Background: Non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor (NNRTI)-based highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) has been the most affordable regimen for the HIV-infected in developing countries. There are limited data comparing nevirapine (NVP) to efavirenz (EFV) in HIV-infected children. This study aimed to assess the efficacy and tolerability of NVP-based regimens compared to EFV-based regimens in HIV-infected children in Thailand. Methods: The medical records of HIV-infected children who had received NNRTI-based regimens for more than 6 months at the Department of Pediatrics, Siriraj Hospital, Mahidol University, Thailand, were reviewed. Results: Of the 139 HIV-infected children studied, 70 were male, and the median age at treatment initiation was 6.08 years (range 0.32-14.56 years); the median duration of follow-up was 36 months (range 6-66 months). The median baseline CD4 cell count was 185 cells/mm3 (range 2-3482 cells/mm3) and the median baseline CD4 percentage was 7.20% (range 0.11-36.57%). An NVP-based regimen was initiated in 61 (44%): 38 antiretroviral (ARV)-naïve and 23 ARV-experienced. An EFV-based regimen was initiated in 78 (56%): 34 ARV-naïve and 44 ARV-experienced. The CD4 cell count and percentage gains were not different between the NVP and EFV groups in both the ARV-naïve and the ARV-experienced. However, ARV-naïve children who received an EFV regimen had significantly lower baseline CD4 levels than those who received an NVP regimen. ARV-naïve children had a better CD4 response than the ARV-experienced. The survival rates of children in the NVP groups were not different from those in the EFV groups for both the ARV-naïve and the ARV-experienced. Treatment failure occurred in one ARV-naïve NVP case (2.6%), two ARV-naïve EFV cases (5.8%), and nine ARV-experienced NVP cases (39%) at 24 months of treatment, and 11 ARV-experienced EFV cases (25%) at 18 months of treatment. Seven (10%) children had adverse effects from treatment with NVP. The main side effects were rash and hepatitis; six had to switch to EFV. Four (5%) children had adverse effects from treatment with EFV; two had to switch to NVP. Conclusions: Both NVP- and EFV-based HAART regimens were effective in children in Thailand for at least 3 years. HIV-infected Thai children generally tolerated NNRTI well. © 2008 International Society for Infectious Diseases.
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