in the EFV group (188 [74%] EFV, 162 [62%] NFV, 155 [62%] EFV/NFV; p=0.004). Mean (95% CI) increases in CD4 count were 316x10(6) cells per L (288-343) for EFV, 289x10(6) cells per L (262-316) for NFV, and 274x10(6) cells per L (231-291) for EFV/NFV (p=0.1). Fewer participants in the EFV group than in the other groups stopped adequate antiretroviral therapy for more than 30 days (p=0.005). Participants in the EFV/NFV group had shorter time to stopping the initial regimen (p<0.0001) and to a treatment modifying adverse event (p=0.04) than those in the other groups.


Starting antiretroviral therapy with a three-drug/two-class regimen including efavirenz was better than starting with regimens including nelfinavir or efavirenz plus nelfinavir in terms of virological suppression and durability of the initial regimen. The shorter time on adequate antiretroviral therapy or to a treatment-modifying adverse event might explain the absence of additional benefit for the four-drug regimen.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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