BACKGROUND: Controversy about the relative performance of abacavir (ABC)/lamivudine (3TC) and tenofovir (TDF)/emtricitabine (FTC) in initial combination antiretroviral therapy (cART) exists.
METHODS: We compared the times to regimen failure (composite of virologic failure or switching/stopping nucleosides for any reason) according to nucleoside backbone in treatment-naive patients starting cART in a retrospective observational cohort study. Additional endpoints included virologic failure, switching/stopping nucleosides for nonvirologic reasons, and virologic suppression. Treatment-naive noninjection drug user individuals in the Canadian Observational Cohort initiating ABC/3TC-containing or TDF/FTC-containing cART with efavirenz, nevirapine, lopinavir/ritonavir, or atazanavir/ritonavir with ≥6 months follow-up were included. Multivariable proportional hazards regression models accounting for competing risks were used to model outcomes.
RESULTS: One thousand seven hundred sixty-four individuals (588 ABC/3TC, 1176 TDF/FTC) were included. Median (interquartile range) follow-up times were 34 (23-50) and 20 (13-30) months, respectively. Time to regimen failure was similar for ABC/3TC versus TDF/FTC [adjusted hazard ratio, (aHR) = 0.96, 95% CI = 0.80 to 1.17] after adjusting for baseline viral load (VL), sex, province, third antiretroviral agent, year of cART initiation, HLA-B*5701 test availability, and rate of VL testing. No differences were observed in time to virologic failure (aHR = 0.84, 95% CI = 0.58 to 1.20), switching/stopping nucleosides for nonvirologic reasons (aHR = 1.02, 95% CI = 0.81 to 1.28), or virologic suppression (aHR = 0.96, 95% CI = 0.83 to 1.10). There was no statistical interaction between backbone and baseline VL for any outcome. Results were similar when stratified by baseline VL ≤ 100,000 or > 100,000 copies per milliliter.
CONCLUSIONS: In our naive noninjection drug user HIV-infected patients starting cART, there was no difference in time to regimen failure, virologic failure, switching/stopping nucleosides, or virologic suppression with ABC/3TC versus TDF/FTC.