Maintenance antiretroviral therapies in HIV-infected subjects with undetectable plasma HIV RNA after triple-drug therapy

Diane V. Havlir*, Ian C. Marschner, Martin S. Hirsch, Ann C. Collier, Pablo Tebas, Roland L. Bassett, John P A Ioannidis, M. K. Holohan, Randi Leavitt, Gloria Boone, Douglas D. Richman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

294 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Combination antiretroviral therapy with indinavir, zidovudine, and lamivudine can suppress the level of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) RNA in plasma below the threshold of detection for two years or more. We investigated whether a less intensive maintenance regimen could sustain viral suppression after an initial response to combination therapy. Methods: HIV-infected subjects who had CD4 cell counts greater than 200 per cubic millimeter, who had been treated with indinavir, lamivudine, and zidovudine, and who had less than 200 copies of HIV RNA per milliliter of plasma after 16, 20, and 24 weeks of induction therapy were randomly assigned to receive either continued triple-drug therapy (106 subjects), indinavir alone (103 subjects), or a combination of zidovudine and lamivudine (107 subjects). The primary end point was loss of viral suppression, which was defined as a plasma level of at least 200 copies of HIV RNA per milliliter on two consecutive measurements during maintenance therapy. Results: During maintenance treatment, 23 percent of the subjects receiving indinavir and 23 percent of those receiving zidovudine and lamivudine, but only 4 percent of those receiving all three drugs, had loss of viral suppression (P<0.001 for the comparison between triple-drug therapy and the other two maintenance regimens). Subjects with greater increases in CD4 cell counts during induction therapy, higher viral loads at base line (i.e., at the beginning of induction therapy), and slower rates of viral clearance were at greater risk for loss of viral suppression. The presence of zidovudine-resistance mutations in HIV RNA at base line was strongly predictive of the loss of viral suppression in subjects treated with zidovudine and lamivudine. Conclusions: The suppression of plasma HIV RNA after six months of treatment with indinavir, zidovudine, and lamivudine is better sustained by the continuation of these three drugs than by maintenance therapy with either indinavir alone or zidovudine and lamivudine.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1261-1268
Number of pages8
JournalNew England Journal of Medicine
Issue number18
Publication statusPublished - 29 Oct 1998
Externally publishedYes


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