Maintenance antiretroviral therapies in HIV-infected subjects with undetectable plasma HIV RNA after triple-drug therapy. AIDS Clinical Trials Group Study 343 Team

N Engl J Med. 1998 Oct 29;339(18):1261-8. doi: 10.1056/NEJM199810293391801.


Background: Combination antiretroviral therapy with indinavir, zidovudine, and lamivudine can suppress the level of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) RNA in plasma below the threshold of detection for two years or more. We investigated whether a less intensive maintenance regimen could sustain viral suppression after an initial response to combination therapy.

Methods: HIV-infected subjects who had CD4 cell counts greater than 200 per cubic millimeter, who had been treated with indinavir, lamivudine, and zidovudine, and who had less than 200 copies of HIV RNA per milliliter of plasma after 16, 20, and 24 weeks of induction therapy were randomly assigned to receive either continued triple-drug therapy (106 subjects), indinavir alone (103 subjects), or a combination of zidovudine and lamivudine (107 subjects). The primary end point was loss of viral suppression, which was defined as a plasma level of at least 200 copies of HIV RNA per milliliter on two consecutive measurements during maintenance therapy.

Results: During maintenance treatment, 23 percent of the subjects receiving indinavir and 23 percent of those receiving zidovudine and lamivudine, but only 4 percent of those receiving all three drugs, had loss of viral suppression (P<0.001 for the comparison between triple-drug therapy and the other two maintenance regimens). Subjects with greater increases in CD4 cell counts during induction therapy, higher viral loads at base line (i.e., at the beginning of induction therapy), and slower rates of viral clearance were at greater risk for loss of viral suppression. The presence of zidovudine-resistance mutations in HIV RNA at base line was strongly predictive of the loss of viral suppression in subjects treated with zidovudine and lamivudine.

Conclusions: The suppression of plasma HIV RNA after six months of treatment with indinavir, zidovudine, and lamivudine is better sustained by the continuation of these three drugs than by maintenance therapy with either indinavir alone or zidovudine and lamivudine.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anti-HIV Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Drug Therapy, Combination
  • Female
  • HIV Infections / drug therapy*
  • HIV Infections / virology
  • HIV-1 / genetics
  • HIV-1 / isolation & purification*
  • Humans
  • Indinavir / therapeutic use*
  • Lamivudine / therapeutic use*
  • Male
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • RNA, Viral / blood
  • Remission Induction
  • Treatment Failure
  • Viral Load
  • Zidovudine / therapeutic use*


  • Anti-HIV Agents
  • RNA, Viral
  • Lamivudine
  • Zidovudine
  • Indinavir