Genital Human Immunodeficiency Virus-1 RNA and DNA Shedding in Virologically Suppressed Individuals Switching From Triple- to Dual- or Monotherapy: Pooled Results From 2 Randomized, Controlled Trials

Clin Infect Dis. 2020 Apr 15;70(9):1973-1979. doi: 10.1093/cid/ciz511.


Background: Increasingly, people living with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) benefit from lower drug regimens (LDRs). Exploring viral genital shedding during LDRs is crucial to ensure their safety.

Methods: We pooled genital sub-studies from 2 clinical trials in this area. Patients were randomized 1:1 to continue abacavir/lamivudine/dolutegravir or switch to dolutegravir (MONCAY trial), or to continue tenofovir/emtricitabine + a third agent or switch to tenofovir/emtricitabine (TRULIGHT trial). Participants whose plasma HIV-RNA remained <50 copies/mL had sperm or cervicovaginal lavage collected between Weeks 24 and 48. HIV-RNA and HIV-DNA were amplified by ultrasensitive polymerase chain reaction. The main objective was to measure the proportion of participants who had no detectable HIV in genital fluids, both according to each strategy and then in an aggregated analysis (LDR versus triple therapies).

Results: There were 64 participants (35 males, 29 females) included: 16 received dual therapies and 16 received triple therapies in TRULIGHT; and 16 received monotherapies and 16 received triple therapies in MONCAY. In TRULIGHT, 13/15 (87%) of evaluable participants on dual therapy had no detectable HIV in their genital fluid, versus 14/15 (93%) under triple therapy (P = 1.0). In MONCAY, these figures were 12/15 (80%) on monotherapy versus 13/16 (81%) on triple therapy (P = 1.0). In the pooled analysis, a similar proportion of participants in the LDR and triple therapy groups had no detectable HIV: 25/30 (83%) and 27/31 (87%), respectively (P = .73).

Conclusions: There was no evidence of increased HIV-RNA and/or -DNA shedding in the genital fluids of people who maintained undetectable plasma HIV-RNA during LDRs.

Clinical trials registration: NCT02302547 and NCT02596334.

Keywords: HIV-1 DNA; HIV-1 RNA; dual therapy; genital; monotherapy.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anti-HIV Agents* / therapeutic use
  • DNA / therapeutic use
  • Emtricitabine / therapeutic use
  • Female
  • Genitalia
  • HIV Infections* / drug therapy
  • HIV-1* / genetics
  • Humans
  • Lamivudine / therapeutic use
  • Male
  • RNA / therapeutic use
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Viral Load


  • Anti-HIV Agents
  • Lamivudine
  • RNA
  • DNA
  • Emtricitabine

Associated data