The potential impact of initiating antiretroviral therapy with integrase inhibitors on HIV transmission risk in British Columbia, Canada

EClinicalMedicine. 2019 Jul 10:13:101-111. doi: 10.1016/j.eclinm.2019.07.001. eCollection 2019 Aug.


Background: Available agents within the integrase strand-transfer inhibitor (INSTI) class have been shown to lead to a faster decay in viral load than other regimens. Therefore, we estimated the potential reduction in HIV transmission risk among antiretroviral-naïve individuals initiating on INSTI-based antiretroviral therapy (ART), focusing on the gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men (gbMSM) population and various degrees of sexual activity.

Methods: Using two mathematical models that estimate the HIV transmission risk corresponding to different viral loads, we estimated the average probability of HIV transmission per risky contact for gbMSM during the six months post-ART initiation, stratified by stage of HIV infection, viral load at ART initiation and type of first-line ART (i.e., INSTI or non-INSTI-based ART). This study focused individuals who initiated ART between 2011 and 2016 with at least one year of follow-up in British Columbia, Canada.

Findings: Time to first virologic suppression for INSTI-based regimens was 21.4 days (95% credible interval (CI) 19.9-23.2), compared to 58.6 days (95% CI 54.1-62.2) for non-INSTI regimens. We showed that INSTI-based regimens could reduce the HIV transmission risk by at least 25% among those with viral load ≥ 5 log10 copies/mL at ART initiation.

Interpretation: Initiating ART on INSTI-based regimens has the potential to reduce HIV transmission risk among individuals with high baseline viral load levels, especially among those with high levels of sexual activity.

Funding: The British Columbia Ministry of Health, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, and the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research.

Keywords: HIV; Integrase inhibitors; Mathematical modeling; Transmission risk; Virologic suppression; gbMSM.