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To investigate the responses to switching to second-line regimens among patients who had received a long-term first-line antiretroviral therapy.Patients switching to second-line regimens from June 2008 to June 2015 were enrolled from an observational cohort. In addition, patients continuing first-line therapy and had a viral load <1000 copies/mL were included as controls in July 2012. All these patients were followed-up for 36 months or until June 2016. The virological, immunological outcomes, and drug resistance were evaluated. Virological failure was defined as viral load ≥1000 copies/mL after 6 months of treatment since the start of the study.There were 304 patients switching to second-line regimens and 46 patients remaining on first-line therapy enrolled while having received first-line therapy for a median of 7.6 years. Patients with plasma viral load (VL) ≥1000 copies/mL before switching to second-line regimens had a sharp decline in the proportion of virological failure with 26.7%, 20.4%, and 17.0% at 12, 24, and 36 months after regimen switch, respectively (trend test, P < .001). Among these patients, individuals with drug resistance (DR) had a better virological responses as compared with those without DR after regimen switching. While patients with VL <1000 copies/mL at inclusion remained a high rate of viral suppression after switching to second-line regimens. So did patients continuing first-line therapy. Among patients with VL ≥1000 copies/mL before switching to second-line regimens, the rates of drug resistance were decreased from 79.4% at inclusion to 7.5% at 36 months of regimen switch, with the proportion of NRTI- and NNRTI-related drug resistance from 67.2% and 79.4% to 5.4% and 7.5%, respectively. No PI-related resistance was found. Having self-reported missing doses within a month at follow-ups were independently associated with virological failure at 36 months of switching.HIV-infected patients had viral load ≥1000 copies/mL at regimen switch after a long duration of first-line therapy had good virological responses to second-line regimens, especially those harbored drug resistant variants at regimen switch. However, patients with suppressive first-line therapy did not appear to benefit virologically from switching to second-line regimens.