Objectives: To evaluate the effects of sex and initial antiretroviral regimen on decay of HIV-RNA and virologic outcome.
Methods: We conducted a viral dynamics substudy of A5142, a trial comparing lopinavir (LPV)/ritonavir with efavirenz (LPV/EFV) versus LPV and two nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor (NRTI) (LPV) versus EFV and two NRTI (EFV) in antiretroviral (ARV)-naive individuals. HIV-RNA was measured at days 2, 10, and 14 in the substudy and at weeks 1, 4, and 8 in A5142 participants. Two-phase viral decay was estimated in the substudy with biexponential mixed-effects modeling and compared using Wilcoxon tests. Week 1 HIV-RNA change was assessed as a predictor of virologic failure (HIV-RNA above 50 or 200 copies/ml) at weeks 24–96 using logistic regression.
Results: Sixty-eight individuals were enrolled in the substudy (median HIV-RNA 4.9 log10 copies/ml). Median rates of phase 1 viral decay by treatment were 0.61(EFV/LPV), 0.53(LPV), and 0.63(EFV) per day. Phase 1 decay was significantly faster for EFV than LPV (P = 0.023); other comparisons were not significant (P > 0.11). Viral decay did not differ by sex (P = 0.10). Week 1 HIV-RNA change, calculated in 571 participants of A5142, was greater for the EFV (median −1.47 log10 copies/ml) than either the LPV/EFV or LPV groups (−1.21 and −1.16 log10 copies/ml, respectively; P < 0.001). Week 1 HIV-RNA change was associated with virologic failure above 50 copies/ ml at weeks 24 and 48 (P < 0.018), but not above 200 copies/ml at these time points or for any value at week 96.
Conclusion: Phase 1 decay was faster for EFV than LPV or LPV/EFV. Week 1 HIV-RNA change predicted virologic outcome up to week 48, but not at week 96.