High rates of non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NNRTI) resistance was a key consideration in the WHO policies transitioning first-line regimens to include integrase inhibitors (dolutegravir [DTG]). However, recent data suggests a relationship between DTG and neural tube defects among women exposed during conception, giving providers and policymakers pause regarding the planned regimen changes. We examined HIV drug resistance among a cohort of 46 acutely infected persons in Malawi. Our data demonstrates high levels of transmitted resistance, 11% using standard resistance surveillance mutations and 20% when additional NNRTI polymorphisms that may affect treatment response are included. High resistance rates in this treatment-naïve patient population reinforces the critical nature of DTG-based options in the context of public-health driven treatment programs.
Keywords: Acute HIV infection; Antiretroviral resistance; Dolutegravir; Malawi.