Background: The relationship between efavirenz use and suicidality is not well-defined.
Objective: To compare time to suicidality with efavirenz-containing versus efavirenz-free antiretroviral regimens for initial treatment of HIV.
Design: Participant-level data were analyzed from 4 AIDS Clinical Trials Group, antiretroviral-naive studies conducted from 2001 to 2010. Within each study, participants were randomly assigned to an efavirenz-containing (n = 3241) or efavirenz-free (n = 2091) regimen. (ClinicalTrials.gov: NCT00013520 [A5095], NCT00050895 [A5142], NCT00084136 [A5175], and NCT00118898 [A5202]).
Setting: AIDS Clinical Trials Group sites; 74% of participants enrolled in the United States.
Patients: Antiretroviral-naive participants.
Intervention: Efavirenz versus efavirenz-free regimens.
Measurements: Suicidality was defined as suicidal ideation or attempted or completed suicide. Groups were compared with a hazard ratio and 95% CI estimated from a Cox model, stratified by study.
Results: Seventy-three percent of participants were men, the median age was 37 years, and 32% had documented psychiatric history or received psychoactive medication within 30 days before entering the study. Median follow-up was 96 weeks. Suicidality incidence per 1000 person-years was 8.08 (47 events) in the efavirenz group and 3.66 (15 events) in the efavirenz-free group (hazard ratio, 2.28 [95% CI, 1.27 to 4.10]; P = 0.006). Incidence of attempted or completed suicide was 2.90 (17 events) and 1.22 (5 events) in the efavirenz and efavirenz-free groups, respectively (hazard ratio, 2.58 [CI, 0.94 to 7.06]; P = 0.065). Eight suicides in the efavirenz group and 1 in the efavirenz-free group were reported.
Limitation: There was not a standardized questionnaire about suicidal ideation or attempt. Efavirenz was open-label in 3 of 4 studies.
Conclusion: Initial treatment with an efavirenz-containing antiretroviral regimen was associated with a 2-fold increased hazard of suicidality compared with a regimen without efavirenz.
Primary funding source: National Institutes of Health.