Background: The benefits of antiretroviral therapy during early human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) infection remain unproved.
Methods: A5217 study team randomized patients within 6 months of HIV-1 seroconversion to receive either 36 weeks of antiretrovirals (immediate treatment [IT]) or no treatment (deferred treatment [DT]). Patients were to start or restart antiretroviral therapy if they met predefined criteria. The primary end point was a composite of requiring treatment or retreatment and the log(10) HIV-1 RNA level at week 72 (both groups) and 36 (DT group).
Results: At the June 2009 Data Safety Monitoring Board (DSMB) review, 130 of 150 targeted participants had enrolled. Efficacy analysis included 79 individuals randomized ≥72 weeks previously. For the primary end point, the IT group at week 72 had a better outcome than the DT group at week 72 (P = .005) and the DT group at week 36 (P = .002). The differences were primarily due to the higher rate of progression to needing treatment in the DT group (50%) versus the IT (10%) group. The DSMB recommended stopping the study because further follow-up was unlikely to change these findings.
Conclusions: Progression to meeting criteria for antiretroviral initiation in the DT group occurred more frequently than anticipated, limiting the ability to evaluate virologic set point. Antiretrovirals during early HIV-1 infection modestly delayed the need for subsequent treatment.
Clinical trials registration: NCT00090779.