Background: Daily trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole (TS) protects against malaria, but efficacy may be diminished as anti-folate resistance increases. This study assessed the incidence of falciparum malaria and the prevalence of resistance-conferring Plasmodium falciparum mutations in HIV-infected children receiving daily TS and HIV-uninfected children not taking TS.
Materials and methods: Subjects were 292 HIV-infected and 517 uninfected children from two cohort studies in Kampala, Uganda observed from August 2006 to December 2008. Daily TS was given to HIV-infected, but not HIV-uninfected children and all participants were provided an insecticide-treated bed net. Standardized protocols were used to measure the incidence of malaria and identify markers of antifolate resistance.
Results: Sixty-five episodes of falciparum malaria occurred in HIV-infected and 491 episodes in uninfected children during the observation period. TS was associated with a protective efficacy of 80% (0.10 vs. 0.45 episodes per person year, p < 0.001), and efficacy did not vary over three consecutive 9.5 month periods (81%, 74%, 80% respectively, p = 0.506). The prevalences of dhfr 51I, 108N, and 59R and dhps 437G and 540E mutations were each over 90% among parasites infecting both HIV-infected and uninfected children. Prevalence of the dhfr 164L mutation, which is associated with high-level resistance, was significantly higher in parasites from HIV-infected compared to uninfected children (8% vs. 1%, p = 0.001). Sequencing of the dhfr and dhps genes identified only one additional polymorphism, dhps 581G, in 2 of 30 samples from HIV-infected and 0 of 54 samples from uninfected children.
Conclusion: Despite high prevalence of known anti-folate resistance-mediating mutations, TS prophylaxis was highly effective against malaria, but was associated with presence of dhfr 164L mutation.