Efavirenz or nevirapine in three-drug combination therapy with two nucleoside-reverse transcriptase inhibitors for initial treatment of HIV infection in antiretroviral-naïve individuals Journal Articles uri icon

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  • BACKGROUND: The advent of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) has reduced the morbidity and mortality due to HIV. The World Health Organisation (WHO) antiretroviral treatment (ART) guidelines focus on three classes of antiretroviral drugs, namely: nucleoside/nucleotide reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NRTI), non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NNRTI) and protease inhibitors (PI). Two of the most common medications given in first-line treatment are the NNRTIs, efavirenz (EFV) and nevirapine (NVP). It is unclear which NNRTI is more efficacious for initial therapy. OBJECTIVES: To determine which NNRTI, EFV or NVP, is more efficacious when given in combination with two NRTIs as part of initial ART for HIV infection in adults and children. SEARCH STRATEGY: We used a comprehensive and exhaustive strategy in an attempt to identify all relevant studies, regardless of language or publication status, in electronic databases and conference proceedings from 1996 to 2009. SELECTION CRITERIA: All randomised controlled trials comparing EFV to NVP in HIV-infected individuals without prior exposure to ART, irrespective of the dosage or NRTI backbone.The primary outcome of interest was virologic response to ART. Other primary outcomes included mortality, clinical progression, severe adverse events, and discontinuation of therapy for any reason. Secondary outcomes were immunologic response to ART, treatment failure, development of ART drug resistance, and prevention of sexual transmission of HIV. DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS: Two authors assessed each reference for inclusion and exclusion criteria established a priori. Data were abstracted independently using a standardised abstraction form. Data were analysed on an intention-to-treat basis and reported as per dosage of NVP. MAIN RESULTS: We identified seven randomised controlled trials that met our inclusion criteria.The trials were pooled as per dosage of NVP. None of these trials included children.The seven trials enrolled 1,688 participants and found no critical differences between EFV and NVP, except for different toxicity profiles. EFV is more likely to cause central nervous system side-effects, while NVP is more likely to result in raised transaminases and neutropoenia. There was a higher mortality rate in the NVP 400mg once daily arm.The quality of literature to support these conclusions is moderate to high. Drug resistance was slightly less common with EFV than NVP, but the quality of this literature is low since only one of the seven studies reported on this outcome. No studies reported on sexual transmission of HIV. The length of follow-up time, study settings, and NRTI backbone varied greatly. AUTHORS' CONCLUSIONS: Both drugs have equivalent efficacies in initial treatment of HIV infection when combined with two NRTIs, but different side effects.


  • Mbuagbaw, Lawrence
  • Irlam, James H
  • Spaulding, Alicen
  • Rutherford, George W
  • Siegfried, Nandi

publication date

  • December 8, 2010