Dolutegravir or Darunavir in Combination with Zidovudine or Tenofovir to Treat HIV

N Engl J Med. 2021 Jul 22;385(4):330-341. doi: 10.1056/NEJMoa2101609.


Background: The World Health Organization recommends dolutegravir with two nucleoside reverse-transcriptase inhibitors (NRTIs) for second-line treatment of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) infection. Evidence is limited for the efficacy of this regimen when NRTIs are predicted to lack activity because of drug resistance, as well as for the recommended switch of an NRTI from tenofovir to zidovudine.

Methods: In a two-by-two factorial, open-label, noninferiority trial, we randomly assigned patients for whom first-line therapy was failing (HIV-1 viral load, ≥1000 copies per milliliter) to receive dolutegravir or ritonavir-boosted darunavir and to receive tenofovir or zidovudine; all patients received lamivudine. The primary outcome was a week 48 viral load of less than 400 copies per milliliter, assessed with the Food and Drug Administration snapshot algorithm (noninferiority margin for the between-group difference in the percentage of patients with the primary outcome, 12 percentage points).

Results: We enrolled 464 patients at seven sub-Saharan African sites. A week 48 viral load of less than 400 copies per milliliter was observed in 90.2% of the patients in the dolutegravir group (212 of 235) and in 91.7% of those in the darunavir group (210 of 229) (difference, -1.5 percentage points; 95% confidence interval [CI], -6.7 to 3.7; P = 0.58; indicating noninferiority of dolutegravir, without superiority) and in 92.3% of the patients in the tenofovir group (215 of 233) and in 89.6% of those in the zidovudine group (207 of 231) (difference, 2.7 percentage points; 95% CI, -2.6 to 7.9; P = 0.32; indicating noninferiority of tenofovir, without superiority). In the subgroup of patients with no NRTIs that were predicted to have activity, a viral load of less than 400 copies per milliliter was observed in more than 90% of the patients in the dolutegravir group and the darunavir group. The incidence of adverse events did not differ substantially between the groups in either factorial comparison.

Conclusions: Dolutegravir in combination with NRTIs was effective in treating patients with HIV-1 infection, including those with extensive NRTI resistance in whom no NRTIs were predicted to have activity. Tenofovir was noninferior to zidovudine as second-line therapy. (Funded by Janssen; NADIA number, NCT03988452.).

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Equivalence Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Anti-HIV Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Anti-HIV Agents / adverse effects
  • Child
  • Darunavir / administration & dosage*
  • Darunavir / adverse effects
  • Drug Resistance
  • Drug Therapy, Combination
  • Female
  • HIV Infections / drug therapy*
  • HIV Infections / virology
  • HIV-1* / isolation & purification
  • Heterocyclic Compounds, 3-Ring / administration & dosage*
  • Heterocyclic Compounds, 3-Ring / adverse effects
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Oxazines / administration & dosage*
  • Oxazines / adverse effects
  • Piperazines / administration & dosage*
  • Piperazines / adverse effects
  • Pyridones / administration & dosage*
  • Pyridones / adverse effects
  • Reverse Transcriptase Inhibitors / administration & dosage*
  • Reverse Transcriptase Inhibitors / adverse effects
  • Tenofovir / administration & dosage*
  • Viral Load
  • Young Adult
  • Zidovudine / administration & dosage*


  • Anti-HIV Agents
  • Heterocyclic Compounds, 3-Ring
  • Oxazines
  • Piperazines
  • Pyridones
  • Reverse Transcriptase Inhibitors
  • Zidovudine
  • Tenofovir
  • dolutegravir
  • Darunavir

Associated data