The aim of this study was to examine the impact of late presentation (CD4+ cell count <350 cells/μl or an AIDS-defining event) on effectiveness and safety of initial antiretroviral therapy (ART) and to evaluate whether treatment response depends on first-line ART regimen in late presenters.
ART-naive adults from the Cohort of the Spanish HIV/AIDS Research Network (CoRIS) starting triple ART between 2010 and 2018.
We used multivariable models to assess differences in viral suppression (viral load <50 copies/ml), immunological response (change in CD4+ cell count, CD4% (>29%) and CD4/CD8 normalization (>0.4 and >1) multiple T-cell marker recovery (MTMR): CD4+ cell count more than 500 cells/μl and CD4% >29% and CD4/CD8 >1), and treatment discontinuation due to adverse events (TDAE) at 48 weeks from ART initiation.
Out of 8002 participants, 48.7% were late presenters. Of them, 45.8% initiated ART with a NNRTI- (mostly TDF/FTC/EFV), 33.9% with a protease inhibitor (mostly TDF/FTC+boosted DRV) and 20.3% with an INI-based regimen (mostly ABC/3TC/DTG). At 48 weeks, late presenters had similar viral suppression, but worse immunological response, than non-late presenters with no difference on TDAE. Late presenters initiating with NNRTI-based regimens were more likely to achieve viral suppression than those starting with INI-based, due to the higher chance of achieving viral suppression observed with TDF/FTC/RPV compared to ABC/3TC/DTG. Initial treatment with NNRTI or protease inhibitor based showed similar immunological response than the INI-based regimens, which showed lower rates of TDAE than NNRTI- and protease inhibitor based regimens.
Despite safety and effectiveness of initial ART in terms of viral suppression, late presenters may not experience complete immunological response. In late presenters, effectiveness and safety depends on both the class and the specific first-line ART regimen.