Cohort studies have demonstrated greater risk of myocardial infarction (MI) associated with specific antiretroviral use, while meta-analyses of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) have not. These differences may be due to inherent biases in the observational study design or to the limited duration of randomized trials. We conducted a new-user, active-comparator cohort study emulating an RCT comparing the initiation of several antiretrovirals as part of combination antiretroviral therapy (cART) and MI.
We included North Carolina (NC) Medicaid beneficiaries infected with human immunodeficiency virus between 2002 and 2008 who were previously untreated with cART. We compared hazard ratios (HRs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) of MI between abacavir and tenofovir recipients, and lopinavir-ritonavir or atazanavir recipients and nonnucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor (NNRTI) recipients. We adjusted for confounding through inverse probability weighting methods.
There were 3481 NC Medicaid new cART recipients who contributed 6399 person-years and experienced 38 MI events. Receiving abacavir compared with tenofovir as part of cART was associated with an increased rate of MI (unadjusted HR = 2.70 [95% CI = 1.24–5.91]; adjusted HR = 2.05 [0.72–5.86]). Point estimates also suggest a relationship between receipt of atazanavir or lopinavir-ritonavir compared with an NNRTI and MI, although estimates were imprecise.
We found an increased rate of MI among patients initiating abacavir compared with tenofovir, although the association was decreased after confounding adjustment. Without a very large prospective comparative clinical trial, a much larger observational study of patients initiating cART would be needed to better define this apparent association.