HIV virological failure and drug resistance in a cohort of Tanzanian HIV-infected adults

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There are few data on ART failure rates and drug resistance from Tanzania, where there is a wide diversity of non-B HIV subtypes. We assessed rates and predictors of virological failure in HIV-infected Tanzanians and describe drug resistance patterns in a subgroup of these patients.


ART-naive, HIV-1-infected adults enrolled in a randomized controlled trial between November 2006 and 2008 and on ≥24 weeks of first-line NNRTI-containing ART were included. Population-based genotyping of HIV-1 protease and reverse transcriptase was performed on stored plasma from patients with virological failure (viral load >1000 copies/mL at ≥24 weeks of ART) and at baseline, where available.


A total of 2403 patients [median (IQR) age 37 (32–43) years; 70% female] were studied. The median (IQR) baseline CD4+ T cell count was 128 (62–190) cells/μL. Predominant HIV subtypes were A, C and D (92.2%). The overall rate of virological failure was 14.9% (95% CI 13.2%–16.1%). In adjusted analyses, significant predictors of virological failure were lower CD4+ T cell count (P = 0.01) and non-adherence to ART (P < 0.01). Drug resistance mutations were present in 87/115 samples (75.7%); the most common were M184V/I (52.2%) and K103N (35%). Thymidine analogue mutations were uncommon (5.2%). The prevalence of mutations in 45 samples pre-ART was 22%.


High levels of early ART failure and drug resistance were observed among Tanzanian HIV-1-infected adults enrolled in a well-monitored study. Initiating treatment early and ensuring optimal adherence are vital for the success and durability of first-line ART in these settings.

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