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Pediatr Infect Dis J. 2014 Jun;33(6):617-22. doi: 10.1097/INF.0000000000000222.

Virologic response in children treated with abacavir-compared with stavudine-based antiretroviral treatment: a South African multi-cohort analysis.

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From the *Empilweni Services and Research Unit, Department of Paediatrics and Child Health, Rahima Moosa Mother and Child Hospital, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand; †School of Public Health and Family Medicine, University of Cape Town, Cape Town; ‡Gertrude H. Sergievsky Center, College of Physicians and Surgeons, Department of Epidemiology, Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University, New York, NY; §Wits Reproductive Health and HIV Institute (Harriet Shezi Children's Clinic, Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital, Soweto), Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg; ¶Department of Paediatrics and Child Health, Red Cross War Memorial Children's Hospital, The University of Cape Town, Cape Town; ‖Tygerberg Academic Hospital, University of Stellenbosch, Stellenbosch; **Gugulethu Community Health Centre and Desmond Tutu HIV Centre, Institute of Infectious Diseases and Molecular Medicine, University of Cape Town; ††Médecins Sans Frontières South Africa and Khayelitsha ART Programme, Khayelitsha, Cape Town, South Africa; and ‡‡Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine (ISPM), University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland.



Initiation criteria and pediatric antiretroviral treatment regimens have changed over the past few years in South Africa. We reported worse early virological outcomes associated with the use of abacavir (ABC)-based regimens at 1 large site: here, we expand this analysis to multiple sites in the IeDEA-Southern Africa collaboration.


Data for 9543 antiretroviral treatment-naïve children <16 years at treatment initiation started on either stavudine/lamivudine (d4T/3TC) or ABC/3TC with efavirenz (EFV) or ritonavir-boosted lopinavir (LPV/r) treated at 6 clinics in Johannesburg and Cape Town, South Africa, were analyzed with χ tests and logistic regression to evaluate viral suppression at 6 and 12 months.


Prevalence of viral suppression at 6 months in 2174 children started on a d4T-based LPV/r regimen was greater (70%) than among 438 children started on an ABC-based LPV/r regimen (54%, P < 0.0001). Among 3189 children started on a d4T-based EFV regimen, a higher proportion (86%) achieved suppression at 6 months compared with 391 children started on ABC-containing EFV regimens (78%, P < 0.0001). Relative benefit of d4T versus ABC on 6-month suppression remained in multivariate analysis after adjustment for pretreatment characteristics, cohort and year of program [LPV/r: odds ratio = 0.57 (confidence interval: 0.46-0.72); EFV: odds ratio = 0.46 (confidence interval: 0.32-0.65)].


This expanded analysis is consistent with our previous report of worse virological outcomes after ABC was introduced as part of first-line antiretroviral treatment in South Africa. Whether due to the drug itself or coincident with other changes over time, continued monitoring and analyses must clarify causes and prevent suboptimal long-term outcomes.

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