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HIV Med. 2014 Apr;15(4):224-32. doi: 10.1111/hiv.12107. Epub 2013 Nov 12.

Characterization of associations and development of atazanavir resistance after unplanned treatment interruptions.

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HIV Molecular Research Group, School of Medicine and Medical Science, University College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland; Department of Community Medicine, College of Health Sciences, University of Zimbabwe, Harare, Zimbabwe.



Although current guidelines recommend resistance testing prior to antiretroviral therapy (ART) reinitiation after treatment interruptions, virological failure of first-line ritonavir-boosted, protease-inhibitor (PI/r)-containing ART is associated with low emergent PI resistance. In patients experiencing unscheduled treatment interruptions (UTrIs) on ritonavir-boosted atazanavir (ATV/r) ART regimens, we hypothesized low emergence of PI mutations conferring resistance to ATV/r.


In a retrospective assessment of HIV-infected patients initiating ATV/r-containing ART, using logistic regression we determined factors associated with UTrI, the prevalence of emergent resistance mutations and virological response after ART reinitiation.


A total of 202 patients [median age 33 years (interquartile range (IQR) 29-40 years); 52% female; median CD4 count 184 cells/μL (IQR 107-280 cells/μL); median HIV RNA 4.6 log10 HIV-1 RNA copies/mL (IQR 3.2-5.1 copies/mL)] initiated ATV/r between 2004 and 2009; 80 (43%) were ART naïve. One hundred and ten patients (55%) underwent 195 UTrIs after a median (IQR) 25 (10-52) weeks on ART, with a median (IQR) UTrI duration of 10 (3-31) weeks. Fifty-four of 110 patients (49%) underwent more than one UTrI. The commonest reasons for UTrI were nonadherence (52.7%) and drug intolerance (20%). Baseline HIV RNA > 100 000 copies\mL [odds ratio (OR) 3.6; 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.3-9.95] and being HCV positive, an injecting drug user or on methadone (OR 2.4; 95% CI 1.3-4.4) were independently associated with UTrI. In 39 patients with at least two resistance assays during UTrIs, 72 new mutations emerged; four nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor (NRTI), two nonnucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor (NNRTI) and 66 protease inhibitor (PI) resistance mutations. All emergent PI resistance mutations were minor mutations. At least 65% of patients were re-suppressed on ATV/r reinitiation.


In this PI-treated cohort, UTrIs are common. All emergent PI resistance mutations were minor and ATV/r retained activity and efficacy when reintroduced, even after several UTrIs, raising questions regarding the need for routine genotypic resistance assays in PI/r-treated patients prior to ART reinitiation after UTrI.


genotypic resistance; protease inhibitor mutations; unscheduled treatment interruptions; viral supression

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