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Antivir Ther. 2012;17(8):1521-31. doi: 10.3851/IMP2497. Epub 2012 Dec 7.

A 72-week randomized study of the safety and efficacy of a stavudine to zidovudine switch at 24 weeks compared to zidovudine or tenofovir disoproxil fumarate when given with lamivudine and nevirapine.

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South East Asia Research Collaboration with Hawaii, Bangkok, Thailand.



Due to superior long-term toxicity profiles, zidovudine (AZT) and tenofovir disoproxil fumarate (TDF) are preferred over stavudine (d4T) for first-line antiretroviral regimens. However, short-term d4T use could be beneficial in avoiding AZT-induced anaemia.


We randomized (1:1:1) 150 treatment-naive Thai HIV-infected adults with CD4(+) T-cell count <350 cells/mm(3) to arm 1 (24-week GPO-VIR S30(®) [d4T plus lamivudine (3TC) plus nevirapine (NVP)] followed by 48-week GPO-VIR Z250(®) [AZT plus 3TC plus NVP]), arm 2 (72-week GPO-VIR Z250(®)) or arm 3 (72-week TDF plus emtricitabine [FTC] plus NVP). Haemoglobin (Hb), dual energy x-ray absorptiometry, neuropathic signs, estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR), CD4(+) T-cell count, plasma HIV RNA and adherence were assessed.


In an intention-to-treat analysis, mean Hb decreased from baseline to week 24 in arm 2 compared with arm 1 (-0.19 versus 0.68 g/dl; P=0.001) and arm 3 (0.48 g/dl; P=0.010). Neuropathic signs were more common in arm 2 compared with arm 3 (20.4 versus 4.2%; P=0.028) at week 24. There were no differences in changes in peripheral fat and eGFR from baseline to weeks 24 and 72 among arms. CD4(+) T-cell count increased more in arm 1 than arms 2 and 3 from baseline to week 24 (168 versus 117 and 118 cells/mm(3); P=0.01 and 0.02, respectively) but the increase from baseline to week 72 was similar among arms.


A 24-week d4T lead-in therapy caused less anaemia and greater initial CD4(+) T-cell count increase than initiating treatment with AZT. This strategy could be considered in patients with baseline anaemia or low CD4(+) T-cell count. If confirmed in a larger study, this may guide global recommendations on antiretroviral initiation where AZT is more commonly used than TDF.

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