Treatment response and durability of a double protease inhibitor therapy with saquinavir and ritonavir in an observational cohort of HIV-1-infected individuals

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To evaluate treatment response, durability and tolerance of a four-drug regimen including saquinavir and ritonavir in combination with either zidovudine/lamivudine or stavudine/lamivudine.


Observational cohort of HIV-positive individuals.


Viral load, CD4+ and CD8+ T lymphocyte counts were assessed at intervals of 1–3 months in subjects commencing therapy between July 1996 and November 1996. Adverse events were evaluated as well as risk factors for therapeutic failures.


A group of 56 male patients were included and followed for 48 weeks. Of these, 66% had already taken a protease inhibitor. Viral load dropped by a median 1.98 log10 HIV RNA copies/ml from baseline (interquartile range: 1.49–2.46) and became undetectable (< 400 copies/ml) in 68% of patients. Response varied: 9% were non-responders (HIV RNA reduction < 0.5 log10 copies/ml) and 23% were incomplete responders (nadir of HIV RNA > 400 copies/ml). After 48 weeks, viral load remained undetectable in 49%. Median CD4+ T lymphocyte count increased from 191 × 106 to 418 × 106 cells/l (range, 241–537 × 106 cells/l). Although protease inhibitor and nucleoside pretreatment selected for drug-resistant viral mutants, only the protease inhibitor experience was identified as a risk factor for therapeutic failure. Adverse events occurred in 73% of patients and led to a change of therapy in 9%.


Despite advanced HIV disease and pretreatment with multiple antiretroviral drugs, a strong initial treatment response to this drug regimen was observed. However, virological failure occurred in 51% of patients after 48 weeks and frequent adverse events complicated therapy. © 1998 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins

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