HIV Drug Resistance Mutations in Non-B Subtypes After Prolonged Virological Failure on NNRTI-Based First-Line Regimens in Sub-Saharan Africa

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To determine drug resistance mutation (DRM) patterns in a large cohort of patients failing nonnucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor (NNRTI)-based first-line antiretroviral therapy regimens in programs without routine viral load (VL) monitoring and to examine intersubtype differences in DRMs.


Sequences from 787 adults/adolescents who failed an NNRTI-based first-line regimen in 13 clinics in Uganda, Kenya, Zimbabwe, and Malawi were analyzed. Multivariable logistic regression was used to determine the association between specific DRMs and Stanford intermediate-/high-level resistance and factors including REGA subtype, first-line antiretroviral therapy drugs, CD4, and VL at failure.


The median first-line treatment duration was 4 years (interquartile range 30–43 months); 42% of participants had VL ≥100,000 copies/mL and 63% participants had CD4 <100 cells/mm3. Viral subtype distribution was A1 (40%; Uganda and Kenya), C (31%; Zimbabwe and Malawi), and D (25%; Uganda and Kenya), and recombinant/unclassified (5%). In general, DRMs were more common in subtype-C than in subtype-A and/or subtype-D (nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor mutations K65R and Q151M; NNRTI mutations E138A, V106M, Y181C, K101E, and H221Y). The presence of tenofovir resistance was similar between subtypes [P (adjusted) = 0.32], but resistance to zidovudine, abacavir, etravirine, or rilpivirine was more common in subtype-C than in subtype-D/subtype-A [P (adjusted) < 0.02].


Non-B subtypes differ in DRMs at first-line failure, which impacts on residual nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor and NNRTI susceptibility. In particular, higher rates of etravirine and rilpivirine resistance in subtype-C may limit their potential utility in salvage regimens.

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