Effectiveness of highly active antiretroviral therapy in HIV-positive children: evaluation at 12 months in a routine program in Cambodia.
AffiliationMédecins Sans Frontières, Phnom Penh, Cambodia. firstname.lastname@example.org
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AbstractOBJECTIVE: Increasing access to highly active antiretroviral therapy to reach all those in need in developing countries (scale up) is slowly expanding to HIV-positive children, but documented experience remains limited. We aimed to describe the clinical, immunologic, and virologic outcomes of pediatric patients with >12 months of highly active antiretroviral therapy in 2 routine programs in Cambodia. METHODS: Between June 2003 and March 2005, 212 children who were younger than 13 years started highly active antiretroviral therapy. Most patients started a standard first-line regimen of lamivudine, stavudine, and nevirapine, using split adult fixed-dosage combinations. CD4 percentage and body weight were monitored routinely. A cross-sectional virologic analysis was conducted in January 2006; genotype resistance testing was performed for patients with a detectable viral load. RESULTS: Mean age of the subjects was 6 years. Median CD4 percentage at baseline was 6. Survival was 92% at 12 months and 91% at 24 months; 13 patients died, and 4 were lost to follow-up. A total of 81% of all patients had an undetectable viral load. Among the patients with a detectable viral load, most mutations were associated with resistance to lamivudine and non-nucleoside reverse-transcriptase inhibitor drugs. Five patients had developed extensive antiretroviral resistance. Being an orphan was found to be a predictor of virologic failure. CONCLUSIONS: This study provides additional evidence of the effectiveness of integrating HIV/AIDS care with highly active antiretroviral therapy for children in a routine setting, with good virologic suppression and immunologic recovery achieved by using split adult fixed-dosage combinations. Viral load monitoring and HIV genotyping are valuable tools for the clinical follow-up of the patients. Orphans should receive careful follow-up and extra support.