Sunday, January 4, 2009

New Guidelines for HIV Treatment

In AIDS 2008-XVII International AIDS Conference, the International AIDS Society–USA recommends new guidelines for HIV treatment. This recommendation is simplified and strengthened. One change in the recommendations is a greater emphasis on full virologic suppression. In this recommendation, deciding whether to start treatment in patients with a CD4 cell count of 350 cells/μL or more should be individualized based on the presence of comorbidities, risk factors for progression to AIDS and non-AIDS diseases, and patient willingness to begin treatment. Individuals with incomplete virologic suppression have greater morbidity and mortality than those who more completely suppress it.
The guidelines move aggressively toward earlier initiation of antiretroviral therapy. Treatment should be started before CD4 cell count decreases to less than 350/μL if there are correlates of faster HIV disease progression such as high plasma viral load (>100,000 copies/mL), rapidly decreasing CD4 cell count (>100/μL per year), active hepatitis B or C virus coinfection (resulting in faster progression of liver disease), cardiovascular disease risk, and HIV-associated nephropathy. Initiation of therapy in patients within the 200 to 350/μL CD4 cell count range should be strongly considered and individualized. The recommendations to start therapy in any patient with symptomatic HIV disease, regardless of CD4 count or viral load, and asymptomatic patients with less than 200/μL CD4 cell count.
Clinicians are encouraged to evaluate the whole patient, not just the status of HIV disease, but all coexisting conditions. Resistance testing should be conducted in all patients as part of their baseline workup. There is a little change in recommendations for an initial regimen in patients who are not infected with resistant virus. The first-line choice is a backbone of either an NNRTI or a ritonavir-boosted protease inhibitor (PI), combined with a dual nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor (NRTI) component. The initial treatment regimen for HIV infection must be individualized, particularly in patients with comorbid conditions, but typically includes efavirenz or a ritonavir-boosted PI plus 2 NRTIs (tenofovir or emtricitabine or abacavir or lamivudine). Better not using darunavir as part of an initial regimen but holding it in reserve to use with patients who develop resistance to other PIs. Current first-line regimens are good and simple to use, and there is still concern about holding some drugs in reserve for patients who develop resistance to existing drugs. Even in heavily pretreated patients, the goal of treatment is an HIV-1 RNA level below assay detection limits. Treatment failure should be promptly identified and managed.
Depending on the NRTI mutations present, one might want to consider use of etravirine. Failure of a PI-based regimen can be more complicated, depending upon the genetic barriers. If caught early, changing the NRTI component to 2 active drugs might be sufficient to save the regimen. But as resistance points accumulate, one should consider use of darunavir or tipranavir.
The 3 drugs approved since the last version of the guidelines in 2006 are maraviroc, the first drug to target the CCR5 co-receptor on the surface of the cell; raltegravir, the first drug in the integrase inhibitor class; and etravirine, a second-generation nonnucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor (NNRTI) with clear activity against some NNRTI-resistant viruses. Enfurvitide remains an important option for the heavily treatment experienced population, but problems associated with daily injections and the emergence of other therapeutic alternatives such as raltegravir or maraviroc have reduced its use.

(AIDS 2008: XVII International AIDS Conference. Antiretroviral Treatment of Adult HIV Infection, 2008 Recommendations of the International AIDS Society–USA Panel. Presented August 3, 2008. JAMA. 2008;300:555-570)

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