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Journal Article

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Publication Source

Journal of the American Medical Association





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Worldwide, the nonnucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NNRTIs) efavirenz and nevirapine are commonly used in first-line antiretroviral regimens in both adults and children with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection. Data on the comparative effectiveness of these medications in children are limited.


To investigate whether virological failure is more likely among children who initiated 1 or the other NNRTI-based HIV treatment.

Design, Setting, and Participants

Retrospective cohort study of children (aged 3–16 years) who initiated efavirenz-based (n=421) or nevirapine-based (n=383) treatment between April 2002 and January 2011 at a large pediatric HIV care setting in Botswana.

Main Outcomes and Measures

The primary outcome was time from initiation of therapy to virological failure. Virological failure was defined as lack of plasma HIV RNA suppression to less than 400 copies/mL by 6 months or confirmed HIV RNA of 400 copies/mL or greater after suppression. Cox proportional hazards regression analysis compared time to virological failure by regimen. Multivariable Cox regression controlled for age, sex, baseline immunologic category, baseline clinical category, baseline viral load, nutritional status, NRTIs used, receipt of single-dose nevirapine, and treatment for tuberculosis.


With a median follow-up time of 69 months (range, 6–112 months; interquartile range, 23–87 months), 57 children (13.5%; 95% CI, 10.4%–17.2%) initiating treatment with efavirenz and 101 children (26.4%; 95% CI, 22.0%–31.1%) initiating treatment with nevirapine had virological failure. There were 11 children (2.6%; 95% CI, 1.3%–4.6%) receiving efavirenz and 20 children (5.2%; 95% CI, 3.2%–7.9%) receiving nevirapine who never achieved virological suppression. The Cox proportional hazard ratio for the combined virological failure end point was 2.0 (95% CI, 1.4–2.7; log rank P

Conclusions and Relevance

Among children aged 3 to 16 years infected with HIV and treated at a clinic in Botswana, the use of efavirenz compared with nevirapine as initial antiretroviral treatment was associated with less virological failure. These findings may warrant additional research evaluating the use of efavirenz and nevirapine for pediatric patients.


HIV, RNA, HIV treatment, Bostwana, Africa

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Date Posted: 13 November 2014

This document has been peer reviewed.