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Clinical Outcomes After Viremia Among People Receiving Dolutegravir vs Efavirenz-Based First-line Antiretroviral Therapy in South Africa.

BACKGROUND: We aimed to compare clinical outcomes after viremia between dolutegravir vs efavirenz-based first-line antiretroviral therapy (ART) as evidence is lacking outside clinical trials in resource-limited settings.

METHODS: We conducted a retrospective cohort analysis with routine data from 59 South African clinics. We included people with HIV aged ≥15 years receiving first-line tenofovir disoproxil fumarate, lamivudine, dolutegravir (TLD) or tenofovir disoproxil fumarate, emtricitabine, efavirenz (TEE) and with first viremia (≥50 copies/mL) between June and November 2020. We used multivariable modified Poisson regression models to compare retention in care and viral suppression (<50 copies/mL) after 12 months between participants on TLD vs TEE.

RESULTS: At first viremia, among 9657 participants, 6457 (66.9%) were female, and the median age (interquartile range [IQR]) was 37 (31-44) years; 7598 (78.7%) were receiving TEE and 2059 (21.3%) TLD. Retention in care was slightly higher in the TLD group (84.9%) than TEE (80.8%; adjusted risk ratio [aRR], 1.03; 95% CI, 1.00-1.06). Of 6569 participants retained in care with a 12-month viral load, viral suppression was similar between the TLD (78.9%) and TEE (78.8%) groups (aRR, 1.02; 95% CI, 0.98-1.05). However, 3368 participants changed ART during follow-up: the majority from TEE to first-line TLD (89.1%) or second-line (TLD 3.4%, zidovudine/emtricitabine/lopinavir-ritonavir 2.1%). In a sensitivity analysis among the remaining 3980 participants who did not change ART during follow-up and had a 12-month viral load, viral suppression was higher in the TLD (78.9%) than TEE (74.9%) group (aRR, 1.07; 95% CI, 1.03-1.12).

CONCLUSIONS: Among people with viremia on first-line ART, dolutegravir was associated with slightly better retention in care and similar or better viral suppression than efavirenz.

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