Emergence of Drug Resistance in the Swiss HIV Cohort Study Under Potent Antiretroviral Therapy Is Observed in Socially Disadvantaged Patients

Clin Infect Dis. 2020 Jan 2;70(2):297-303. doi: 10.1093/cid/ciz178.


Background: The rate of acquired human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) drug resistance (ADR) has fallen dramatically since introduction of combined antiretroviral therapy (cART) in Switzerland. However, clinical experience indicates that there are still patients at risk of newly acquiring drug resistance despite having access to cART. Here, we characterized risk factors for ADR, to improve patient care and prevent emergence of drug resistance and treatment failure.

Methods: We performed a case-control study to identify risk factors for ADR in all patients starting their first cART in the Swiss HIV Cohort Study (SHCS) since 1996. The SHCS is highly representative and includes >75% of patients receiving ART in Switzerland. To this end, we implemented a systematic medical chart review to obtain more detailed information on additional parameters, which are not routinely collected in the SHCS. The collected data were analyzed using univariable and multivariable conditional logistic regression.

Results: We included in our study 115 cases and 115 matched controls. Unemployment (multivariable odds ratio [mOR], 2.9 [95% confidence interval {CI}, 1.3-6.4]; P = .008), African origin (mOR, 3.0 [95% CI, 1.0-9.2]; P = .047), comedication with anti-infectives (mOR, 3.7 [95% CI, 1.0-12.6]; P = .045), and symptoms of mental illness (mOR, 2.6 [95% CI, 1.2-5.5]; P = .012) were associated with ADR in the multivariable model.

Conclusions: Although ADR has become very rare with cART due to new potent therapies, patients in socially challenging life situations or presenting with mental health issues are at higher risk for drug resistance. Prompt identification and adequate support of these patients before ADR will prevent treatment failure and HIV-1 transmission.

Keywords: HIV-1 drug resistance; antiretroviral therapy; risk factors; socioeconomic factors.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anti-HIV Agents* / pharmacology
  • Anti-HIV Agents* / therapeutic use
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cohort Studies
  • Drug Resistance
  • HIV Infections* / drug therapy
  • HIV Infections* / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Switzerland / epidemiology
  • Vulnerable Populations


  • Anti-HIV Agents