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Should viral load thresholds be lowered?

Labhardt, Niklaus D.
Bader, Joëlle
Lejone, Thabo Ishmael
Ringera, Isaac
Hobbins, Michael A.
Fritz, Christiane
Ehmer, Jochen
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Published in Medicine (Baltimore). 2016, vol. 95, no. 28, p. e3985
Abstract The World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines on antiretroviral therapy (ART) define treatment failure as 2 consecutive viral loads (VLs) ≥1000 copies/mL. There is, however, little evidence supporting 1000 copies as an optimal threshold to define treatment failure. Objective of this study was to assess the correlation of the WHO definition with the presence of drug-resistance mutations in patients who present with 2 consecutive unsuppressed VL in a resource-limited setting.In 10 nurse-led clinics in rural Lesotho children and adults on first-line ART for ≥6 months received a first routine VL. Those with plasma VL ≥80 copies/mL were enrolled in a prospective study, receiving enhanced adherence counseling (EAC) and a follow-up VL after 3 months. After a second unsuppressed VL genotypic resistance testing was performed. Viruses with major mutations against ≥2 drugs of the current regimen were classified as "resistant".A total of 1563 adults and 191 children received a first routine VL. Of the 138 adults and 53 children with unsuppressed VL (≥80 copies/mL), 165 (116 adults; 49 children) had a follow-up VL after EAC; 108 (74 adults; 34 children) remained unsuppressed and resistance testing was successful. Ninety of them fulfilled the WHO definition of treatment failure (both VL ≥1000 copies/mL); for another 18 both VL were unsuppressed but with <1000 copies/mL. The positive predictive value (PPV) for the WHO failure definition was 81.1% (73/90) for the presence of resistant virus. Among the 18 with VL levels between 80 and 1000 copies/mL, thereby classified as "non-failures", 17 (94.4%) harbored resistant viruses. Lowering the VL threshold from 1000 copies/mL to 80 copies/mL at both determinations had no negative influence on the PPV (83.3%; 90/108).The current WHO-definition misclassifies patients who harbor resistant virus at VL below 1000 c/mL as "nonfailing." Lowering the threshold to VL ≥80 copies/mL identifies a significantly higher number of patients with treatment-resistant virus and should be considered
PMID: 27428189
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LABHARDT, Niklaus D. et al. Should viral load thresholds be lowered?. In: Medicine (Baltimore), 2016, vol. 95, n° 28, p. e3985. https://archive-ouverte.unige.ch/unige:111163

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Deposited on : 2018-11-21

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